Insurgent begins right where Divergent leaves off. Tris and the others are headed to Amity headquarters to seek refuge from the crazy Erudite. Tris isInsurgent begins right where Divergent leaves off. Tris and the others are headed to Amity headquarters to seek refuge from the crazy Erudite. Tris is still reeling from watching the murders of half of her family, and from being forced to murder one of her best friends that was under the influence of a simulation. Once at Amity's headquarters, she hopes to regroup and figure out how to restore the balance of the factions.
The beginning of Insurgent hits the ground running. To say that Tris is upset by the events that took place during her initiation ceremony would be an understatement. She is haunted by them. Particularly her part in murdering Will. Tris's character becomes increasingly complex as she tries to work through her feelings, especially about her own faction and what it means to be Dauntless.
If you thought you knew which faction was good and which was bad, you may change your mind several times throughout the story. There is no clear villain, as each faction, and it's leader, struggles to hold on to their power and their people. Each leader makes some serious mistakes, but also has some redeeming qualities (except Erudite, honestly).
And, all those of you who loved Tris and Four (Tobias, he goes by both depending on the situation), you'll be happy to hear that there is no introduction of a love triangle to add complications. That is not to say that Tris and Tobias don't have their struggles, because they do. However, they don't involve any outside parties, and are about the real-life struggles of a new relationship and finding how much space you need, figuring out trust, and in their case, trying to survive.
But, the real crowning achievement comes in the final 100 pages. Roth pulls no punches and ends with a revelation that will take some time for you to digest. It's one that I certainly didn't see coming. And I can't wait to read the continuation of the final book.
If you haven't started this series, then in my most urgent tone of voice I say, "get thee to the bookstore!"...more
Ever since Tom Raines' dad's luck ran out, they've been drifting from casino to casino. Tom earns money where he can byReview Published July 10, 2012.
Ever since Tom Raines' dad's luck ran out, they've been drifting from casino to casino. Tom earns money where he can by winning at the VR games. His mom has been long gone, the girlfriend of an executive in a multi-national corporation. And that's when things change. Tom is offered a spot at the Pentagonal Spire, an elite military academy that trains the best to fight in World War Three. Though the promise of a constant home and meals is tempting at first, Tom discovers that he may be giving up more than he bargained for.
The best way that I can describe this book is an interesting mix of Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card and Little Brother by Cory Doctorow. It's definitely science fiction and is heavy on the computer and technology references. Which, is outstanding.
I was pretty immediately captivated by the idea of a war being fought in interplanetary space, but without the loss of human lives. Each side is fighting for control of resources out in space, and recruits children to fight using VR (virtual reality) machines. When Tom is recruited to join the academy, he undergoes a medical procedure to have a chip implanted in his head. He, and the other recruits, download their homework and have it processed into their brain through the help of the chip. It allows them to learn several different language and almost instantly understand math and science. But, it also makes their brains and their bodies vulnerable to cyber attacks and external control.
While I was definitely hooked on the concept, and even most of the plot, I found myself not sold on the characters. I think this is where the book definitely diverged from the likes of Ender's Game for me. Tom was a character I wanted to sympathize with, but one I definitely wanted to keep at arm's length. I'm not sure if it's the fact that he's a male narrator (I haven't really had trouble with that in the past, but it's possible), or exactly what it was. But, whatever it was, it caused the book to drag a little in parts when I felt like the plot needed to move on just a little bit. And there was a part at the very end (of which I won't disclose because it's a total spoiler), that made me completely detach myself from Tom. But, don't despair too much, Tom's friends at The Pentagonal Academy are well worth the read.
Fans of techno sci-fi thrillers are going to eat this book up. It's chock full of great technology, war (in a virtual realm), and twisted loyalties and politics. Give this to your gamer friend that claims they don't read. Maybe they'll change their mind. Oh, and the movie rights have already been sold to FOX. ...more
I got 124 pages in before I just couldn't take it anymore. The premise was interesting, but I couldn't suspend my disbelief enough to really get intoI got 124 pages in before I just couldn't take it anymore. The premise was interesting, but I couldn't suspend my disbelief enough to really get into the story. It's also told from 3 perspectives which is confusing, and each one of the characters is their own shade of ridiculous. Such a disappointment. I was really looking forward to this one....more
Aria has lived her entire life in a pod where her every need and action is regulated. To create a sense of unlimited space, dwellers are given devicesAria has lived her entire life in a pod where her every need and action is regulated. To create a sense of unlimited space, dwellers are given devices called Smarteyes that allow them to explore virtually unlimited realms without danger. Conversely, Peregrine, or Perry, has grown up in the wild outside.
