Blythe, Haleema, and I gave each other the old internet elbow to the gut to get our shit together and read this book, finally. I'm glad that I finally...moreBlythe, Haleema, and I gave each other the old internet elbow to the gut to get our shit together and read this book, finally. I'm glad that I finally got motivated, because this is a pretty good read considering that Susan Ee published this shiz herself.
I didn't want to read this. I saw that it was about angels and, when you consider the quality of the existing breadth of ya lit with angels in it - for the record, I still hate your entire existence, Becca Fitzpatrick - probability was high that this was going to be another steamy, smelling thing to scrape off the heel of my favorite shoe. And to be honest with you, it kind of started out that way.
We're introduced to Penryn and her wheelchair-bound sister, Paige, and her paranoid schizophrenic mother. They quickly find themselves in a street where a bunch of muscle-bound angels are having a who's-got-the-bigger-sword contest. (A small note here: have any of you seen Tom Jones these days? This is him. I don't know how to explain this exactly, but he always seems to resemble a toddler in a suit to me - it's like his limbs are too short for his torso. I mention this because Ee's initial descriptions about the angels remind me of toddlers in suits. #kanyeshrug.) So, basically, one of the angels gets his wings cut off, Penryn gets herself involved and throws the dude his sword thinking that it would distract this other angel off of her family, and gets her sister kidnapped.
I don't know. I found maybe the first fifty percent of this book completely incongruent with the last half. The first half is your standard post-apocalyptic novel, complete with rebels in a sketchy camp constructing nefarious plans to 'get back' at the angels for the apocalypse they brought upon the world, but then things started to get good.
Weird creatures scramble around the woods trying to eat people. It's all very weird until Penryn infiltrates the aerie where her sister is being held and discovers how creepy the angels actually are. I don't know, read it. It's good.
So, basically, Ee did spin a good yarn, particularly given that she did it all by herself and I'm looking forward to book two. This is also the first book in a while where I both really liked the heroine (she decidedly did not suffer from the Bella Swan complex) and also the evolution of the obvious relationship with Raffe - they had good rapport with each other and he didn't have to be rapey in order to accomplish it (not that he was trying to).
What I'd like to see more from Ee is more of the weirdo stuff that was going on in that garage in the last half of the book. I'd also like some more back story on the evolution of the whole apocalypse, too, because she sort of dropped us in a world with absolutely no context as to how things started or got so bad. All in all, a good read, and I did sign up to get notice of when the next book is finished. Maybe angels can exist in ya lit.
Anyways, Tom Jones thanks you for your time:
Edit #1: I FORGOT TO SAY THAT THE SCHIZOPHRENIC MOM NEEDS HER OWN BOOK SERIES. Okay, I'm done now, freals.
Edit #2: Another thing that I forgot to mention is that it always weirds me out how a centuries-old being (be it angel, demon, vampire, etc.) can have romantic feelings for a teenage girl who is comparatively an infant. Ee did a good job of making me forget that, but the thought burbled up a couple of times despite. Gives a new meaning to robbing the cradle.(less)
I will say it right now: I lament giving that extra half a star to Divergent, because book, oh, have you let me down.
There were problems all over the...moreI will say it right now: I lament giving that extra half a star to Divergent, because book, oh, have you let me down.
There were problems all over the place in the book, some of which were new and some of which were the problems from book one redux. Basically, Roth still supplies an endless stream of tertiary characters without fleshing them out in the slightest, leaving me super confused about who everyone is. She also didn't really introduce much of a plot until the last fifty pages of the book, exactly like Divergent. Tris and Four are very cute together, but maybe I have a heart made out of solid ice, but I just didn't get it.
The new problems I've found in this book are that Roth didn't summarize the events of Divergent at all - not in memories, flashbacks, etc. If I hadn't read Divergent two days ago, I would have swan-dived into this novel and not really understood who was who or how they got where or whatever.
This book cast stark light on the fact that Roth has no real sense of how to construct a plot. I think I was blinded by Divergent; it lacked a cohesive structure, but in the context of reading Insurgent, it's plain to see that Roth has written two books that read more like a well-described list of subsequent events rather than a novel with any sort of cogent plot, which made most of this book migraine-inducing for me.
I did like the closer looks at the other factions. We're invited to see deeper inside the Candor, Amity, and Erudite factions and that was fun, but again, this felt more like Roth wrote a whole bunch of separate scenes she wanted to include in her book and just threw them in there in some order, while only really fitting the meat of the story into the last few chapters.
Tris is still a pretty amazing heroine, though - she's strong and selfless and obstinate, but not in the annoying way. I don't think there was a moment in this book that I didn't like her (though Roth has a preternatural ability to write hateable characters, though - FU JEANINE/PETER/MARCUS/ERRBODY).
