I LOVE this world. I love the blood, the politics, the truly frightening alpha-males and the sex. And you know what else? I love Nalini's writing.
Arch...moreI LOVE this world. I love the blood, the politics, the truly frightening alpha-males and the sex. And you know what else? I love Nalini's writing.
Archangel's Storm is perhaps the most alien of Singh's Guild Hunter books yet. Her angels and vampires are not human, even slightly, and readers are offered no human perspective with which to ease themselves into the story. Jason is not human; nor is Mahiya. Both are angels, centuries old, and Singh has a knack for showing the otherness in her leads, as well as the vulnerabilities and feeling they share in common with us meer mortals.
Singh once again demonstrates her love of complex, broken characters, men and women alike; just as one cannot have a lake without water, one cannot have a Singh hero or heroine without a bloody, tortured history. Jason's long been a riddle readers (myself included) have longed to solve, and his backstory is finally divulged. Yet I was left with the feeling of knowing as little of Jason at end of the book as the start. He is still very much an engima, but perhaps it is that 'otherness' again -- my humanity calling out to his, and no response sounding.
The romance is, as always, heady, intoxicating, scorching and intense, retaining a level of emotional sweetness and surprising intimacy. There's a quality to Singh's chemistry that's addicitve and immersive, and with each of her books I find myself falling harder. Jason and Mahiya's romance is no exception and this latest Guild Hunter story offers plenty of sex -- BUCKETLOADS. SEAS--yet somehow it's never quite enough. It's not even the act itself, as, while explicit, the sex here doesn't feel gratuitous, but a slow, sensual unravelling of tightly bound emotions. Watching Jason and Mahiya fall into each other, and in love at the same time, is a lovely thing to witness.
Without going overlong--something I'd not planned to do--I'm not sure what else to say. Nalini Singh's Guild Hunter books are fantastic. They're complusively readable, smoking hot, with characters I fall in love with time and time again. I've loved this world, with its complex politics and volatile powers, from the start, and it deepens in each installment, revealing layers, undressing itself slowly in an orchestrated tease. The tease works. I want more.
I haven't stayed up all night for a book in a long time. And stay up I did. Until 6:30 AM
I finish one book, and I'm instantly in withdrawl... think, reads all eight Bridgerton books in, like, a week, then cr...moreJulia Quinn is like crack to me.
I finish one book, and I'm instantly in withdrawl... think, reads all eight Bridgerton books in, like, a week, then cries for more kind of crazy-obsessed.
But, here's the thing: I didn't think A Night Like This was going to do it for me. And I was sad, especially so, given the first book in the Smythe-Smith Quartet, 'Just Like Heaven' was, in fact, my first Quinn. And I adored it.
Yep. I was wrong. Egg, meet face.
A Night Like This is a pure and simple rainbows and sunshine delight. That's not to say it shares the light frothiness of much of Quinn's other work. Oh yes, her fun, girly tone is ever present, but the darkness that occasionally pops up in some of her other work rears its head here, and the storyline shows. But this was not my issue. It's a refreshing change, and I'd be lying if I denied loving this book.
A Night Like This starts out slow. I'm talking driving through torrential rain at midnight with the headlights and windscreen wipers out, slow. But this is honest-to-goodness my only complaint, and when it picks up, it rockets along.
Quinn's trademark humour is ever present, and, of course, laugh-out-loud funny at times. The characters are fun, and loveable. Anne is sweet, brave, wise and Daniel is the typical charming, rakish, dashing Quinn hero we've all come to adore. The forbidden-romance tugged at my heart, and once again, Regency England welcomed me home like a warm blanket. From the titillating gossip of the ton, to London's glittering, glamorous season, and the gorgeous verdant countryside, with its stately homes, and village idylls, this is a Quinn novel with all its charm, all its romance, and all its delights.
Quinn fans should delight in this charming offering, once they get through its slower start. Is this Quinn's strongest outing yet? Perhaps not, but it is nonetheless a wonderful, breezy and fun offering from one of the genre's finest.(less)
From the very first chapter of Across The Universe, I was hooked, and months later I was still haunted by the gorgeous writing, eerie stillne...more4.5 stars
From the very first chapter of Across The Universe, I was hooked, and months later I was still haunted by the gorgeous writing, eerie stillness and quiet menace onboard Godspeed. So to say I had high expectations for A Million Suns would be a tiny bit of an understatement. As if I expected anything else from the brilliant Beth Revis--A Million Suns delivers without missing a beat.
