This is one of those difficult to write reviews because I'm still sorting through my thoughts, but I'll...more3.5 Stars (originally) 3 Stars (upon reflection)
This is one of those difficult to write reviews because I'm still sorting through my thoughts, but I'll give it a try!
Allegiant is a jarring transition from the other two books. The reason for this is that our Big Bad for the first 2 books, Jeanine, is no longer in the picture, and we're removed from the city for most of the story. It's a massive shift from what the reader was used to in the previous books and it basically resets the conflict. It's no longer about the factions, but the lies encompassing the entirety of Tris's world.
Also, Tris is no longer the sole narrator. Four/Tobias joins her in the telling of the story. I would even argue that Tris's story came to an end in the 2nd book and the 3rd is more about Tobias, though Tris does get some solid moments.
Whenever a book is written in first person, the reader is automatically trapped in the POV of that character and jaded by the prejudices of that character. This made it easier to overlook the shallow world-building of the first two books. Tris had a limited world-view, so the reader did, too. In the third book, we're still trapped, but we see the very different viewpoints of two people who have been classified as "other." Tris had been called Divergent, Tobias is declared to have a genetic defect. How the two characters react to the story of a so called Purity War (Nazis anyone?)based on genetics (Nazis anyone?) provided an interesting contrast in their personalities.
Which brings me to the Tale of the Purity War. When I first read the explanation, I was like WTF? Seriously? That's bogus. Then I reminded myself that I was trapped in the viewpoint of the two main characters and their acceptance of the story they were told does not make it true. In fact, by the time I finished the book I was pretty certain the whole "genetic purity" story was bunk and that we still don't know what happened to the world. The victors get to shape history and history was definitely servicing the government. Also, with serums that remove memory, kill, etc...it's pretty obvious that a civil war of some type could have destroyed the country and the victors just used their serums to reshape the world. This is even discussed in the story when pictures that predate the Purity War are uncovered showing terrible scenes of inhumanity. The characters and the reader are continuously shown that there is no genetic purity per se and that the government will do anything to maintain their power. The serums also explain why Tris was never curious about the outside world, why she wasn't curious as to why the city wasn't being rebuilt, etc in the first two books. Tris and the entire population of the city are victims of mass manipulation.
Yet, because we are stuck inside the viewpoints of two characters, we never uncover the real truths of the world. We constantly only skim the top layer and it's not a whole picture.
A few people warned me that Tobias would have a huge personality change over the course of the books and I honestly never saw this. Even in the first book I thought it was pretty clear he was carefully containing deep pain, insecurities, and had a little bit of a cruel streak. In the first book he tells Tris over and over again that's she's stronger than him. And in some ways she definitely is. Tobias is the product of severe abuse and it affects him throughout the series. His penchant for being judgmental, hypocritical, emotional, aloof, etc...are all symptoms of being abused. He's only 18, so he hasn't had time to discard all the baggage of his childhood. We see this happen throughout the series and get a good view of it in the third book. I really enjoyed his evolution and the decisions he makes about his family. As someone who suffered childhood abuse, I have to say the author got a lot very right. And I do like that the book ended with a much stronger Tobias.
As for Tris's fate...hell, it was written on the wall since the first book. It wasn't a surprise. It was expected. But I do feel that much of her evolution had taken place in the first two books and that there was a bit of author manipulation to get her in the spot she was in to do what she did. How's that for a confusing, non-spoilery sentence? LOL! I do think her fate should have been moved to the end of book 2. I honestly believe the series should have ended at book 2.
Though Allegiant has some compelling parts, overall it really doesn't add to the world of the first 2 books. We end up with a Big Bad we really don't know or care about, unlike we did with Jeanine. We end up with faceless government leaders with a hidden agenda who lie and dope the populace into submission. And those leaders are still in power at the end of the third book. We meet some new characters, but they never really feel as real as the characters in the first 2 books. And we do lose a lot of characters we loved.
The reason for Allegiant's lower score is because in the end I liked it enough, but it felt unnecessary.
P.S. The big reveal at the end of book 2 is completely, totally a big ol' nothing. I have an issue with that. We had two books building up to this big reveal and it's rendered moot immediately in the 3rd. And even the reason for Tris being Divergent is just...hollow. Again, this could be because we're trapped in just one person's POV, but...
Update 3/21/2014 Upon reflection, one thing that really did bother me in the end was that the government had access to serums that could totally reset society into the utopia they wanted. They could have just dosed everyone continually into compliance without making up some hackneyed genetic Purity War. The factions could have just been a way of controlling the populace.