With the tribes being ravaged by Aether storms, Perry desires to challenge his brother for leadership and lead the tribe safely to more calmer skies. When Perry's and Aria’s worlds collide, they work together to discover the truth about those they love and to try to restore things to the way they were before.
The characters in this book were not there for me. Which, in Emily Reading Land, is not a good thing. Perry and Aria were as dry and flat as a wheat thin. Since the bulk of the story involves their story, it was doomed from the beginning for me.
So, what wasn't there for me with Aria? Well, I think we got off on the wrong foot. For the first few chapters I couldn't figure out what was going on. (What are these realms exactly? And what in the heck is Aether? Electricity? And savage boys?) Combine that with her pretty bad attitude, and I got a little bored. Her life is saved three times by Perry, and she just doesn't really seem to care. Except when she does, and then she REALLY cares about Perry. About 60 pages in I almost threw my hands up in frustration and said, "I get it! He's an outsider! We don't like outsiders." Perry's story was equally confusing in the beginning with a nephew that he loves, but he wants to kill his brother, and there is a girl that likes him, but he doesn't really like her. So, in summary, just a lot of plot stuff with not a lot of good glue to hold it together.
The story significantly improves with the addition of Roar. The conversation livens up a bit. (read: there actually is some) And, there was one particular scene that I really loved that involved a conversation between Perry and Roar. Roar basically tells Perry that he's got to fight his own battles or fall off his own roof. (Those who have read the book will know which scene I'm talking about). I started to really enjoy the book and where it was going.
But then we are back to just Aria and Perry, and things got boring again. And, for younger readers, this is also where we get into some questionable sexual content that you should be aware of. It's not explicit, but it's there all the same.
The plot and premise of Under the Never Sky was great. Secondary characters were interesting and frankly, better developed than their main counterparts. But, ultimately, it was not enough to hook me into continuing on with the rest of the series.
Want another take? Andye at Reading Teen loved this book! Check out her review....more
Divergent deserves a round of applause for breathing some life into a genre that was beginning to wilt.
There were so many things I loved about this boDivergent deserves a round of applause for breathing some life into a genre that was beginning to wilt.
There were so many things I loved about this book. Right from the start we are introduced to a society that has created a system based on values, which seems like a great idea, right? As you read, you try to figure out which faction would best represent your values. Do you value courage, honesty, selflessness, or knowledge? Soon you discover, along with Tris, that it's not as clear as it first appears. Breaking rank from your family is dishonorable, and not all factions are considered equal. Even within factions there are tensions and disagreements about what they truly value. All of this together creates an internal and external conflict that is so complex and interesting, I couldn't put this book down.
Tris was a fantastic female lead. She has the grit and determination to be a warrior, but also a kind-hearted nature, whether or not she realizes it. The romance was not so unexpected for me, as I saw it coming from a mile away. No matter though, it was sweet and well-developed.
While the writing was not as well-crafted as the Hunger Games, meaning that there aren't any specific passages that I can look back on and think that they were beautifully written, the whole story flowed very nicely. I've found lately that some writers, in an attempt to convey urgency in their writing, end up making their plot disjointed and the pacing irregular. That definitely was not a problem in Divergent.
I am eagerly anticipating the release of the sequel, Insurgent, next year. And thanks to the lack of a cliffhanger ending, I'm not being bullied into reading it either. If you haven't read this one, definitely pick up a copy and prepare to be enthralled. ...more
*June 2012 UPDATE* The audio version is FANTASTIC!
I couldn't believe that this was a book by a debut author. I kept looking around, sure that she had*June 2012 UPDATE* The audio version is FANTASTIC!
I couldn't believe that this was a book by a debut author. I kept looking around, sure that she had other books out somewhere. The writing quality is amazing, and is reminiscent of a more experienced author.
The summary mentions a poetically minimal writing style. There are no quotation marks, and the words are spelled phonetically. This gives an element to the story that will turn some people off, and others will love it. I loved it. Which is saying something, because prose or different formatting will sometimes turn me off to a story. I didn't find the writing style distracting, but found it a very unique way to show a part of Saba's character. She is uneducated, but is very smart.
Saba's struggle is made evident early in the book as she searches for her brother after he is taken by cloaked horsemen. She doesn't know where to begin looking for him, and she's never ventured outside her home, but she shows remarkable courage in her determination to find him. No matter the cost.
That doesn't mean that Saba is without her faults. She despises her younger sister Emmi, and does not want her tagging along. However, throughout the book, their relationship develops, and Saba learns to forgive Emmi for many of the things that she (wrongfully) holds her responsible for.
With all of these inner conflicts, there are many external forces trying to rip Saba apart as well. I was absolutely glued to this book, and had to know how things worked out for Saba. Her journey is terrifying and romantic all at once. And, in reference to romance, be advised that our love interest is not introduced until much later in the story.
