Let's just start with this fact: Victoria Aveyard is a good writer. Okay, I said it. She knows how to put a good sentence together and add enoughNo.
Let's just start with this fact: Victoria Aveyard is a good writer. Okay, I said it. She knows how to put a good sentence together and add enough impact to keep you paying attention for a few hundred pages. I wanted to get that out first, so that the fact that I could not finish this book won't make you think it was the writing that made it so.
No, we have the story to blame for that. The story that I wanted to like SOOO badly after all the hype it's received.
So here's the gist of it, Mare(also known as Katniss, Bella, Dorothy, Jean Grey and Storm of the Xmen, etc.) is a Red. In this world, of which I can't tell whether it's a futuristic version of OUR world, or just a randomly generated Allspace, Reds are the lower class, used as fodder for an ongoing war that no one knows how to get out of. The higher class of their society are the Silvers (also known as the mutants of Xmen, or the Mutants of the video game Infamous), an evolved version of humans who each posses different powers.
Mare's a thief, and an angsty teen, counting down the days until she's sent to the war, like her three older brothers. She lives with her father, a wounded war veteran, her mother, and her sister Prim, I mean Gisa, whose talents for sewing provides an income to the family and ensures that the family has at least one kid of promise. She's content to be this self-described horrible person, until her best friend Gale, I mean Kilorn, loses his apprenticeship and is called up to the war. A myriad of bad choices, leads her to basically volunteer as Tribute on behalf of him and her sister, and then when it all goes to hell, she runs. She calls herself a coward, multiple times. While moping about how awful she is, and how she's "once again" let everyone down, she meets a Red who works in the Palace, and winds up telling him how horrible her life is before finally getting the courage to go home and face the music, but not before he pities her and gives her some money.
The next day, the Palace guard shows up and says they're there to collect her because she's been hired to work in the palace. Shocked, Cinderella, I mean Mare, immediately realizes that it must have been Cal, the boy she met last night, who has made this happen. She arrives at her new job on the first day of "Queenstrial", or basically the Prince's Ball, where Silver girls from around the Capital, yes, it's actually the Capital, come to showcase their powers and hopefully become chosen as the brides of the two princes. Mare is working the skyboxes of the arena when she looks up at the princes and wouldn't you know it, there's Cal, the boy from last night. Gasp! He's a Silver. And Gasp! He's a PRINCE! Future KING of the Silvers.
Because Mare ruins everything, her words, of course she finds a way to ruin the Queenstrial, and in the process she and the entire arena discovers that while she's a Red, she herself possesses powers also! She can harness the power of lightning. To save face, The Evil Queen, Cal's stepmother of course, decides that the best way to keep the crowd from revolting at the thought of a Red with powers, is to create an elaborate backstory where Mare is really Mareena Titanos, the daughter of two fallen Silver war heroes. Fifteen minutes later, literally, she is betrothed to the Queen's son, Peeta, I mean, Maven, and taken into the palace to be trained and honed into a proper princess. And now we're in the Prince and the Pauper, and Dr. Dolittle, and a few other stories. And also, she starts to like Maven. Real or unreal? So now we have three boys to like.
Oh, and did I mention there was a rebellion brewing? And that her new status in the palace makes her the perfect person to help launch it? And that one her tutors Cinna, I mean Julian, tells her just that? But that while all of this is going on, she's concerned with how handsome Cal is, when she's not furious with him for pitying her. And she hates his fiancee Evangeline, winner of the Queenstrial, who is a mean girl, and oh, gets to hold Cal's hand.
If you haven't figured out what's going to happen, then you are like ten years behind in your YA dystopian love triangle, resistance, fairy tale princess books. You need to catch up.
Now, like I said before, Victoria is a good writer, so this story is told well, to be honest. However, good writing does not make a great book, and it can't make up for plot holes and storyline similarities. From the synopsis of Red Rising, it sounds a lot like that one. And also, Queen Elara's power is mind reading and communication through thoughts. Um...how are you going to overthrow the Capital if your future mother-in-law can HEAR you plotting?