While the first chapter of A Million Suns lacks the abject horror Across The Universe inspired in me, it's equally as shocking in an entirely different way. The quiet menace I mentioned from Across The Universe? It's gone, replaced with panic and unrest verging on chaos. Revis throws the reader right back in the deep end and doesn't miss a beat. Things on Godspeed are not as they seem, and tensions are high. With the removal of Phydus to control the ship's population, there are whispers of revolution, and Elder, while growing into a leader, is out of his depth and not in control. It doesn't help that the people he relies on to run the ship are keeping secrets, and this added to the confusion and mystery, while simultaneously frightening me. There's this scary idea that with each generation of leadership to pass, more and more of the ships purpose and history are lost. If something happens to Elder, what will happen to the ship? If something happens to Doc, who will provide medical care, and who will know the secrets of the Frozens and how to care for them? With the loss of Eldest, how much knowledge has been lost? Elder is struggling to maintain control... Meanwhile, Amy is tracing a series of cryptic clues across the ship that unlock secrets far more terrifying than the current political climate for Godspeed.
Across The Universe left Amy and Elder in a rather ambiguous place, and A Million Suns picks up from there. Amy is trying to forgive Elder. She has no one else on the ship in whom to confide or turn, but she desperately misses her parents, her life as she understood it, and she's in constant danger as the resident Freak. Rather than attaching herself to Elder, she considers her future and considers her options. Despite it being an easy choice, she refuses to jump into something 'more' with Elder. She asks herself what she wants and what she needs. She thinks, she considers, and I loved her for this. She truly examines what it means to love someone, and as the brilliant Braiden points out, there's a major theme of love going on here. What is love? What does it mean? Is it a choice?
I loved the shifting POV in Across The Universe, and I loved it again here. Both for the contrasting outsider/insider views of the workings of Godspeed, and watching Amy and Elder grow closer. The concern Elder feels for Amy is touching, but it's at odds with the responsibility and obligations he has to the whole population of Godspeed. Meanwhile, the reluctance Amy feels towards something more with Elder is beautifully done. Neither Amy or Elder are entirely forthright with each other, but despite hurt, complications, and a far bigger picture, Revis shows a slow, beautiful unthawing of each to the other, and when they start to work together, it's a beautiful thing... Before it all spirals back out of control. Both Amy and Elder grow in A Million Suns, and we saw more of themselves shining through. Both are very imperfect beings, and make more than their fair share of mistakes, and I found myself at turns loving and hating them. Amy's stubborn and headstrong, but this can turn to selfishness at times. Meanwhile, Elder is impulsive, and this gets him in hot water on more than one occasion.
The Verdict: Things onboard Godspeed get ugly in A Million Suns. And messy. And stay as beautiful, twisty and frightening as they always were, while only increasing in menace and intensity. I didn't think it was possible to up the ante any further following Across The Universe, but Revis pilots her ship with the effortless ease of a pro. She gives us this brilliant balance between human emotion and fallibility, sweet romance and action and mystery.
Just as beautifully written, frightening and atmospheric as it's predecessor, A Million Suns ratchets up the mystery and intrigue to almost unbearable levels. Revis delivers a sci-fi-come-Dystopian masterpiece that will thrill fans and leave them desperate for more. Now... To figure out how cryogenically freeze myself so I can survive the year-long wait for Shades Of Earth...(less)
When I first heard about Slide, my thoughts went straight to Lisa McMann’s WAKE. While I believe it would appeal to fans of this series, Slide is a ve...moreWhen I first heard about Slide, my thoughts went straight to Lisa McMann’s WAKE. While I believe it would appeal to fans of this series, Slide is a very different creature. I've heard quite a few favourable comparisons to Veronica Mars, and it deserves them. I can see the similarities: we have a smart, snarky protagonist, sharp witty dialogue, murder, mystery, and some pretty dark issues for a YA audience. But Slide is not derivative and, rather than being predictable, kept me guessing to the end. Exciting and fresh, Slide is utterly gripping and a total page turner. I loved this book.
