**spoiler alert** Speakeasies. Forbidden romance. Betrayal. Jillian Larkin’s novel Vixen has all of these elements and more! Vixen is the first novel...more**spoiler alert** Speakeasies. Forbidden romance. Betrayal. Jillian Larkin’s novel Vixen has all of these elements and more! Vixen is the first novel in the new The Flappers series. In this book, Gloria, the beautiful protagonist, is out to claim her identity before her marriage to the prestigious Sebastian Grey. After one night at the speakeasy the Green Mill, Gloria finds herself changed, but she doesn’t know to what extent. Suddenly, she is more outspoken and mysteriously drawn to Jazz. With her friends Marcus and Lorraine, Gloria continues to frequent the Green Mill despite knowing that her fiancé and mother would be furious if they found out.
After several twists and turns (and sultry scenes) Gloria finds herself breaking every rule she has ever known. Her world is changing faster than she thought possible. Gloria starts sneaking out of her house to visit the forbidden speakeasy, protesting against the rules and her pretentious fiancé, and finds herself forming romantic feelings for the club’s taboo pianist, Jerome Johnson. Everything is working out for Gloria until someone betrays her. Could it be Lorraine, her insanely jealous, social-climbing best friend? Clara, her “sweeter than pie” cousin (with a dark secret) from Pennsylvania? Bastian, Gloria’s fiancé with a wicked alter-ego?
Larkin’s beautiful, descriptive language paints a beautiful setting of 1920s Chicago. Her writing style transports the reader to that fantastic era in American history. Capturing the allure of flappers, speakeasies and gangster-ruled Chicago is certainly one of Larkin’s writing strengths—along with the development of her characters. The passion between Gloria and Jerome is searing, and gives the reader goose bumps. But Jerome and Gloria aren’t the only characters shooting sparks. Readers can feel the passion between Marcus and Clara escalating.
The ending of Vixen will leave you with your mouth agape. Lies, scandal, murder, and shocking revelations leave Gloria racing towards a new chapter in her life, and embarking on a journey that no previous Chicago socialite has ever been a part of before. But Gloria isn’t the only character facing new adventures. Marcus and Clara have found the beginning of something wonderful, while Lorraine and Bastian are seething in the shadows of jealousy and revenge.
The next book in the series, Ingénue, (set to be published in August 2011) will surely be—as our young flappers would say—“totally Jake.”
Lost Voices is the first novel in a new series that is hauntingly reminiscent of Lord of the Flies and The Chocolate War. In this book, young girls fi...moreLost Voices is the first novel in a new series that is hauntingly reminiscent of Lord of the Flies and The Chocolate War. In this book, young girls find themselves transforming into mermaids during the most devastating and desolate times of their young lives. When overwhelmed with the horrors of humanity, these young girls from every walk of life release themselves to the power of the sea. Guided by the timahk—laws that govern mermaids—every mermaid joins a tribe and finds the love and family that they might have missed during their human days.
For Luce, one of the newest members of Catarina’s tribe, joining the mermaids was the greatest thing that had happened to her in a long time. Luce was thrilled with her new life and the feelings of acceptance that she found in the other girls. But then Luce learns what it means to really be a mermaid. Sure, her voice is worthy of an angelic choir and her beauty surpasses anything on earth, but are these things really worth living with the guilt associated with being a siren? Luce is haunted by her eagerness to help the other mermaids sink ships and drown innocent humans. Then, Luce discovers a new power in her voice. She quickly learns that she can control the magic in her song, and change her death song into something more positive. Luce is overjoyed by her new knowledge, and wants to share her discovery with the other mermaids. This seems like a great idea, until Anais joins the tribe.
Anais is pure evil in the form of the most radiant mermaid Luce has ever seen. The other mermaids are quickly drawn to her and desire to please her malevolent whims. Despite her power over the other mermaids, Anais doesn’t fool Luce. Luce can see the wickedness at the heart of the captivating mermaid and she wants to stop it. The timahk has always governed the behaviors of the mermaids, but not everyone is willing to follow the rules. Luce quickly learns that some rules have to be broken, and that she might have to stand alone. By the end of the novel, Luce is faced with a decision that will change the way mermaids conduct themselves forever. She is the key to restoring humanity to a race of beings that have been consumed with revenge for a long time.