Also, wouldn't the government just reset all the scientists that Trish reset, making their operation moot?
The more I think about that whole memory serum, the more the world just falls apart.
First off, I love Karina Halle's Experiment in Terror series so hard. She does scary very, very well. Thou...moreI just got horror fix and it was oh-so-good!
First off, I love Karina Halle's Experiment in Terror series so hard. She does scary very, very well. Though she's become immensely popular for her contemporary new adult Artist Trilogy, I honestly believe her voice excels when it comes to horror. Red Morning Sky (#3 in Experiment in Terror)is one of my all-time favorite horror novels. It scared the ever loving life out of me.
Therefore, when I heard she was doing a standalone horror novel and it would have zombies, I was thrilled.
Donners of the Dead takes a true life event, mixes in some Native American folklore, old West flavorin', and a heap of terror to deliver one of my favorite zombie reads in a long while. The whole story has a very nice Old West meets Night of the Living Dead feel to it. It's like a John Wayne movie directed by George Romero. You have the young, pretty half-Native girl, the rogue with a heart of gold, villains with secret agendas, a dash of romance, and plenty of monsters.
To our modern sensibilities, there will be some aspects of the story people won't like, but are true to the time period. The racism and sexism the main character faces throughout the book is unsettling. She's not only in danger because there are undead creatures stalking her party, but also because of her heritage and her gender. Our "cold-hearted" rogue tosses some pretty unseemly comments her way. Even when he starts to show there is more to him than a snarl, he continues to make comments that tend to reinforce their gender roles. It really did remind me a lot of John Wayne movies in that regard. Yet, it adds to the conflict of the story because Eve doesn't have an easy time of it. She really is set apart and alone in the world.
I've heard some criticism from others about the romance, but I didn't have a problem with it. Considering the time period, circumstances, etc...I could see emotions developing at an accelerated pace. Besides, most of the couples I know were instantly attracted to each other and that's why they started to date. In the time period the book was set, people courted with the intention of marriage, and young women often were married off in their teens to much older men. Eve acknowledges that her life is ruled by her uncle and that she'd even have any sort of say who she married wouldn't be expected.
Would I want to get hot and bothered if being stalked by zombies? Who's to say? If facing an inevitable death, I may just grab what little joy has left to offer.
I gobbled the book up and really enjoyed it a lot. Yes, there were a few things that made me scratch my head, but it was nothing that distracted from the story as a whole. Because we're locked into the first person perspective of the female protagonist, we are dependent on a narrator who does not have all the facts. This also applies to our lead male character. She misinterprets a lot of his actions in the beginning of the book because of her limited world view.
All in all a solid zombie book with plenty of chills and thrills.
P.S. I wrote this while in the throes of a migraine. I hope it makes sense!
This was so much fun! I loved seeing the characters as the author saw them and the world of the Uglies/Pretties/Specials. Seeing things from Shay's po...moreThis was so much fun! I loved seeing the characters as the author saw them and the world of the Uglies/Pretties/Specials. Seeing things from Shay's point of view makes her a bit more sympathetic than she came across in the novels.
I'm already looking for the second graphic novel. (less)
Filled with beautifully written prose, terrifying scenes of violence, a disquieting sense of menace, and characters...moreShort Review: Longer to come later.
Filled with beautifully written prose, terrifying scenes of violence, a disquieting sense of menace, and characters who definitely defy the concepts of good and evil, The Lineage is a solid read for fans of horror.(less)
I enjoyed a few of these short stories, but I have a feeling they may have suffered a little from the translation from Italian to English. The further...moreI enjoyed a few of these short stories, but I have a feeling they may have suffered a little from the translation from Italian to English. The further I read the more disconnected I felt from the prose.
Also, I did not like that the last story was not complete and that you have to go to a website to continue it.That left a very bad taste in my mouth especially because it was quite long. (less)
JL Bryan is one of my favorite authors. I loved his Jenny Pox series and adored his Fairy books. I'm a HUGE fan.
So it hurts just a little to give this...moreJL Bryan is one of my favorite authors. I loved his Jenny Pox series and adored his Fairy books. I'm a HUGE fan.
So it hurts just a little to give this three stars. I did like the book and encourage you to read it if you love horror. But I didn't love it.
What I Liked
The premise is awesome. It's chilling. It's scary. I loved how it felt like a horror film out of the 70's. It had an awesome gritty feel.
