I decided to read this for two reasons. 1. The film of the first book is due to come out soon. 2. I have read the first two books, but not the third,I decided to read this for two reasons. 1. The film of the first book is due to come out soon. 2. I have read the first two books, but not the third, and could remember so little of the first two that I thought it'd be confusing to just read the third without re-reading the first two beforehand. I'm glad I did. So, here's the breakdown:
Divergent Quite a fun book, as I'd remembered it to be. An interesting premise, but one that ultimately left me with a unsatisfying niggle, because (view spoiler)[why wouldn't everyone be divergent? I couldn't force myself into once faction only, as I feel I have traits for all of them. Maybe I could have an affinity for a particular faction over others (Amity and Abnegation probably, but maybe Erudite too), but it seems unrealistic to limit yourself to just one way to living based on a glorified personality test. (hide spoiler)] So, that's always bothered me. Other than that, actually pretty solid. (view spoiler)[The fact that Four turns out to be Tobias is blindingly obvious on a re-read. The way that Marcus', and then Four's, eyes are so explicitly describe in the same way makes it clear. No memory of whether I picked up in this when I first read it or not. (hide spoiler)]
Insurgent There's a lot to like about Insurgent. More than I'd remembered. And while the plot is kind of rambly and twisty, the emotional process that Tris goes through is pretty solid. Her post traumatic reaction to (view spoiler)[killing Will (hide spoiler)] was, in particular, very well done. I was pleased that this wasn't pushed aside and just 'got over' and that it was an ongoing issue for her. As it naturally would be. It impacted her relationship with Tobias in a way that felt very real too, and not just as a device to create Plot with their developing relationship. The ending though? (view spoiler)[I remember that twist as being odd the first time I read it, and I wasn't sure where it'd go from there. (hide spoiler)]
Allegiant So, the last part. Finally. Insurgent picks up right after Divergent finishes, which is nice when you're reading them in sequence. However, Allegiant picks up a little while after Insurgent, which meant I spent the first chunk of the book constantly wondering (view spoiler)[what had happened to Marcus (hide spoiler)]. Just one line would've fixed that. It's not a massively important issue, just a bit annoying because it's something that so easily could've been fixed. I really thought the plot of this one was the weakest of all, which is what brings this down to three stars overall - the other two would've got four by themselves (and, indeed, that is how I rated them when I first read them). The twist at the end of Insurgent, and the development of that during this book, does finally make sense of the problem I had with the first book. But should one have to wait until the last book of a series to get that info and for it finally make sense? I imagine there will be a lot of similar questions to the ones I had once the first film comes out, I'll be very interested to hear my friends views after we've seen it. I felt like this book took a long time to get to the end, without doing a whole lot in between. Held my attention less than the first two. The switching viewpoints between Tris and Tobias also took a little getting used to, when it'd just been Tris' voice for the first two books. I can see why this was done of course, but it also (view spoiler)[made the ending a little obvious. This could've been introduced in Insurgent and worked well, and then it would've covered the fact that we needed a different voice to finish the book. Or, we could've just switched to Tobias at the very end (hide spoiler)]. Not as smoothly done as it could've been.
I think that what these books do best is explore relationships and the consequences of violent action. The relationships - friendships, familial, romantic - are all thought through and explored well. (view spoiler)[Don't get too attached to anyone in these books though because they might be dead at any moment!(view spoiler)[ As are the what happens to people when you condition them to think and act in certain ways, and how choosing a violent path over different actions has long term effects on a person, how it can change a person, and how it just tends to lead to more violence. The themes of oppression, conditioning, free will, choice, and what makes a person who they are also well explored.
Overall: surprisingly strong books, that give you a lot to think about, but I'm not sure how well they'll endure. Very much looking forward to the film adaptations of them, I think they'll be very interesting. (hide spoiler)](hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Reading these on the recommendation of my friend Ed. Have to say, I'm not super impressed with the start. It's not terrible, but it's not so great thaReading these on the recommendation of my friend Ed. Have to say, I'm not super impressed with the start. It's not terrible, but it's not so great that it really grabbed me and made me impatient to read the rest of the series. I've got the rest on order from the library, so I will read them, but this is no Locke & Key (for example).
The art is great - for the first four issues at least, I'm not so keen on Tony Akins' art for the last two issues (it's not bad, just not quite as good). I'm not overly liking some of the designs (Poseidon, Hades) but some of the other designs are fantastic (Hera, the Amazons). The writing, however, is what lets it down. I know nothing about Wonder Woman really, and the good thing here is that doesn't matter; the writing does manage to ensure that you can come to this title as a new reader and not feel like you're missing anything out. I understand that this series is meant to be a reboot of sorts, so I guess it achieves its aim there.