Lost Voices is captivating from the first page! Sarah Porter’s beautiful, descriptive language paints vivid pictures of beauty and pain. The sensuous descriptions of each character’s emotion force the reader to bond with the girls in the book. As you read, you can feel Luce’s pain in her memories, and the lust and greed of Anaise. The plot is fast paced, but perfectly developed; the tension that is building among the characters is felt on every page. As you read, you can’t help but notice the struggles of humanity that are felt in some of the modern classics of our times (i.e. Lord of the Flies, The Chocolate War). This series will certainly be worthy of shelf space next to Mr. Cormier and Mr. Golding. (less)
Synopsis from back of book: Sixteen-year-old Molly Dix loves her ordinary life in suburban Indiana. When her single mother passes away, she’s shocked...moreSynopsis from back of book: Sixteen-year-old Molly Dix loves her ordinary life in suburban Indiana. When her single mother passes away, she’s shocked to discover that her biological father is Brick Berlin, world-famous movie star and red-carpet regular. Equally intrigued and terrified by her Hollywood lineage, Molly moves to Southern California and plunges headfirst into the deep end of Beverly Hills celebrity life. Just as Molly thinks her new life and family couldn’t get any stranger, she meets Brooke Berlin, her gorgeous, spoiled half sister, who welcomes Molly to la-la land with a healthy dose of passive-aggressive “sisterly love.”
Review: “People stopped talking and stared, brows furrowed, like they were at the zoo and Molly was an exotic animal they’d never heard of before. Behold, Los Angelenos, the world’s only Skittish Hoosier in captivity.” After her mother’s death, Molly finds herself the main exhibit for Los Angeles’ prying eyes. Her new school mates gape and make fun of her, and her new “sister” is the next in line for the throne of the far-away island of Royal Pain in the Arse. Brooke Berlin is self-centered, vindictive, and the complete opposite of the humanitarian image painted by her Wikipedia article entry. In fact, Brooke goes out of her way to make Molly’s life in Los Angeles unpleasant. But that doesn’t stop Molly, who is head-strong and determined to honor her mother’s dying wish: get to know your father. Molly knew that moving to L.A. would not be an easy move, but she did not count on inheriting an arch-nemesis along with an uber rich celebrity family. If she thought her dad, Brick Berlin, would be of any help easing the transition from Indiana to California, she was mistaken. His busy acting career had him in a million places, none of which were at home. Left alone—and forced to share a room—Molly and Brooke have to survive junior year of high school… together. When I first started reading this book, I wasn’t sure what to think. My original biased pegged it as a celebrity parody without much of a plot. Because of that, I must admit it took me a while to “get into” the book. Oh, but into it I did go. When the plot began to form, I quickly became engrossed in the story. The conflict between Brooke and Molly was dynamic and worthy of prime time reality television. The authors did a fantastic job of mimicking California slang and the stereotypes of celebrities and their children. Of course, it helps that the authors are both professional fashion writers/bloggers and know their subject very well. The humorous “insights” and character nuances actually had me laughing out loud at various times during the novel. The epilogue is especially enjoyable because it paints a hilarious image of father-daughter bonding gone awry. I would recommend this book to anyone that wants to enjoy a good “beach read.” It has a good, believable plot, well developed characters, and plenty of sarcastic humor to keep you turning the pages. (less)
This is one of my favorite books of all time! Don’t be fooled by the simple appearance of this book; there is some really deep material between the co...more This is one of my favorite books of all time! Don’t be fooled by the simple appearance of this book; there is some really deep material between the covers. I’ve pondered whether to call this book a fable or a parable. Ultimately, I’ve decided it’s some form of both. As the Little Prince travels through the universe he meets many different people (and animals) that teach him great lessons about life.
The story begins with the Little Prince leaving his small planet because he is not happy. As he travels the universe he stops on other planets and talks to the inhabitants. Most of the people that he meets on these planets are adults and represent the worst of human behavior and foolishness. My favorites are the Vain Man who “cannot hear anything but praise” and the drunkard that drinks because he feels guilty about drinking. While these characters are not meant to be likeable, they represent many of the problems that we face in society (i.e. the need for applause and constant praise and the drunkard’s guilt cycle).