I found the love story between Tris and Four more bearable in this book, perhaps because it's evolved more, but I think Roth needs to invest in a thesaurus or read that one book by Laini Taylor, because every time she described them kissing, it was Four, "touching his mouth" to Tris', which really sounds like it's one credit card away from a game of suck and blow, not kissing. I didn't count, but I'd say she used this at least fourteen times and it got so annoying that I had to angrily take my dog for a walk. I like Four and I like Tris individually, I do, but I just don't buy their relationship. Sorry.
Oh, and Uriah is the best character. I think I'm envisioning him in my head as a Stephen Colletti lookalike and that makes me happy. Anyway, this review is terrible. I haven't slept in thirty-seven hours SUE ME(less)
Divergent sort of reminds me of the Hunger Games, but not in an obvious copycat kind of way. Divergent introduces us to a world where the people in it...moreDivergent sort of reminds me of the Hunger Games, but not in an obvious copycat kind of way. Divergent introduces us to a world where the people in it are broken up into five separate factions - Abnegation, Erudite, Candor, Dauntless, and Amity - individually created because of their prospective opinions on why the world went wrong. Abnegation believe it was selfishness, Erudite believe it was ignorance, etc.
We are introduced to Abnegation member Beatrice Prior who is unhappy with her own ability to obey the regulations of her faction. During the traditional aptitude test - a simulation in which her decisions were supposed to indicate her innate competency for one faction out of five - it is discovered that she's Divergent, meaning she possesses qualities of more than one faction. We find out that this could get her killed. On the day she chooses her faction, she makes the decision to shirk her own faction and join Dauntless.
Beatrice isn't your cookie-cutter doormat of a heroine. I like that she's not written as preternaturally beautiful or Bella Swan-plain. She's normal and not much about her looks - aside from her evolution from Abnegation Beatrice to Dauntless Tris - is mentioned. Another appealing thing about her character is that, though she does develop a crush on a boy, the boy isn't the absolute epicenter to her universe when there are bigger problems to deal with. I found Beatrice/Tris to be really frustrating in certain areas, however, but maybe it was important to her character. I liked that when terrible things happened to her (Peter beating her half to death during a Dauntless initiation, for example), her instinct was to hold her head high and appear unafraid. Sometimes, I felt her fearlessness bordered on stupidity. When her mother visited and distinctly told her to make sure she ranked somewhere in the middle of the other initiates so her Divergence wouldn't be detected, Tris essentially ignored this in favor of her own egotistical need to be number one, despite nudges from various characters (Tori, Four, and even Jeanine) that she was making herself obvious. I found this really annoying.
As for the love interest, hurrah for this novel being an elite part of young adult literature in which the heroine doesn't start crushing inexplicably on a complete douchenozzle. Four was kind and Roth did flesh out the details of his past well (though I guessed who he was almost two hundred pages before he revealed himself), though the romance between him and Tris felt rushed and subsequently made me wish that whole aspect of the story didn't exist.
Some characters were better written than others. Ultimately, I feel like Roth wrote in a bunch of names in case she needed a character to write into an important scene in the future. Peter, Al, Christina, Eric, and Tori were the only ones that really stood out for me. The rest sort of got muddied together for me.
When it came to the nature of the story, I was really impressed. The world-building was above and beyond what I'd normally expect from a ya dystopia, but, to be fair, I am not entirely sure I would consider this much of a dystopia at all. I am not sure the average reader would have recognized the city in which these people live as a worn-down Chicago - I only noticed it at the mention of Navy Pier. Instead, this specific story in the series seems to focus more on the initiate process of a Dauntless with only brief winks and nudges to what I'm assuming will be the overall arc to the series throughout until the last few chapters when the action started to commence.
Don't get me wrong - I love Roth's action-packed writing and I loved her imagination when it came to testing initiates and her exploring the innerworkings of Dauntless headquarters, but at the end of the book, I found myself wanting more of the meatier stuff that came at the end of the book - the Erudite's plot to inject a mind control serum into the minds of the Dauntless in order to have them attack Abnegation. I'm not entirely sure why fifty percent of the book was dedicated to tests and a romance-too-soon when there could have been better construction with that plot instead. It made the ending of this book seem incredibly brushed - less than ten hours passed between the injection of the mind control serum and the entire mind control of the Dauntless faction. Would it not have made more sense to foreshadow this with showing some in-faction test subjects of the Erudite?
To summarize, I like this book and I will continue the series, but these are the flaws: - Boring, pointless, rushed romance that would have been better had it been drawn out or completely omitted from the book. - Too many named characters wandering around and muddying up some of the story for me. - This book is three hundred pages of introduction with a hundred pages of actual plot.
