Just as in the authors' dedication, this book is a delightful and entertaining mix of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, with a generous dash of wizardrJust as in the authors' dedication, this book is a delightful and entertaining mix of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, with a generous dash of wizardry, magic, and mayhem.
Set in an alternate universe where magic is real and many leading historical figures routinely practice the art of enchantment, the story takes place in Regency England, specifically the year 1817, amid the whirlwind glamour of the Haute Ton season. Told from the perspective of two young women entering this society, through their correspondence with each other, the reader is immediately swept up into the actions of these two adventurous--and occasionally hare-brained--individuals, Cecilia and Kate, as they deal with black magic, suitors, overbearing guardians, and family secrets, not to mention the trials of deciding what to wear to the next ball.
Vividly drawn, frequently funny, and terribly thrilling, Sorcery and Cecilia, or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot is an engaging start, from two quite talented authors, to what I hope will become a long-running series....more
Okay, I really hate Ann Aguirre. I am dead serious here. She writes the best action-adventure/sci-fi/fiction/YA of anyone out there today. To the poinOkay, I really hate Ann Aguirre. I am dead serious here. She writes the best action-adventure/sci-fi/fiction/YA of anyone out there today. To the point where I could literally swallow my tongue out of jealousy whenever I read one of her books. Hyperbole? Nope, not even close.
Horde is the final book in Aguirre's Razorland Trilogy, and what a finale it is! If Enclave was the skeleton and Outpost was the muscles and organs, Horde is the tattooed, punk-ass skin on this most awesome literary creation. Horde begins where Outpost left off: the town of Salvation is under siege by Freaks, the remnants of humanity gone savage, and in order to save the place they've come to love and call home, Deuce, Fade, Stalker, and Tegan must leave their families behind in order to find help in one of the surrounding settlements. But this is no mere rescue mission. Because things have changed. The Freaks are no longer just the mindless beasts they once were; they've become more cunning and resourceful, and in order to save her family and free humans from the threat of these mutants, Deuce will learn to lead an army which has forgotten how to fight. This war isn't just for the sake of her family or the families in Salvation, however. This is a war to save the entire human race, a war that must be won at all costs, and that's a burden Deuce might not be able to carry.
When I started reading this book, I promised myself that I would try to take it as slow as possible, in order to savor it, but I couldn't help myself. Aguirre throws you right into the action and makes it impossible to slow down. Which is probably why I stayed up until 6 a.m. the day I finished reading this. Even as I reached the end and was satisfied every step of the way, I mentally cried because I just did not want the story to end. (I might've also physically cried a little bit as well.) Deuce has been such a fascinating, deep, and rich character from beginning to end, and part of that comes from Ann's writing in that she's allowed Deuce to grow and to change as she learns more about herself as well as the people and world around her. Yet Deuce isn't alone; the supporting characters are all real and tangible individuals, making us care for them even as Ann plays with their “lives,” even going so far as killing someone off in a scene you'll never see coming. The bitch. And I mean that in the best way because it's only the bravest author who'll let a character die in service of the story, regardless of how much an audience might care for that character. With this novel, Deuce, already having come so far from where she started, has to keep fighting uphill battles every step of the way and Aguirre lets us see her weariness, lets us see when Deuce reaches her breaking point and very nearly snaps, feel her terror, her hopelessness, her confusion and despair. And yet she keeps moving, planting one foot in front of the other and in the end manages to come out of such blackness carrying victory on her shoulders. It's a journey that'll wring you out in so many ways, but is so fulfilling you'll want to cheer.
I have a feeling it's only the easily parsable books that are made into movies, those books that can be broken down into tropes and cliches and easily understood themes so that the dollar sign-eyed movie studio execs do a little dance for joy in anticipation of all the money they'll make off a new tentpole franchise.* Take, for example, The Hunger Games. Don't get me wrong, I read the first book and thoroughly enjoyed it as it's a well-written book. But, the thing is, The Hunger Games is also part of a trilogy, yet as much as I thought the first book was fabulous, I still have not read the other two. With the Razorland Trilogy, I couldn't not read each entry in the series even if I tried. The only way would've been to have physically stopped me, because I had to, I just had to find out what happened next. What trouble would next find Deuce, what would become of her relationship with Fade and Stalker, what Tegan would do to find her courage and place in the world. And those things may sound like issues common to any other YA book or series of recent publication, but with Aguirre's writing, there's always a little something extra, a different take or new angle on the situation. There's always more to the story. Out of the YA trilogies that have lately been made into movies or are in the process of being made, of none of them have I read beyond the first book, no matter how good that first book might've been. Though it may sound mean and counterintuitive, I really hope no movie producer or production company purchases the rights to the Razorland Trilogy, because no-one, no script writer, no director, no studio, could do it justice. Bold claim, perhaps, but just read the books and ask yourself if I'm exaggerating.
I'm not sure any of this is coming out intelligibly and I know I probably sound like some kind of squeeing fan girl. You know what, though? I totally am that squeeing fan girl and proud of it. Taut, tight, well-crafted, and often heartbreaking, her books have totally become my book candy, those titles I hoard miser-style, savor even as I speed through the pages, and turn to whenever I need a comforting pick-me-up.
