I’m going to attempt to control my fangirling long enough to give a coherent review of The Immortal Rul...moreREVIEWED by Louise for Between the Covers blog:
I’m going to attempt to control my fangirling long enough to give a coherent review of The Immortal Rules. It’s going to be hard, though; you have been warned.
Okay… first I need to correct a serious misconception: This isn't a vampire story, it's a human story. It's a story about humanity’s points of pride and fatal flaws. It's a story about what it is to be ‘human.’
Set in a post-apolcalyptic world that has been nearly destroyed by a plague which created zombie-like monsters, this dystopian novel is told in such a way as to feel both current and viable. And that was a big part of the thrill of reading The Immortal Rules for me; the tone of the narrative was very realistic, making this world ruled by vampires seem possible; as if this dark, terrifying alternate existence could actually become a reality.
And within this harsh and brutal world lives our heroine, 17-year-old Allison Sekemoto. Refusing to register with the vampires and provide regular blood donations for them… and to become the vampires’ property and food, Allison lives on the fringes of society with three other unregistereds. Working together, the group scavenges to find enough food and other essentials to survive. Sometimes things become so desperate that Allison decides to take the risk of going outside the vampire city and into the surrounding ruins to search for food. This is incredibly dangerous as the vampire city is the only place that is safe from rabids, the zombie-like vampires which attack anything living. It is on one of these trips that Allison’s life is forever changed and she is forced to make the choice between dying and becoming what she hates most.
Allison is a great heroine: selfish yet compassionate; young yet mature beyond her years due to the difficulties of life in this world. Strong character development allows you to understand the growth Allison undergoes throughout the novel. You will be drawn into this story immediately, cheering for Allison, and feeling her pain at the harshness of this world. She is truly the perfect blend of good and bad, and her struggle showcases the moral of this story.
In her best book to date, and her first vampire novel, Julie Kagawa uses her amazing gift with imagery and her wildly creative imagination to build a world unlike any other I’ve read about, crafting a truly fascinating tale that will keep you turning the pages. The Immortal Rules is a new spin on the vampire story that you simply must read. I know I can’t wait to read more.
Following the fourth World War, the United States no longer exists. Formed in its place is a new countr...moreREVIEWED by Louise for Between the Covers blog:
Following the fourth World War, the United States no longer exists. Formed in its place is a new country called Illea. The post-war world has undergone a radical change. Society is divided into castes, each having specific professions and status assigned to it. Gone is the democratic vote to elect a president; Illea is ruled from the throne by a King and Queen. The sons of the Royal couple remain in Illea to rule, their daughters are married off to the leaders of other countries so that this young nation can form political alliances. This is the setting of Kiera Cass’ debut novel, The Selection.
Enter Prince Maxon, son of the King and Queen of Illea... and a young man of an age to need a wife. The plot of this story is the quest to obtain a princess. How is that done? In Illea, the Princess is to be a ‘true daughter’ of the country; therefore a lottery-type drawing is held. One young woman is chosen from each of the 35 provinces to compete to win the heart of the Prince and become the Princess.
America Singer is a 16-year-old girl whose family are Fives, artists; America is a musician. She and her family struggle to make ends meet, especially during the winter months. They have enough to survive, but just barely, and there are rarely extras. Agreeing to submit the application because it will allow her to save money for her future, America never dreams she’ll be Selected. She has plans for her life which don’t include wearing a crown; she’s in love with a neighbor boy, Aspen. The only problem is that Aspen is a Six, a servant, and marrying him would be a step down... and America will have to fight to convince both Aspen and her mother to accept this change in her status.
But when she is Selected and goes away to Angeles to compete for the crown, she sees a world the likes of which she has never dreamed. Not just one of expensive gowns, jewels and limitless food, but a world in which she could make a difference... if she were the one at Prince Maxon’s side.
Maxon is all that a young royal should be... handsome, intelligent and caring. He’s also incredibly isolated by the lifestyle of the Royals and the threats to the Royal family. He finds a friend in America, an unlikely companion and counselor, and he quickly comes to care for the unique young woman who truly doesn’t want his crown.
