A good survey of Silicon Valley history that specifically looks at the tech history of the area. I really like that the book points out specific addre...moreA good survey of Silicon Valley history that specifically looks at the tech history of the area. I really like that the book points out specific addresses, marker locations, telephone numbers, and web links. Granted, the book was published in 2007 and is already a bit out-of-date, but of course the history is pretty spot on. A good enjoyable read. The printing itself is not fantastic, and the organization is a bit off. I agree with other reviewers who recommend pictures, but I know the purchasing rights for some pictures might be pretty pricy.(less)
I have to say, I'm overall pleasantly-ish surprised by this series. A rating of three stars is pretty decent for me. I did peruse the spoilers before...moreI have to say, I'm overall pleasantly-ish surprised by this series. A rating of three stars is pretty decent for me. I did peruse the spoilers before picking this book up, and I'm quite glad that I did. But I am that way. I will say that quite a few of the questions/issues that I had with the first book were fairly cleaned up by the end.
(view spoiler)[The shipper in me (and wow, she's there) is really pissed that Tris died. It's also probably because I really liked her as a main character. You could do a whole hell of a lot worse in YA fiction (or fiction in general) in terms of a female protagonist. I normally don't like the character swap between characters in general, let alone in the last book of a series that has been in Tris' voice up until this point. It served a purpose, though, but I feel myself keying into a character's narrative easily, and I didn't feel as though the tone shifted between Tris and Tobias. Perhaps they're that similar.
The non-shipper in me knows that she had to die. God knows enough other characters had been killed off: Tris' parents, Al, Marlene, Lynn, Uriah, Will. And I also think it's a little more realistic. Tris (and others) did some pretty dangerous stuff, and people die. She couldn't keep putting her life on the line over and over again (and in this case, death serum) without more serious consequences. That's what happens with guns, people. People get shot, and sometimes people die. And in the end, I think Tris and Tobias could have been happy, but look at The Hunger Games. It's a somber ending for all, especially Peeta and Katniss, but look at all the hell they went through.
The overall setting of the series confused me. I just can't get my head around it. I also didn't much like it when Tris got especially judgy about the right reasons to sacrifice your life. I do like how Tris has changed over the course of the series. It seemed realistic for her to be traumatized in the second book. And I think there was a strong chance she'd let Caleb go on with the plan. But her death was quick, and I liked that. The rest of the book I really couldn't care for. But overall, I'm really glad I read the series. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I picked up this book at the recycled bookstore recently. And yes, I know the film is coming out next year, which is a bit of added incentive. My frie...moreI picked up this book at the recycled bookstore recently. And yes, I know the film is coming out next year, which is a bit of added incentive. My friend recommended it to me, so I thought I'd give it a try. Overall, it's better than I had expected. I'm a little wary of reading the other books, but what the hell, why not. Here's my analysis:
(view spoiler)[ I usually have to go through with the things I think aren't so great before I feel a bit bad and focus on the good stuff. With that noted, here we go.
As readers, we understand that Divergent takes place in the future, in the USA (Chicago, to be precise). A lot of Roth's references to everyday items seem recent (buses, trains, refrigerators, guns, etc.), but the timing isn't too precise. I'd want to know more about what's going on: if this is Chicago, what about the rest of the country? The rest of the world? What's going on, and how did we get to this place? Some of this information seems likely to come up in the other two books. It's also understandable to leave out some of these details because the book is told through protagonist Beatrice "Tris" Prior's point of view, and as she is 16, she just might not know. Still. It's something that I look for, especially in dystopian future books.
This gets me to probably the major reason I'm not as fond of the book: the faction system and everyday life. For one thing, I have no idea what everyday life is like there, at least for someone who is not an initiate. I don't really know Tris' background, is what I mean. I don't know how often she interacted with people outside of her faction, so I really don't know very much about Candor, even though it sounds like she went to a sort of primary/secondary schooling with children from all factions.
The factions seem to be the area of speciality for this book series, much like the four Hogwarts houses in Harry Potter. That said, I liken this book quite a bit more to The Hunger Games. You have five factions: Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless, and Erudite. (Anyone who didn't see Dauntless coming as Tris' faction is a bit silly.) I sort of get them, but then I don't. For one, I don't get Amity. Now, I understand that I've really only seen Abnegation and Dauntless in any sort of depth, with more significant glimpses into Erudite and even Candor. I see what they value, but I really don't see what they do in terms of jobs. But I kind of see a reason to this, which I'll explain in a minute.