This is a title that I think many who love dystopian fiction will love. If the actual formatting on the page and spelling doesn't work for you, I'd suggest giving the audio book a try. I listened to the first couple chapters on Simon and Schuster's website, and the narrator is very good.
If you've read the book, let me know what you thought of it. Does prose bother you when reading a book?...more
I was so excited about this book. Dystopia, a nice message about the dangers of consumerism, and a dialogue on privacy. I read reviews from Lenore andI was so excited about this book. Dystopia, a nice message about the dangers of consumerism, and a dialogue on privacy. I read reviews from Lenore and Steph Su, and I thought I would love this book. I imagine you can see where this is going. I was pretty underwhelmed. I wasn't able to connect with Kid, and if I can't connect with the main character, it just doesn't work for me.
But, I think this book will have a lot of fans, so I want to highlight some of the things that I think other will like about this book.
While Kid's character didn't work for me, I think a lot of people will like her. She's just an ordinary girl who likes to hang out with her friends and play music. She likes to stay under the radar, doesn't have a lot of ambitions to get "sponsored" and doesn't challenge things in her life. So, while a lot of people could relate to her, I just wanted more from her.
I also wasn't fully convinced of the purpose of The Game. I was told that it was supposed to be a solution to the budget crises of the public school system. But, the story didn't show me that that was the case. They had a few text message questions and some other projects, but I really didn't think a lot of learning was happening. No one in their right mind would think that this was an adequate substitute for school.
But, if you can buy into the concept of The Game and see it as a commentary on consumerism and privacy, then you will probably really enjoy the book. One of the things I really liked about the book was how few of Kid's relationships were genuine. Social networking and branding were so important in this society that you never knew the real motivation behind friendships.
So, while this book only left lukewarm feelings in my heart, if you give it a try, I hope it lights your fire.
This book was such a disappointment. I thought the concept was wonderful, and I was so excited to read it. However, the writing was so poor that I jusThis book was such a disappointment. I thought the concept was wonderful, and I was so excited to read it. However, the writing was so poor that I just couldn't get into the story.
The characters were very poorly developed. Everyone was there to fill a role, and had no dimension. I think the only character I felt connected to was the fiddle, and that's mostly because I wanted it to become firewood or something.
We are told throughout the story that the US has become this awful, dangerous place riddled with crime and poverty. I never felt that in the book. Every scrape that Molly gets into is either solved by playing her fiddle, or someone else rescuing her. All problems seem to magically go away or become mitigated because people show compassion for her. It just doesn't add up when you supposedly have this society that is so hardened and criminal.
The Organization is a joke. Any crime organization run like that would be done in like two minutes. Organized crime is a take no prisoners type affair. They kill people. They show no mercy. They exercise dominance through fear. The Organization did none of those things, and in fact did the opposite. I laughed out loud at a few of the most tense moments because they were just so unbelievable.
And then there is the romance. It was weird. It was like these two people were strolling along with no apparent attraction, and then she has this sudden desire to kiss him and can't be without him. There was no build-up of sexual tension, it just kind of happened. And it didn't work, at all.
The one thing I will give this book is it is a fast read. I would not classify it as Young Adult, it is definitely middle-grade. However, the middle grade that I enjoy does not talk down to readers, which this book did a lot of....more
I've had this book sitting on my shelf for quite some time. I started it back in July. I had just finished re-reading The Hunger Games and Catching FiI've had this book sitting on my shelf for quite some time. I started it back in July. I had just finished re-reading The Hunger Games and Catching Fire in preparation for Mockingjay. About a quarter of the way through the book I stopped reading. I realized that I was reading it with a violent-out-to-get-you-government filter. And Matched just wasn't doing it for me. So, I put it away for awhile to get in the mood. (I think also some of the hype was getting to me, and there was no way it was going to live up to it).
So, during the Christmas/New Years break that I had from work, I picked it up again. And I absolutely loved it.
It was different than The Hunger Games series in that it isn't nearly as brutal or bloody. As with most dystopian novels, Cassia's Society is all about control. However, The Society has created an illusion that through their control everyone is living at their highest potential. There is never a need for fear or sadness because everything is so strictly monitored. Their world is not cluttered with information because their books, movies, and songs are carefully selected. Citizen's food is given in specific portions and with nutritional value to optimize the health of every person. And, of course, matches are selected based on the compatibility of each party for maximized happiness.
Is Cassia's Society so different from our own? In our efforts to create a healthy society have we overstepped our bounds? I'm thinking of recent lawsuits against McDonalds for causing obesity. Or the laws passed in recent years to ban trans fats from restaurants in California and New York. While I obviously feel that eating healthy is important, at what point do we take away individual freedom and responsibility because "we know better"?