The Selection was a fun, quick read. For all that the story is set in post-war, the writing is never dark and focuses mostly on what it’s like to be one of the young women competing for the crown. I liked both America and Maxon, though I felt their voices were a little more mature than the teenagers who have been running through my house for the last ten years. *laughs* I liked the secondary characters that we were given insight into, and was amused at the interplay of all the girls personalities. I enjoyed reading the brief exchanges that showed the true political machinations at work in this young country.
BtCers, you know I have a serious love affair with dystopian books. *owns it* But I have to say that while this book is billed as dystopian, it really never seemed to be one to me. There was no true world building. Aside from telling us that there was a fourth World War, we are never shown any of the repercussions. We don’t see much of the world, at all. The book is confined almost entirely to the Illean palace. I would have enjoyed ‘seeing’ more of this world, so that I could better appreciate the characters individual struggles. I also never really felt any true development of the love triangle between America, Maxon and Aspen... Aspen was almost a non-entity in the book, appearing really only at the end.
Overall, I enjoyed The Selection, and I am curious to learn more of this world... and to see what develops between America and Maxon.
The Hunger Games is the first of three books which tell the story of Panam, the country that was formed...moreREVIEWED by Louise for Between the Covers blog:
The Hunger Games is the first of three books which tell the story of Panam, the country that was formed in what was once North America. The series' main characters are Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old girl, and Peeta Mellark, both from District 12. We are introduced to Katniss immediately as the books are told from her point of view, and I admit I found her hard to like at first. She comes across as distant and cold, almost harsh. But I got over this quickly. The world in which Katniss lives is one that is very different from anything I had ever imagined. In truth, the premise of these books still blows my mind.
The 'Hunger Games' are just that... an annual event. An annual history lesson. Each year the twelve districts that comprise Panam must select two tributes, a boy and a girl, to participate in the Hunger Games. Children ages twelve to eighteen make up the tribute pool, and the twenty-four children selected must battle each other in the games. The winner will live a life of ease back home, and their district will receive additional food for the next year. The losers... die. The children are forced to fight to the death, serving as an annual reminder of what happens when you defy the Capitol.
But all games have rules, and rules are meant to be broken. Katniss and Peeta band together and plan a course through the Hunger Games which rocks the Capitol... and reverberates throughout all of Panam.
BtCers, you know my thoughts on character development, so I will spare you that line this time. As I said, my initial reaction to Katniss was that she was emotionless. In reality, she feels and cares very deeply, but the world she lives in is harsh and softness is for the weak... and the weak die. Katniss is the ultimate pragmatist. She is strong and smart and loyal. And she would do anything for her family. As I read I came to realize that the dispassionate tone I felt Katniss had was actually a very effective way to tell the story. From the main characters to the secondary ones... especially Effie, Haymitch and Cinna... Collins gave her characters depth and made them real. Every person you are introduced to in the book is relevant, their time on the page has meaning. Collins' writing is clear and concise, allowing you to take in the extensive history as well as the descriptions of the various locations and events easily.
Peeta took me a little longer to figure out. He seems so much softer and kinder than Katniss that it is almost disquieting. I worried he would not be her equal. I was wrong. My apologies to any #TeamGale followers, but I am firmly #TeamPeeta. I think he is truly Katniss' perfect compliment, each encouraging the other, challenging the other, and bringing out the best in the other. Peeta is also clever, loyal and self-sacrificing, and seeing Katniss through his eyes is like putting on kaleidoscope glasses... he sees her in a way no one else does.
The Hunger Games was my first dystopian novel and it set such a high standard for all that followed. This young adult novel is very intelligently written and would be enjoyed by older teens and adults, alike. The premise, while horrifying, captures your attention immediately. The characters hold your interest and make you feel compassion for them, the story flows quickly, the action pulling you in and forcing you to hold your breath until the end.
In case you missed it in reading this review, I loved this book... love the entire series. I have passed it on to my two oldest minions, and they are diehard HG fans, as well. Due to the graphic nature of the Games, I do not recommend this book for children under 14, but each parent must make that assessment for themselves.
Okay... full disclosure. I have really wanted to read this book since it came out. The blurb drew me in and never let go. But life kept interfering, and I didn't manage to read it until now. And I am so glad I didn’t give up on it.
Cassia Reyes lives in a world where the Society makes all the decisions for her... What she will wear, what she will eat, what she will learn, what her job will be, where she will live and who she will marry. She has never questioned these rules, recognizing that the Society knows what is best for her, that they have learned from the mistakes of previous Societies. She has been happy and content with her life, secure in the knowledge that the Society’s methods ensure the citizens live a full, healthy and useful life. Until the events following her Matching ceremony.