*I had to edit my previous remarks to be a bit less inflammatory. You'll have to excuse them, and me, as when I wrote this review, I was coming off a major "OMG! I've just read the most awesome book in the world, finishing up the most awesome trilogy in the world!" high. In that kind of situation, enthusiasm overrules any restraint or common sense a person might possess, hence the rather bombastic nature of what I'd written. That said, I realize I'm still courting controversy and anger from others with what I've said in my review; however, I stand by my remarks and opinions....more
Agghhhhhh! I've finished it! There's no more book to read!
*pauses for breath, is startled by a new thought*
Agghhhhhh! I'm going to have to wait a yearAgghhhhhh! I've finished it! There's no more book to read!
*pauses for breath, is startled by a new thought*
Agghhhhhh! I'm going to have to wait a year or more until the next book comes out! NOOOOOOOO!
Okay, I will try to keep my gushing and fawning to a minimum, focusing instead on a review of the story. Though I can't promise some fan-girl enthusiasm won't slip through.
This, the second entry in Ann Aguirre's Razorland series, picks up where Enclave left off. Deuce, Fade, Tegan, and Stalker have found sanctuary in the topside settlement of Salvation. Each has found a place with a foster family and a place in the settlement, with varying degrees of success. Though it makes Deuce wary, she finds herself growing comfortable with the care she's given by her foster family, the Oakes, and while she isn't exactly happy spending her days in school when she considers herself full of all the knowledge she'll ever need, she complies as she doesn't want to make trouble. After all, she's already turned a few heads with her Huntress behavior, behavior seen as unwomanly and not in keeping with the strict religious tenets upon which Salvation was founded. But things in Salvation aren't quite as idyllic as they seem. The Freaks, or Muties as they're known by Salvationers, are behaving in ways never seen before. They're becoming smarter... and that is not a good sign for the people behind the flimsy wooden walls of Salvation.
Yeah, I don't think those are gonna hold.
Outpost is a more thoughtful entry in the series than the first book. Don't get me wrong, there's still lots of ass-kicking, especially by Deuce (who finds she has to prove herself all over again to the community--mainly the men-folk, that is), but even with the growing crisis outside Salvation's walls, there's time for Deuce, Fade, Tegan, and Stalker to grow in ways in which they never had the opportunity to grow during their adventures on the way to Salvation. There's more time for drama, confusion, mixed signals, romance, and character expansion. As we watch these kids (for that's what they are, no matter what they've been through or how they see themselves) mature, we delve deeper into their personalities, their pasts, how they think, and their hopes for a future. And though Deuce is at the center of the novel, this book is really where Tegan comes into her own. In Enclave, Tegan was a shell-shocked survivor, barely able to pull her own weight in the group dynamic, needing to be cared for by the others. When we saw her at the end of the book, she was half dead due to the massive injury she'd received to her leg. In Outpost, she's not only survived her injury, she's spreading her wings. She grows in confidence and discovers she has a lot more to offer others than she ever thought. She even finds it within herself to forgive Stalker for how he treated her when she was held captive by his gang, something she swore she would never do.
As with Enclave, the story is a page-turner, and the writing keeps you involved as you await each new development with breathless anticipation. Aguirre has a knack for writing heart-pounding action, yet she's also able imbue her characters with real emotions and depth. Once again, they grow and change, behaving just as real people behave. It's hard for me to express just how much I adore reading Aguirre's novels. My eyes fly across the page, and the pages flip by fast enough to raise a breeze, even though I try to slow myself down in order to savor the story rising up from those pages. All I can say is that if you'd like to get in on this new trend of post-apocalyptic YA novels, but don't know where to start, start with Aguirre's. Pick up Enclave and I guarantee, as soon as you finish it or perhaps even before then, you'll be rushing out to the store to grab Outpost. I'd say Hollywood needs to pick up these books and make it into the next series of blockbuster movies, a la "Harry Potter" and "The Hunger Games," but I'm afraid Hollywood would screw up the magic that is Razorland....more
I love this book, I really do, but my first thought upon finishing the first chapter was: Are teenagers today really so well-acquainted with4.5 stars
I love this book, I really do, but my first thought upon finishing the first chapter was: Are teenagers today really so well-acquainted with such ready wit and pert comebacks? Because I know I sure as hell wasn't when I was that age. Wit would come slouching over to me, fifteen minutes or more after I needed it, and grudgingly provide me with a spot-on reply, though, of course, by that time I no longer needed one. Wit and I were not the greatest of friends; we were barely acquaintances. My second thought upon finishing the first chapter was: Unspoken will appeal to fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Oh, not because Unspoken contains vampires, demons, or any other such things (though there are sorcerers), but because of the dialog, that wit I mentioned above, and the interplay between the characters. Kami and her compatriots are the new Scooby gang.
I've had a hard time putting my thoughts into words for this review. (A really hard time: I read this book back in September and I'm finally putting the finishing touches to this review here in January.) So I'm going to resort to my old “what I liked, what I didn't like” method.
What I Liked: Kami – She's lived with the voice of a boy in her head since she was a baby. She could've easily been a very melodramatic, swoony character, or bland and spineless, much like other female PNR YA heroines. Instead Kami was awesome. She didn't care that she was an outcast and the fact that she spoke to a voice in her head didn't keep her from making friends, running the school newspaper, and generally behaving as though she's perfectly normal – it's everyone else who suffers from the lack of a voice in their head. As a character, Kami's a cross between Buffy (I swear, I don't mean to keep bringing Buffy up, but, believe me, she works!) and Lois Lane: She's so determined to solve the mystery behind the Lynburn family and their history with Sorry-in-the-Vale, she's sometimes runs straight into danger, confident that her wit and intellect will let her get out of any peril.
