A weird thing happened to me when I started reading DIVERGENT. I kept turning pages although IReview originally posted at Heise Reads & Recommends
A weird thing happened to me when I started reading DIVERGENT. I kept turning pages although I couldn't figure out why. I'm not sure if I went into this with a little bit of a skewed perception. I have already been hearing so much hype for this debut book, and I had just finished another dystopian that was haunting in an entirely different way. But, I just couldn't put this book down. I couldn't quite figure out what it was that was making me want to keep reading because it wasn't feeling mind-blowing to me, in fact, it was seeming a little bit predictable, but in the end, I LOVED it. I read it so fast that when I finished, I wanted to go back and reread the whole thing again to pick up on things I may have missed the first time around. So, I guess what I'm saying is, it took me a little while to feel fully engaged in the characters and this world, but at the same time I never wanted to put it down. DIVERGENT is an engrossing read. It's scary in showing how easy it was to get to this point with a world built of the five factions. It was really interesting to see how the world ended up divided by the five different strengths people valued. It is definitely a book that caused some deep thinking/analyzing (as any good dystopian should!) of our current societal beliefs.
DIVERGENT has a page-turning, action-packed, fast-paced, twisting plot from the very beginning to the very end full of heart-pounding thrills and wrenching shocks of sadness. This book definitely has a thriller feel to the plot as well. Smaller plot points would be important and keep me wanting to read and then the big overall conflict came together at the end in a way that was not totally expected earlier on in the book. I loved how it deals with fear and bravery in interesting, thought-provoking ways. It has lots of commentary on people and perceptions and control and fear and focuses on figuring out what true strength is. Some parts were horrifying in what this world has become (when it started with the best intentions) and shows the worst part of human nature. Other parts were inspiring in how people with the best intentions can use their strength to overcome odds and work for those they love.
DIVERGENT has likeable characters and I enjoyed spending time in Beatrice's head. I did feel that some secondary characters could have been developed a little bit more though. Ultimately it's about Tris' journey to figuring out how she can go against what she's always been conditioned to do/believe. Tris is a strong, kick-butt, take-no-crap character who always does what she thinks is right, but with a caring heart. She's so smart, but doesn't always realize it, but when she finally does, her bravery and intelligence shows through in unexpected ways. Tris struggles in this book between family obligation and what she thinks she wants. She's having to start dealing with the consequences of actions and discovering how she can affect her world. Seeing her insecurities and struggles through her eyes, but most especially seeing how she dealt with them with sass and wit, really made the book for me. Some parts seemed a little predictable - it was obvious who was going to be the love interest, but I still enjoyed seeing how that played out and how they grew closer. I felt that way about most things though - the way everything was tied together in the end made me feel better about the whole book because it all made sense. It was just an exciting book and a fast read - make sure you have time to get through it because you won't want to put it down....more
Review below originally posted on Heise Reads & Recommends in May, 2011. Reread with audiobook done May 23-24, 2012. Reread with student book clubReview below originally posted on Heise Reads & Recommends in May, 2011. Reread with audiobook done May 23-24, 2012. Reread with student book club February 18-19, 2013. Each time read the book in just two days - that should tell you something!
I finished this book over a month ago (and I lost sleep because I was up reading until I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore), and I'm still in awe of the genius writing of Gayle Forman. When I first read IF I STAY, it was because I had heard so much about it - little did I know what I was in for. Gayle Forman has a unique ability to draw a reader into a book and grab at your emotions and twist and turn them until you feel so caught up in the character's journey that you would do anything just to give the character a hug or a helping hand. Her books are not ones that you can put down. It's an emotional journey to read IF I STAY or WHERE SHE WENT, but one that you must take! But make sure you read them in order!!! (and if you haven't read IF I STAY yet, why the heck not?!?)
WHERE SHE WENT takes place three years later and switches view points from when we had insight into Mia's thoughts in If I Stay to now seeing Adam's anger, heartbreak, and despair. Adam is now a big rock star and his band has hit it big and is heading off on a European tour, but Adam is devastated, and as the reader, you feel it from the first pages. The Adam I loved in the first book is still there somewhere, but he's been beaten down and lost himself when Mia broke up with him. The writing is straight-forward, but pulls you in instantly. This is contemporary realistic teen fiction writing at it's best. This book very much has the feel of a "one night in the life of" kind of story. It's takes place in New York, it includes chance encounters, it flashes back to Adam's perspective of what happened with Mia and her family, and it shows us where Mia is now.
