This was an extremely pleasant surprise. I had to skim through the bits I found a little too dull, but you know, it is just the beginning. Actual rati...moreThis was an extremely pleasant surprise. I had to skim through the bits I found a little too dull, but you know, it is just the beginning. Actual rating would be 3.5, but I bumped it up 'cause GR doesn't understand how the world works. And it works in halves.(less)
One of the best sequels in a trilogy that I've read. It may not be much in the way of progressing the main love story, but goddamn does it drop all th...moreOne of the best sequels in a trilogy that I've read. It may not be much in the way of progressing the main love story, but goddamn does it drop all these awesomely gasp-worthy little tidbits. What I love about this book is that I really couldn't predict a single thing (other than the love bit...pretty standard soap opera drama/forced amnesia deal.
And Ruby makes up for all her little weak moments, and even her giant weak moments from the first book (which is the most important thing).
Also, Cole. I ain't takin' hate from no one about this. He is awesome, hilarious, and cooler than Lee. Suck it. Also he is my age, which makes me feel better about reading teen books.(less)
Note: Random House Canada did not pay me to endorse or review this book.
SPOILERS TO BE HAD.
Keywords: Deserts, rebels, government, Tonton, opium, chaal...moreNote: Random House Canada did not pay me to endorse or review this book.
SPOILERS TO BE HAD.
Keywords: Deserts, rebels, government, Tonton, opium, chaal, Saba, YA, teen, wreckers, post-apocalyptic, western, adventure, romance, awesome, Canadian, sexual maturation, abuse, hurt, deceit, betrayal, mysticism, prophets, tattoos, brands, New Eden, attempting dystopian, Near and Middle Eastern lifestyle, horrible spelling and grammar.
Sentence: I sentence Lugh to a six-month journey through the Wraithway, that ungrateful, chaal-snorting lout. (I couldn't be bothered to sentence Moira Young as I was far too fixated on Lugh.)
As far as middle books go, this one was pretty standard. A separation of young lovers; too much travelling without a consistent destination; and an overview of the "bigger picture".
That being said, the bigger picture is not much to look at in this book. On the one hand, you see a little more of DeMalo; and on the other, readers are only getting to skim the surface of New Eden and the cleansing of the lands. It seems like a pretty vague allusion to Hitler and eugenics, but without a real motivation other than these "visions" of the past (us, Wreckers) and the future (the "purebred"). I liked the bigger picture when it was about drugs, gangs and Western-style fighting. It didn't really need all this extra...whatever it is.
Anyway, for those who just want a brief summary of what to expect in this book, do not wait for a femme fatale level of badassery. In fact, just do not expect much action from our protagonist at all. Let's just say this once-upon-a-time badass, Angel of Death (who is, fittingly, dead to the world), is no longer open for business. She's a simpering, lovesick and mentally disturbed teenager. Not that I'm saying she should not be mentally unstable after everything she has done, but this whole flip-side thing does not suit her. She's too sad and open to betrayal. It makes me really feel for her, sure, but I'm also rolling my eyes as I read about her inability to cope.
This installment is all about finding Jack and "saving" him. Really it's about how Saba can't seem to live without him for more than two months until she finally believes he has (view spoiler)[betrayed her, and sleeps with the first man she stumbles across (hide spoiler)] (thank you Lugh for planting the doubt from the get-go). Okay, okay. He's not just ANY man. He is THE man. The Pathfinder. All that sexual tension finally sort of messing up everything! And, honestly, I was glad for it. I know it's not the exciting thrill of action readers get from Blood Red Road, but goddamn it's some kind of action. And I'd probably respond no different. A sexy, powerful man that has just (view spoiler)[saved you from drowning yourself and then shows you a better world in front of all his creepy human-breeding-farm-people? Okay, so maybe I wouldn't be so quick to jump in the sack, (hide spoiler)] but still...she's human. And that's one of the greatest things that drew me to Saba in the first book. Despite being an asshole that can kick ass, she has all the faults I enjoy seeing in characters. She's a fuck up. She is selfish (and sometimes she's self-sacrificing). She's also confused and self-doubting. I can deal with that. I just want to grab her face and stare right into her eyes and say "Gurddammit Saba. You bin gittin into a whole lotta trubbel fer a gerl yore aij. But I kan unnerstand it. I kan git behind yooz an try'ta givya sum gud advice. I ain't gunna maik 'em decisions for ya, but I'mma try'ta guide yoo."
