Up until about a week ago I hadn't even heard of this book. Then I saw that it had won both Best YA book and Best Book of 2011 on Goodreads as voted b...moreUp until about a week ago I hadn't even heard of this book. Then I saw that it had won both Best YA book and Best Book of 2011 on Goodreads as voted by the members. I was curious about this book that hadn't reached my radar yet and upon reading the reviews discovered that it was being hailed as the new Hunger Games (which is one of my all-time favourite books). A day or so later I happened to be in a bookshop (what are the chances? Okay, I jest, I am almost a permanent fixture in bookshops) and saw a copy of Divergent staring out at me from the shelves and I just had to have it.
This is a world sometime in the future and set in a city that I believe was once Chicago (as the now-abandoned Sears Tower is based there). Every person in this city belongs to one of five factions: Abnegation (selflessness), Erudite (learning), Amity (kindness), Candor (honesty) or Dauntless (bravery). Beatrice Prior (or Tris as she becomes known) is a member of Abnegation and the book starts with the day that she and every other 16 year old from all factions undergo a test to see which faction they will belong to from then on: if they chose a faction other than the one that they were born into it means betraying their families and potentially never seeing them again). However, Tris's test doesn't turn out quite as she had expected as her results mean that she could choose one of 3 factions. She is told in confidence that this is because she is a Divergent but she must not tell anyone, even her family, as this is an extremely dangerous thing to be. On the day of the choosing ceremony, Tris abandons her family to join the Dauntless faction and that is where the adventure starts.
I thought the idea of this was brilliant and I was excited to find out about the factions and how Tris's choice to join Dauntless would affect her. However, the more I read the more disillusioned I became: I never felt that I got a proper sense of the city or why it was like that or why the factions had come about and I would have liked to have learnt more. Also, as the book moved along I became more and more frustrated at why each person would only fit into one of the factions; afterall I don't know anyone who is honest but can't be kind or intelligent with it or brave but can't be honest etc. I would expect that the majority of people would fit into more than one category - I certainly would; in fact I think I could fit into all of them (except Dauntless ironically - particularly after reading what they had to go through).
As well as some other minor annoyances, I did have one huge dislike too and that was the violence that went on for chapters and chapters. Each faction had to train its new recruits to pass an initiations (and those who fail are kicked out and become known as factionless and have to live on the streets), and despite knowing that the Dauntless faction was all about bravery, I found most of their training completely over the top and unsavoury to read. Fighting each other until someone passes out, throwing knives at each other, almost killing someone to test their mettle: I accept that some of this may have been necessary to show us what they recruits had to go through but for it to go on for so long and to be so brutal left a really bad taste in my mouth.
I would really have liked to know more about the other factions and how the city came to be like this but we got little information about anything outside the Dauntless compound until the end. Is this just in one city? Are there other cities exactly the same with their own compounds and set of factions? None of that was even addressed, never mind answered. I know this is the first book in a trilogy so maybe some of this will be answered in the future books, but even a little teaser or snippets of info would have been good.
Despite my little rants, I sort of enjoyed this book. I understand that it is the debut novel written by a 23 year old and that has to be commended. I hope that the books become tighter and more polished as the series continues and I am curious enough to want to read them to see what happens.
Verdict: Some major disappointments and it certainly is no Hunger Games (not in my mind at least). Aside from my ramblings though, it is still a fast-paced adventure story that sucked me right in for large amounts of it and should certainly appeal to the masses.
This isn’t normally the sort of book that I would pick up. Although, in recent years, I have read and really enjoyed a number of post-apocolyptic nove...moreThis isn’t normally the sort of book that I would pick up. Although, in recent years, I have read and really enjoyed a number of post-apocolyptic novels, I was initially somewhat put off this book by the promise of zombies. Then I read that I it had elements of McCarthys The Road (which I LOVED!) and Matheson’s I am Legend (which I expected to hate when given it to read for a bookclub, but actually really enjoyed).
The book started really well. Temple is 16, alone and kick-ass. She has spent the last few weeks on an island off the Florida coast catching and eating fish and spending her days looking out over the water to make sure she remains alone. Life as we know it is hinted at with details like Temple finding a stash of magazines (from before) which have glossy pictures of a life she has never known. The only thing that upsets Temple’s solitary existance is coming across a body on the beach. The body, as she suspected, is one of the undead (or Slugs as she calls them): it looks like the Slug has got wind of her on the island and tried to swim over but been dashed on the rocks and left for dead. Temple knows that it’s only a matter of time before more follow and she picks up her handful of belongings and makes her way back to the mainland to set off north and on to the next place.
The world that Temple inhabits is a mixture of humans (some nomads and some who have set up communities in the wake of whatever happened) and zombies who roam the the land looking for flesh to feed on. Temple encounters several people along the way: some who help her and some who are after her. Temple does whatever she has to to survive, and boy does she. She has never known a different world and it is clear early on that her parents weren’t around for very long so she has had to cope for herself all her life. There are scenes of violence as Temple is ruthless in her desire to stay alive, but this isn’t just a book about destruction and desolation; it’s also about human emotion. Temple picks up a mute man along the way (whom she calls “Dummy”) and despite her thinking that she can cast him off onto someone else, she becomes strangely attached and realises that she does have it in her to help and be kind (which is something unfamiliar to her).
The narrative in this book is clean and uncluttered and exactly what I loved about The Road. I think it will and can be enjoyed by those who love fantasy type fiction, but also those (like me) for whom this isn’t their normal genre. There was only one part that bothered me, and that was in the middle when Temple meets a group of people called “The Inheritors of the Earth”: I just didn’t get wht they were in it; it seemed unecessary to me and made what seemed a plausible storyline (even with the zombies which I could accept) into something that instantly made me snap back to reality and disbelieve again.