The Scooby gang – Kami's best friend, Angela, is a sarcastic, lazy individual, who will sprawl out on any flat surface (or even not-so-flat) in order to take a nap. In fact, she prefers napping to any kind of action. Yet, when Kami needs her, Angela is there to help, usually unwillingly, usually with a smart-aleck comment, yet, regardless, she shows up. Angela's older brother, Rusty, acts rather like Kami's older brother as well. Just as lazy as Angela, and just as unwilling to fly into action, he's also just as ready to defend Kami should she need a knight in shining armor... even though Kami is perfectly willing to act as her own knight in shining armor and fusses under Rusty's protection.
Holly – Though technically part of the Scooby gang, she deserves particular mention. Initially drawn as your typical beautiful, buxom air-head, she soon puts everyone in their place, including Kami, by demonstrating that she's more aware of how people perceive her than those people might believe. She also demonstrates that she has more depths to her character than expected. Holly turns out to be one of Kami's best friends and staunchest allies.
Damn near everything else - The story, the writing, the plot, the pacing, the modern take on the Gothic theme. Even the veddy British aspect of the novel.
What I Didn't Like: Jared's reaction to Kami – (view spoiler)[When Jared finally meets Kami and figures out she's the voice he's been hearing in his head at the same time Kami discovers Jared is the boy she's been hearing in her head, his antagonism towards her is slightly understandable (after all, seeing in reality what you've only dealt with in your imagination has to be slightly jarring) but afterward, though he grudgingly behaves in a friendly manner towards her, he has this thing about her not touching him. Every time she does, on purpose or accidentally, he recoils away from her as though her touch burns him. (hide spoiler)] It's a reaction I don't particularly understand and as the novel goes on, it's a reaction which becomes rather old after a while. However, since this is just about the only thing about the book which vexes me, I really can't complain too loudly.
In the end, I truly adored this book. However, it won't be to everyone's taste, I'd imagine. Personally, between the wit, the characterizations, and the British atmosphere, I'm not sure which appeals to me more. This is one time I'm glad a recently released book is not a stand-alone but is part of a series: I can't wait for the next book!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I've got a confession to make. Well, two confessions, actually, one big and one small. The first, small confession is: This is the first book4.5 stars
I've got a confession to make. Well, two confessions, actually, one big and one small. The first, small confession is: This is the first book I've read written by Jodi Lynn Anderson. I've heard of her 'Peaches' series, probably read a blurb or two about one of the books, but none of them have ever made it to my “To Read” shelves. However, my big confession is this: I've never read the original Peter Pan (under any of its titles) by J.M. Barrie. *waits for the inevitable public castigation* I know, I know, it's terrible of me; they're those books I've always meant to read yet somehow seem to get put off by something else. (Hey, I just found out the two books are free for my Kindle! Woo-hoo! I've snapped those puppies up, right quick.) I've seen the Disney version (yeah, I know how Disney tends to twist around a story), but that was probably about two decades ago (yeesh!). I've seen the 2003 film 'Peter Pan', which I thought was really good (then again, I'm a sucker for Jason Isaacs), 'Finding Neverland', which was maudlin, but come on, it's Johnny Depp, and, yes, I've seen 'Hook' (and liked it! So there). I've read the revamped novels written by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson (well, the first one anyway) and I recently saw the Syfy miniseries 'Neverland' which I thought was rather interesting. Wow, that's a lot of Peter Pan crap I've seen without having read the original story. Weird. Anyway, so without having taken in Barrie's version, I still have a general idea of what he was trying to express and the ambiguity he used while doing so (heck, he never even really described what Peter looked like; it's other authors and adapters who have fleshed out 'the boy who wouldn't grow up'). What I remember most from mulling over all the different adaptations I've seen and the faint memories of the Disney film is the rather shoddy treatment Tiger Lily always seemed to receive. When she was around before Wendy, she was the bee's knees; when Wendy came, Tiger Lily became an afterthought, a second-rate time filler who became unnecessary next to Wendy's English-rose daintiness. What a crock! Which is why Jodi Lynn Anderson's latest novel has finally come to my attention. I've always had a thing for the underdog and the idea of telling such a classic tale from Tiger Lily's perspective, a character who is probably the patron saint of those undervalued characters, intrigued the heck out of me.
Tiger Lily, the novel, is quite haunting. It's a story told through the eyes of another, rather neglected Peter Pan character, Tinker Bell, and, as Tink tells us right at the beginning, it's a story in which good doesn't win, the girl and boy aren't innocent, and lives are lost. When we meet Tiger Lily, the girl, she's rather awkward and stand-offish, a girl who not only doesn't quite fit into her tribe, the Sky Eaters, she also doesn't quite fit into her skin. The adopted daughter of the tribe's shaman, Tik Tok, who found her under the flower for which he named her, Tiger Lily has grown up rather wild, more animal than human, more boy than girl. The only thing Tiger Lily was afraid of was Pan, the leader of the lost boys and a figure of fright for all the Sky Eaters. Until one day, when Tiger Lily lets down her guard, she's captured by Pan... and finds that more than just her body has been captured by the feral youth. As the story progresses, the lure of Peter Pan grows stronger, tempting Tiger Lily away from her friends, her tribe, and, eventually, even her sense of self. Though many ultimately suffer as a result of her neglect, tragically, it's Tik Tok who suffers the most, and it's only until it's too late that Tiger Lily returns to herself, stronger, wiser, and sadder, and attempts to mend what's been broken.
