Ugh. Cutting my losses on this one. I read to about half way and flicked through the rest but it doesn't seem to get any better. None of it makes sensUgh. Cutting my losses on this one. I read to about half way and flicked through the rest but it doesn't seem to get any better. None of it makes sense. The heroine is a hospital doctor who gets turned into a vampire and one of the first things she gets told to do and does in pretty short order is quit her job. Because people will start noticing that she doesn't age. Ummmm, yeah, but probably not for at least another 10 years or so. She's only 28, FFS. And wouldn't it make sense for her to stay working at the hospital at least for a little bit. You know, easily accessible supply of donor blood (however unethical it would be to steal it) would come in handy. But nooooo, the very first time she needs to feed she goes out and stalks someone and gets herself stabbed and nearly dies. The words "dumb" and "ass" come to mind.
Of course the heroine is so incredible everyone falls in love with her on sight, of course there is a love triange, of course she suddenly acquires mad fighting skillz that come literally out of nowhere (you just need to let go and let your nature take over) and of course there is a blood tie that is used to justify a bunch of inexplicable, illogical and downright despicable behaviour. The heroine's "sire" is a psychotic rapist/murderer and the heroine voluntarily and for no good reason hands herself over to him, allows him to abuse and murder 15 year olds (she even starts to enjoy the view!), develops feelings for said psycho which are not entirely down to the tie (yeah, poor boy, there must have been something to cause him to become like that, it's not his fault) and really, I just couldn't go on reading this bull.
Warning: this review is long and ranty and contains swearwords and possible spoilers (although I tried not to be too revealing).
So, for me, this bookWarning: this review is long and ranty and contains swearwords and possible spoilers (although I tried not to be too revealing).
So, for me, this book was pretty much just a big pile of unbelievable sprinkled with absurd and a generous helping of awkward inappropriate romance on the side. The heroine, Beatrice (Tris) Prior lives in a world where, following years of war, humanity (or, at least, Chicago, where the heroine resides) divided itself into five factions based on character traits: GryffindorDauntless, RavenclawErudite, HufflepuffAmity, Candour and Abnegation. Each faction lives separately from the others in its own compound/part of the city and embraces and promotes its trait above and beyond everything else. Yes, that is REALLY, the premise.
Apparently, the rational adults in the world of Divergent decided that all the endless war was caused by one specific character trait (cowardice, ignorance, aggression, I can't even remember what the one for Candour was, telling lies, I guess, and selfishness), the only controversy was which one, so they divided themselves based on that opinion and have since all devoted themselves to stamping out the chosen trait by dedicating themselves to its opposite and all war and adversity ceased immediately and unicorns started flying across the sky (hint: not really). Now, I don't think I even have to go into how patently absurd this premise is. Anyone with an iota of intelligence can surely understand that a complex phenomenon such as war cannot and does not have one single identifiable stamp-outable cause, FFS. How can anyone possibly argue that, yep, it is just cowardice alone and nothing else that causes wars, so once we get that under wraps by jumping on and off trains and beating up people who are much weaker than us, world peace will be upon us? Halleluja! Middle East conflict has been solved. Let's divide them all up into Hogwarts houses and hey presto! Peace for all.
And even if you did manage to convince yourself that all war is caused by cowardice/stupidity/whatever. How the hell do you get from that to the assertion that this must mean that everyone has to be brave (unless they are in another faction, in which case they have to be selfless, honest etc, as applicable) AND NOTHING ELSE. Throwing the baby out with the bathwater, much? If you think cowardice is the problem then why not get rid of, you know, just cowardice? But nooooo, not in this looney land. Here, if you are brave, you cannot possibly be anything else. Not clever or selfless or peaceful or honest. Because if you are, that would make you normallike so totally rare that there'd even be a special name for you – Divergent – and it would mean you are a total rebel and impossible to control, so immediate extermination for you. Whaaat? SERIOUSLY?
Unless Ms Roth wants us to believe that this world is populated entirely by morons? Which is a possibility, I suppose. They are surrounded by a fence which is locked and guarded from the outside. Perhaps, later books will reveal that this is in fact a colony where the world had sent it's delusional lunatics. That might actually be fun.
And while I am on the subject of that fence. The book is set in Chicago but for all we know nothing else exists on the face of planet Earth. There is no mention of anything outside of the fence. The city appears to be entirely self-governed and self-sufficient. Nothing comes in or out except for some Amity farmers. One has to wonder where they get shit that is not available in Chicago and its immediate surroundings. You know, like maybe oil and gas and coal and rice and sugar and coffee and tea and oh maybe about a gazillion other things. I mean, even assuming it is a harsh post-many-many-years of war austerity, they'd have to get at least some of those things from somewhere, otherwise how would their cars and busses run and houses be heated and I am pretty sure there was mention of coffee. Did the Erudite discover how to photosynthesize this stuff out of thin air? Who knows. For all her aptitude for intelligence, Tris just doesn't seem to be that curious about or interested in anything apart from herself and the immediate minutiae of her life.