Can I just say Slide has some of the best cover copy I’ve ever read. I’d normally try and give you a quick synopsis of a book from my POV. But this? It sums it up perfectly. Are you hooked yet? Excited? Guys. You should be.
I liked Vee immediately. Her open and friendly voice and unique personality (and situation) make her fun to read. From her pink hair, to her atypical taste in music (read: awesome taste in music), she’s different, she's not your typical teenager. Somehow, where Vee could easily have felt contrived, she didn’t once come across this way. To me, Vee felt real, and I loved her for being herself. This is a girl who’s suffered a lot in her life. She should be jaded, but she doesn’t feel that way. She knows more than she’d like to about the nature of the people around her, and this, combined with the loss of her mother, and an absent father, have forced her to grow up. She cares deeply about her sister, Mattie, while not approving of the path she’s been taking, and despite knowing what they are capable of, has a great deal of empathy for the people around her.
It's the murder of Sophie, Mattie's best friend, that kickstarts the mystery driving the story of Slide. So many clues and threads, and pieces of information kept me guessing, and, like Vee, I truly didn’t know who to trust. Jill Hathaway has nailed the pacing of this book, and knows when to move it along; speeding it up, or slowing it down for a quiet, tender, human interaction. It's enthralling.
Riveting mystery and storyline aside, one of the things I loved most about Slide was the cast of characters, and the human interactions. Vee’s love and concern for her sister shines through in their tender scenes together. The tension between Vee and her best friend, Rollins, is palpable. My heart broke a little when I discovered a secret Rollins has been keeping of his own. I kept wishing that each one would reach out, and take a gamble on trusting one another. You could feel Vee’s ache for her father’s presence and support, and the need their broken little family had for him to be there. As the book progresses, characters like mean-girl cheerleader, Amber, and jock, ‘Scotch’, develop personality (for good or bad). I came to care for characters I didn’t even like, as Vee’s caring pulled me in. Slide has a perfect balance of funny and sad, touching and terrifying, and truly tender and sweet moments.
On top of this, Slide is beautifully written. Vee's left-of-field images and descriptions are gorgeously realised, her voice unique and refreshing. Hathaway shines a writer.
Slide, again like Veronica Mars, deals with some pretty heavy issues: suicide, substance use, date rape, death, loss and grief. These issues are handled well, but I could see some concerns with Vee popping caffeine pills like they’re candy, instead of her prescribed narcolepsy medication. I understand why, and none of these activities are glamorized. In fact, I thought these issues are all handled well, but, for these reasons, this book is clearly for older teens.
Simply put, Slide is everything I want from a book. Gripping and thrilling, exciting and achingly beautiful. It dragged me in and made me feel. From page one, Hathaway had me in her thrall and still, with the last page turned, hasn’t let me go.
Slide was kindly provided by HarperCollins Australia via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks, you guys!(less)
(spoilers in this review are for Drink Deep, so fear not, Chicagolandeers!)
Oh, now that felt GOOD.
Biting Cold and I didn't get off to a good start. I...more(spoilers in this review are for Drink Deep, so fear not, Chicagolandeers!)
Oh, now that felt GOOD.
Biting Cold and I didn't get off to a good start. I thought it was going through the motions, plodding along; meanwhile, it kept telling me to sit down, shut up, and buckle up for the ride.
I hate being told what to do.
It's funny how that works out, because it always so happens that it's best when I comply.
It's been a long wait between Drink Deep and Biting Cold for me—a year or more—but time has not passed in Chicagoland, picking up at the conclusion of Drink Deep. Merit's back, (view spoiler)[Ethan, too (I missed you, Sullivan. Don't leave me again), (hide spoiler)] as are the rest of the gang—the good and the bad. Oh, and the very, very bad.
Tasked with tracking down a threat not just to Cadogan House—or even Chicago—but the world's continued state of existence, we join Merit (view spoiler)[AND ETHAN! EEEEETHAN! DID I MENTION ETHAN FUCKING SULLIVAN? HE'S BAAAAAACK! AND HE'S NOT WEARING ANY PANTS. Well... that's a lie. Maybe *cackles* (hide spoiler)] on route to secure a book that could prove the key to halting the world's destruction. And “halt”? Chicagolanders, you're going to learn to hate that word by the time Biting Cold is through.