Eventually the Little Prince makes his way to earth, which is where he meets the narrator of the story—a pilot who has become stranded in the middle of the Sahara Desert because his plane crashed. Before meeting the pilot, the Little Prince meets a snake and a fox. The Prince’s time with the fox turns out to be a life changing moment. Through his interactions with the fox he learns a great secret: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” With this knowledge the Prince realizes that his life is special and he decides to make the hard journey back to his small planet and the precious flower that lives there.
I cannot begin to tell you how much I love this book. As a small child I remember watching the cartoon adaptation of Nickelodeon. Of course, I didn’t realize there was a book at that time. In high school we had to read this book in our French class. That was the first time I read it, and I instantly fell in love. As an adult it has an even deeper hold on me. The author of the book wrote this story after his town in France had been overrun by the Nazis during World War 2. Knowing that information gives this book an even deeper illumination of the human spirit—both good and bad. The content is both deep and moving, while funny and simple at the same time. You can find humor in the generalizations about adults and children, and I’m sure we can all see a little of ourselves in some of the characters. As a whole, the story is beautifully written and immensely thought provoking. You cannot read this book and not ponder life’s greatest questions. It’s impossible.
If you have not read this charming children’s book, you are missing one of the greatest stories ever written! It’s a quick and easy read, but it will linger in your thoughts well after you have finished reading. (less)
Brigitta and her younger sister, Himalette, are the only two faeries in their entire village of White Forest that have not been affected by a mysterio...moreBrigitta and her younger sister, Himalette, are the only two faeries in their entire village of White Forest that have not been affected by a mysterious curse. During the preparations for the annual festival, every living being in the White Forest is turned to stone. Brigitta suddenly finds herself faced with a great challenge. She doesn’t know how to reverse the curse—or where to go for help—but she knows she must do something before the magical protection around her village is destroyed. With a great responsibility weighing on them, Brigitta and Himalette start their journey to Dead Mountain, where they hope to find help from the banished faerie, Hrathgar.
Along the way to Dead Mountain, Briggita and her sister encounter many dangers and make new friends. Together, Brigitta, Himalette, and Minq (a character that seems to resemble Jar Jar Binx from StarWars) head off to Dead Mountain. When they get there, they meet Hrathgar. Brigitta and Himalette are mesmerized by her kindness and can’t seem to understand why she has always been described as evil in the stories of faerie lore. Minq is not so easily impressed by Hrathgar’s innocent appearance. Through several twists and turns of events, the young faeries quickly learn that everything is not what it appears to be. Hrathgar is actually two separate people! Hrathgar Good (the faerie they first meet) and Hrathgar Evil (the faerie from the stories) are split personalities that share the curse from ancient times. Brigitta and her friends find themselves faced with an even more difficult challenge: they have to end the curse on their village and defeat Hrathgar Evil. But they aren’t sure if they are capable of destroying such a powerful faerie all by themselves.
I must start off saying that this book was great! Overall, it’s a great story about discovering your destiny and courage. Brigitta is brave, even though she doesn’t realize it. She’s determined to make things right in her village, so she sets off on what seems to be an impossible task. After everything is resolved, she is shocked to find that her destiny markings have finally revealed themselves. While she’s trying to understand the great change that she will face, she has a pretty deep conversation with Ondelle, the High Priestess of the faeries, about destiny. Ondelle shares some words of wisdom with Brigitta when she tells her “to allow all destinies to unfold as they should.” Brigitta tries to let this set in, but it’s still a hard concept for such a young faerie.
If you look at the book from a literary stand point--which I would be inclined to do with my students-- you can see several similarities to the classic struggles of good against evil in literature. There are evil villains with dubious plots and young heroes that have to discover their inner strengths and final destinies. Young Brigitta begins the story as a faerie that doesn’t fit in or understand her place in the faerie society. By the end of the book, she has an idea of what her future holds, even though she doesn’t think she can fulfill the high expectations. I couldn’t help but think of The Lord of the Rings as I read through this book, which isn’t a bad thing, considering I liked those books as well.
The plot is fast paced and starts quickly. You are sucked in to the story within the first two chapters. I was very thankful that it did not take long to develop the plot, and that the plot moved quickly throughout the book. The names were highly original, but I also found them a mouth full. If I had to read this book aloud, I might have some difficulty pronouncing all the names and places. Of course, that is a minor detail that doesn’t interfere with the story at all. My favorite aspect of the entire book is the great detail that went into describing the setting and characters. The touchy relationship between Brigitta and Himalette was very believable. I could picture the looks of irritation on Brigitta’s face as her younger sister sang her invented nonsense songs. The characters were very well developed and enjoyable, and I enjoyed them all.