All the original story elements are there, including how the crocodile got the clock, but seen through the eyes of Tinker Bell, the classic story takes on a new and entirely fresh perspective. What really makes the story resonate is the romance between Tiger Lily and Peter Pan; it explains so much and seems so... right. So much so that when Wendy arrives, you feel Tiger Lily's pain and confusion, and her anger. Even though you know how the story does and should end, as events unfold, you still want things to end differently. You want Peter to stay in Neverland, to end up with Tiger Lily. Tiger Lily, the book, is beautiful and sad and entrancing, and it lets Tiger Lily, the character, live and breath and be more than a simple two-dimensional cartoon. As a story, the novel flows at a perfect pace, with just the right amount of drama and tension and action, in just the right places. The narrative comes alive with deft descriptions and settings, and the dialogue is evocative of each character's individuality: Peter Pan's energy and impatience come through as choppy, almost abrupt sentences; Tiger Lily's reticence and almost predatory stillness is shown in her careful way of speaking. The romance between them is shown in awkward and touching moments, moments which feel real through the spontaneity of Peter's kiss on Tiger Lily's neck or the way she holds onto him, his scent, his wildness, his fragility, even as she knows she must give him up. It's those aching moments of reality which make their romance that much more lyrical... and so heartbreaking. Watching the story unfold through Tinker Bell's eyes, you might imagine, would make scenes feel distant, less intimate. Yet it's the exact opposite: By having Tink's emotions color the narrative, everything is that much deeper, richer. At the beginning of the novel, Tink's affection for Tiger Lily adds warmth to a character who, had she been the narrator, would most likely come off as cold and distant. That affection for Tiger Lily lasts throughout the novel, even after Tiger Lily and Tink meet Peter Pan and Tink herself falls in love with Peter, her emotions towards Tiger Lily thereafter warring between devotion and jealousy. In a way, Tink acts as first Tiger Lily's, then, to a certain degree, Peter's advocate, not quite apologizing for why they do the things they do or act the way they act, but instead showing us the underlying reasons for those behaviors and asking the reader to understand them and, in some cases, to forgive them. This doesn't stop her, though, from acting as an external conscience for Tiger Lily and Peter; since she can't talk (a facet of fairy evolution which Tink explains early on), she tries to stop their bad behavior by stinging them, biting them, tugging at their clothes, and doing anything else a little bug like her is capable of doing. As a result, Tink is more than just a narrator, she's an active participant in the story; along the way, we learn just as much about Tinker Bell and her history as we do the others.
Judging by this novel, it's no wonder Anderson's 'Peaches' series is so popular and acclaimed.
Okay, I finally get it now. What can I say, I'm slow. After all, it took me a couple of years of hearing Harry Potter this and Harry Potter that beforOkay, I finally get it now. What can I say, I'm slow. After all, it took me a couple of years of hearing Harry Potter this and Harry Potter that before I finally sat down with a (good, non-translated from English to American) copy of the first book and discovered the wonders of the Harry Potter universe, discovering my own inner Harry Potter fanatic at the same time. So it's only right that it took me a few years of hearing about the marvels of The Hunger Games and its sequels before breaking down and reading it. Now that I have, I can quite cheerfully join in with the rest of the crowd (something I so rarely do) with my own "OMG, this book is freakin' awesome!" war cry. Because it truly is.
Before I get to how beautiful and heartbreaking the story is, I have to say it is told in what might be the most perfect example of fiction writing. Collins's writing should be held up as an example to students in creative writing classes aimed towards aspiring YA fiction writers, heck, for any fiction writers, period. Those authors who have managed to get their stuff published by some miracle and not by any show of actual talent (I'm looking at you, Stephenie Meyer) should study Collins's books front to back and back again to get an idea of how a compelling story should truly look and behave. In The Hunger Games, the story flows along at exactly the right pace, neither rushing us through scenes nor holding us back with needless information. Back story is filled in only where it's needed, at just the right places, with enough information to gently round out the story as it keeps up its brisk pace, without becoming overstuffed or bogged-down. There is no purple prose here. In fact, the prose is succinct, almost terse, yet filled with such vivid and vivacious detail; words, much like the food in certain Districts, are rationed, producing a concentrated story with no waste, no unnecessary flourishes, and an almost electric page-turning readability.