The blurb of the Biting Cold has already told you as much. What you may not know is that you're looking at a mere third of the novel, and it's safety off, brake lines cut the rest of the way through. Much of Biting Cold's action happens in its final chapters, but, as all fans will know, there is more than one kind of action. Whether it's sparring, bickering, eating mallocakes or navigating the dangerous pathways of local politics and managing a dangerous vampire Grand Poobah, there is never time for rest in this world. There is, occasionally, some time for other bed-bound activities, and fans will finally (view spoiler)[F I N A L L Y (hide spoiler)] get their share of such carnal delights here. (view spoiler)[we've fucking waited long enough, amirite? (hide spoiler)]
On the topic of 'finallies' we do get a few of them; resolution and satisfaction in a number of key relationships, and, one of those most fulfilling points of all, answers. Specifically on the question of one enigmatic Seth Tate.
Despite all this, I do hesitate to call Biting Cold action-packed. To be fair, well, it is, but for a large chunk, I was waiting, even while watching it happen. The complicated entanglements in Neill's Chicagoland world are infuriating, stopping before they start, and they continue, here. While I can see the players moving towards their finales and happily ever afters, the series is hardly changing down gears, or moving towards a conclusion—Neill is hardly done yet. This was a book made, for me, by its thrilling final chapters, each of which left me a breathless, crazed mess. I keep finding myself staring off into space, daydreaming about Merit and her pals and itching for more. Well. Just as well House Rules is already on its way to my Kindle.
Biting Cold, I'm sorry I doubted you, darling.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Four sweet, sexy, fun tales from the always amazing Ms. Singh.
We get Sara and Deacon's backstory, and a short story between Guild Hunter, Ashwini, and...moreFour sweet, sexy, fun tales from the always amazing Ms. Singh.
We get Sara and Deacon's backstory, and a short story between Guild Hunter, Ashwini, and roguish vampire, Javier (swoon!). Brutalised vampire, Noel, from Archangel's Kiss gets a happily ever after with the powerful angel who rules Lousiana, and there is a sweet, heartwarming, will-leave-a-smile-on-your-face-the-size-of-the-iceberg-that-sunk-the-titanic story, Angel's Dance between Jessamy, and member of Raphael's Seven, Galen. We actually learn how Galen became one of the Seven, and far from his, well, scariness, as seen through Elena's eyes in the main books, we see gruff tenderness and gentle side of him.
All are sweet, fun, and sexy, and bring that blend of suspense, teasing, and slight... hmmm... solemnity and seriousness? that Nalini's angels and vampires have, while still being light and entertaining, and deeply satisfying. The only problem? I've read them all, and far from sating, it's only whet my appetite for more Guild Hunter stories! I think Nalini Singh's writing should be a controlled substance... seriously addictive.(less)
Deadlocked, the penultimate offering in the otherwise wonderful Sookie Stackhouse series, is also the most dissapointing installment yet. For much of...moreDeadlocked, the penultimate offering in the otherwise wonderful Sookie Stackhouse series, is also the most dissapointing installment yet. For much of Deadlocked, it feels like Sookie's going through the motions, and Harris is hastily tying up loose ends for a satisfying conclusion come Dead Ever After. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Harris as a storyteller, but it does feel like Sookie's reached the natural end of her story, and Charlaine is ready to say goodbye, too.
While I felt much of the book was a tedious itemisation of the day-to-day monotony of Sookie's existence ('I picked up the mail, I said hello to Halleigh, I drove home and threw out my junkmail, but oops! I threw my electricity bill out, also, and had to fish it out.' [greatly, greatly paraphrased)), it was redeemed, for me, by its fast-paced final chapters, but it was disapointing to find 90% of the book's action and plot contained in such a short space.