Surprised yet pleased to find herself matched with her best friend, Xander, Cassia sees their pairing as further proof that the Society knows what is best. After all, she and Xander already know each other so well, and they may not have to move away from their families. Counting herself the fortunate to benefit from the Society’s planning, Cassia looks at the microcard she received at the ceremony and sees something that turns her perfectly ordered life upside down... a face other than Xander’s reflected as her match.
Dudes! *shakes head and throws hands up in air* Unlike Cassia, who is content to believe what she is told, I had so many questions while reading this book. My inner rebel was WTSnot-ing every five minutes! Why did the Society destroy all but 100 each of the songs, paintings, poems and books? What kind of world is it that such commonplace things as someone having a scrape and seeing an unfamiliar face is shocking? What are the different pills for? Why can't they share food? Why are they allowed to learn only what they need to know for their specific trade? Why does no one know how to write? *pulls hair and waits for answers*
These questions and more are presented as Condie takes us through this first book of Cassia’s story. With each turn of the page we see Cassia transform. We see her interact with her family, that unit so solid and perfect at first glance, that proves to be truly strong but with much more depth than we were initially led to believe. We see Cassia’s relationship with Xander begin to change, the shift to a couple begin to develop. Condie paints a picture that is a little too platonic for me to fully believe, but she had my mind so entangled with all the questions she raised, the lack of raging teenage hormones between Cassia and Xander almost went unnoticed by me. We see Cassia begin to notice Ky Markham, her second match, and the relationship that grows almost unintentionally between them. (I will say that I felt there was more heat between Ky and Cassia than between her and Xander.)
Matched is the first of three books planned in this series, and ends with a cliffhanger that will have you wanting to call the author up at home... or maybe hit her up on twitter so she doesn’t get a restraining order against you... and ask her what’s happening next. Condie’s clear, concise style worked very well for this story, as there was so much information given. Maybe I am reading too much into it, but it was as if Condie channeled the Society and wrote the book in the clinical method which would have been appropriate to the world she created.
As I said, it took me forever to do it, but I am very glad I finally read Matched. I enjoyed the characters, am incredibly intrigued by the world Condie has made, and am bounce in my seat curious to know what happens next. I love reading books that make me think, love it when I am presented with an idea that challenges what I think. It is a special kind of high when a book takes me that far outside myself. #MyDrugOfChoice Matched is one of those books, for me.
REVIEWED by Christin for Between the Covers blog on 12/20/10:
Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
These are the words that haunt Cassia, that start to turn her world upside down. She has always been content with the Society, content to follow their plans and rules, grateful for the benefits and security the Society offers. But when she sees a second Match on her microcard, and her grandfather gives her powerful, forbidden words of long-lost poems, all of that begins to change.
Cassia is a sorter by nature (and perhaps by choice of the Society) - she is quick to recognize patterns and/or inconsistencies in data and draw conclusions. Once she gives herself permission to wonder, she starts to question the beliefs that she's held all her life. She begins to wonder what it would be like to have a choice.
Condie's writing style is clear and simple, and that definitely works with this story. The reader is quickly drawn into Cassia's world, learning, questioning, and growing along with her. Cassia's emotions definitely transferred from the page, making me want to rage, run, cry, and savor with her. In addition, I enjoyed learning about all of the characters, who all had their own unique traits and talents despite the Society's attempts to equalize everyone and everything.
And then there's the love triangle between Cassia, Xander, and Ky. I have to say that the development of these relationships seemed a little unbelievable, though I'm not sure whether that was because the descriptions were so very chaste or because of the context in which these relationships had to develop. Nevertheless, I'll be very curious to see how this plays out in the next books - for Cassia, it will definitely be a choice between more than just two people she loves.
The ending of Matched definitely left me wanting more. I will be impatiently waiting for Crossed, the sequel!
X-men is one of my favorite comic series of all time. So, when I read that Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi wa...moreREVIEWED by Chris for Between the Covers blog:
X-men is one of my favorite comic series of all time. So, when I read that Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi was a dystopian twist of the X-Men mixed with The Hunger Games, I was sold. In my mind it didn’t live up to these claims, but it was still a great start to a new series.