I would say that this book is intended for the younger readers (10-12 year olds) that enjoy E.D. Baker’s books. It might seem a bit childish for the traditional YA reader. Brigitta is just reaching the point of “The Change,” so she isn’t as mature (in some aspects) as some of the more well known characters in YA literature. Brigitta of the White Forest is a clean, fast paced adventure that I would certainly recommend to any reader that enjoys stories about faeries and a good light-hearted read. (less)
Summary from Amazon: Gaylen, the King’s messenger, a skinny boy of twelve, is off to poll the kingdom, traveling from town to farmstead to town on his...moreSummary from Amazon: Gaylen, the King’s messenger, a skinny boy of twelve, is off to poll the kingdom, traveling from town to farmstead to town on his horse, Marrow. At first it is merely a question of disagreement at the royal castle over which food should stand for Delicious in the new dictionary. But soon it seems that the search for Delicious had better succeed if civil war is to be avoided. Gaylen’s quest leads him to the woldweller, a wise, 900-year-old creature who lives alone at the precise center of the forest; to Canto, the minstrel who sings him an old song about a mermaid child and who gives him a peculiar good-luck charm; to the underground domain of the dwarfs; and finally to Ardis who might save the kingdom from havoc.
My Review: I love this book! It is such a fun, easy, and enjoyable read. It’s an adventure story with a few surprises and fantasy elements added in. Young Gaylen is on a quest to poll the kingdom’s response for the royal dictionary’s choice for something “delicious.” Unfortunately, no one can agree on a response. At first Gaylen thinks it’s all a difficult coincidence that no two votes are alike, but then he realizes that someone is sabotaging his mission. After all, what would an adventure story be without a little subterfuge? As it turns out, the King’s brother is out to start a civil war within the kingdom. He wants to overthrow the king and take the throne. Gaylen realizes this and tries his best to stop the evil uncle, but his plan is interrupted. Just when it seems that the king’s brother will win, a mystical creature (Ardis the mermaid) comes and saves the day!
This book is suitable for young readers, while older readers (teens) may find it a little boring or “childish.” As an adult, I found it delightful. I loved the humor and word play. The puns and subtle nuances added to my enjoyment even more. (The word play ranks high on my list…on the level of The Magic Tollbooth.) There isn’t a lot of deep character development in the book, but it doesn’t take away from the read. You get a sense of the scatterbrained king, Gaylen’s loyalty, and the diabolical nature of the king’s uncle. While it is clear which role everyone is intended to play, there isn’t much insight into the motivations… at least on a deeper level. It seems that the purpose behind the book is simply to tell a good story. It’s a simple story that a younger reader would enjoy.
There isn’t a whole lot I can say about the book. It wasn’t overly thought provoking, although I did find humor in all the differing definitions of “delicious.” Maybe the moral of the story is trying to teach us that we take some things for granted—things as simple as a cool glass of water—and we need to be more appreciative of what we have. That may be a little deep for a 7 year old, but it’s still a good lesson to discuss. Overall, I enjoyed it. It was witty and well written. (less)
Are you for Team Zombie or Team Unicorn? Even if you're not sure where you stand, you will find something to like about this book. The layout if brill...moreAre you for Team Zombie or Team Unicorn? Even if you're not sure where you stand, you will find something to like about this book. The layout if brilliant: each "chapter"-- or story-- is either about zombies or unicorns. Don't worry about not knowing which story you're reading, each story has a corresponding icon to help you identify what you're reading. Also, before each story is a short snippet from the two authors' long standing blog debate about zombies and unicorns. These "blurbs" are hilarious. I mean it. It's laugh-out-loud material. I think I actually caught myself snorting when Justine Larbalestier called unicorns "fart rainbows." Still not sold? Maybe knowing that authors like Libba Bray, Carrie Ryan, Garth Nix, and Scott Westerfield have written stories in this anthology will help you decide to read this collection of short stories.