In summary, I enjoyed this book and would recommend to anyone who likes post-apocolyptic novels and fantasy. (less)
The second in the trilogy of the amazing Hunger Games. There's not so much I can say about the plot of this book without giving away the ending of the...moreThe second in the trilogy of the amazing Hunger Games. There's not so much I can say about the plot of this book without giving away the ending of the first one, or ruining the surprise of the second.
What I can say is that it is just a brilliant! I cannot wait to read the last in the trilogy. I want it NOW!(less)
This book is amazing! It was so difficult to put it down that I cursed every time I had to. Such a brilliant idea for a plot and coupled with being so...moreThis book is amazing! It was so difficult to put it down that I cursed every time I had to. Such a brilliant idea for a plot and coupled with being so well executed has made it one of my favourite books, possibly of all time.
The book is set in Panem (formerly the USA) where there are districts known as the Capitol (who rule everything else) and Districts 1-12. Seventy-five years ago, the people of the Districts (who are fenced in and not allowed to communicate with other districts) staged a rebellion so in order to make sure that it never happens again, the Capitol invented THE HUNGER GAMES. Every year, two children (one girl and one boy, aged 12-18) are picked randomly from each district and are put into an arena which can be anything from swamps to lakes or forrests or deserts and the victor is the last one standing once all the others are dead. The Hunger Games are mandatory TV viewing for all Districts who have to watch their loved ones be killed on live TV. The only ones who relish this are the people of the Capitol where the cheer their favourite tributes on and place bets about who will survive and who will die.
Katniss Everdeen is sixteen years old and when her 12 year old sister's name is read out at the reaping (the televised event where the names are called) she steps up and volunteers to go in her place. Katniss's district partner is Peeta, a boy from school who has always liked her. The book follows their journey from District 12 to the Capitol where they are put into the arena to fend for themselves.
I read that the author got her idea for the book when she was flicking between channesl on the TV and on one side was a reality TV show and on the other was footage of the horrors of the war in Iraq and she wondered what it would be like to put these two together. The synopsys for this book may seem farfetched but to be honest I'm not so sure that we're all that far away from these games anyway. You only need to watch Jerry Springer or Big Brother (the UK version) to realise that so much of it is set up or instigated to get the best arguments and subsequently ratings possible. It's not that far away from the Gladiators in Rome killing each other for the publics viewing pleasure.
Having said that, this book is aimed at young adults and although the theme of the book is one that really makes you think, it isn't gory or gruesome and is appropriate for its intended audience. I may be well past my teenage years but I can honestly say that this book is one of the best I have read for pure excitement and that "un-put-downable" factor.
Wow! I LOVE it when I read a book that I'm not expecting to enjoy and I do! I listened to the audibook of this (which I normally don't like either but...moreWow! I LOVE it when I read a book that I'm not expecting to enjoy and I do! I listened to the audibook of this (which I normally don't like either but I'm doing so much driving lately that it turns out to be a great way to while away those tedious hours on the motorway!). OK so this version took some artistic licence by adding in voices and a made up language but this really successfully added to the experience.
The Time Traveller is a Victorian scientist who gets in his time machine and travells to the year 802701 A.D where he discovers that life really is not as we know it. It is inhabited by the Eloi, as race of people half our size who speak a strange language and live in harmony. Nobody works, nobody toils, there is just sun and flowers and green grass. The Time Traveller reaslises that the human race has regressed because they don't have to use their brains or braun anymore.
It is only a short book but I was amazed where I expcted not to care and enraptured where I expected to be bored. I had a hard time remembering that this book was written in victorian times too - H G Wells was so far ahead of his time. I can't wait to read more from him.
This is the second Wyndham book I have read in as many weeks and I can now firmly say that I am a fan.
This is a fantastic book; it intrugues from the...moreThis is the second Wyndham book I have read in as many weeks and I can now firmly say that I am a fan.
This is a fantastic book; it intrugues from the very first page and doesn't let go from there on in. What a great story this was and despite being about the unbelievable, it's actually very believable. Great idea, well written and gripping.
I read this yesterday in a day - I just found it impossible to put down. Although it's bleak I found it to be written in a gentle, almost dream-like w...moreI read this yesterday in a day - I just found it impossible to put down. Although it's bleak I found it to be written in a gentle, almost dream-like way which I loved.
The story is of a man and his son (whose names we never learn) who are travelling south during the harsh winter. They set off along the road with their cart and all their worldly belongings in it. We never find out the reason that the road and the fields and whole cities are burnt and abandoned; we are left the imagine for ourselves if it is due to war, asteroid etc.
I didn't feel that the reason they were there was important - whatever had happened was years ago and clearly they had got past the "why?" etc and were just focused on survival. The books was like a snapshot in time which is why we never really find out anything other than what is going on right then.
The relationship between the man and boy is beautiful and so tender. It's one of the most touching and important relationships I can remember reading about.
I really loved this book and hope you will too. (less)
5 stars is not enough. This book is amazing, incredible, breathtaking. Once I started it 2 days ago I have barely been able to put it down. This book...more5 stars is not enough. This book is amazing, incredible, breathtaking. Once I started it 2 days ago I have barely been able to put it down. This book has just earned a place in my top 5 ever books and deservedly so.
I admit to being concerned that I would find it difficult to overcome the lack of punctuation, but for commas and fullstops, and the lack of names (characters are referred to in such ways as the girl with dark glasses, the boy with the squint etc) but not only was it very easy to get used to this it actually added to the story. The fact that there were such long sentences and few paragraphs meant that the book drew me in as if I was "there" and it also means that you have a devil of a time putting it down! It's genius. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVED IT!!!!