Juliette hasn’t touched another person in 264 days. The last time she did, she accidently killed a person. Locked up for her crimes, Juliette seeks companionship within her own mind. Then suddenly she finds herself with a cellmate. The cellmate is Adam, a boy from her past. Adam is a test, the Reestablishment wants to see if Juliette is crazy or if she can be used as weapon to further their agenda. Juliette has a decision to make: will she join the Reestablishment, or will she use her power for good?
I just want to get this out of the way to start: Shatter Me was not reminiscent of the Hunger Games at all. It was hardly a dystopian novel. It had dystopian elements, but the main focus was on Juliette and her touch, not on the society and what they have become. There were hints of a dystopian society, but not a lot of focus. I feel that as the series progresses we will get more dystopian, but for now this is defiantly a science fiction novel.
With my genre rant out of the way, let me say that I loved the how this book was written. I found Tahereh’s style of writing amazing. She writes flowing prose that brings the story to life. I loved that we had Juliette’s inner thoughts and then crossed over to she what she really said. It added an extra element to the story. I felt that we got to see Juliette’s inner workings.
I found this book to be very promising. The characters were well developed, and I felt that Tahereh really nailed the people in the book. The story left me wanting more. At the ending of this book I immediately wanted the next book and was completely bummed with the realization that I would have to wait. Overall, I was very impressed by this fantastic debut.
I picked up The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann because of the cover tag line which said it was for fans of The...moreREVIEWED by Chris for Between the Covers blog:
I picked up The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann because of the cover tag line which said it was for fans of The Hunger Games and Harry Potter. Being a huge fan of both series, I had to see if it was able to fulfill that bold statement. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised, as I could not put the book down. I was hooked, pulled into this dystopian magical world.
The story centers on Alex, a thirteen-year-old boy. He and his twin brother, Aaron, are citizens of Quill, a colorless, creative void of a town. At the age of thirteen children are sorted into their roles in the society. Alex is deemed an Unwanted, and Unwanteds are purged from society, sent to their deaths. Alex learns that for years the Unwanteds have been saved and taken to a magical creative land called Artime. Artime is led by Mr. Today, and he is training the Unwanteds in creative magical art defense so that if the people of Quill ever discover that the Unwanteds are still alive the Unwanteds can defend themselves. Alex misses his brother and is sure that them being twins means that Aaron must also be a Unwanted. Hellbent on bringing Aaron to Artime, Alex starts a chain of events that will likely change Artime and Quill forever.
I am happy to say that there are elements of both Harry Potter and the Hunger Games in this book. There is a magical world that Alex is part of, but had no idea existed, just like Harry and there is a sorting that puts children to there death that is semi reminiscent of the reaping in the Hunger Games, but that is where the similarities stop. The Unwanteds stands on its own with a unique storyline, and the author created an interesting new world, a magical world influenced by creative arts. Music can stun and paintings can kill in the land of Artime, and Lisa weaves a tale that brings these things visually to life.
The only problem I had with this book was the simplicity of it, and I can look past that because this book was aimed at the upper middle grade market. I will say that despite the simplicity of it, older youth and adults alike will enjoy this fantasy tale. Overall, I was totally smitten with this book, and I am looking forward to subsequent titles to come in this new series.
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi was one of the 2012 debuts that I was really excited...moreREVIEWED by Chris for Between the Covers blog:
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi was one of the 2012 debuts that I was really excited for, and when I was given the chance to read it from NetGalley, I jumped at the chance. Unfortunately for me, it sort of fell flat and I had to force myself to push through and finish the book, but by the end I could see some promise in the rest of the series.
Aria is a Dweller, she was born and raised in the Pods. A child of the Realms, an artificial world, she agrees to disconnect from the Realms with her friends in hopes that she may gain information about her mother. Unfortunately, there is a accident and the results leave Aria kicked out of the Pods and flung head first into the outside world known as the Death Shop. Aria encounters Perry, a savage from the outside who has reason to blame his recent misfortunes on Aria, and he agrees to aid her in finding out about her mother if she helps him with his nephew. Aria and Perry work together and eventually find that things are not as either of them initially imagined.