Okay, so I just spent like twenty minutes on that. I need to stop or I'll revert back to my NOLA accent (I miss that beautiful-weird city so much—okay, just the French Quarter).
Also, she keeps ending up in different colour dresses. How is no one pressing her (harder) on that situation? If I were Maev I'd be on that like redheads on the Doctor.
Don't even get me started on the stupidity of Lugh. He was so not worth saving. Actually, I don't know what he's been through, but if it's worse than Molly, Saba and Emmi combined, I'd be willing to understand why he is such a dick.
The entire plot was not as slow as I had initially expected it to be, but there were a few pointless mini adventures and random psychic, lightning-witch/seer moments. Seriously, where were we going with that if Saba's having little prophetic dreams without Auriel's help?
Basically, I have determined this series is wrought with too many YA elements, if that makes sense. Its got the drug trafficking, Western adventure, mysticism, twins, twin fallout, attempts at a Utopian society, rebellion, and fantastical creatures (see giant worms). I can't even begin to pinpoint the genre of this series and not in a good way. As soon as a new element or previous element is brought in, the others are forgotten. I wouldn't be surprised if by the third book it's all steampunk and we've forgotten about star-reading and seers.
I still liked this book despite all of the complaints I have. It's solid writing and I'm already pretty attached to the characters. I just can't get enough of them.
FINALLY, I know the Tonton are people that work for the Pathfinder, but how can anyone not picture people dressed as tauntauns? I just want to slice one open and sleep in his/her entrails.
Do not expect partial spoilers; there are entirely too many.
Sentence: I sentence Dan Wells to continuing his young adult series without dumbing it dow...moreDo not expect partial spoilers; there are entirely too many.
Sentence: I sentence Dan Wells to continuing his young adult series without dumbing it down.
Review: If Michael Crichton had ever written teen, post-apocalyptic (note: previously listed as dystopian, but it's definitely not) fiction crossed over with the themes of Battlestar Galactica; this would be it.
Dan Wells' Partials is intelligent and well-solidified in fact (if based on genetics, virology and issues regarding cloning for military purposes) and some imaginative variations on fact. Much like Crichton, this story started off slow with introductions to characters and the world post-RM virus. For some, it may even be a little boring, but is certainly worth pulling through and understanding.
The characters are agreeable in that they have their own personalities, rather than sharing various character traits that so many authors make the mistake of. Marcus is the funny one and very realistic in his decisions; even hesitant to help his girlfriend, Kira. Kira is quick to anger and super defensive. She has a definite sense of right and wrong and is willing to die for her friends. Isolde is clearly the drunk, lecherous one (she sounds familiar...) and Haru is the cocky jerk that is sometimes agreeable. I could go on and on about Gianna (most definitely a woman with a voice) or Xochi (wannabe-punk with enough attitude to knock down a mountain), but I'm sure my point is very clear. These characters are really well-developed simply by their actions or how they say things.
(view spoiler)[It leaves me feeling like I really know each character, in reality (and let me tell you, if I met this Samm character for realsies, I would probably maul his attractive ass).
The initial story is very much like Wither by Lauren Destefano, except the plot is more convoluted, with branching side stories to be resolved (Isolde's pregnancy; Kira's true nature; the nanny's disappearance; the truth behind the Trust; the disagreement between the Partials; etc.) and has less of the lovey-dovey romance in a sick, sad world. Sure, there are couples, but Kira's love for Marcus isn't enough to make her stay behind, get married and pregnant. There is so much more to her than that; she needs to know herself (who she is/what she is) and how to restore some semblance of security of a future to her people.