These, however, are my issues with the writing: * Hera is my main problem. She's written as a very one dimensional scorned woman on a crusade of vengeance which is a device that is, to me, overdone, clichéd and, thus, quite boring. I was actually quite annoyed by that by the end of these six issues. I know there is classic precedent, but that's not all Hera is. Can't we have a little more nuance and depth please? * The unnecessarily confusing, inconsistent naming of the gods. Hermes is Hermes, Hera is Hera, but then Eris is only ever called Strife. Why? Seems unnecessary. Just pick one (classic names or nick names) and stick with it. Also confusingly, Zeus and Hades are referred to as Heaven and Hell, which is mixing the belief systems rather (Poseidon is Sea). I'm not sure why the nicknames were thrown in, but it seems to smell a little bit like dumbing it down for the readers. Hmm. * Overall, the writing is a little too simplistic and rushed for my tastes. I prefer plot to take its time and not feel like you have to rush on through everything. There were times when it just didn't seem to make sense - what bargain with Hades? and who/what exactly is Lennox? I didn't fully understand the introduction of Lennox and his plan, aside from the fact that he's alleging to also be a demi-god. Seems a little sloppy in places, especially towards the end of this volume, but that can happen when you're pushed to write on a one-month deadline without any flexibility. * Finally, the why of Zeus having left his throne is fuzzy - but perhaps that's something that's meant to be intentional and addressed in later issues. Although, when it's the catalyst for the plot then perhaps that's not the best idea.
Just did a dramatic reading of this for my cat. As you do. She curled up and went to sleep. Compliment?
I absolutely adore this poem, and when this ediJust did a dramatic reading of this for my cat. As you do. She curled up and went to sleep. Compliment?
I absolutely adore this poem, and when this edition caught my eye on the shelf while doing some tidying I felt it was time for another reading. I'd love to record this to video someday, so I consider reading it aloud for my cat as rehearsal. Yeah....more
The buzz around this title interested me. I've never really been a reader of 'universe' titles/superhero comics. This has a premise that interested meThe buzz around this title interested me. I've never really been a reader of 'universe' titles/superhero comics. This has a premise that interested me though and it's a good jumping on point, so I gave it a go. It's a good first issue, a snappy intro with plenty of well written dialogue that makes me want to continue reading the title. So it's done its job there then. I was a little confused as to what exactly was going on when she had her transformation, but maybe that's the point and we'll learn more about this in future issues? The artwork is simply divine, which is always an important thing. If I don't like the art, it lessens the enjoyment for me....more
I didn't actually mean to stay up late reading this until I finished it, it just sort of happened. As these things do. I was a little surprised when II didn't actually mean to stay up late reading this until I finished it, it just sort of happened. As these things do. I was a little surprised when I got to the end; a little bit 'Wait, that's it? That's the end?'. It's not that it's a bad ending, more just that I was a little surprised that it'd crept up on me - but I guess that's what happens when you're sleepily reading at 3.30am.
After the brain-breaker that was number9dream (and with the similarly break-breaking The Westing Game on the side), I felt I needed something simpler and straightforward to read next. There's a lot to be said for a does-what-it-says-on-the-tin book. And this is that. It's a ya romance, as it looks, but it's equally a rather lovely exploration of family relationships which balanced things out nicely and keeps it from being too sappy. Everything plays out as you'd expect it to, there's no surprises here. Even the 'twist' really isn't because you can see it coming miles away. That's not a bad thing though, and it's rather nicely written too, which puts it a notch above something that easily could've been average. I particularly enjoyed the English/American differences that were accurately, and humourously, written. It was what it was, and what it was was what I needed to read at the moment and I enjoyed it for being that.
My digital copy came with a preview of Jennifer E. Smith's next book, The Geography of You and Me, at the end. I only read the intro, not even the first chapter that's actually included, and I was off to request it on NetGalley. Always a good sign....more
A perfectly voiced Spike, as you'd hope with James Marsters penning it, but a somewhat unsatisfying plot. It doesn't really anything Spike's story, inA perfectly voiced Spike, as you'd hope with James Marsters penning it, but a somewhat unsatisfying plot. It doesn't really anything Spike's story, in S7 or beyond, and the 'big bad' for the piece, while entertaining, never actually had it's motives explained at all. (view spoiler)[Just why was it collecting babies? I'd have liked to have known that. And, as Spike didn't actually defeat it, did it just go back to collecting babies? (hide spoiler)]. The whole thing just felt a little unfinished, like there should be another volume to continue the story.