But here are the good things: - A heroine that doesn't ignore the world crashing down around her for a boy. - The love interest isn't a bag of dicks. - The world-building, prose, and imagination of Roth is pretty rad and it almost makes up for long-windedness. - Action-packed, though it has me worrying that follow-up books won't follow suit.
Additionally: - WTF is so wrong with being Divergent? How is a direct answer to this question never given? - I would kill baby jack rabbits to read about the initiation processes/innerworkings of other factions. (Except Candor, because lie-detector tests are for Maury Povich.)
Conclusion: - This is probably a three and a half star book, but I'm rounding up because I had lemon cake this morning and I'm in a good mood.(less)
Could it be? Is this really a zombie novel with two bad ass heroines kicking butt and taking names? Oh. No. It isn't.
I'll give Frater credit where cre...moreCould it be? Is this really a zombie novel with two bad ass heroines kicking butt and taking names? Oh. No. It isn't.
I'll give Frater credit where credit is due: this story starts off like a really awesome slap in the face. We're introduced to Jenni, who is staring at the tiny baby fingers of her toddler son reaching under a crack in her door. Why? Because her abusive and zombified husband is having him for a snack. Her other son has been bitten by her husband, too, and is trying to claw out of the house via the window to take a chunk out of mommy. Jenni is only saved when Lesbian Katie (more on this in a minute) rolls up and gets her into the truck before she becomes zombie lunchmeat. Then, I'm afraid, begins the agonizing spiral into What The Shit Is This Land.
Here are the problems with this book:
Jenni, you suck. After Jenni is rescued and she and Katie find a place to hole up for a while, she offers herself up to Lesbian Katie. I get it in a way. Coming from an abusive household, one might safely assume that Jenni has been brainwashed into thinking that she's nothing but a puppet for the needs of other people. Since Katie is the one that rescued her, it might be logical for Jenni to assume that sex is the price for safety and protection, making it really easy to not see this situation for what it is, which is just the first in a long line of scenarios in which Jenni thinks with her netherparts instead of her brain. Jenni's all-consuming goal of getting laid is so overwhelming for her that she forgets that she has a stepson that she needs to rescue (which, if I'm being honest, feels like just an impetus for Frater to insert a fancy action sequence into her story because her stepson is basically pointless after his rescue) and that she's lost her two sons less than a week prior. In short: abort, abort, abort.
Katie, you don't suck as much as Jenni. You're Diet Suck. I have dubbed Katie Lesbian Katie because ninety percent of the narrative about her is about her sexuality. In fact, the parts about her read less like a zombie novel and more like shitty dialogue in a Lifetime movie about gay acceptance. No, really, it gets so bad that Lesbian Katie goes out of her way to have a completely inappropriate and, frankly, pointless conversation about her sexuality with Jenni's adolescent stepson. She entrusted a fifteen year old the secret of her bisexuality; the whole bit felt more like an unnecessary scene for Frater to explain Katie's blossoming attraction with a man, when, if it had been kept out of the book, the story would not have been lacking.
Also, Frater's dudes sound like ladies. You know how annoying Bella Swan was in Twilight mooning over Edward? That was basically every male character in this book.
One thing that Frater did really well was make sure that there was a lot of action. I liked that part about her writing because with the limited wriggle room available with zombie lore, stories can become dull or repetitive, which makes interpersonal relationships between characters necessary. Here is the problem. Much of the story focused on a stupid love quadrangle - Jenni loves cock (Travis', first), Travis loves Lesbian Katie, Juan loves Jenni, Katie wants to mourn her undead wife in peace - which was given far more importance than it should have. I was much more intrigued with the politics of the little community that Jenni and Katie found themselves in instead of a dumb game of elementary school Love Connection.
- General issues:
Every single character says, "Gawd" instead of "God". So it was pages of, "Oh my Gawd," and "Gawd, that's terrible," from every single character. I realize that this was a stylistic choice by Frater, but it made me want to punch puppies when every single character started to sound like an unintelligent Scarlett O'Hara.
It was super cute when Juan gave Jenni the nickname Loca. It stopped being cute around the four hundredth time he went out of his way to call her Loca. It made me wonder if Frater has ever had a conversation with a real person because every single sentence was peppered with her name, unnecessarily. Things he actually said: "You're loca, Loca." Shut up. The only redeeming quality about Juan is that I couldn't unsee him as Kevin Alejandro in my head:
Execution of the story in general was pretty bad. I had comprehension problems with the way Frater described things, but I didn't expect so much when I realized this book was a self-published deal. And it's no wonder. Gawd.(less)