Here are the issues I had with Partials, whether legit or just weird quirks of my geekiness:
1. What the hell is up with their names? Can they get anymore influenced by nerdiness? Firstly, I can't stop thinking about Kira from Death Note every time the main character is mentioned by name. And then Haru reminds me of Haru from Fruits Basket (especially when he's being an asshole). These are both anime/manga, by the way, for those who are not incredibly well-versed in popular anime.
And then there is Madison (Mads), who is basically Kira's sister/best-friend, much like Sakura and Tomoyo (known as Madison in the English version) from Card Captor Sakura. Tomoyo/Madison also bears an eerie resemblance to Mads in her role as wardrobe specialist (Kira mentions this really early on).
And there's Samm. I was already convinced this story is like a weird, less prophecy-version of Battlestar Galactica, but then Samm showed up and then I expected Cylon warfare and infiltration. Because come on, are you not expecting Mr. Samuel T. Anders (in all his yummy, Cylon goodness) to be lying in Kira's lab, naked?!
What else was a weird name? Marcus, but I suppose it was not impossible to come back into use, in the future. Oh, I know, how about Arwen? If that does not scream G-E-E-K, then nothing does.
2. Why is Long Island the only place with survivors? Why wouldn't there be people with immunity to the RM virus in other parts of the world? Hell, if everybody caught wind of it early enough, especially when all these people started dying, Madagascar (or some other islands) could have cut off flights, etc. and survived.
3. Doctors at 16? Holy pre-mature job placements, Batman. I understand the Hope Act reducing the age of mandatory insemination/impregnation to 18 (and then 16), but there are literally children midwifing it up and researching the RM virus. Their frontal lobes aren't even fully developed for critical thinking, what the cuss. Desperate times?
4. The Oldies seem anti-children for wanting more children. They keep ranting about what was and what they lost and how plague-babies aren't any good and cannot understand. These "plague-babies" are their future, so why even bother complaining? In fact, if a baby lived past the three day mark, would it be like a hate-love thing for the older folks?
5. As soon as the Partials claimed Kira was a Partial, I was like "WHAT?! HALF-BREED?" So I feel like she should consider the possibility of being a combo of human and Partial. Seriously, what's the big deal? (hide spoiler)]
NOTE: I have read the original Masque of the Red Death by Poe. I suggest others do as well, before continuing with this story. It should be available...moreNOTE: I have read the original Masque of the Red Death by Poe. I suggest others do as well, before continuing with this story. It should be available online for free. Because of the amount of books I have, I figured it would be somewhere in my stash, and sure enough I found a compendium of Poe's stories and poetry.
Also, there are spoilers. Only spoilers.
Sentence: I sentence Bethany Griffin to a life free of masks, disease, and choppy settings/scene flow.
Review: I read this book in less than two hours. I devoured this book faster than the Red Death devours a human body. There was no time for pus or bruising, I was on top of this one second and ripping it apart the next.
Yes, I adore this book, even if I only gave it four stars (it did not WOW me, but it made me relatively happy I still bother to read teen).
The Debauchery district/club that Araby frequents is a reminder, to those who have read Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allen Poe, of the atmosphere and aesthetics of the seven rooms at Prince Prospero's masquerade. Unlike Poe's work, Griffin introduces several dark characters in this already dark setting.
Araby, the reader's heroine, is addicted to the release of Oblivion (a drug that reminds me of a combo of opium and heroin) and freedom from nightmares or reminders of her twin brother's demise.
Enter April, Araby's hilarious, superficial but life-saving best friend. (view spoiler)[When April goes missing (briefly), Elliot scoops up Araby on his dark horse and convinces her to help bring some hope and light to such a bleak, downtrodden world (through rebellion). This is where I found myself at a crossroads of love and distaste. On the one hand, Araby gives the blueprints of the masks to Elliot without a frakking fuss. How could she trust him? How is she not freaking out about having little time to make a copy? How can she betray her father? But then I realized she trusts April and April trusts Elliot. And then I realized she blames herself for pretty much everything that goes wrong, so it's her twisted way of doing something right. And then I realized, goddamn it, I'd probably do the same thing, with the same coasting and emotionless attitude as her. Even her father, later, acknowledges that he is not sure whether what she did was right or wrong. Afterall, how can there be right and wrong in a world so warped that morals are reversed and being bad is pretty much good?