While not a favorite for me—or, it seems, many fans—there's always a certain satisfaction to be found and enjoyed in any foray into Sookie’s world, and it’s not entirely absent in Deadlocked. Sookie still has her charm (brittle though it’s becoming), and her expansive crowd of friends, family, neighbors and foes all add to the feeling of visiting with old friends. With Deadlocked unlocked, and its secrets spilled, I’m looking forward to Dead Ever After, and, though I expect to find it bittersweet, saying goodbye.(less)
Ten years ago, atomic bombs destroyed the world, leaving two groups of survivors: those maimed, burned, and horrifically deformed by the fire and radi...moreTen years ago, atomic bombs destroyed the world, leaving two groups of survivors: those maimed, burned, and horrifically deformed by the fire and radiation; and ‘Pures’—a lucky and select group who escaped the explosions unharmed, safely tucked away in a massive glass bubble called The Dome.
Pressia survived the explosions outside. Life is hard, food is scarce, and Pressia is nearing her sixteenth birthday—the time when she will be drafted for military service with OSR. She’ll be forced to kill, or be used as target practice.
Partridge escaped the Detonations unscathed, safely tucked away in the Dome, which is more or less ruled by his cold and distant father. His mother and brother dead, Partridge doesn’t quite fit in with the other boys and people of the Dome. He has an independent streak that is dangerous in such a controlled community, and when a slip of the tongue from his father suggests his mother may still be alive—outside—Partridge decides to escape.
As a series of coincidences drive Pressia and Partridge together, they must fight together to survive... but who are they fighting? Who’s the enemy? The pieces start to come together into a much, much bigger picture, as the two discover their lives are more closely intertwined than they could have imagined.
P1 & P2:
Pure is told (mainly) through the shifting POV of Pressia and Partridge. They’ve both suffered, and both of their lives were long ago stripped down to one defining purpose: survival. But they both seemed very naive, and very young.
When Partridge escapes the Dome, we see through his eyes, and it gives the reader a lens of relatability. And I tell you what, I needed that lens, as Pressia, for me, felt detached, cold and aloof. She needs to be to survive—but it made her hard to relate to. In this, she reminded me a lot of an early-era Obernewtyn Elspeth. And this book started moving at about the same pace. Read: glacial. Which brings me to:
I love the cold, but this is ridiculous: Pure gets off to a VERY slow start. While Baggot had me enthralled with her achingly beautiful prose and vividly imagined world, it seemed as though very little actually happened. So much of the book was spent setting up the world, the politics, the characters; but little happened with them. I suspect book two will feature more action, but the gorgeous prose quickly lost its appeal and grew flowery, leavimg me agitated and impatient for the book to get on with it.
Squick! I struggled with the descriptions of the bizarre physical deformities of the Detonation survivors. They’ve become fused with objects, other people or animals, and it left me squirming. While the healthy and whole people running the Dome are deliberately subjecting their children to procedures designed to genetically alter them for strength, intelligence or obeisance, the survivors outside struggle with mutations that will eventually kill them. It’s creepy and sinister. This isn’t a criticism of Pure, rather, it’s praise: Baggot is uncompromising in presenting the uncomfortable truth of survival in this world, but it’s no less hard to read.
Seriously? Pure is peppered with implausible coincidences, yet the plot wouldn’t make sense without them. The whole storyline is held together by a thread so thin it constantly threatened to break. This is meant to be set in a large city, right? Yet Pressia, Partridge and co keep stumbling across people, places, clues or objects from the past to help them on their way, and I kept thinking ‘yeah, right.’ Finding familiar places or people from ‘the before’ over a place that size, in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, with so many people dead is hugely unlikely.
The Verdict: Julianna Baggot creates a disturbing world in Pure, too close and familiar to our own to be comfortable. It’s an uncompromising picture of what humanity is capable of, and I hated it, because I could actually believe it—but I didn’t want to. Yet, while Pure is packed with fights, flight and conspiracy, lengthy descriptions and sparse, sometimes stiff, dialogue made it feel very slow.
Pure deserves the praise it’s garnered. It’s beautifully written, frightening, intensely emotive, and well thought out and researched. It’s so many amazing things, bundled into what should be an amazing book—but I didn’t enjoy reading it. I struggled through all bar sixty-odd pages of it, and it had a rather open, unstatisfying ending. Turning the final page I was left feeling sad, emotionally drained, but mainly just relieved it was over. Nevertheless, Pure will appeal to lovers of dystopian fiction—especially fans of Isobelle Carmody’s Obernewtyn. It just wasn't for me.
To be fair: if I was to rate this book completely objectively, based on writing, world building, imagination and execution, it would deserve 4 stars. I’ve decided to rate based on my enjoyment of it... and I struggled with this book. So, forgive me, but: 2 stars.