I'm sure the fact that Mare is repeatedly self-deprecating, and calling herself names, was probably a conscious decision born of the desire to make sure that she seemed relatable. I mean most of us don't wake up wanting to take over the world, or having the courage to do it. So rather than making Tris, I mean Mare, start out as this tough character, we could see her evolve. The only problem is, she doesn't really. She's this whiny, self-doubting, crybaby, lovesick thing for pages and pages on end. She believes strongly that things should change, but she also kind of wishes someone else would do the changing. Cal's strong and handsome, why doesn't he just fix it!?
She doesn't feel like any heroine I want to back, or even a girl I'd hang out with, so I wasn't able to continue reading for anything more than a morbid curiosity of just how badly she was going to make things become by the end of the book.
Look, this isn't what we need in our heroines. Give me a girl who is strong because she is inherently strong, or because she WANTS to be. I've had enough of these who are strong because they have no other choice.
Also, can we please get some clarity on why this war keeps going on if nobody really believes in what the fight is for? And if the Silvers have powers, why do they need Reds to take up the frontline? Who are we mad at? The war? The Reds? The Silvers? The girlfriend? The stupid leather clothes she has to wear in the palace? What? What's our motivation?
While reading, I kept thinking, "Ugh, please don't become a movie," and so of course it's been optioned by Universal Studios.
Look, we have to start getting honest about this hype, people. Sometimes a story is just a well-told story. That doesn't make it a great book that everyone just HAS to read. It makes it a well-told story that you read that one time. You really don't have to tell the rest of us about it. Promise. ...more
I didn't dislike it, but if you were looking for something shocking that you never knew about Tobias Eaton...this isn't where you'll find it. Most ofI didn't dislike it, but if you were looking for something shocking that you never knew about Tobias Eaton...this isn't where you'll find it. Most of these little gems about Tobias becoming Four, were alluded to or flat-out described in the main Divergent books. This was more of an appeal to those fans who have a difficult time with a series coming to a close, and wanting just one more bite, no matter how small. Thanks Veronica Roth, for a very Rowling-esque treat for the fans! ...more
**spoiler alert** Not "bad", just not interesting. Shame. I'd gotten so used to interesting and strong heroines in ya dystopias. Cassia was absolutely**spoiler alert** Not "bad", just not interesting. Shame. I'd gotten so used to interesting and strong heroines in ya dystopias. Cassia was absolutely boring here. I could care less about her great "love", which from the very beginning has always come across to me as merely curiosity. She journeyed, and plotted, and schemed, all while sacrificing the hearts of EVERY PERSON SHE CLAIMED TO LOVE.
Grandfather gives you something precious? Burn it. Boyfriend gives you something priceless? Trade it. Best new friend tells you something serious and life saving? Ignore her. Oh, and dash the hopes of your worried parents. All for a boy you ignored for years. Ugh. She has been a pain in the ass. And the audio narration of Kate Simses does not help. Her voice for Ky is lifeless and bland, her voice for Cassia, uber sweet and immature.
As stories come, this felt like a looooong mid season filler episode of a tv show you hate to love. Lots of predictable plot points drug out over endless chapters.
Knowing me, I'll still finish the trilogy, but begrudgingly. ...more
To quote the great Pete of "Muppets Take Manhattan", ..."Peoples... is peoples.".
And that, is what we learn in this finale. Faction, city, family, geTo quote the great Pete of "Muppets Take Manhattan", ..."Peoples... is peoples.".
And that, is what we learn in this finale. Faction, city, family, genes, whatever.... people will always behave as irrationally, courageously, ridiculously, and predictably impulsively as people....more
FINALLY. Finally a series opener that has me excited and practically salivating for the following books. Demitria Lunetta has a new fan in me and I am FINALLY. Finally a series opener that has me excited and practically salivating for the following books. Demitria Lunetta has a new fan in me and I am ready to bring a horde of teens (and adults) with me.
Amy Harris is alone in her parent's upscale Lincoln Park home Before, watching television and eating a snack. She's mildly annoyed when the television goes out, switching to an emergency statement about some "alien attack". As the day progresses, and she can't contact her friends or parents, she suddenly realizes that it could very well be that they're all dead. She's alone. Safe, protected by her eco-friendly father's solar-powered home, and her mother's government-minded electrified fence; but alone.
She hides from reality behind the walls of protection built by her parents, but eventually there is no food, and she must find a way to venture out beyond the safety of her home. She learns that They do not like noise, and cannot see very well at night, and soon she has scavenged successfully from the nearby homes and stores. It's on one such trip that she finds a small toddler, no older than three, who is alone and hungry in a grocery store. Children are loud, and if this one makes a sound, Amy will leave her in an instant, but she quickly finds that Baby is a silent and welcome companion for the end of the world.