As far as the story, it's...wondrous. Violent, yet filled with tear-jerking scenes of compassion and mercy. There's action a-plenty, but woven between those scenes of heart-pounding peril and nail-biting panic are scenes of desperate soul-searching, tender moments showcasing the uncertainty of burgeoning love, human moments of doubt and fear and calm acceptance. And, of course, I have to say something about Katniss. She comes from a long line of strong, positive female YA role models, following in the footsteps of Jo from Little Women, Mary Lennox from The Secret Garden, Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables, Karana from Island of the Blue Dolphins, Julie from Julie of the Wolves, even Hermione from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. But what I love most about Katniss is, she's the complete antithesis to Bella Swan and, hopefully, an antidote to the portrait of womanhood portrayed by Swan. (And here I apologise to both Suzanne Collins and Stephenie Meyer. I truly dislike pitting authors against each other, but with two such enormously popular series, featuring two such disparate characters, each of whom are idolized, it's hard not to compare them and see the faults.) Where Katniss is strong and resolute, Bella is whiny and limp; where Katniss works to provide for her family, gaining her identity from her role as provider and, at times, de facto mother, Bella has no identity, no goals, in fact, strives to be nothing more than Edward's arm candy. Katniss constantly thinks about her life, where she's going, what she's becoming, worrying over the fate of her family, the consequences of her actions, layer upon layer of well-rounded, slightly (yet healthily) neurotic complications which combine to create an actual human being, which, in side-by-side comparison, only shows up that much more clearly how much of a cardboard cutout Bella Swan is...and how, after fifty, perhaps a 100 years, the world will still remember Katniss. Girls will still read about her and imagine themselves in her image. And Bella Swan? Forgotten, a curious fad relegated to a footnote in history....more
What a fun, thrilling, adventure-filled ride of a book! For anyone who's ever felt different, apart from one's peers, even a bit "alien" to everyone eWhat a fun, thrilling, adventure-filled ride of a book! For anyone who's ever felt different, apart from one's peers, even a bit "alien" to everyone else, this is the book for you, no matter your age. In fact, even as an adult, I still suffer from such distant feelings. As such, I felt an immediate connection to the protagonist, Beatrix "Trix" Ling, the most real, dimensional, interesting character I've yet seen in juvenile fiction. She's adventurous, headstrong, doubtful of herself yet willing to go out on a limb anyway in order to do what's right and best. What's truly wonderful is she's the least irritating, whiny, mealy-mouthed M.C.; while she has her moments of poor behavior (and don't we all), she's the freshest breath of fresh air I've encountered. Trix is so real, so refreshing, so well-rounded, warm and lovable, I'm absolutely impatient to see more of her.
Trix has always believed she was special. After all, her parents told her so and ever since they died in a tragic space shuttle accident, knowing that they thought she was special has kept Trix going. Especially now. Trix is a charity case at a snobby boarding school, where her smart mouth and headstrong actions tend to get her into trouble. A lot. This last go-round, with the snooty Della, has cost Trix her coveted position on the school's gymnastic team and a trip to the state finals. Beaten, but not yet broken, Trix soon encounters the sinister Nyl, a strange mechanical man who's broken into Trix's room in order to steal the one thing left to her by her parents, a meteorite, a strange chunk of space rock she's promised to keep safe. Thus begins an adventure of a lifetime when Trix chases after Nyl and ends up in the middle of a circus. But this is no ordinary circus and when the charismatic young ringmaster invites her to join, Trix discovers her place in the universe is not so small as she believed. As she unlocks the secrets of her past, she encounters space leeches, new friends, ancient alien artifacts, potential conspiracies, and an exploding chocolate dessert.
Think of this book as kind of a Hogwarts in space. Indeed, if Circus Galacticus doesn't get the acclaim and notice that J.K Rowling's series received, then the good people at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt aren't doing their jobs properly. Breezy, exhilarating, fast-paced, well-imagined and excellently written, Circus Galacticus is a sure-fire winner....more
If I could, I would kneel at Ann's feet and worship her as a god. I would sit there for hours, or for as long as she would let me, and absorb all theIf I could, I would kneel at Ann's feet and worship her as a god. I would sit there for hours, or for as long as she would let me, and absorb all the knowledge and wisdom I'm sure she exudes. Because that's the only way I could ever find the talent and capability to write as well as she, if I ever could, that is.
Enclave is Ann's first YA offering and it kicks serious ass. Frankly, and as much as I loved The Hunger Games, if the two were matched in a head-to-head smackdown, Enclave would win hands down and leave The Hunger Games limping, bruised, with a couple of black eyes and perhaps a torn-off ear. It's that good. Then again, Deuce, the protagonist of Enclave, is the natural heir to the bad-assery shown by the star of Aguirre's other series, Sirantha Jax.
Deuce lives in the enclave, an underground dwelling built into the remains of the New York subway system after the second holocaust, in the near (or far) future. It's a hard life: only if you survive the first fifteen years do you get a name; until then, you're only identified as a 'Boy' or 'Girl' brat and a number. During those years, you train as either a Breeder, a Builder, or a Hunter. When you get your name, you also get your arms scarred, the number of which identifies you for life: two for breeder, four for builder, six for hunter. Hunters have the most dangerous life, having to go outside into the tunnels in order to find food, all the while braving the marauding monsters called Freaks. Almost-human, but yet not, with razor-sharp teeth and claws for fingernails, they eat the dead, even their own, and attack anything that moved. They've always been a threat to the enclave, but lately the Freaks are becoming more bold, more intelligent, which makes them even more terrifying.
Deuce is proud of becoming a Huntress, proud that she can now justify her place in the enclave. But she's not so proud to become the partner of Fade, an outsider who joined the enclave after surviving for years in the tunnels on his own. Of course, Fade's not too happy either, especially when the two of them discover some unsettling truths about the Freaks' behavior and it seems as though all Deuce wants to do is carry on the enclave's party line, one of defiant ignorance. That all changes when Deuce slowly begins to question all that she's been told growing up in the enclave, especially when she's put into a situation not of her making which results in her and Fade being exiled. As the two make their way Topside, Deuce finds herself facing new vistas, new truths, and new feelings unlike any she's ever known before.