Pure was kindly provided by Grand Central Publishing via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Thanks you guys!(less)
There’s a comfort returning to the pages and world of a favourite author: a sense of familiarity and trust that where she leads, you will follow. With...moreThere’s a comfort returning to the pages and world of a favourite author: a sense of familiarity and trust that where she leads, you will follow. With this firmly in mind, I enter any Maria V. Snyder novel with excitement, and, in Scent of Magic, was well rewarded. With romance, intrigue, magic and war, I was thrilled, but even more delighted to find myself surprised.
After healing the dying Prince Ryne at the cost of her life, no-one’s more surprised to find herself alive than Avry of Kazan. We join Avry and Kerrick where we left them, together at last, but Avry’s ‘death’ provides opportunities too good to ignore, and the couple are soon separated, providing the catalyst for the first of many surprises Scent of Magic has in store.
As Avry and Kerrick separate, so too does Scent of Magic’s narrative, a first in Snyder’s novels. While Avry assumes a new identity, travelling to join the army of High Priestess Estrid, Kerrick reunites with Prince Ryne, helping to rally his troops and join Estrid in the fight against the evil King Tohon. If this has you confused, you’re not alone. While Scent of Magic is not the place to enter this series, and it took some few chapters to acclimate, its world and characters re-emerge from the shadows swiftly, and at this, it takes off.
Scent of Magic is, perhaps, Snyder’s most action-packed novel to date. When ‘The Plan’ goes awry, Avry and Kerrick’s paths careen off in disparate directions and, with each alternating chapter ending on a high-stakes note for both leads, maintains a rocketing pace, an element sometimes lost to the minutiae of High Fantasy — though a typical fantasy novelist this author is not.
Snyder has a particular talent for writing strong, capable and intelligent leads, and Avry is, of course, no exception. Even better, Avry’s grown since Touch of Power, and been shaped by her experience. No longer running from danger, she confronts it. She assumes a ‘woman of action’ role in Scent of Magic and, separated from her lover and protector, readers are shown what she’s truly capable of. With magical healing abilities, feared powers, and a knack for finding herself desperately entangled with the Powers That Be, Avry could easily be compared to Snyder’s most memorable heroine, Yelena, but possesses a spark and a special magic all of her own.
Kerrick, meanwhile, gets his moment to shine like no other Snyder hero has, and his job is harder, even, than Avry’s. Beaten, kidnapped and held captive, he becomes a more flawed and relatable hero, and through his eyes we learn more about the magic and construct of the Fifteen Realms. Kerrick’s intimate knowledge of his world’s workings is a welcome addition, offering form and familiarity to a complex world system that would otherwise prove confusing.
While it’s no surprise a Snyder novel offers wonderful leads, there's an interesting moral ambiguity in the Healer series’ characters, one which seems absent from Snyder's previous work, at least in comparison. It boasts a vile, narcissistic, megalomaniac villain, made all the worse as he genuinely believes his evils are justified in the scheme of things, for the greater good – and may just have a point. Meanwhile, the ‘good guys’ themselves don't seem quite ‘good’, and it offers a plethora of opportunities for unexpected twists, turns, and surprises.
The Verdict: High stakes, gripping intrigue and an immersive magical world, Maria V. Snyder delivers yet another fantasy romp which will appeal to fans of Kristin Cashore, not to mention the inimitable Maria, herself. This is Snyder at the top of her game. Filled with unexpected betrayals, double crosses and an expansive cast of warm, wonderful supporting characters, Scent of Magic is surprising and compulsively readable, and one of Snyder’s finest offerings to date.(less)
4.5 stars Easily the most hotly anticipated sequel—perhaps release, period—of 2012, Insurgent is, and will be, many different things to many readers. A...more4.5 stars Easily the most hotly anticipated sequel—perhaps release, period—of 2012, Insurgent is, and will be, many different things to many readers. As action packed as its thrilling predecessor, Insurgent doesn’t settle for simply living up to Divergent. It ups the ante, ups the tension, increases the peril, the dangers and the odds. Ladies and gentlemen, don’t get settled. Be Dauntless: you’re in for one hell of a ride.