The characters weren't necessarily "good" even when they were on the side of "good." I rather like flawed characters who evolve over the course of a book. Cassidy is one of those characters. I can't say I liked her much at the beginning, but by the end I was firmly on her side.
I loved the lore. The twist on religion was really well done and very scary. I could definitely see the appeal of the cult. The even BIGGER twist on Cassidy's heritage was really awesome and yet horrific.
I enjoyed the interaction between Cassidy and her bestie. I also liked what felt like the realistic dynamic of a fractured home when Cassidy spends time with her mother and brother.
The world building was amazing. I felt like I was really visiting parts of Atlanta. It was very well done.
Also, Cassidy's tattoo work was AWESOME!
What I Didn't Like
Honestly, the first chapter was incredibly difficult to get through. I picked up and put down my reader so many times. I exited out of the ebook to double-check that JL had really written the book. I even messaged friends who had read the book to inquire if it got better. The first chapter didn't have the zing and excitement of JL's writing except for one little spot. The descriptions were oddly stilted, the conversation felt really off and I had difficulty discerning the characters apart. It had none of JL's usual flair at all. But I forced myself through the first chapter and the book finally got traction in the second and built from there. I have to be honest, if this wasn't his book I would have stopped reading.
The character of Ibris was really cool when we first meet him and I loved his banter with Cassidy, but he never felt like the same character again. I was kinda bummed by this.
What I'm Conflicted About
Though a lot of it was pretty epic and exciting, it also felt incredibly rushed. It moved so fast and furious I never really experienced any of the emotions I should have felt during the showdown: fear, excitement, disgust, worry... The deaths of some of the baddies just happened so fast there was no real satisfaction to them getting what they had coming. Though I really liked one aspect of the ending (view spoiler)[Cassidy taking the demon into herself and capturing him and then being influenced/tempted by his power (hide spoiler)] the book then ends on a bit of a cliffhanger.
It appears JL will continue writing in this world. I hope so. There is so much potential in this story idea it's exciting to think of where it might go.
I DO recommend you read this book. I LIKED it. I just didn't LOVE it.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I read this second book in the Hard Rock Harlots series because of elements I enjoyed in the first. Namely the complexity of the background characters...moreI read this second book in the Hard Rock Harlots series because of elements I enjoyed in the first. Namely the complexity of the background characters and the dynamics of the band. The strongest part of the first book was the scenes on the stage and the interplay with the band members.
This book is much darker, better written, and just has so much more impact than the first. Though the first book had me laughing out loud, this one is still clever but has much more emotional depth.
I really, really like Jinx. She was such a complex and well-developed character. Letty is a cartoon character next to her. In fact, the two leads from the first book take a decided backseat in the story and I didn't really miss them. When they did show up, they seemed more like comic relief and almost didn't quite fit in with the darker tones of Jinx's story.
As for the sex scenes, the ones in the first book were sheer, over-the-top fun. In this one the sex scenes take on a whole new dynamic of being slightly uncomfortable. The undercurrents and the reason for most of the sex scenes are rooted in issues of control. There are a few times when I felt the scenes bordered on rape.
Yet, the book worked as a whole. There are definitely elements some people may not enjoy, but I think the author gave fair warning in her description!
I liked this novel better than the first one on so many levels. I'll read the third.(less)
Honestly, at this point the series is getting repetitive to some degree. Though I liked the two casts of the books coming together, it really never tr...moreHonestly, at this point the series is getting repetitive to some degree. Though I liked the two casts of the books coming together, it really never truly gelled for me.
I heard there is a 4th book, but it's from Jon's perspective. None of the character really felt fully formed enough (outside of Miranda and Alex), so I'm not sure I'll pick it up.
I did really enjoy the tornado sequence though.(less)
Honestly, my enjoyment of this book was a bit diminished by the fact that nearly the same sort of events happen as in the first book, just with differ...moreHonestly, my enjoyment of this book was a bit diminished by the fact that nearly the same sort of events happen as in the first book, just with different people. Garden dying, cold weather, etc. Though this book did a better job showing all the death that was occurring and how shocking it could be as opposed to the first one.
Again, the kids didn't quite feel like their ages. Alex felt much older to me, but his complexity was appreciated. And, again, this felt like it was taking place in the 70's, not in recent history. I'm not sure why it feels this way, but it does.
My editor for my indie books, Felicia, does a great job with her review, so I defer to her review.