And then she trusts Will (the one very light thing in this shadowy and dank city), who I immediately fell for after reading about him and the kids. It's pretty much a girl trap right there. How could you not love an older sibling raising these two young kids; risking his life to give them the best?
But even trusting him is a mistake and I'm frustrated with myself more than with Will; mostly because Elliot was right the entire time about trusting no one, not even him. (hide spoiler)]
The reason I had to describe all of that above is because this is what it was like, reading this novel. All these surprises and traps that I wasn't prepared for and ended up loving, despite the frustrations and mistakes.
But, as hard as it is to believe, my favourite part of Griffin's story was not the hint of steampunk; or the death and despair; or the nod to Poe; or even the atmospheric familiarity to that of the French Revolution. It was Araby's odd connection to April. (view spoiler)[April, the funny, not-as-superficial-as-I-thought, infected best friend. I may not love April, but goddamn it I love that Araby and April put each other's lives above that of the men they are connected to. Maybe it's just me, but it's hard to find teen fiction where the friend does not betray the protagonist or, worse, become a bench warmer and basically watch their friend get screwed over. It's fucking refreshing. It's not all about Araby's love interests and how she will possibly be confused later that she clearly likes both Elliot and Will, but about saving the person she loves most. (hide spoiler)] And she loves April.
But seriously, she is lacking major emotions throughout the entire book, especially for being a first person perspective. I would be freaking the fuck out.
Finally, the settings and flow from scene to scene were very choppy. It's basically the only reason I was confused during this entire ordeal of a story. Sometimes I wasn't even sure who was saying what since Araby never seemed to reveal much of her mind to the reader to begin with; I couldn't gauge what she knew about her father's work, the Red Death or even what she absorbed about pther people. But I'd like to associate this lack of flow in scenes to her brain being addled by drugs or even the confused fast pace of it all being so because of the presence of a contagion that could wipe out the entire human race. There is bound to be some crazy flow, right?
But still, that shit be fucking whack. She was coasting through it all like shit wasn't going down.
Can't wait for the fucking masquerade of death.["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"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Where should I start? Should I start with how this was yet another book I picked up for the cover? No, that's a lie. The premise was so promising and...moreWhere should I start? Should I start with how this was yet another book I picked up for the cover? No, that's a lie. The premise was so promising and the beginning left me craving to be struck, again and again, by what was supposed to be a riveting story.
Then came all the religious zealots stuff and cult-ish themes; prophecies and tarot readings; the future is all tentatively planned BS.
Give me a fucking break.
I just wanted to read about some troubled-ass girl with a lightning addiction, not about some end-of-the-world (God-is-not-great-or-is-he) mayhem and a girl that is apparently a coward despite being hit by lightning (and almost dying) countless times.
I despise how Bosworth tries to make it seem like she's saying everything is not so black and white (what, with Jeremy and the Seekers), but it still comes out as though everything in this Struck universe is in fact black and white.
The Prophet and his followers are very white, and yet they seem to be (view spoiler)[the bad guys (hide spoiler)]. The Seekers are very black and though they seem just as (view spoiler)[bad and narrow-minded (hide spoiler)], in the end they are fighting for the people (and manage to be in everyone's good graces).
And also, is it so far-fetched to believe that the initial storm (view spoiler)[could be blamed on people like what's-her-face and Mr. Kale? (hide spoiler)] Don't they attract the charge of the storm with their overwhelming affinity? Why was this not discussed?
In any case, this was an extremely disappointing story with so much promise I practically short-circuited from the excitement of just the potential.
This was a worse let-down than finding out I couldn't go to Wizarding World of Harry Potter during my spring break; at least I know I can try planning that trip again for later.
NOTE: If you really do not want to know the ending, then please do not read this review, as the ending was the only thing worth talking about.