For those wanting to know what's included, here are a few comments on some of my favorite stories in the book:
The Highest Justice by Garth Nix: Eh. Okay, this was so-so for me. It had a little unicorn and zombie action in it. I don't think I would have picked this as the first story in the book. I had already read some of the other stories, so I knew the contents got better than what this story represented.
Bougainvillea by Carrie Ryan: I had hoped to find out what caused the Return in this story (I heard someone say this story would explain it), but that didn't happen. Instead, I got a good stand alone zombie story told in the same fashion as the novels. Except, this one did flashback to the main character's childhood some. As a stand alone story, this was great. The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn by Dana Peterfreund: Isn't the title great? Guess what the story is about? Did you say killer unicorn? If so, you deserve a cookie. Princess Prettypants by Meg Cabot: Funny stuff. What would happen if a fluffy "fart rainbow" of a unicorn entered the life of a girl who was completely disinterested? You can only imagine...
The Third Virgin by Kathleen Duey: I'm noticing a trend with emo books... A little unexpected is the idea of an emo unicorn. (Is that even possible?) This poor creature is seriously conflicted. Reminds me of Hamlet...to kill or not to kill? That is the question.
Prom Night by Libba Bray: Love her. Great story to end with. Super creepy, spine tingling surprise ending.
So, if it's not obvious yet, you should run out to the store and buy this book RIGHT NOW. Right. Now. It's a great short story anthology AND it's all about zombies and unicorns. What could be better? (less)
Oh my. Ohmyohmyohmy. This was a great book! I knew this would be good because of the content, but I had no idea how great it was going to be. I have t...moreOh my. Ohmyohmyohmy. This was a great book! I knew this would be good because of the content, but I had no idea how great it was going to be. I have to go ahead and put out there that the style of the writing in Susan Vaught's book Going Underground reminds me a lot of Chris Crutcher. (He is an awesome YA writer, BTW.) The story does alternate between the present-- Del's senior year-- and the past. It's not a choppy flip flop either; it flows really nicely. The only thing that would make it better is if there was some type of text feature clue to the present-past change. Maybe some italics or something. I could see how that might be confusing to a younger reader that isn't used to this type of writing.
I don't give out too many 5 star reviews because I don't think there are that many "you have to read this" kind of books out there. Don't get me wrong, there are PLENTY of great books, but not so many that earn a permanent place on my personal bookshelf. This book is getting a permanent home. In fact, I just pre-ordered two copies from Amazon. Two! When my son gets a little older I am going to make him read this book.
You get a pretty good idea of what the book is about from the back cover. What you don't get, however, is how amazing the writing is. This book covers a very serious (and real) problem with our youth. I know as a middle school teacher, I am constantly having to talk to kids about appropriate use of cell phones and the internet. I can't even tell you how many phones I have confiscated in the last 7 years that have had inappropriate pictures on them. Too many, that's for sure. Obviously, when I saw this book I wanted to read it. I thought it would open up a whole new door for teachable moments. Maybe, just maybe, it could teach my students a lesson about life. Oh my goodness. Wait! Isn't that what great YA literature does? I think so.
As deep and heavy as some of the content is, there is a nice bit of comic relief from Fred-- a talking bid. Don't think this bird is a random placement either. It's perfect! She (yes, the bird is a she) is the perfect tension breaker; otherwise, this book might be too serious and untouchable. Having that crazy bird makes the story so much more accessible. Then there is Del. Poor, pitiful, conflicted Del. I loved him. You get a great insight into what it would be like to be a victim of the legal system. I feel so sorry for this kid! You know there are real perverts out there that take pictures of kids and do horrible things with them, but then there are also kids that do stupid things. Unfortunately, Del gets treated as one of the perverts. He spends the remaining four years of his high school life dealing with his actions.
I'm not going to tell much more about this complicated story, because I don't want to give away too much of the beauty. This books deals with the controversial topic of sexting in such a real way that it is going to be one of those teen "must reads." I know I'm going to recommend it to my teacher friends that have teenage kids. It might be a little too mature for younger readers, but it's still a great book. There isn't any graphic details or things like that, but this is a story about a kid who gets punished for being sexually curious. You can make your call.
This is a great novel that I would probably place next to Laurie Halse Anderson's Twisted and Chris Crutcher's Inexcusable. Fantastic!(less)
I had no idea what to expect when I started this book. I don't typically like books that tend to be heavy. I like my books...moreBEAUTIFUL. Simply beautiful.