Deuce is one of those rare YA characters who actually grows and changes as the story progresses. Not always for the good, perhaps, but she doesn't remain the same character she was at the beginning of the novel. Because she's so young when the story begins (even though, in her society, Deuce is seen as grown up), the novel is a coming-of-age tale, albeit one that happens to mix in some knife fighting, ass-kicking, and Freaks. As with her other novels, Aguirre infuses even the most minor of characters with a depth and nuance, peopling the plot with a variety of likable and not-so-likable people who also manage to morph as circumstances change. Then there's the story, which isn't at all straightforward or predictable. It starts at one point, you think you see where it's going, and then it takes a turn. It's full of drama, heart-pounding action, and pathos; there's not a moment where the reader's attention drags or feels overwhelmed by exposition. There's nothing extraneous; it's a lean, tight, engaging book that moves even when the characters aren't.
My final words? I can't recommend Enclave highly enough. If you are a fan of the ever-expanding YA post-apocalyptic genre, you would do well to read Enclave. Once you do, you'll be hooked. Ooh, and then you can join me and we can create the cult of Ann Aguirre! There'll be t-shirts and everything! C'mon!
It's easy to forget how tenuous a hold we have over our civilization. The technology which makes our current lives possible, and easy; the system whicIt's easy to forget how tenuous a hold we have over our civilization. The technology which makes our current lives possible, and easy; the system which gives us the clothes we wear, the food on our tables, the roofs over our heads; the gifts which fuel our communication, our education, our transportation and exploration of all things great and small; all that the current human race is built on is so fragile, when something comes along to break that delicate web, humanity is left as vulnerable as an infant. And just as prepared to survive.
If you're looking for a book which involves international conspiracies, car chases and explosions as those conspiracies are unraveled, this isn't the book for you. Instead, Life as We Knew It explores the simplest truth: How would you survive if the world as you knew and understood it changed catastrophically? Narrated through the journal entries of sixteen-year-old Miranda, the book begins with the normal trauma of a teenager. Her father, newly remarried, is having a baby with his new wife; her mother is still learning how to be a single parent; her older brother is away at college, unable to help out, and her younger brother is, well, a younger brother. Then something impossible happens: An asteroid, which was only supposed to hit the moon with a glancing blow, instead impacts with such force as to tear off chunks of our satellite and change its orbit, with disastrous consequences. Soon after, the Earth is subjected to tsunamis, earthquakes, and massive volcanic eruptions which fill the sky with ashes. Miranda's story slowly changes from one of self-involvement and self-pity into one of family obligation and sacrifice as she realizes how important the little things are. When things are at their worst, when starvation is no longer a horror but a matter-of-fact thing, when an outbreak of the flu becomes as serious as the bubonic plague, that's when something as simple as a box of stale chocolates, shared among the family, becomes a shining expression of love. Heart-wrenching and powerfully told, Life As We Knew It is a book which makes you think, which may or not be a good thing, about your life, your family, and the how much you would sacrifice to save them when the unthinkable happens. ...more
I think it falls under some sort of horribly ironic, Murphy's Law category, that Terry Pratchett, a man who lives off the ideas and creativity percolaI think it falls under some sort of horribly ironic, Murphy's Law category, that Terry Pratchett, a man who lives off the ideas and creativity percolating in his brain, was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's. I just hope that whatever treatment he is undergoing to combat the disease allows him to share his talent for many more years to come, because no man who can populate books with characters such as Death (who, despite his job, is really quite likeable), Nanny Ogg (we've all known a Nanny Ogg at one point in our lives, for better or worse), animals such as tree-climbing octopods and beer-loving Grandfather birds, and, well... things, for lack of a better word, such as the Luggage, deserves to have his mind taken away in such a horrible fashion.
Having read all of his Discworld novels, I was a bit hesitant to read Nation; after all, if it's not Discworld, is it worth it? The answer is a big, resounding "Yes!" I don't know how he manages to intertwine current events, deep philosophical musings, and penetrating social commentary into a story full of humor, excitement, sadness, adventure... in other words, humanity, in all its glory and failings. Manage it, he does, however with wit and an unwavering sense that everything will turn out alright in the end, not necessarily to our liking, but potentially to the way it needs to be. So, instead of attempting to condense Pratchett's story into a few sentences in order to convince others to pick up the book and read it (and horribly bungling it in the process), I'll simply state: Try it. You'll like it. ...more
I feel the need to make this less a review and more a rebuttal towards the many points others have brought up as the reason for why this book sucks/doI feel the need to make this less a review and more a rebuttal towards the many points others have brought up as the reason for why this book sucks/doesn't make sense/is lacking:
The book is one big initiation ritual, with the action only taking place in the last 100 pages.
Well, in a way the people saying this are right... and yet they're also wrong. Rather than being a delay to the story, the initiation is the story. Along the way, it's foreshadowed as to what's building up, the big issue which is settled, or starting the process of being settled, at the end of the book. But we need the initiation, the discovery of who Tris is at heart and what she's capable of, to come to fruition before the action could take place. Let me clarify that: Before the action could take place and result in a satisfactory story.
The world-building is lacking insofar as how the factions were created and the reasons why people would go along with the concept.