They live successfully for three years, growing to communicate and love one another as sisters, and sometimes as a parent would a child. They can live like this forever. Or so she thought. Soon, they find that they are not the only humans to survive in The After, but also that it may have been better to remain living as though they were.
Oh my goshness. First of all, I want Amy Harris to meet Katniss Everdeen and have a party together with super-slick combat clothing and whatnot. Then I'd want them to stumble upon Michael from The End Games by T.Michael Martin, and then just rule the world. I need that to happen.
Okay, so yeah, Amy is amazing. Her view of the post-apocalyptic world was so honest and raw that I felt heavy with her worry and grief. I loved her thought processes, and her ability to rationalize her actions, even when they were clearly something she would have frowned upon in the Before. I understand why the author made her repeatedly define her relationship with Baby as a sister, but she was clearly parental with her. I LOVED them together.
Amy's memories of her friends, her constant but relevant Shakespeare references inspired by the memory of her father, and her kick-ass survival instincts were captivating. If They came today, I'd want to trek over to Lincoln Park looking for her. But make no mistake, while the book is pegged as a "Chicago" novel, reminiscent of Divergent, it isn't. Chicago is not as much of an organism as I thought it would have been, or even could have been.
And to just be plain, the book was written well. Demitria Lunetta was able to write out times of mundane fear and apprehension with just as much passion as those times of action. The second half of the book jumps back and forth between what Amy knows and what she remembers, and it gently nudged readers towards the end, without letting too much out at first. After reading a few books recently that seemed to be so excited about their endings that they wanted to give them to me early, I appreciated that.
Fans of Across the Universe by Beth Revis would adore this Amy. I certainly did. ...more
It is 4am. I am sure that sometime during my work day this afternoon, I will regret staying up to finish this book...but whatever. LOL
This was epic. ThIt is 4am. I am sure that sometime during my work day this afternoon, I will regret staying up to finish this book...but whatever. LOL
This was epic. There were parts that made me so angry that I wanted to fling it across my living room and some parts that punched me right in the chest, but it was those very feelings that made me realize how awesome the book actually was.
We find Amy and Elder three months after the events of Across the Universe. The inhabitants of the Godspeed are no longer being drugged into submission. They are free to explore the different levels of the ship, to explore the information which was once reserved for only the Elders/Eldests. Their lives are in their hands.
And we find quickly that they don't know what to do with that.
Those of us who read Across the Universe and felt super excited about Amy and Elder's valiant push to awaken the people of Godspeed get an instant twinge of regret when we see how quickly the ship has deteriorated. Without Phydus, the people are fully aware of their feelings, and that includes the bad ones. Depression, Rage, and just plain evil are now the undercurrents of civilization.
Those who don't want to work, have stopped working. Those who are afraid of the ship running out of food have begun to hoard it. Old friends have begun to feel that Elder's eagerness to expose the ship to the truth, is only a true example of his inability to lead.
And at the heart of it all, Orion is not done telling secrets.
Are the people from Sol-Earth really dangerous? Is there hope for the ship's original mission to reach Centauri Earth? We get all these answers fairly quickly in this installment, and with them come some serious decisions for both Elder in his new role as Eldest, and Amy. They are not easy decisions, and they are not always good decisions. And this is why I thought the book was so great.
With both books, Beth Revis has found a way to examine some of the most expansive thoughts on sociology and humanity, while providing a great mystery, a gentle romance, and a beautiful entry into the YA genre. She has developed the perfect world for thoughts about how dictators become dictators, and whether control is better than true leadership to be explored.
I loved all the literary references, and the way that a library (the Recorder Hall) was the house of true freedom. I can't wait for the third book, (minus that god-awful cover), and what I know will be a satisfying end to this great series. This series would be a great pairing with the Bioshock video game....more
**spoiler alert** An adequate ending to a phenomenal series.
We return to the Evans home in Connecticut, where Miranda, her mother, and two brothers a**spoiler alert** An adequate ending to a phenomenal series.
We return to the Evans home in Connecticut, where Miranda, her mother, and two brothers are still fending for themselves in their suburban home. The flu has passed, there is some normalcy in food deliveries, and they've adjusted to living in one room of their four-bedroom home.
