I admit, I jumped on the Hype Train with this one, since I didn't really have an inclination to read it on my own. After downloading Divergent on a whI admit, I jumped on the Hype Train with this one, since I didn't really have an inclination to read it on my own. After downloading Divergent on a whim when it was on sale, it sat for months on my Kindle before I finally decided it was time to see what all the hoopla was about.
I finished it in less than a day.
When I first started reading, the similarities between it and The Hunger Games were glaringly obvious (dystopian setting, teens forced to make a life-altering decision), but it only took a few chapters before Divergent started branching off into its own adrenaline-pumping storyline. When it did, my fingers were swiping as fast as I could read!
Like Katniss, Tris is a strong female lead, but I found her a bit more compassionate and a lot less self righteous. Unlike Katniss, she wasn't a natural fighter and not the best at combat -- I actually appreciated this because it made her character more believable. Not to say she was weak -- girlfriend was scrappy! -- but it's refreshing to read about a heroine who isn't perfect at everything right off the bat. Plus it gives her character room to grow as the series progresses.
I could go into the whole "Divergent" aspect, but I don't feel like it was the real crux of the story (at least not yet) -- this book was more about character development. Which leads me to... Four. Oh, Four. So brooding & deep. There's just something about him... I already know he is a reader favorite and rightfully so! I haven't gotten around to them yet, but I will be reading the Four novellas because he's got a complicated history that I'd love to learn more about. His feelings for Tris were swoon-worthy but I have to say, I didn't quite get WHY he was so drawn to her so quickly. Luckily, Tris doesn't either, which makes this subplot easier to follow along with, since both readers and Tris get an explanation as to why Four is so smitten.
One thing that really stood out to me was how violent this book is. Between the hand-to-hand combat and the multiple shoot-outs, I found myself cringing while reading at times. As someone who watches gory crime dramas (Dexter, Criminal Minds, etc.), I'm pretty immune to stuff like that, but Ms. Roth is one hell of a writer if she can make me squeamish with just words. I'm counting that as a plus.
Obviously Divergent is part of a trilogy -- one that I feel obligated to see through. I mean, I owe it to Four, right? ;)...more
Oh gosh, where to start with this book. My first reaction is to dive right into fangirling (shameless pun) and gushing over how much I loved this bookOh gosh, where to start with this book. My first reaction is to dive right into fangirling (shameless pun) and gushing over how much I loved this book, but I feel like it deserves more than that... Then again, to hell with it --
*Kermit flail* I LOOOOOOOVED this book SO. FREAKING. MUCH.
You know the books where you just want to crawl between the pages and never leave? The kind where you're so consumed by the story that you begin to take on the qualities of the main character? This was it for me. While Cath is certainly relateable as it is, I found myself becoming even MORE like here while I was reading the story -- awkward, angsty, a hermit (more so than usual), and totally into fanfic (something I've never dabbled in). I relived my freshman year through her eyes, experiencing both familiar and new-found emotions that actually made me wish (if just for a moment) that I were in college all over again.
There was something about Cath that made me connect to her right away -- some of which I could directly relate to (a combination of her love for writing & fictional characters as well as her social awkwardness), and some that I've never experienced but learned to appreciate while reading this book (her ingrained need to be the "caretaker" for her dad and sister).
Cath is worrisome, awkward, judgemental, creative, caring and REAL. I could both imagine myself AS her as well as someone I could be best friends with. As someone with an extremely small friend circle, this says a lot.
Also, can I just point out how adorable it was that she and Wren were named together? Cather & Wren... I love it! Speaking of Wren, I appreciated the fact that the story showed Wren wanting to branch out on her own. On the surface, it seemed like Wren was a reckless, stupid college student (which she was at times), but to me, Wren's character was more of a vehicle to show Cath's personal growth and the fact that she's not defined by her twin -- just like she's not defined by Simon Snow.
The fanfic part of this story was one of my favorites, not only because I'm a huge Harry Potter fan (which I assume Simon Snow was based on), but also because it added another layer to the story as well as illustrated the author's exceptional writing talent to write a genre aside from the one Fangirl is categorized as (though it was really "Cath" who was the author of the Simon Snow fanfic ^_^). I'm not familiar with online world of fanfic, but as an outsider, it seemed to me that Rowell did a good job of showing the art of fanfic, as well as the behind-the-scenes pressure and seriousness of it all. When you think about it, Cath was to Harry Potter as E.L. James was to Twilight... Ha! Wouldn't it be something if she became an overnight sensation for publishing a book that was originally based on Simon Snow? How about a real life fanfic about her rise to fame? Talk about Inception: a fanfic about a character who writes fanfic about another character who's based on another character? Eek!
So, Levi... Umph. I ADORED Levi! The fact that he WANTED Cath to read her fanfic to him like a lullaby and didn't judge or make fun of her for it made my heart swell and my gut clench. What girl wouldn't want that?? Even though it seemed as if he "had it together", simply because he was older and he smoked and lived off campus, he was just as flawed and lost as Cath, which made him all the more endearing.
This is the first book I've ready by Rainbow Rowell and she's already one of my new favorite authors. Her ability to write characters that are so inherently relateable, regardless of if you really share common traits, is a gift -- one that I'm grateful to have experienced. When it comes to deciding if a book is a favorite, of course there's more to it than simply the book -- it's the book, the mind frame of the reader, the setting and circumstances of how they came to read said book... in essence, it's the entire reading experience that determines why a book becomes a favorite.
FANGIRL is one of those rare books where everything came together and made this a favorite that I was pulled into, obsessed with, and actually somewhat melancholy when it was over....more
After a particularly LONG (a near eternity, it seems like) reading hiatus, I was in the mood for something different than my usual romance-genre tropeAfter a particularly LONG (a near eternity, it seems like) reading hiatus, I was in the mood for something different than my usual romance-genre trope. Enter Hex Hall, an captivating read about a young witch sent to a magical boarding school that I gulped down in one evening.
The story's first person point of view is its greatest appeal -- Sophie is cheeky but flawed, just how I'd imagine a teenage girl coming into magical powers would act. She may only be 16, but her individuality and the way she doesn't care what others think about her is truly commendable. My 16-year-old self definitely could have taken a page from Sophie's book!
I'm a sucker for boarding school settings and Hex Hall makes an excellent backdrop to a unique cast of characters. From hot-headed werewolves to stuck-up faeries to ghosts roaming the halls (a la Hogwarts), the magical student body runs the gamut and I wanted to learn more about them and their backstories as well. Because this is the first book in the Hex Hall trilogy, the story did end on somewhat of a cliffhanger, but I guess that's okay since I was pulled in enough to want to read the rest of the series (as evidenced by my next day trip to the library for books two and three).
In some ways, Hex Hall is your quintessential paranormal/magic school trope, but Sophie's voice is really what makes this story stand out from other stories like it. The twist at the ending will convince readers to stick around for book two, which, if it's anywhere near as engaging as Hex Hall, will be just as unputdownable!...more