But the Amity faction makes no sense to me. I read the first two chapters of the next book, so I suspect Amity will get more attention soon, and perhaps I'll be proven wrong. But the faction is weird, perhaps because it's all about... sort of suspending any judgment you might have, even if that judgment is pretty spot on. It seems to be all about communication, but that seems like false life to me. No room for conflict? Their definition of conflict is pretty limited. I just don't get it, but it might clear up. Overall, I mean as always, I have trouble understanding the factions, in that they must value one thing above all else, and I don't think people work that way.
The factionless is what really irritates me about the faction system. Factionless appear to be street bums. These are the people who never completed initiation for their chosen faction. And what jobs do these socioeconomic outcasts hold? "They are janitors and construction workers and garbage collectors; they make fabric and operate trains and drive buses." I mean, way to call out these real-life jobs as being terrible awful why would people do these things for a living.
Last thing: Roth's sentence structure could stand some serious improvement. I'm looking at you too, editors and publicists.
In terms of strangeness or things that aren't good or bad to me: Dauntless, again, seemed the obvious choice. Tris goes from one extreme faction to the other, which is okay. What really threw me off, I guess, was Al's suicide, and how it's dealt with. It's a minor hiccup in the story, and we know very little. But Tris herself knows very little.
Overall, the story moves very fast and is incredibly action-packed. We don't spend a lot of time in Tris' head, except for simulations, which makes sense. I think the descriptions are good. It would probably take a lot of page space to go over descriptions of the setting (as I mentioned earlier) so I sort of get it.
And oddly enough, I really like Tris as a main character. She's really not a nice person, which I think is odd. I mean, I guess a few teenage girls in recent YA haven't been very friendly. They're sort of antisocial, which is not really Tris' problem. She doesn't display a lot of empathy, and I appreciate that. I think Roth clearly describes Tris' confusion about how she feels about Dauntless and Abnegation. It's a complex relationship, and even as she's doing well in Dauntless, she wonders if she belongs there. Her behavior and personalty didn't fit in Abnegation, no matter how much she tried, but she still thought about it. I think it would be so easy to make her perfect in all ways, to care about people, to make her always happy with her friends. But it would be weird to see her shift into a gun-wielding soldier later on. When she starts threatening and shooting people, I believe it. When she feels little remorse about Al or other things she's seen, I get it, because it just doesn't affect her as much. And I almost get how her relationship with Tobias is something else.
I also understand somewhat that we can't know a lot about what it means to be Divergent and how that's so dangerous, because few people know and Tris certainly can't know, but we learn with her. (hide spoiler)]
So, overall, a great quick read. I am a little more anxious about the other two, but I'll give them a shot.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Now I remember why I am not a huge fan of Charles Dickens. I mean, the book was fine, with great language and interesting characters (though we only s...moreNow I remember why I am not a huge fan of Charles Dickens. I mean, the book was fine, with great language and interesting characters (though we only see three of them with any sort of depth). But it was free on Audible, and was read fairly well by Jim Dale. I don't know if I'd recommend it.
Also, it's a Christmas sort of story, but it takes place in... January. I don't know.(less)
I have never read the book itself. I've seen plenty of film adaptations, but I was really glad to get through the book. It helps that I purchased the...moreI have never read the book itself. I've seen plenty of film adaptations, but I was really glad to get through the book. It helps that I purchased the Audible version with Tim Curry narrating it. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It was fantastic.
And I'm not a huge fan of Charles Dickens, but this is classic Christmas right here. I'll listen to it again next year, maybe. Well worth it.(less)
I used this book in my Communication & Gender class. Not sure how my students liked it; I should ask. It's not the least expensive book on the mar...moreI used this book in my Communication & Gender class. Not sure how my students liked it; I should ask. It's not the least expensive book on the market, but Julia T. Wood is quite good, and she references a lot of crucial people.(less)
From page 48: "He smiled understandingly--much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with the quality of eternal reassurance in i...moreFrom page 48: "He smiled understandingly--much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with the quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced--or seemed to face--the whole external world for instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it has precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey."(less)