As they near the 1-year anniversary of the moon's fall, family members return. What would have been happy reunions a while ago, are now chalked up as new mouths to feed. But two of those mouths, Alex and Julie (The Dead & The Gone), are reluctant to stay. Enter a few cases of hormones, and the desperate attempt to love before it's too late, and you have a whole new situation.
It was nice to hear Miranda again. Being back in her head (journal) made my feelings for Alex (The Dead & The Gone) waiver a little. She is a stronger character, or so it seemed. As I neared the ending, I realized that while that was partly true, she had the luxury of being that stronger character. Alex, having encountered this horrible crisis in a major city, had been exposed to true horrors and decision-making pressures far sooner than Miranda had. Miranda had the luxury of two parents, relatively healthy siblings, and the comfort of her own home. Alex had been fighting for those things since the moment the moon fell. Once I focused on that...it was harder to be as strongly #TeamMiranda.
I didn't necessarily like the rushed love situations, though I tried to look at them in terms of how intense a feeling attraction must be in an apocalyptic world. When you've decided that you'll die alone and miserable, the idea of love must be worth going a little crazy over. Yet, it felt forced and awkward between these two.
I wasn't as horribly terrified of how plausible this scenario could be as I was when I first read Life As We Knew It, but I was still intrigued by Miranda's voice, her mother's personality, and even the cat. LOL All in all, it was an enjoyable read, (I finished in a few hours), and one I would recommend. I don't think, however, that I am happy about it being the conclusion to the series. I'd love to see where this family ends up. ...more
Where is the safest place you can think to be during a calamity? Right! Super Walmart! Well, in the not-so-distant future, a calamity does in fact hitWhere is the safest place you can think to be during a calamity? Right! Super Walmart! Well, in the not-so-distant future, a calamity does in fact hit Colorado, and a couple of school buses full of elementary and high school kids are pummeled by giant hail, flipped over, and devastated just outside of a Greenway(Super Walmart stand-in). In a heralding effort to save the kids on her bus, Miss Wooly drives straight into the store, and gets the kids safely off the bus. The high school students, escape the other bus and find their way into the Greenway also.
After getting everyone calm, Miss Wooly decides that she has to go for help, and she tells the high-schoolers to hold down the fort while she's away.
And just like that, we're in The Lord of the Flies.
But not really.
The internal battles between the kids never quite escalates in the cliche manner I kept expecting it to, and the personality traits were evenly spread among all of the kids, no one person was the bad or good guy. Our narrator, Dean is our companion through this 21 day adventure in Greenway, complete with political clashes, culinary greatness, bio-chemical warfare, and even love triangles. The kids and teens work to keep outside predators at bay, identify the predators who may be developing inside, and think of how they can find out what is going on with their families.
I didn't dislike this book, though there were times when it was clear that our male narrator was written by a woman. His infatuation with being trapped in this disaster with his crush, and his battle to maintain his footing with his younger brother are all underlying currents that come up throughout the story.
I appreciated the author's approach to the traditional "Lord of the Flies"-esque tale, and I am intrigued with what happens next for these young people....more
A classic re-imagined with YA flair in an adult package.
When She Woke is clearly a play on The Scarlet Letter, (which I never read but did see the DeA classic re-imagined with YA flair in an adult package.
When She Woke is clearly a play on The Scarlet Letter, (which I never read but did see the Demi Moore movie), set in a futuristic America that is frighteningly similar to what some may actually want to see.
In an un-named year, America has undergone a spiritual reclamation. A great drought and infertility plague has ravaged the country for years and once a cure was discovered, the fear and pain it brought about has ignited a national religious overhaul. There is an office of the Secretary of Faith. Sanctity of Life Laws have made abortion a murder charge. Things in America have gotten very black and white.
But not all things.
The Great Second Depression made the country look at where money was being spent, and they no longer saw fit to pay for the inmates in the overcrowded prisons. To cut down the amount of minor criminals housed in prison, they looked to science. Chroming was what they came up with. Through a genetic mutation surgery, now criminals have their skin colors changed to identify them. Yellows and Greens are petty criminals, arsonists, drug users. Blues are the second to worst, pedophiles and child molesters. Only class worse than the Blues, are the murderers. The Reds.