I had no idea what to expect when I started this book. I don't typically like books that tend to be heavy. I like my books light and fluffy. Afterall, they are my escape. The synopsis does a pretty good job of summarizing the book, but it doesn't tell you how beautiful the writing is. (sigh)
I loved Cam and Asher. I loved Nana and Pery. All of the characters were great and did such a great job of complimenting one another. Nana is hilarious. I found it hilarious that she got Cam to steal a leaf off a sacred tree that had "healing powers," but she ran off in the middle of the heist because she saw her arch nemesis. So funny. Pery is your typical teeny bopper. She's playful and innocent, but also incomplete.
Cam and Asher were mesmerizing. Cam was sarcastic and real. You could feel her fear and insecurity. I totally understood why she was trying to protect herself (her heart). And I LOVED how she changed throughout the book. It was so heartwarming. Asher is a little different. He's not dying like Cam is, but he is guarded. He has a fear of loss, so it's hard for him to leave Promise. He feels like if he leaves his mystical home, everything will come crashing down on him. All of these characters were flawed and real. More real than I could have imagined. Their imperfections were captivating.
The plot is pretty straight forward in this book. Cam is dying. In a final effort to find a saving miracle, her mother packs the entire family up and goes to the mystical Promise, Maine because she has heard magical things happen there. Cam is skeptical and guarded at first. She's an odd one (she asked to adopt a lobster from a local sea food restaurant) and doesn't want to get attached to anyone or anything because she knows she won't be around much longer. Somehow, though, things start to change. She slowly decides that maybe pretending to believe in miracles will help her family. There are some hilarious antics with Cam's forced miracles. My favorite being when she kidnapped the vet's donkey, James Madison, and doused him in flour and duct taped an aluminum foil horn to his head in order to fake a unicorn sighting for her younger sister. So. Funny. Of course, that event didn't turn out the way she wanted (like most things in her life), but it proved to be monumental. It was almost like it was the catalyst for her change of heart. And what a change it was.
There are no magical healings in the book. Cam does not overcome her sickness. It was very tragic and so real. I cried while reading the final 40+ pages. I didn't cry out of sadness though. The writing was so beautiful that it brought tears to my eyes. But most importantly, the transformation that Cam-- as a person-- had undergone was what was so amazing. I expected to be so overwhelmed with grief at her passing, but I wasn't. Instead, there was an unbelievable sense of completeness and closure. I can't put into words how the end of the book moved me. The emotions that I felt while reading are too much for simple words. But I can honestly say, it was one of the most beautiful books I have ever read.
I know there is a lot of discussion about YA books being "too dark." I would counter that argument with this book. Yes, the material is very sad and heavy, but it's not dark. It's a beautiful story of hope and change. Yes, the main character dies in the end, but it's not a sad ending. It gives hope and closure to a part of life that seems to be avoided because it brings so much grief. This is a must read. Plain and simple. You owe it to yourself to read this book, and experience the beauty of this story.(less)
Oh. My. Goodness. Go ahead and slap yourself now. This book is phenomenal. It’s almost beyond words. It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of books featu...moreOh. My. Goodness. Go ahead and slap yourself now. This book is phenomenal. It’s almost beyond words. It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of books featuring mermaids, but this book broke all the molds. It defied all my expectations. I was expecting something like a love story with a little under the sea action, but that is not what I got. What I did find is a fantastic story that had mermaids, an evil sea witch, ghosts, and true love. Wow x 3. Yep, I said ghosts and mermaids. Epicness. The way the alternating points of view intermingled was amazing. To flip from a story set in 1873 to present day—and to do it flawlessly—was fantastic. I loved every page. EVERY PAGE! And the last few chapters were intense. Speaking of intense, there is this one scene that made my stomach lurch. OMGoodness. It was so awful. It still haunts me. I honestly don’t know what to say about this book. Read it. That’s all I can say. Read it and love it. Enjoy its epicness. Savor the mystery and the haunting romance of star-crossed lovers. Devour every page. You’ll want this one on your keeper shelf. (less)
Oh man. This was EPIC. I didn’t think I would like a sophomore book as much as the first in a series, but that was not the case with Insurgent. Honest...moreOh man. This was EPIC. I didn’t think I would like a sophomore book as much as the first in a series, but that was not the case with Insurgent. Honestly, Insurgent blew me away. Gah. To start with, Tris and Four… sigh. Four was as dreamy as ever, even if his willingness to ignore some key events clouded his judgment and treatment of others in this book. He was still swoon worthy. Of course, Tris is still kicking butt and taking names. She is one of the best heroines out there. She’s strong, brilliant, and flawed: A great bookish role model for teen readers. She proves you don’t have to be a bad ass all of the time to be brave and strong. But most importantly, she shows that you don’t have to be cruel to be respected. Her compassion for others is one of the things that make her so amazing.