The thing I love the most about Adam and Mia is the way they are always looking out for each other. They are such a great, honest couple because they truly want the best for the other, but they've been through such grief and tragedy that they need to resolve those issues before they can be happy and hopeful together. The journey that Adam and Mia have to take to understand each other, forgive each other, communicate their true feelings, and hold on to each other is wrought with emotion, frustration, and love. And ultimately, this is a true love story - one that was three years in the making. Read this one - you will begin your own love story with Gayle Forman's writing. I'm so glad she revisited Mia's world and explored how Adam would have reacted to the tragic events in the first story. It's realistic, it's gritty, and it's hopeful. I can't wait to see what she has in store for us next in her writing career!...more
I really enjoy Elizabeth Eulberg's books. I loved her debut novel, THE LONELY HEARTS CLUB (reaReview originally posted at Heise Reads & Recommends
I really enjoy Elizabeth Eulberg's books. I loved her debut novel, THE LONELY HEARTS CLUB (read my thoughts here), and thoroughly enjoyed PROM & PREJUDICE as well. There's just something so easy about her writing style - it's comforting and familiar. Her books are quick reads and so enjoyable. They're just happy books. Sometimes (especially on a snow day) I just really want a light-hearted book, and that's what Elizabeth delivers, but always with a good message. Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice is a classic for a reason, and with PROM & PREJUDICE, Elizabeth has delivered a cute contemporary twist on the classic. Some scenes were so familiar from the many interpretations I've seen and read of Austen's original work, but with the new Lizzie, Darcy, and Jane, they all felt like friends I would have wanted to have in high school and it felt so contemporary.
The importance placed on getting a prom date at Longbourn Academy is entertaining, and setting it in a boarding school gives the perfect background for analyzing class differences and the problems that can cause. I found myself rooting for all of them to figure it out and see the goodness in each other. There are issues of prejudice by many in this book - and it's really about misconceptions and assumptions made before one knows the person or gives them a chance to prove themselves different and worthy of positive thoughts...hmmm, maybe something we should all take away from a book. I like how Elizabeth writes her characters - they're flawed and real and make mistakes and are easy to relate to. Another aspect that was subtle was the love of piano playing that this Lizzie has. Elizabeth places references to several classical music pieces throughout as a part of Lizzie's identity as a scholasrship student due to her gift at playing piano. As a former cello player, I always appreciate references to classical musicians such as are scattered throughout this book. I thought it was interesting that both of Elizabeth Eulberg's books feature music as a prominent piece of the action. PROM & PREJUDICE is a really cute contemporary reboot of the classic story and you'll read it quickly and enjoy every page....more
THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER is one of the most interesting books that I have read in awhile. It blew my mind, kept me on my toes, crawled under my skiTHE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER is one of the most interesting books that I have read in awhile. It blew my mind, kept me on my toes, crawled under my skin, tugged at my heart, and won't get out of my head. It is a multi-layered story: part psychological thriller, part epic teen romance, part high school story, part mystery, part family dynamics, and part suspense. Oh, and I can't forget the slight paranormal tendencies (in the mental sense not creatures) underlying the events of this book. It is a page-turning, hard to put down, want to know what will happen and how the main character will figure it all out kind of book. It starts with a note from Mara setting up the premise that she's going to be telling you her story (under a pseudonym) of why her life is not normal. It's definitely a book you have to read with an open mind so you can just go with it. At times I thought, "oh, this is like ___" only to find out I was wrong, but I could definitely see the influences of other YA books, but done with unique twists. There are lots of "what is going on?!" and "did that just happen?!" moments, but that's what made it so much more readable.
Michelle Hodkin (a debut author!) has an engaging writing style that is a nice balance of descriptive, exciting, humorous, suspenseful, sarcastic, and intelligent. It just draws you in without even realizing it and you find yourself negotiating "just one more chapter before I go to sleep" fifteen times in a row until you can't keep your eyes open anymore. Parts of this book (especially the dialogue) were so smile to myself entertaining I found myself rereading them just to soak them in more and deeply process the subtle references and entertaining quality.
And the main character Michelle has written in Mara? Not the most reliable, or most sane, but she's got an awesome sass to her that I love, and underneath her insecurity and unsureness has a strength and integrity that drew me to her even more. Mara doesn't remember what happened the night the building collapsed and her friends were killed. One of the best parts of this book is the way that Mara's memories of that night start to come back to her. We get flashbacks through her dreams as she gets them - leaving us feeling as unsure as Mara does about what's going on - but eventually we finally get the whole story of that night and the story comes together really well. It's written in the way that makes you feel like the character is feeling at that point in the book - you'll be scared, hopeful, worried, confused, happy, and freaked out when Mara is feeling that way as you go through the story with her.