As I said, I had a really hard time with this book. I just could not get into the story. I was so excited by the premise, but by chapter five I could not fathom what was going on and the story seemed to drag and drag. I would read a few pages and find myself wanting to abandon the book altogether. The first three quarters of the book were torture for me. There was no set up; we jumped right into a world with characters that were flat and annoying. The narrators kept switching back and forth between chapters, but it felt forced and unidentifiable. I just wanted a set up, to know why was the world the way it was, but nothing was ever revealed, instead we were given just passing talk and hints. Then suddenly there was a flicker, like a switch had been flipped in the writer’s mind, and the story from the book blurb started to take form.
The last quarter or so of this book was like someone entirely different had written it, and it was good. The characters were alive and vivid, there was progress in the story and it was getting interesting. The story felt like it was finally amounting to something that I would enjoy reading more about. The switch between Aria and Perry was natural, like we were seeing two sides of the same story. This was what I had been eagerly awaiting. I felt that the author had finally found her stride, and it made me glad that I stuck with the story. If it hadn’t been for the last part of the book I would have given this book a one or two star rating, but because of the dramatic turnaround and the way it redeemed itself, I gave it a higher rating. And if time allows I will be picking up the next book to see if the story continues to progress as well as the ending implied.
I read Anathema by Megg Jensen a few months ago, and upon finishing I couldn’t wait to get to Oubliette,...moreREVIEWED by Chris for Between the Covers blog:
I read Anathema by Megg Jensen a few months ago, and upon finishing I couldn’t wait to get to Oubliette, the second book in the trilogy. Megg had created such a fascinating world in Anathema that I couldn’t wait to read more about it. I bought Oubliette right away, but had to find the time to fit it into my TBR pile. I am sorry I waited so long to get to it because it was just as fantastic as Anathema... and maybe a little more so.
Reychel had put all her faith in the council, believing that she was free. Unfortunately she was wrong. Reychel winds up in the Southern Kingdom alone, pushed threw a portal. She is being used as a pawn and is not sure who she can trust. Everyone is telling her that her gift of prophecy is amazing, but she finds it uncontrollable. She longs to be able to control it, but the only person who could help her is a dead madman who left journals that may be able to guide her. Reychel is rushed to learn to control her gift so that she can live up to being the savior to her people in a war that is brewing amongst them.
It is a rare occurrence that the middle book in a trilogy be just as good as the first. It is even more unusual for it to be even better. Oubliette is one of those rare occurrences. Megg has taken this amazing world she created and given it more depth by taking us to a different region and introducing some brand new characters. I find Megg’s characters fascinating because they are so well developed. Each character is identifiable and feels like a unique, real person. She writes them with an air of mystery and aura of uncertainty about their loyalty, and I cannot seem to get them out of my mind.
I loved that fact that this was a middle book yet it still was building a world that could pull me in from beginning to end. The world is still the same but the location has changed, giving a better grasp on the society and basic fundamentals which were introduced in book one. Oubliette ended with such a cliffhanger that I can not wait to pick up and start the final book in this amazing trilogy.
It is rare that the middle book in a trilogy can be equally as captivating as the fist book, but A Milli...moreREVIEWED by Chris for Between the Covers blog:
It is rare that the middle book in a trilogy can be equally as captivating as the fist book, but A Million Suns by Beth Revis is just as grand and riveting as its predecessor Across the Universe. This fast paced, full speed ahead novel was one of my most anticipated books of 2012 and it did not disappoint.
Three months have gone by since Amy awoke aboard the Godspeed. Three months since the lies and betrayals that kept this ship in order were revealed and chaos is reigning among the inhabitants. Elder has taken control of the ship, but with out the backing of the people it seems to be in title alone. Elder and Amy make a drastic discovery and race against time to put the pieces of the puzzle together and unlock the truth of life aboard Godspeed.
I am in love with this story. I find it to be edge of your seat entertaining and original. The characters are on a continual growth pattern from the first to the second book, and remain true to there perspective. The twists and turns fuel the story, making it an adventure. I enjoy that this is part of the continual story for the trilogy, but that there is also a “stand alone” plot for this individual book. I think that this “stand alone” plot is what makes it different from most middle books in trilogies. Instead of being bogged down with gap filler from the beginning and ending, it carries over the underlying story but can also stand on its on merit as a book.
Beth Revis is a fantastic young adult science fiction author, one that adults will love too. She weaves a tale of science, intrigue, betrayal, and a hint of romance. For such a relatively new author she writes like a seasoned veteran, and I for one will be looking forward to not only the final installment in this trilogy, but to her future works as well.