The art, however, is a different story. I really like it; Derlis Santacruz captures Spike excellently, and it's always very clear what's going on in each panel. I'd much rather he was doing the art for the Angel & Faith title than Will Conrad, so it's nice to see that he'll be a guest artist for at least one issue.
I wonder if the whole thing was really a bit of a trial for James Marsters, to see how he can write and how DH might use him in future on the Buffy lines. Hmm.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This is a great book, that I may never even have come across if it hadn't been for Mark Reads. So I'm grateful for that. Some things I managed to figuThis is a great book, that I may never even have come across if it hadn't been for Mark Reads. So I'm grateful for that. Some things I managed to figure out, others I didn't ((view spoiler)['America the Beautiful', for instance. Not being American it wasn't something familiar enough to me to get. (hide spoiler)]).
This is the kind of book that you can never just read once. I'm going to have to read it again at some point, because I just know I'm going to get so much more out of it now that I know how it all plays out. Which is why this is only 4 stars and not 5, because I suspect the reread will be even more enjoyable so I'm saving that one for later.
Finally, JKR should have taken note of this book, because if you're going to do a (view spoiler)['and this is how everyones' lives played out' ending (hide spoiler)], then this is how you do it. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
The first chapter didn't grab me. It just made me wonder what on earth I was reading - listening to other people tell you their dreams is (usually) veThe first chapter didn't grab me. It just made me wonder what on earth I was reading - listening to other people tell you their dreams is (usually) very boring, and this seemed to be veering into that territory. Weird, pointless, bit boring, and not even polite enough to be funny. It took quite a while to move past that and start the second chapter. I basically spent last night and today reading this book - I went from 37% yesterday, to 48% this morning, to finishing it 2 minutes before midnight. Which I felt I had to do, because it's the book that was chosen for my bookgroup read and our next meeting is tomorrow eve. It wasn't an easy task, but I had nothing else to do today. It's not the kind of book that I wanted to carry on reading; it's not the kind of book that sucks me in and makes me read all night and forget to sleep. No, it's not that at all. I was happy to be distracted for periods of time while reading this. I honestly thought about skipping the Goatwriter sections at one point, but I didn't (well done me).
There were a few sentences, and the occasional paragraph, in this book that I really liked but I felt like I was trudging through tar to get to them. Sorry David Mitchell fans, but this really did a whole lot of nothing for me. The only bits I properly enjoyed were the parts between Eiji and Ai. Their developing relationship through the book was lovely, as was Eiji's parallel, but opposite, relationships with his mother and father. Actually, all the relationships are well done, it's all the crap that goes alongside them that was tedious to me. If I took a cleaver to this book, chopped it up, threw out the fat, and then put it back together again then I might end up with something I'd enjoy more.
Let's not even talk about that ending. I was just happy it ended really. Uch. It might be a while before I try David Mitchell again....more
So: * If you're in your late teens, or early twenties, you could read this as inspiration and a bit of a how-to guide for travelling the world (the autSo: * If you're in your late teens, or early twenties, you could read this as inspiration and a bit of a how-to guide for travelling the world (the author does have really excellent 'rules' for travelling). * If you're in your mid-twenties to early thirties and haven't had similar adventures this might inspire you to set off and have a few of your own. * If you're in your mid-twenties to late thirties and have had similar adventures you can nod knowingly and feel a sense of shared experience. * If you're in your mid-to-late thirties and have never done anything like this in your life, it might get a bit depressing. Depending on what you've done with your life that is. You may be happy with all your choices, and even though they may be different and you've never left your own country, you're happy and that's all good. If not though, the book may be a little challenging for you.
You have to read this book for what it is. Yes, she's privileged and thus has the opportunity to fly around and experience the world in ways others can't. That's fine, her prerogative. The other aspect of this travel book is her international sexcapades. Which, again, is fine but don't expect this book to be deeply culturally insightful, or deeply spiritual, and if reading about one lady's sexual exploits doesn't sound like your thing then maybe it's not for you (but do try it anyway, you might be surprised). But, having said that, the book is not without any depth. You can read the author maturing and 'growing up' each time she takes a trip. The human connections that she experiences in different places are formative, and if she hadn't had this particular personal journey then would she be where she is today? Who knows...