The Story: Picking up immediately where Divergent left off, we join Tris, Four, Caleb, Marcus and Peter as they flee the Erudite attack on Abnegation, and the horrors that followed. As they head to the safety of the Amity compound, their world is now at war. With faction fighting faction, no-one is safe, and no-one can be trusted. More than just lives are at stake, and loyalties, truths, and even love will be tested as Tris fights… who? Erudite? The system? Not even she seems entirely sure who the enemy is. Something is very, very wrong with her world, and as shocking secrets reveal themselves, Tris and Four’s relationship is put to the test, along with all those with everyone they care for. This is Insurgent. And you are about to learn the truth.
Tris: In Divergent, Tris Prior established herself one of the most remarkable heroines in young adult literature. Brave, intelligent, and selfless, she has earned her place amongst the likes of Rose Hathaway and Katniss Everdeen, but like Rose and Katniss, she is imperfect, and not always likable.
Drowning in guilt and sorrow, bravery blurs with recklessness as Tris struggles with the aftermath of Divergent, of her actions and her losses. It’s difficult watching her struggle with the oppressive weight of responsibility thrust on her shoulders, but it’s a weight she largely takes upon herself. The crushing burden of the fate of her entire civilization, hanging on by a tenuous thread. There's a sense, at times, of hopelessness, and of real and ever present danger in Insurgent. In Divergent, at least until a certain point, the danger felt personal to Tris. Here it’s larger, broader, there’s far more at stake, and it’s bigger than just one person’s future.
Whatshisname? Four, or should we say ‘Tobias’, previously bastion of wisdom, voice of reason, cracks a little in Insurgent. As a certain shocking secret about Four’s past comes to light, this, coupled with Tris’ recklessness, serves to drive a wedge between the couple, and the calm, 'don't mess with me' facade he previously wore slips. We see a fragile, brittle side of him. In Divergent, it was easy to forget Four was human, despite his vulnerabilities. There's an air of authority to him, the feeling that he can handle any situation. But Four is fallible, and we're reminded in Insurgent that not only is Four barely an adult; he's a broken, hurting one at that.
Secrets & Pain & The Science of Sexy: It is the weight of the secrets and pain Tris and Tobias keep from each other from which Insurgent draws a great deal of its tension, and may also frustrate some readers. But the chemistry between Four and Tris is as present as ever, and when the two are together—and not fighting—it crackles with electricity and smoulders with heat. It’s easy to forget, in the longing for romance, that real relationships have real struggles, and at a time in a new relationship when Tris and Four should be getting to know and trust each other fully they’re instead trying to, well, save the world. It's an immense burden on the couple, and fractures form.
Honesty—The Best Policy? Where in Divergent we grew to know Abnegation, then Dauntless factions, Insurgent introduces Candor for the first time, and then the factionless. Thematically, our introduction to Candor comes at the right time. Insurgent is an uncovering of secrets, the discovery of lies. It has a pervasive feeling of discomfit, the kind felt when facing uncomfortable truths. And Insurgent abounds with uncomfortable, devastating truths.
While Divergent examined human nature, and the sequel indeed continues to do so, Insurgent looks at truth and trust. Once again we're drawn into a world defined by absolutes, but coloured by shades of grey, and the truth is a very grey thing indeed. Some secrets are hidden for a reason. Some for greed; others power, if it is not, in fact, the same thing. But what Insurgent shows is that they never come free. That for the revelation of essential truths, for knowledge—and perhaps the Erudite have yet to learn this—there is a cost. The question is what its seekers will pay. And people pay very, very dearly in Insurgent.
The Verdict: In this astounding sequel, Roth shows once again why she caused such waves with Divergent. Nothing is sacred and nothing is sure. The world she has crafted is shifting, evolving along with the minds of its divergent populace, reaching an indelible fulcrum. If Divergent was a game changer for its genre, and market, presenting a level of world building and characterization readers long for and for which writers strive, Insurgent is a game changer unto itself. This is a book from which there is no coming back.
A book to appeal to the divergence in all of us, Insurgent is leading up to one hell of an explosive conclusion. Thrilling action, impossible stakes, deepening intrigue and, of course, smouldering romance, Insurgent is as gripping and utterly addictive as its epic predecessor.(less)