For the past few months I have been envious of people as they received their copies of Cin...moreREVIEWED by Chris for Between the Covers blog:
For the past few months I have been envious of people as they received their copies of Cinder, book one of the Lunar Chronicles, by Marissa Meyer for review. So when the chance to request it from NetGalley came up, I just had to jump at it. I am a sucker for a fairytale retelling, and Cinder takes the story of Cinderella and mixes it with a futuristic sci-fi, dystopian-ish society, making it absolute must read for me.
Cinder is a cyborg who lives in New Beijing working as one of the areas most gifted mechanics. She lives under the guardianship of her step-mother, who loathes Cinder and blames her for the death of her husband. Cinder tries to keep her head down and just live her meager life. After a chance encounter with the Prince of New Beijing, Cinder’s life is turned upside down, the Prince is smitten, and Cinder’s sister is stricken with a plague that terrorizes the city. Cinder must do what she can to help her sister and discover secrets she never new existed.
I absolutely loved Cinder. Marissa took a well known story and created an amazingly fantastic new twist, making this it an all together new story. The world that the author created is extremely vivid and well conceived. Gone is the old fairytale kingdom; New Beijing is gritty, almost wild. Technology is advanced and plays a important part of the culture. I could picture New Beijing almost like it was a place I had been to before, which made the reading experience even more engaging. The characters in Cinder were very well written. I love when characters are so well written that I feel as if they are people in my life; living breathing people, so vivid that I can anticipate their thoughts or actions.
The greatest part of this novel are the twists and liberties that Marissa took with the original Cinderella story. All the important elements are still there; you have Cinderella, the wicked stepmother and stepsisters, the prince and castle, the ball, the wicked witch, and most importantly the glass slipper... All are there, just in a fresh new look with an enormous amount of added story that takes this well known tale to an amazing new place.
Cinder was one of my most anticipated books of 2012, and it greatly exceeded my expectations. From the first chapter I was hooked and could not put it down. Marissa Meyer has a bright future ahead of her and I certainly look forward to the 2013 release of the next book in the Lunar Chronicles, currently titled Scarlet.
I buy indie books on my kindle all the time. I scour the message boards for free or very low priced book...moreREVIEWED by Chris for Between the Covers blog:
I buy indie books on my kindle all the time. I scour the message boards for free or very low priced books every day, but I have yet to find one that has entertained me as much as Anathema by Megg Jensen. (And it was a steal for only $0.99.) The first in The Cloud Trilogy, this book is extremely well written and developed.
Anathema centers around a slave girl named Reychel. Reychel was born into slavery and is forbidden from viewing the outside world unless alone with her master. She is treated better than any other slave and given special treatment by her master, which lends to the core mystery and plot of this story. There is more to Reychel than meets the eye and it leads us to the climax of the story, and presumably the rest of the series.
Jensen does a fantastic job with Anathema. She builds a very vivid world and sets up the series by leaving bits of mystery and intrigue scattered throughout the story. There were times that I felt that I could walk her world and know where everything is. The characters in this book grow and change as you read, making you feel almost like you know them personally. Jensen’s thorough development of them takes them from flat, one dimensional characters to complex people who you can envision meeting and perhaps even becoming friends with.
I can not express how much I enjoyed this book. It concluded with a fantastic ending which left me wanting more. I absolutely could not put it down, I wanted to live and breathe this world. I am looking forward to the next to installment in the trilogy, and I hope that I do not have long to wait. Megg Jensen has earned her a spot on my authors to watch list.
The world of Divergent is a world divided. Operating under the premise that character traits were the cause of the strife and warring in the world, and in an attempt to rid themselves of those qualities, the people divided into groups which sought to promote the best attributes of human nature and created five factions: Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave) and Erudite (the intelligent). At the age of sixteen each person undergoes an aptitude test which tells them which traits they exhibit, and they must choose which faction they will devote the rest of their lives to. But life among the factions isn’t perfect and the ideals each was created with are being tested. Strife is returning as the factions begin to bicker among themselves...