Should we talk boys now? How about my newest (and quite possibly best ever) literary crush - Noah Shaw. Really, after reading it, I sigh just hearing his name. I love, love, love Noah's character. He's got a great way of talking (and lots of hidden secrets to come) and interacting and being that is just captivating. The parts I found myself rereading the most were the interactions between Mara and Noah. Now, I should warn you, at first I was a little skeptical because he seemed like the stereotypical bad boy, insta-crush, jerk to girls, love interest character, but there's much, much more than meets the eye (or rumor mill as the case may be) with Noah Shaw. Don't let his early interactions fool you - there is an epic sort of romance that develops between Mara and Noah that will have you swooning by the end.
Secondary characters deserve a mention too - maybe because I have two brothers myself and am the middle/only girl, I really enjoyed Mara's relationship with her brothers - especially her older brother Daniel. He's great. He watches out for her, covers for her, protects her, and pushes her to get out there. I want a big brother like him. We also see Mara at her new school after they move out of state and meet her new friend Jamie. He is awesomely sarcastic and witty and good comedic relief. He also serves as commentary to set the stage for what's going on in the new school's dynamics. I enjoyed reading both Daniel's and Jamie's characters; I would have liked a little more of Jamie though.
This book all leads up to an ending that is unexpected and left me wondering What?! How did that happen?! It made me want to go back and reread the whole book with that new perspective and see if it changed my thoughts on earlier parts of the story. It ends at a point that added a final cliffhanger of a twist and left me hoping that there would be more - and there will be a sequel (thank goodness because I need answers!) You may feel a little off balance at the end of this one, but I truly think that's part of the reason that it is so good. I want my stories to surprise me once in awhile and this one was definitely surprising. Be on the lookout for THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER in September!
I fell in love with Maggie Stiefvater's writing when I read SHIVER, the first bReview originally posted on Heise Reads & Recommends in July, 2011.
I fell in love with Maggie Stiefvater's writing when I read SHIVER, the first book in the trilogy. Of course, the fact that I had heard Maggie speak at a conference, and her personality engaged and entertained me from the start, helped me realize that I needed to read her writing. As soon as I read it, I knew I loved it - and promoted it to all of my students as better than Twilight (and for 8th grade girls, that was a big deal!) The things that I loved most about the start of the series was the unique mythology of the wolves, the plotting of the building tension of the book, and the beautifully lyrical way in which Maggie writes - along with the sweet honesty of the love between Grace and Sam.
I feel as if this is a bittersweet review for me because I've so loved living in the world of The Wolves of Mercy Falls, so I'm sad to leave them, but I feel good about where things were left in the end. However, I do have to say, the end of the book is a little open-ended. Things are all wrapped up, but it's not necessarily a happy ending for all, nor is their entire future certain. The overwhelming feeling I had at the end of this final book was one of peace with each main character's place in the world and satisfaction with the choices they had made to get to where they were. And hope for their futures. There was a sense of each character knowing themselves better by the end - who they wanted to be and who they really were and how they could be happy.
There were twists in this book and with certain characters who acted differently than expected, but in a good way. It's ultimately a love story - a sweet, tragic, complicated, deep, meant-to-be love between Sam and Grace. It's a love between Sam and his adoptive father Beck. It's a love between Cole and his bandmates. It's about these characters fighting for their loved ones and struggling to find a way out of the mess that is the wolf hunt, in order to save those they love - all written in Maggie's beautiful, lyrical writing. There is a subtleness to the story, in the everyday descriptions and events taking place within the bigger context of the plot. There is also a ticking clock in the back of the reader's mind as the hunt gets closer. I have to say that I think Cole is one of my favorite characters, mostly in his interactions with Isabel, but also for the journey he makes to become the person he is at the end. There is a sense of redemption to this story for all of the characters as they face up to their mistakes in the past and figure out a way to face the future head on. The plot keeps moving and kept me turning pages. When I saw Maggie at her signing she said that she started writing in order to make her reader's cry, and you might just shed a few tears over certain characters, and the ending of this beautiful series. If you haven't read any of it yet, go get the books now, and if you haven't read this final one, do so soon! ...more
First read July 10-11, 2012. Reread November 5, 2013 for Champion's release. Full of action & emotion & intrigue. My heart was pounding the whoFirst read July 10-11, 2012. Reread November 5, 2013 for Champion's release. Full of action & emotion & intrigue. My heart was pounding the whole time. I am heart-broken & anxious for the final chapter of this series. ...more