ACTUAL R...moreNOTE: If you really do not want to know the ending, then please do not read this review, as the ending was the only thing worth talking about.
ACTUAL RATING: 2.5 stars
Sentence: I sentence Veronica Roth to a glass case of emotion.
Review: As per usual, Roth decided to keep Tris rather numb and robotic. It is hard to connect with her when she finds sobbing uncomfortable and too much display of emotion inappropriate. There is also an awful lot of "feeling nothing", when there should be empathy* or at least a reaction.
Unfortunately, even reading from Tris' perspective does not help her case. She has very few thought processes that we actually see and many of them include her shooting Will, which I appreciated. Of course she's basically scarred for life from shooting someone.
(view spoiler)[As a result, Tris is really into the Dauntless lifestyle and is having trouble communicating with Tobias. And they have some dumb fights where nothing basically gets said or done. The theme of this entire sequel, apparently.
There is talk of Tris getting this important info from Marcus and more talk about joining the factionless/it being a legitimate idea because Candor and Amity will not help. It just took 400 pages for it to happen, naturally.
Tris gives herself up to the Erudite and Jeanine, as expected, to be experimented on and learn more about her brain. She is apparently capable of more complex decision-making, and driven not by rewards, but her own self-sacrificing reasons and empathy*. The complex decision-making I saw throughout the series, but the empathy? I think it's more a lack of caring about differences and all that. She can't even empathize with herself. Not until she is going nuts, Caleb has betrayed her and she has no family left, and is about to die.
The last ten chapters of the sequel are actually where the story's at, if readers are finding a bit of a lull in the plot. This is where Marcus reveals the secret has to do with the Divergent (big surprise there) and something "outside the fence" (if you are even the slightest bit clever you will start to get a very placed and fake feeling about everything--especially since Marcus basically says what the deal is). It's like the frakking Truman Show, but they are left to their own.
Sure enough, a prior Prior reveals that they were placed in this playground of life to resolve the human nature to destroy and pit themselves against each other, beginning with the emergence of the Divergent (oh, so they are important then?). Predictably, the factionless turned on their factioned partners in order to eliminate society as it is and create anew (not really sure how Tobias didn't see that coming). (hide spoiler)]
Chaos likely ensues.
What I Actually Liked:
The thought that Tris might just have a uni-brow, when Christina tried to introduce her to tweezers.
Uriah, Zeke and that little Dauntless crew (even Shauna) are actually pretty much hilarious and have unique personalities. They are the only characters Roth created that are worth feeling for.
(view spoiler)[Roth finally acknowledged that the remnants of Chicago are clearly not the only things left in the world. I pointed this out in my review of Divergent, claiming that I could not appreciate a post-apocalyptic/dystopian teen book that doesn't look at the bigger picture. I guess I got what I asked for.
Tris finally standing up for herself at the Erudite building rather than lying and then doing something behind Tobias' back anyway (although that is how it began). (hide spoiler)]
Marcus is fairly complex as well. On the one hand, he is an abusive asshole that deserves a horrible death, but on the other, I see his charm. (view spoiler)[Which reminds me, he sort of disappeared at the end and I cannot recall if Roth said he was dead or escaped... (hide spoiler)]
I am not going to talk about what I disliked, because then I'd be really ragging on this book (don't even get me started on all the contradictions in this book e.g. Tris afraid she would cry and then two paragraphs later is "not feeling anything"; Tris choosing not to be a Dauntless leader because she is Divergent, but Tobias is apparently allowed to be a Dauntless leader, etc.). Take the good stuff, because that's as nice as I'm going to get about this.
All I will say to ever "encourage" reading this is that if readers really liked Divergent, then they will like Insurgent less because they probably liked the former for a) swoon-worthy romance, b) personality division and categorization via faction, c) adult-less and lack of responsibilities of the Dauntless division. There is much to be desired in Tobias' and Tris' relationship; factions are mixing and the factionless are increasing; and there are more responsibilities and nagging adults (Jack, Marcus and Johanna being among them).
But overall, I could have lived without reading this, not that it irked me or caused me to be indignant like The Selection.