I also enjoyed seeing some “old” characters reappear. They each had interesting roles that really helped develop the plot, which made this second installment so much more layered than Divergent. (and you know Divergent was great!) One of the things I liked the most about the plot was the timing. Insurgent picks up just days after Divergent ends. I loved that. I hate books that have this huge time gap that I have to fill in using my imagination. Insurgent picks up at a key point (just where you want it to pick up from) and keeps on moving. It never slows down! It is all action, all the time.
If you know me well enough, you know that I was an English Lit major in college. Although I love YA books (thanks to a YA lit class in college), I still adore the classics. When I read dystopian novels I can’t help but think of the original dystopians (think George Orwell). Any new dystopian worth their weight in salt should generate a Orwellian feel. I strongly feel if you can’t conjure that spirit in your novel, it’s not really a dystopian. Just sayin… Do I think Insurgent lives up to an Orwellian novel? You betcha. If you’re familiar with any of George Orwell’s books, you’ll find subtle reminders all throughout Insurgent. I, personally, loved that, but I can’t say much about what those reminders were because it would ruin the book.
What I think about this book in one word: Hilarious. Two words: Absolutely brilliant. As a whole: one of THE best fractured fairytales ever. Seriously...more What I think about this book in one word: Hilarious. Two words: Absolutely brilliant. As a whole: one of THE best fractured fairytales ever. Seriously. Let’s start with the plot. Bumbling heroes, an evil witch, a diplomatic giant, vegetarian trolls, and princesses that don’t need rescuing—a perfect combination for a fast-paced plot full of hijinks and adventure. I fell in love with this story on the first page. The opening line says, “Prince Charming is afraid of old ladies. Didn’t know that did you?” The light-hearted tone from the opening line runs throughout this book. I literally laughed out loud in places. If you enjoy fairy tale retellings, you will love this book. I guarantee it. There are so many twists to the original tales that this book becomes its own version of a fairy-tale. How great is it to make Snow White slightly off her rocker and Cinderella like a ninja? The characters are extremely enjoyable too. The Princes Charming (there was a grammar lesson attached to this name in the book) are pretty ticked off that they go nameless in all the tales. They want people to know who the “Prince Charming” in the story really is. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. But when Cinderella goes “missing,” a true hero senses the opportunity for a rescue. And so this team of misfit heroes is formed (in a rather entertaining way). Gustav is one of my favorite characters in the book. Nicknamed “Angry Man” by a troll, he undergoes the greatest transformation throughout the story. Short tempered and often irrational, he is more of a liability than an asset. But he does learn a few lessons along the way. His slowly developing friendship with Frederick—the OCD Prince Charming belonging to Cinderella—is rather endearing. Of course, Frederick is hilarious in his own right. He’s the smooth talker in the group, which is a good thing because he can’t do anything else. Then there are the princes Liam and Duncan. Liam seems to have things together, except that he thinks he’s unstoppable. But Duncan is the life of the party. There is something “off” about Snow White’s beau. The man names animals that randomly appear in the forest! That’s not normal. I would be wrong to discuss characters and not mention the leading ladies in this story. They were independent, strong-minded, and better heroes than the men. Not your stereotyped princesses by any means. Cinderella could be a super ninja. I enjoyed the side stories that told of her adventures sans the Princes Charming. When the stories finally merge, it forms a great team of heroes that I can’t wait to read more about. (And I do hope they will be recruiting more princesses into the team.) I’m happy to say that this book is the beginning of a series. I am anticipating this book becoming a favorite. It should be read aloud so everyone can appreciate the witty humor and antics in the story. Otherwise, people nearby will wonder what’s wrong with you as you laugh out loud with every turn of the page. (less)