Okay, so we're never told how the faction system came into being. There's a mention of a 'great peace' after which the factions were formed, so from that we can infer that before that, there was a great war. And it must've been great and devastating and, probably, long, for people to want to divide and segregate themselves in such a manner; not only that, but subjugate their instincts in order to fit into such narrow definitions. Yet, we're human: for all that we say we're individuals and want to go our own way, very few of us actually have the courage to do so. Most follow along with the herd, even those herds who proclaim that they're individuals. Yeah, you're all individuals who are wearing the same thing, doing the same thing, thinking the same thing. Go individuality! As Tris's mom says near the end of the book: “Every faction conditions its members to think and act a certain way. And most people do it. For most people, it's not hard to learn, to find a pattern of thought that works and stay that way.” It's human nature to go with the flow; it's comfortable and it's easy. Just look at the many countries around the world with oppressive governments and little-to-no resistance. So for those critics who say Roth's five faction system is unrealistic or not well thought out, I say, it's very easy to see humans going along with such a system, even if it is biblically based (which is rather ridiculous and I'll get into the reason for that in a bit).
Why is Abnegation in charge of government when they're such wimps?
Right at the beginning of the book, on page 33, that decision is explained: Representatives from Abnegation make up the ruling council as that faction is seen as incorruptible because of its members commitment to selflessness. So, maybe that's a bit simplistic; after all, wouldn't you want someone from the intelligence or peace faction as well? Wouldn't the faction that prides honesty be just as incorruptible? Possibly. Then again, someone from Candor could be completely honest about how or why he took money as a bribe. So if all you're looking for is a ruling body that won't be swayed by bribes, it makes sense to use a faction that values selflessness above all else. That ruling body may not be particularly politically astute, but it will be inviolable.
Why would this society rely on, let alone trust, a military unit, Dauntless, which is basically made up of psychopaths?
Again, this is explained in the book. Dauntless was once a faction of brave individuals who followed the manifesto set out by its creators, one of lines of which reads: 'We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another.' But recently the leadership of Dauntless changed hands and those that are now in charge emphasis a more ruthless and, yes, slightly psychotic edge to the training and behavior of Dauntless members. Not to mention certain of those leaders are in cahoots with Jeanine, the big villain of the piece, (view spoiler)[in their search to identify and weed out Divergents like Tris, not to mention start a war in order to overthrow the current government, (hide spoiler)] which means even more they're going to do things and behave in ways more vicious than previous Dauntless. Basically, the faction is corrupting, which ties in with the increasingly noticeable corruption of the other factions, mainly Erudite and Candor. As a faction corrupts, it changes and it worsens. Which is why the Dauntless seem like nothing more than train-chasing, adrenaline-junky, building-jumping hooligans.
Tris is cold/robotic/lacking in sympathy/judgmental.
There are a lot of facets to this particular complaint. One part complains about Tris's problem with intimacy. I hate to seem like a broken record, but this is explained in the book. By growing up in Abnegation, Tris isn't used to physical contact, from hugs to shaking hands. So it makes sense that, while she and Four could do some innocent petting, the idea of full-on sexual relations with the boy would freak her out and make her pause. Believe me, I completely understand this point: I'm unused to physical contact myself; I'm not a hugger and the one time a strange man touched my shoulder (as a way to apologize for bumping into me, not in any perverted way), I flinched and freaked out internally. Yeah, probably more than you wanted to know about me, but, still, I know whereof Tris is coming from. Anyway, then there's the charge that she's judgmental towards her fellow initiates. Mainly this charge revolves around how she behaves when she hears the other initiate, Al, crying after their first night in Dauntless. Instead of comforting him, as she's been raised to do, she feels disgust that someone who looks so strong should act so weak. Yeah, it sounds pretty heartless, until you realize what she's dealing with: For her entire life she's been told to live only for the good of others, to deny herself in favor of helping others. Yet her instincts are contrary to this; she doesn't want to help others, at least not to the detriment of herself. If she helps Al, she's just reinforcing the test which placed her in Abnegation, but with all her heart, she knows she belongs in Dauntless. So, she has to be heartless if only to reinforce to herself that she's Dauntless. Mean? Yes. Logical? Not to anyone but a teenager. As far as other “judgements” she may pass, well, who the fuck among us hasn't had disparaging, nasty, biased, rude thoughts about others? If you say you haven't, you're lying. In the privacy of our brains, we're allowed to think what we like; it's when we break down and allow those mean thoughts to inform our actions that we fail as human beings.
Four isn't romantic, he's bossy, demeaning, arrogant, and brooding.
Once again, the book makes it quite clear what Four is attempting to do: dissemble. He wants to help Tris, but he can't come out and say, “Hey, guess what? This place is bugged and Eric is working for someone, we think from Erudite, who's on the hunt for Divergents. You've got a big bull's eye on your back, so try to be more discrete. Oh, and I like you, but if I show it in front of Eric, he'll just use that as ammunition to destroy me because I'm better than him, and he's already gunning for me. And if I go, you'll really be up shit creek without a paddle. M'kay?” It's Tris who is the problem, and this is the first big fail of Roth's. Tris can be a major idiot at times, taking her way to long to pick up on hints and other various 'wink, wink, nudge, nudge' moments. She's kick-ass, that's for sure, but she needs to be smarter.
Why does Tris see Caleb's leaving as a betrayal when she herself leaves? Why does she immediately discard all of Abnegation's traits? Why does she feel the need to leave and join Dauntless in the first place?