I started out being a bit beaten down by this book - 'oh great, you've had lovely and interesting adventures all over the world and now you're rubbing my face in it, thanks' - but I quickly moved on from that. The writing has a lightness and charm to it, so it's immensely readable which kept me coming back to it and moving quickly through it. By the end, I realised that actually this book is a brilliant demonstration of the fact that people move through life at different paces and that one shouldn't feel pressured by people telling you what you should be doing when, or feeling like you should be doing something just because everyone else your age is. As Mama Cass said, 'make your own kind of music', and do things in your time and when you're ready for them....more
This book is amazing, but hard to read. As Mark Oshiro pointed out - how did anyone read this book as a child and not be utterly destroyed by it?!? ThThis book is amazing, but hard to read. As Mark Oshiro pointed out - how did anyone read this book as a child and not be utterly destroyed by it?!? This is how it goes: 'Here's a nice thing, NOW LET ME RUIN IT. Muhahahahaha.' And repeat.
I remember seeing the film that bears the same name as this book when it came out. I remember enjoying it in a light-hearted way. I actually borrowed the book from my cousin (the one with the Anne Hathaway tie-in cover), but didn't get around to reading it and ended up having to return it. So I'm glad it became one of the Mark Reads books and I've finally got around to read it. I can now see why people say that the film is terrible. Because, yeah, when you consider it as an adaptation of this book, it's pretty shocking.
There's a bit, near the end, where letters are exchanged. It's an amazing chapter, but got me extra emotional because it reminded me of a time when I had some wonderful email exchanges with someone that's now a sad thing to think about. Damnit, I want someone to write to me like that again. Sigh.
So my friend set up a book group at the end of last year and I'm now part of a real-world, actual in-person book group - rather than various online onSo my friend set up a book group at the end of last year and I'm now part of a real-world, actual in-person book group - rather than various online ones that I've tried and found unsatisfying. This was our first pick (selection process is made by everyone putting a choice into a hat and then one being picked out).
Historical fiction is a new area for me really, and I'm not sure this was the best book to start with. There are many things good and interesting about the book, but it didn't click for me. I'm not sure if I'd just rather read a non-fiction book about the person, or subject, rather than a fictionalised work. However, I understand that a written history can also be biased, inaccurate, or one-sided (sounds like Dragon Lady: The Life and Legend of the Last Empress of China might be an example) and often historical information is very much 'who knows?' anyway, so at least a fictionalised account is knowingly presenting you with a hypothetical.
I think my main problem with this came not from it being historical fiction, but with the way it was written. The way that a few things were Anglicised (e.g. her name, Orchid) and yet the majority wasn't seem very odd to me. I like consistency. Sometimes I also felt that things were just going nowhere. There'd be large chunks where I just felt like nothing was happening and it was all just descriptions of opulence. Which is fine, and they were very interesting (as were the descriptions of all the ceremonial and superstitious aspects of life in The Forbidden City), but without balance they get a bit much.
The depiction of Chinese history from a non-Western viewpoint was very interesting and, from about half-way in, the growing feeling of the 'barbarians' closing in around you and China diminishing was very well done. The depiction of Chinese culture, which I know little about, was also very interesting. However, the story overall didn't do a lot for me which is why it's merely 'ok'. And what on earth was that ending? Was it meant to be romantic? It was just confusing. What on earth was An-te-hai up to with his coat? I don't understand that at all. I just can't quite push it over to three stars.
I may well read the follow-up to this at some point, to read about her later life. I'll certainly be doing a bit of research into the Dowager Empress regardless. An interesting person, so that book has at least introduced me to her. I'll be interested to read some more historical fiction in future, I've got my eye on HHhH, which has been highly recommended to me....more
This is a great little story. The writing is current and modern, but at the same time it's also the timeless and true voice of 14 year old girls all tThis is a great little story. The writing is current and modern, but at the same time it's also the timeless and true voice of 14 year old girls all through history. I could certainly recognise the feelings that Clare was having as ones I'd had at that age. Very well done.
I got what was going on straight away (not the exact specifics of how, but certainly the what), but in no way did that lessen the ending for me, or diminish my appreciation of the fact that it is cleverly done. However, I'm not the target audience for this book, so it may well be that someone who is the target audience would be like 'woah' at the end of this.
Very good; heartily recommended! Bonus points for a wonderful cover; I love the shiny red!...more
The story is still 5-star amazing, and I love it, but the reason this gets 4 stars is because I prefer Chris Riddell's illustrations in the UK editionThe story is still 5-star amazing, and I love it, but the reason this gets 4 stars is because I prefer Chris Riddell's illustrations in the UK edition. Skottie Young is an amazing artist, but I feel that Chris' illustrations are more suited to the book. Still, I love the story so much that I had to own both editions, of course!...more