Which brings me nicely on to our heroine. Tris may have been an awesome character had Ms Roth taken the time to flesh her out, given her some context, some depth, something. Instead, she is plucked out of a vacuum and is emotionless to a point where she could give Terminator lessons on how to be more robotic. What has Tris been doing up until the point we meet her at the start of the book? She doesn't appear to have any friends or have any emotional attachment towards her family apart from constantly resenting them. What does this girl actually enjoy, if anything, what interests does she have? Yes, I know she is in abnegation but surely she must have done something, thought something, had some interests for 16 years until we meet her. But there is nothing. No little childhood anecdotes, no memories, no nostalgia. Nothing except for what she is doing and feeling right now, right this minute. The only thing we know for definite is that she is not selfless and has not enjoyed being made to appear so. Yet, for someone supposedly intelligent, this appears a pretty poor basis to make a life-altering decision.
In Tris's world, you choose which "house" you want to belong to at 16. You can choose the faction you grew up in or one of the others. To help you decide, you undertake a highly suspect psycho-pop mumbo jumbo of a "test" which is supposed to determine your natural aptitude. However, notwithstanding the result of the test, you can choose whatever faction you wish, it appears.
Apart from this "test", the kids appear to be given no information whatsoever about what joining a particular faction involves, the initiation process, what the people there actually do, the fact that your survival chances are about 50% or that it might be kinda like moving in with these guys for the rest of your life:
You know, little details like that.
If you do choose a faction other than your own, the likelihood is you will never see your friends or family again. But that's nothing to Tris. Friends? She doesn't have any. Family? Family is for snivelling weaklings. Why would she give a shit when she can get tattoos, wear what she likes and jump on and off trains all day long instead. Yeah!
Oh, and that's another thing that bothered me. Given the initiation approach of half of you will die or be kicked out to become factionless to live in a cardboard box under a bridge, how on earth does Dauntless sustain itself? What was it, 10(?) initiates they were going to keep on? Which makes you wonder, with the off the charts mortality rate they must have with their adrenaline junkie mentality, how many Dauntless actually are there? How do they not become extinct?
My sense of disbelief absolutely refused to let itself be suspended and frankly, it is insulting to me as a reader that any author would think I should just swallow this preposterous world. And for the sake of what? An inexplicable, unexplainable, unexplained, flat romance between two emotionally stunted teenagers who appear to be unable to feel anything beyond their inappropriate attraction to each other?
Four (the romantic interest) is the fucking instructor (not literally) of the new initiates so should, really, concentrate on instructing them, instead of getting a boner for one of his students and whisking her off for additional training sessions giving her an unfair advantage over the others. Just a thought.
Four is also a complete cipher. I have no idea who that man/boy is, beyond a possibly abusive childhood, no qualms about hitting on students who look like 12 year olds and badass awesomeness which I am supposed to take purely on trust (hint: after that world-building, I don't have any) there is just a void of… of… well, nothing, really. I couldn't even tell you what he looks like. Or why he likesloves(!!!) Tris. Or why she likesloves(!!!) him back.
So why two stars? I would have given it 1.5 if I could but I can't so I settled on two because it wasn't totally hopeless. The pacing was good, it was nice to have a heroine with intimacy issues rather than one that melts into a pile of goo at the hero's feet (even if this did carry too far into emotionless automaton territory at times). The writing wasn't bad and I didn't detect any particularly offensive themes. Did that make it ok? Let's just say, I don't think I will continue on with the series but I can sorta kinda see how people might like it if they have a better behaved sense of disbelief....more
But, you know what, nice is right next to this place:
McKenzie Lewis is a shadow reader. She can tWeeeeeeell, this was nice.
And, of course:
But, you know what, nice is right next to this place:
McKenzie Lewis is a shadow reader. She can track Fae by reading the shadows they leave behind when teleporting. And that makes her valuable in a war that's going on between the Court led by king Atroth and the rebels who want to replace the king with another contender for the throne. McKenzie has been reading the shadows for the king and crushing on the king's sword master Kyol Taltrayn for the last 10 years. She is convinced that the rebels are monsters who spread misery and death in their unjustified grab for power and that the Court is made up entirely of goody goodies whose only thought is for the Realm (a separate plane of existence/world which Fae inhabit) and what's best for it. Until, that is, she is kidnapped by the rebels and realisation dawns that things may not be quite so straightforwardly black and white.