I figured I'd join these up to save some space. Tris sees Caleb's leaving as a betrayal because she assumed, from his perfect Abnegation behavior, that he would stay, that he would be the one to console their parents as they recovered from her betrayal. The fact that he also chose another faction over Abnegation was shocking and that shock manifested as betrayal. She discards her Abnegation traits and appearance, getting tattoos and dressing in black, because, for one, it bonds her to her new faction and, for another, the greatest rule of all, repeated several times in the book, is Faction before blood. Her family is now the Dauntless faction. She must follow their rules. And, yeah, it's a bit about rebellion, but be honest, wouldn't you? If you lived a life of strict denial, where even looking in a mirror was forbidden, and then were told you could dress as you like, decorate your body as you like, be adventurous, do formerly forbidden things, are you saying you'd continue to live as you did before? Yeah, right, didn't think so. And that's why Tris felt the need to leave in the first place. She said it herself: Looking upon the Abnegation lifestyle as an outsider, she thought it was beautiful. The simplicity of it, the love. But when she imagined herself actually living that life, she couldn't fit in; she couldn't be genuine.
Why does her Divergent status mean she's so good at weapons and fighting, and so quickly?
I don't think it does. I think she gets better quickly in order to survive. However, the idea of her being Divergent making her somehow more capable than the others, when you think about it, it makes sense. After all, the whole idea behind being Divergent is that she has access to traits beyond one faction, which seems normal to use, but dangerously subversive to the world Roth created. More traits means the ability to think in more than one direction and thus a greater grasp of skills.
Her relationship with the other pledges felt fake and forced because they'd be friends one day and enemies the next.
Tris and Christina's friendship felt quite genuine, under the circumstances. After all, getting into Dauntless could rest on the fact that one of them might have to beat the other in the competition. So the aspect of wariness which pervades Tris's dealings with all the other initiates she's friendly with makes perfect sense.
Points that have been brought up which I agree with: -Religion is casually mentioned, especially in regards to Tris, without any context. In a rigidly defined world such as the one Roth is setting up, religion is either banned, which could explain the quasi-underground sense of use I get when Tris and her father reference it, or it's mandatory. Either way is not clearly defined in the book. -Nothing is said of the world outside of Chicago. We are told of a fence enclosing the city, which the Dauntless patrol, but against what? Who's out there? -What's with the trains? Why do they run all the time? What purpose do they serve? Is it just understood that the Dauntless use them or do they use them illegally? Does anyone else ride the trains? -What's the economic basis of the society? They use points to buy stuff, which, at least in Dauntless, are allotted monthly. How do they earn points? Are there demerits? Is the point system based on barter, behavior, what?
At the end of all this, what am I saying. Am I saying the world-building is complete? No. It's still got some holes and weaknesses. Is the story perfect? Hell no. Very few stories ever are. However, if I had a daughter and was given a choice of books for her to idolize between this and Twilight, I'd pick Divergent every single time, for the simple fact that Roth has written a female lead who has the strength of conviction to go her own way, to choose her own path in life, to choose a different life over a life she's known and lead and been instructed in since she was a child. Tris is a character who learns she can be strong, in many ways stronger than the men she's around, even the man she loves. And damn if that isn't refreshing!["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"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Set in a quasi-dystopic future--in which children are removed from their parents at the age of five to begin their schooling and come under the aegisSet in a quasi-dystopic future--in which children are removed from their parents at the age of five to begin their schooling and come under the aegis of the shadowy 'Authorities'; where marriages (called "Pairings") are arranged on the basis of genetics and aptitude groupings (a scientist to a scientist, an artist to an artist, etc.); where race is turned upside down and white people are considered freaks and abominations because everyone is brown--Framed!, the first book in a series, is a thought-provoking look at a potential future of the human race. Set in England and focusing on the life of Luke Harding, a savant in the field of forensics and, at 16, the youngest certified Forensic Investigator, his trusty robotic aide MALC, a Mobile Aid to Law and Crime, and Luke's girlfriend Jade, a talented musician and forbidden love, the book introduces us to Luke's world and his first crime, a murder. Newly qualified as an investigator, the murder seems routine until Luke discovers that all the clues point to him as the perpetrator. When more bodies show up, each one pointing to Luke, he's forced to use all his skills and those of MALC, to solve the crime and clear his name.
Framed! manages to mix together teen angst and a murder mystery, all within a greater setting of a not-quite-ideal future. While the mystery isn't very complex and is more police-procedural than a typical “sleuthing” mystery, the book still deals with the human emotions and urges which motivate all crimes. Malcolm Rose also introduces the underlying tension of such a society, in which a person's life is ruled by a severe set of rules; Luke, though a part of that system, has a rebellious side which provokes him to question those rules and the system which governs them. The most frustrating, yet intelligent part of the book is the fact that we, the reader, don't know exactly when all this action is taking place. No specific year is given and no explanation is laid out for why things are the way they are: why London is now a semi-abandoned town full of bandits and the south of England is considered almost uninhabitable; why the north of England is the center of all learning and enlightenment. All the answers to those questions are left up to the reader to decide, which adds an almost “Choose Your Own Adventure” flavor to the story. I'll state the obvious here: I'm neither the sex nor the age group this book is aimed at, yet I enjoyed it all the same, and I don't feel ashamed about that....more