Beatrice (Tris) has grown up learning and living the values of Abnegation. And though she has tried, she has never felt that she lived up to the ideals of her faction, never felt that she was truly selfless. As she faces the biggest decision of her life, she is forced to look deep inside herself and determine what her greatest strength is... and what kind of person she wants to be. A very complex character, Tris develops and grows enormously over the course of the book, maturing dramatically as she finds herself facing situations few other faction initiates ever do. And one most teenage girls do... fascination with a boy.
Four is an instructor to the initiates. Eighteen years old, tall, dark haired, blue eyed and handsome, he is enough to turn most girls heads. Add to that his strong sense of self, his code of honor, his intelligence and mystery of his past, and you have a package guaranteed to cause teenage girl swoonage.
Four and Tris together are a dynamic duo, a solid team who seem to understand each other and compliment each other well.
I enjoyed Divergent greatly. It is a fast paced, exciting read. There is a suspense to it that kept me on the edge of my seat wanting to know what was going to happen next. The characters are well developed, and unlike many young adult novels, I felt the voices sounded more authentic, more like the teens they were supposed to be than an adult shoved into a sixteen-year-olds body. I liked the development of the multiple groups within the story, felt they also lent an air of legitimacy to the overall picture of a group of young people struggling to identify themselves in some way.
And that is what I got from this book, what I took to be the underlying meaning and message: that within us all is both good and bad, positive character traits and negative... some Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless and Erudite. It is what we do with those traits, what we make of ourselves, that determine who we truly are.
Like most dystopian novels I’ve read, Divergent has an concept in it which I struggle to understand. The motto of the society is ‘Faction before blood,’ the idea being that each person will find their ‘purpose’ within their faction, not within their family. Over time each faction has come to view their specific values and beliefs as correct, viewing the other factions with varying degrees of disapproval. So, when a person chooses a faction other than the one they were born in, their families must be forsaken. As the mother of three minions... and an obnoxiously involved mother, at that... my mind shuts down at this. It immediately rejects the idea that I could view my child as having betrayed me, as basically being dead to me, that I could not want to ever see my child again if they chose a faction other than the one I did, other than the one they were raised in. This ‘societal norm’ gave me a great deal of trouble. I also felt that there were a couple of scenes which seemed rushed.
Overall, Divergent was a very good read, one I can recommend with a clear conscience. *bounces in seat* And I can now look forward to reading Insurgent, book two in this trilogy. *laughs*
REVIEWED by Christin for Between the Covers blog on 06/02/11:
I always say that new books get so much hype for a reason, and Divergent is definitely no exception. I picked up this book late one evening and couldn't put it down until I had read the last word. In a market quickly becoming flooded with dystopian novels, Divergent is engaging, compelling, and fresh, unique spin on the genre.
"Faction before blood." Beatrice has heard this motto before, but it takes on a new meaning after her sixteenth birthday. On the appointed day, after taking an aptitude test, she will have to choose which of the five factions she wants to devote her life to. And while she is not sure she fits in Abnegation (the selfless), she's also not sure that she wants to leave her family. However, she has to make a choice, and once she does, she is immersed into initiation rites. As if this isn't enough to handle, outside of training she has to deal with those who don't like her, the one who likes her a little too much, and the one that she likes even though she shouldn't. But as Tris learns more about herself and those around her, she comes to realize that the faction system isn't as perfect as she thought - and it may not be able to last much longer.
In this great debut novel, Roth provides not only a riveting story but also complex characters and vivid descriptions. I don't want to give too much away, because part of the experience of this book is living in the moment with Tris. There were some definite surprises in the story, and each one just kept me reading faster to see what would happen next. In addition to this, the characters are completely memorable. Tris is a strong female protagonist who comes to have not only physical strength but also intelligence, wit, and compassion. She is able to make her resolutions and follow through with them. Standing opposite her is Four, and with the air of mystery surrounding him, one cannot help but be intrigued. Their developing romance and journeys of self-revelation and self-discovery added yet another dimension to the story.
Despite all of these great elements, something about the story was still missing for me. Perhaps it was simply all the hype, or perhaps it was the present-tense style with sentences that felt short and almost rushed. I did love this book, just not as much as I was expecting to. That being said, I know that I am in the minority on this opinion, and most others will say that this was the best dystopian novel of the year and follows in the footsteps of Hunger Games.
Divergent is a fabulous debut novel and will certainly take its place among the great dystopian novels. I cannot wait to read what happens in the rest of this trilogy!