This wasn't complete dullsville. I got through the pages fast enough. It was more bland than truly boring.
Don't get me wrong, it wasn't bad. The writing was serviceable, no one was TSTL or made me want to scream with rage, there were no creepy rapist typesthe creepy rapist types were not made into romantic interests, the story plodded along nicely, plenty of action scenes, the world building didn't have any massive holes, sort of interesting side characters.
The love triangle was pretty annoying, though. Mainly because I could barely tell the two love interests apart they were so similar, but that's not the end of the world, usually. I think the main problem was that this just didn't stand out in any way and completely failed to stir my imagination/mind/nether regions. I just didn't care about what was happening or any of the characters. I'll probably still read the sequel but for now, the only memorable thing about this book for me is that the cover should definitely win the rear of the year award. ...more
Ghosts, haunted houses, tragic heroines and but-kicking heroes. This was supposed to be my perfect Halloween read. Just look at that cover. And that tGhosts, haunted houses, tragic heroines and but-kicking heroes. This was supposed to be my perfect Halloween read. Just look at that cover. And that title. Unfortunately, it simply wasn't meant to be.
Theseus Cassio Lowood, or Cas for short, is a 17 year old ghost hunter extraordinaire who drags his white witch mum and their cat Tybalt all over the country hunting and killing ghosts with a magic knife he inherited from his father, who was killed and part eaten by a nasty vodoo ghost when Cas was 7.
Yes, in Cas' world ghosts are not just flickering spectres that make you feel a bit chilly in the dark and make moaning noses. They are very corporeal and can kill people. Some of them kill dozens of people, for years, without anyone catching on or the existence of ghosts being widely acknowledged or special army units being dispatched to deal with the ghost menace.
Next on Cas' list of homicidal ghosts to rid the world of is Anna Korlov, aka Anna Dressed in Blood, a ghost of a girl killed at 16 while on her way to a school dance who rips apart anyone who dares to cross the threshold of the house that used to be her home. As you would expect, Cas and Anna are simply made for each other and destined to fall in love. After all, Anna is so very different from any other ghost Cas has ever come across and she inexplicably fails to kill Cas when he is conveniently deposited unconsious in her house.
I don't know what is wrong with me, and I am clearly in the minority here, as most readers seem to have enjoyed the book, but Anna's tragic murder and hard hard life failed to invoke much sympathy in me. Mainly because her story seemed like one that I have read numerous times before, but also, I think, the way her backstory was delivered made it difficult to connect to her emotionally. What we see is, essentially, a video montage of a few hours leading up to her death and that's just not enough to get any real sense of the kind of person that she was and the horror of her death. Or maybe I am just desensitized. The bottom line is (and I can't believe I am saying this) it wasn't shocking enough and the character was not developed enough for her story to have any sort of emotional impact on me.
The main character, Cas instantly and intensely irritated me with his lonelier than the lone woolf I work alone and I have seen it all affectations. The mum and her docilely letting her 17 year old son to decide the course of their lives was incomprehensible to me as a parent. The way Cas didn't seem to do very much of his own research and had most of the action plans worked out for him by other people was disappointing because the reader than misses out on those aspects (the whole encircling Anna to reveal her story ritual made no sense at all to me because of that). The present tense narration didn't really work for me. I thought most of the characters were cliche (a popular Barbie, a nerdy sidekick, some not very nice jocks etc) and cardboard-y and I just didn't really care about what happened to them. The plot felt uncomplicated and predictable. It was a shame, really, because it could have been a brilliant story, if more thought had been given to the details and a bit more depth given to the characters. However, I don't think I will be tempted to read the sequels.
I gave up after about 20 pages or so. The conversation between the parents at the very beginning felt very staged and completely re-defined them as chI gave up after about 20 pages or so. The conversation between the parents at the very beginning felt very staged and completely re-defined them as charaters. Apparently, they knew all along what was going on, loved Ender deeply and just allowed their children to believe that they were blind dumbos, while really subtly manipulating them the whole time. WTF, why on earth would they do that? It then moved on to Valentine's introspections and rationalisations and later to Ender's thoughts on Gruff's trial, lest the reader might actually interpret anything that happened in the first book for themselves. I lost my patience for the whole thing at that point and had no will to go on.
I might pick up the series at some point in the future. Maybe. If I do, I will do so with Speaker for the Dead, which is the second book in order of being written, rather than the order of events in the series....more