One of my favorite parts of the book comes when Cassia realizes that the world in which she lives no longer values creation. Quoting from my uncorrected proof copy:
"Standing there looking at my work, however, I realize that all my family has ever done is sort. Never create. My father sorts old artifacts like my grandfather did; my great-grandmother sorted poems. My farmlander grandparents plant seeds and tend crops, but everything they grow has been assigned by the Officials. Just like the things my mother grows at the Aboretum."
Now, I've never been one for poetry. I don't know that I have the type of mind that can truly appreciate it. However, I do love music, and books, and the ability that I have to speak my mind however I wish.
Without belaboring the point, this book gave me quite a bit to think about. I know many people will like the book for the romance. Frankly, both boys are a great fit for Cassia in different ways, so the love triangle really isn't about pitting one against the other (a la Twilight). Cassia's parents are pretty flat, as are her friends. We don't really get much into the heads of other characters besides Cassia and Xander. I am not entirely sure if that was intentional to show that over time people have really become devoid of original thought.
Therefore, count me among the many that will be eagerly awaiting Crossed when it comes out in November....more
**spoiler alert** Mockingjay was not what I expected. And yet it met all my expectations in a different way.
Like with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hal**spoiler alert** Mockingjay was not what I expected. And yet it met all my expectations in a different way.
Like with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I spent two months before the release analyzing every little part of The Hunger Games and Catching Fire looking for clues. And I really thought I had the ending of this trilogy figured all out. Turns out I had no idea.
I have seen mixed reviews of this book and I think it all has to do with expectations. Plus, this book was so fundamentally different from the other two books in the trilogy that it is very hard to compare. There are no games and no arena. The world that existed in the first two books is virtually destroyed. Where is there to go from here?
What drew me to the the first two books was the action. Catching Fire and The Hunger Games never stopped moving. I couldn't put them down. Mockingjay had a different element of action. And it was much more psychological.
Have you ever been close to someone who has returned from war? Seen things that the rest of us only see as special effects in the movies? There is something that fundamentally changes in someone who has experienced the horrors of death and war that you and I will never understand. Suzanne Collins nailed this. Katniss is not the girl that volunteered for her sister Prim in the first Hunger Games. She doesn't know who she is. She has to discover that she is not just a pawn in anyone's games. Especially the good guys.
The hero of this book for me however was Haymitch. He is a Dumbledore for me on a totally different level. His unexpected wisdom surprised me every time.
No spoilers here, but I'd love to here what you thought about the ending? Was it what you were expecting? Even if it wasn't what you were expecting, did you like it?...more
My first thought when I read this book was that it was a Hunger Games knockoff. Not that that's a bad thing, I loved that book. But, this was definiteMy first thought when I read this book was that it was a Hunger Games knockoff. Not that that's a bad thing, I loved that book. But, this was definitely a different type of gladiator book.
I really liked the culture that Lise Haines created in this book. Many of the things that exist in our society today were present in this book but with a much more cruel and violent twist. For instance, the paparazzi were hounding those involved in the fights, but they were so aggressive in their pursuits that people died. Like Hunger Games, I was left feeling like the society in Girl in the Arena was just one step away from our own.
Lyn was a great female protagonist. She was smart and really looked out for herself. Even though she was hardened by the many tragic experiences in her life, I really loved the way she took care of her younger brother. Especially given the weird relationship that she had with her mother.
At first I wasn't very impressed by the way that the book began. The writing was fine, but the format was a little weird. After the first chapter though, it's explained and it made a lot more sense. It still wasn't really comfortable to read, but maybe that was the point...
Overall a wonderful book especially for those that like dystopia....more
A small metal box made by the Builders not to be opened for 200 years was passed down from mayor to mayor until the chain was broken. Now, almost 300A small metal box made by the Builders not to be opened for 200 years was passed down from mayor to mayor until the chain was broken. Now, almost 300 years later, the City of Ember is running low on supplies, and the lights flicker on and off frequently. Is there a way out of the city?
This book was a fantastic allegorical fiction like the "Giver" by Lois Lowry. Most of Ember is oblivious to the fact that their supplies are running low. Soon, that fact becomes more and more evident as the lights flicker on and off, and some precious commodities can no longer be bought. Many people in the city use different methods of coping. Some hoard supplies, without thinking, of course, that once the generator that makes the electricity goes out, their extra light bulbs will do no good. Some gather in study sessions to talk about what might be beyond the borders of their city and pray. But few venture out to try to find out what there is beyond.
If you liked "The Giver," you'll love this book. It's not a very long book, and it moves quickly. It is pretty predictable, but I don't think the point of the book was to leave you in suspense about what would happen at the end....more