One night Russian soldiers bust into the house of Dokka in a small village in Chechnya. Dokka orders his young 8-year-old daughter Havaa to escape intOne night Russian soldiers bust into the house of Dokka in a small village in Chechnya. Dokka orders his young 8-year-old daughter Havaa to escape into the woods with the small blue suitcase that she had packed and ready at a moment's notice. Dokka is hauled away by Russian soldiers and his house burned to the ground.
Havaa is a charming little girl who dreams of being a marine biologist, a dutiful daughter who helps her father in every way she can. And when he tells her to grab her suitcase and whisks her away to the woods behind their home, she does as he says and waits-- waits in the woods with her little blue suitcase until Ahkmed finds her.
Dokka's neighbor Ahkmed searches the woods for Havaa, and shuttles her away to the safety of his own home, where he lives with his ailing and bedridden wife Ula, but determines that Havaa is not safe in the village. The soldiers will return for her. So he takes her to the nearby hospital, to leave her in the care of a doctor he's never met before, but learned of from a passing refugee.
Sonja is the only doctor at the local hospital. She is responsible for the care of everyone that comes through her doors, from injured soldiers and civilians with missing limbs and mortal wounds to women giving birth. Sonja was always the brilliant academic daughter overlooked by everyone, outshined by her beautiful younger sister Natasha. Now after many hard hits and years of war and loss, she is toughened and embittered, and searching for her missing sister.
Sonja is none too happy to be burdened with the care of a young girl, but agrees reluctantly to do so with the offer of Ahkmed's services (he trained as a physician, but his skills are greatly lacking in that area).
Sonja’s sister Natasha was always envied for her beauty. Natasha seemed to have always been the only one who recognized how special her sister was, and Sonja never really seemed to resent the way the very presence of her sister usurped all recognition from Sonja herself.
Everyone knows when someone in the village goes missing, they will wind up at the Landfill where all of the missing turn up, and the blame can be laid at the doorstep of Ramzan, the village informant who was once a good friend of Dokka. Ramzan's kind father Khassan is much shamed by his son's activities, and has been ostracized by the village because of his son.
Havaa was a very likable little girl; very endearing. Ahkmed was a good, selfless man. Although Sonja was tough and detached, she showed through her actions that she was a woman of real character and depth.
I found that it could be difficult keeping track of the characters. Foreign names are often difficult to keep in mind, as they are so unfamiliar. But part of that is my fault. I was so distracted while reading this book that I’d only get a few pages before putting it down. It made it hard to retain some of the characters and get it all straight in my head. But even while being distracted and a little detached from the book, I sensed this book was a bit of genius and beauty, bound and titled. The way that the author would express things really moved me.
This is really a character-driven story. The timeline shifts back and forth from present to past, and from the viewpoint of one character to another. The transition from past to present and vice-versa is assisted by a timeline at the top of each chapter, reflecting the year the current narration is taking place.
The narrator is all-knowing, and will share tidbits of information about the future and past and present that the characters themselves don’t know.
I found myself thinking during the final quarter of the book that this story is like a tapestry. Many of the characters and events were interwoven, and they would only come to light as the tapestry grew and developed. Really beautiful and brilliantly executed.
My final word: This is one of those rare and uncommon novels that you come across every now and again. Provocative and riveting, it is a beautifully written story with well-developed characters that you can really care about. A lyrical and intelligent tale of war-torn Chechnya, I found myself moved. I feared for the safety of those in danger, was sickened by the brutality and indifference, and yearned for the security of all. In the end, I found this to be a hard-hitting novel that is soft in all the right places....more
This book follows life in a small North Carolina town after an EMP. In case you aren't familiar with the term, an EMP is an electromagnetic pulse, andThis book follows life in a small North Carolina town after an EMP. In case you aren't familiar with the term, an EMP is an electromagnetic pulse, and there has been a lot of talk over the last few years about the threat to us from such an attack. It has been said that it could feasibly be caused by someone detonating a nuclear warhead high above the earth. Doing so could wipe out all electronics within the reach of the blast.
This book was a hot topic when it came out, even discussed within the walls of the Pentagon as a foreshadowing of a previously unrealized threat. With a foreword by Newt Gingrich, this book provides a very real depiction of what life would be like after an EMP, and underscores the fact that every American should be aware of and prepare for such a threat.
My final word: Very realistic and timely, this book should be a wake up call to the world regarding a potential threat-- whether caused by man or nature. This story is hosted by very believable characters fighting to survive and overcome very real events. Everyone should read this book, and do what they can to prepare for any event, be it for an EMP, solar flares, hurricanes or floods. Allow this book to the be the hand on your shoulder that moves you to action. And I am happy to mention that this book is currently in development as a major motion picture! I'll be looking forward to the movie version!...more
Beatrice is an well brought up Abnegation girl. And, of course, it is assumed at the Choosing Ceremony that she will choose to remain in her AbnegatioBeatrice is an well brought up Abnegation girl. And, of course, it is assumed at the Choosing Ceremony that she will choose to remain in her Abnegation faction. However on the appointed day she shocks her family when she chooses to switch factions, leaving her family and everything she has ever known behind. Then begins a brutal initiation process which she doubts at times she will survive.
I will preface this review by disclosing that I usually find YA novels too superficial, and so I don't read them very often. But I like post-apocalyptic and dystopian, so I decided to give this one a try.
If I approach a book like this from the standpoint of a 40+ year-old woman who really loves quirky literary fiction and southern gothic, then a book like this can be a bit of a let down. Very simple characters. Superficial interactions. Straight-forward writing. Not the type of prose I've come to love.
But if I approach it from the 17-year-old I once was, and try to simply lose myself in the "story", the plot, the fragmented city that once was Chicago, then I can see the appeal. In the beginning I found the book was a bit of a letdown, even though I was simply looking for a light read-- something a little mindless. But then I shifted my mind into that teen-mode and tried to be more superficial in my expectations, and found that I could enjoy the story a bit.
Tris (formerly Beatrice) didn't seem very realistic to me. On the one hand, she is portrayed as this very plain, non-extraordinary girl. Then she is portrayed as this extremely brave girl who is terrified of everything, and at the same time fearless. I felt as if she was all over the place. Perhaps this was because she was "divergent" and couldn't really be pigeon-holed, but she just didn't feel very real to me.
Most of the other characters were very one-dimensional and didn't really have any impact on me. Other than Four, whom I actually liked, even though he also didn't make much sense to me, being kind and sensitive and cruel all at the same time.
My final word: In the end, I was left with an "okay" story. It had its moments, and it had potential with an interesting premise, but it was too loosely executed and just didn't pull it all in together. I was left a little bored by the whole thing, but perhaps would have loved it at 17? So this one gets an "eh" and a shrug, and I'm not sure whether or not I will give Insurgent a try. Not right now. Too many great books to read!...more