When Hannah Payne woke...she was as red as a rose. Having been found guilty of murder for an abortion she'd had, and her refusal to name the abortionist or the father, Hannah has been sentenced to fifteen years as a Red. She has been disowned by her mother, mourned by her father, and her pregnant sister's new husband Cole forbids her sister Becca to have any contact with her. And yet, Hannah refuses to name her lover. Aidan Dale. The married pastor of the country's largest congregation, and the new United States Secretary of Faith.
The tale that follows this stark awakening in Hannah's prison cell after she's first Chromed is one of pain, romance, and enlightenment. Reaching rock bottom makes Hannah take hard looks at a side of thinking that she was once a very big supporter of. She once also believed abortion was murder, that Chroming was right and necessary, and that the lines were very clearly drawn about women's roles and rights. Now, an outcast from the society she once believed in, Hannah can see some of the double standards and injustices.
The Fist, a supremisist group committed to extinguishing Chromes, is reminiscent of the Ku Klux Klan. Novembrists, a secret Canadian Feminist sect that lives by the motto "It's Personal", seeks to fight for abortion rights. There is also a look at how Chrome ghettos have emerged, Chrome discrimination reminiscent to Jim Crow, and other Chrome issues are developed quite beautifully.
Author Hillary Jordan deals with the issues of today in a far off, plain way that makes a reader calmly think, rather than get in an uproar. I appreciated that. My one complaint would have to be that towards the end of the book it does seem as though there is a mad rush to throw in as many "sins" as possible for Hannah to grapple with, so that one can dissect them all in the eyes of a truly religion-led society. I got the point, but thought it was unnecessary and redundant at that point. Hannah was an interesting companion to walk with through this book, and she kept my attention fairly well until the last chapter.
As I said, the book is clearly an adult one, as Hannah is a little over 25 years old, but as the story opens this was not clear. In fact, many of the ways in which she was treated and regarded by family and men in the beginning of the book had me thinking she was 17 at best until her age was actually stated. Parts of this book reminded me of "After" by Amy Efaw, and would be a nice companion piece to examine the choices and hopelessness.
Love is dangerous. No, not dangerous. Love is the root of every horrible thing we do. War, crime, insanity, all of it is stemmed from passion and love.Love is dangerous. No, not dangerous. Love is the root of every horrible thing we do. War, crime, insanity, all of it is stemmed from passion and love. In the coming future, this fact will be proven by science, and love will be declared a case of deliria nervosa. To save the world, scientists will develop a cure. They will remove the ability to love, from each and every person over the age of 18. They will evaluate your goals and thoughts, pair you with a similar person, of the opposite sex of course, tell you how many children you are responsible for creating together, and send you on your way. No more flirting. No more passion. No more waiting for it to happen. No more heartbreak.
Magdalena Haloway is fastly approaching the age of 18 and wants nothing more than to be cured. Her mother was given the surgery a total of three times, but none of them took. After kissing a six year old Lena goodbye and telling her "I love you...they can't take that away", she committed suicide. Lena has lived with her cured aunt and uncle in their home ever since. Lena doesn't want the disease to ever lead her to the same fate. It's hereditary, they say.
And then the unthinkable happens. First, her best friend Hana seems to be hiding a secret. Listening to unregulated music, and talking about boys even though she knows that the segregation laws between uncured boys and girls are finite. And then, in a chance encounter, Lena meets Alex, a boy who just wants to get to know her. Suddenly everything about what she's been taught, what she believes, and even who she is, blurs into an unrecognizable state.
The premise of this book is what hit me faster than the actual characters did. As dystopias go, it's very easy to see where the story is about to head, even before the author lets on. This was the case here as well. Parts of that dystopic formula just can't be done away with. But there was something about the idea that love is dangerous. Something about the a world where religion and science merge together to control the uncontrollable. Something about pushing the limits and exploring how far we really would go for the right to LOVE, was just fascinating.
Lena's story itself wasn't much different from a Katniss Everdeen, or a Tally Youngblood, at least on the surface. Alex, Hana, and the rest of the family aren't much to focus on either. The love that Lena realizes she has for them however, is the real character to watch. The way we fall in love, the way we recognize love, the yearning we feel for love we feel we've lost, are all described beautifully.
I warn you to have Kleenex handy for the ending, and patience with the cliche formula so that you can reach it....more