I’ve never read an Elizabeth Eulberg book before, because I could never bring myself to read beyond the first few pages. For some reason, though, I re...moreI’ve never read an Elizabeth Eulberg book before, because I could never bring myself to read beyond the first few pages. For some reason, though, I requested this one from the library ages ago. Then I completely forgot about it until I got an email saying my hold request had been fulfilled. Once I had my mitts on it, I inexplicably decided this would be the best book to read during my weekly bath (meaning I take a bath every week in addition to my regular showers, not that I only bathe once a week).
It was a quick read, and oddly engrossing. It’s a very, very fluffy plot, so maybe that’s why I managed to read it all in one go. But it was just… so… bland. There is really no difference between the characters’ voices, and everything just kind of works out all the time, and this honestly shouldn’t bother me as much as it does. It isn’t like I was reading Hawthorne.
And the constant she likes him, but he doesn’t like her; now he likes her but she doesn’t like him was irksome. Having never actually read any of the author’s work, I sort of figured they would be going through more of a comedy of errors trying to figure out if they should be a couple and not spend so much time pining and being angsty. A less deceptive title would have been Better Off Friends? Then maybe I wouldn’t have bothered reading it at all.
I have found a first book in a series that completely eliminates any burning need I may have to read the subsequent books.
The 100 caught my eye at the library because the cover had one of those little "this is going to be a TV show!" stickers on it, and then I read the dust jacket and it looked like a futuristic dystopia survival story, and when they're done right I really like those.
But the dust jacket doesn't do the best job explaining the plot, which is basically:
– There is a space colony of people who escaped Earth after a nuclear war finally wiped out the planet 300 years ago. (Even though it isn't explicitly stated, I feel like these people were probably all Americans, since (view spoiler)[when the delinquents make it back to Earth someone says that they are on the east coast of what was once the US (hide spoiler)], and when they were evacuating the planet they made sure to leave enough time in the schedule to (view spoiler)[stop by Paris and take some relics (hide spoiler)].)
– So now they live on a giant spaceship in the sky, which is divided into three parts and full of classist strife.
– The colony has a bunch of laws in place to keep population down and ensure the survival of the human race on the spaceship until such time as Earth is deemed habitable again, but apparently no sex ed information available to teens.
– Juvenile delinquents are the best gauge of whether or not Earth is habitable again, because they were all terrible and (view spoiler)[going to die anyway because of another major plot point (hide spoiler)].
– So 100 of them are sent to Earth. (Hence, the name!)
– Everyone is concerned with saving his or her own ass and there's pretty much no one to root for (although I did like Clarke). It's a sort of futuristic Lord of the Flies vibe, but minus a conch or any real excitement.
– The few choices that aren't made for selfish reasons are mostly done for teenage love, and it's the kind of teenage love that makes you think that if they had time to take a breather and gain some perspective—if they spent a little bit of time together in a non–life-or-death capacity—they probably wouldn't be so willing to kill and die for each other.
– Four narrators is too many.
– Glass is a terrible name.
This is a book driven by everyone's seeeecrets, so I was willing to overlook some of the cheesier lines in order to finish it and see what they were and where everyone stood. But it ended on a pretty predictable plot twist and with Clarke still the only character I even sort of liked, so I'm tapping out.
I haven’t always been this series’ biggest fan. I thought the world of Divergent was silly, with its factions dividing society to supposedly make it s...moreI haven’t always been this series’ biggest fan. I thought the world of Divergent was silly, with its factions dividing society to supposedly make it stronger. While I liked Insurgent a lot more it was very emotional compared to the first book, and the more I thought about the plot the less impressed I was by it. I was ready to write the whole series off soon after starting Allegiant because sometimes I am a judgmental and terrible person when I read, and dual POVs in YA novels tend to trigger it, since the device rarely seems to exist to do anything other than show how much the MCs loooove each other.
But I kept reading, because I am above all else a completist, and I needed to know how it ended, dammit. And once I hit my stride and got past the first 100 pages or so, I was completely hooked. So many things make sense now that didn’t before. Allegiant somehow manages to fill in all the blanks left by its predecessors in a way that actually enhances the other books, while still being an enjoyable read in its own right.
Not only do we finally find out the true meaning behind being Divergent, we also find out that (view spoiler)[Chicago is actually part of an experiment in genetic engineering (hide spoiler)], and once you know that, the intent behind the factions and the blind devotion to them become clear. Tris seemed far more badass in this book than in the others. In Divergent and Insurgent I never felt fully on board with her decisions, but in Allegiant I was always in her corner, though at some times she seemed a little too perfect. (She hardly second-guesses herself anymore in addition to being Divergent and all that entails. She is basically Wonder Woman, and just one book ago she was this very flawed, emotionally damaged young girl.) Happily, alternating her POV with Tobias’s didn’t detract from the story as I worried it would; it actually enhanced the characterization in a way that made the ending seem right. We really get an idea of who they are, together and alone, and what fears and desires motivate their actions.
And that ending. So many people are going to be angry about it, which I understand, but (view spoiler)[Tris’s death wasn’t an emotional exploitation and it wasn’t unnecessary or self-sacrificing. It was a noble death, in keeping with her character and goals, and it honestly surprised me (most YA authors don’t make this kind of move with their protagonists), and because of all those things it actually did resonate with me. It wasn’t something I could just brush off and add to the body count or roll my eyes at, because it meant something(hide spoiler)]. Revolution requires sacrifice and personal growth requires learning to stand on your own. (view spoiler)[Killing off a minor character would have been cheap, while killing Tobias wouldn’t have meant as much. Tris had more than proved what she was made of at that point, whereas Tobias obviously still had a ways to go before his death would be anything other than a tragedy. (hide spoiler)] Had it ended any other way I wouldn’t have liked this book half as much.
Granted some of the science bits can still be a little hard to swallow (pretty much everything can be explained away with a serum) and there are so many new characters and old ones I didn’t remember hearing about that at times I got confused and had to google things, which does detract from the reading experience. And some of the secondary and tertiary characters are still unbearable. But on the whole, Allegiant was a fantastic end to the trilogy and left me satisfied, not only with the individual book but with the series as a whole.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Okay, first can I just say that I’ve had this stuck in my head the entire time I’ve been reading this book. Which isn’t the worst song in the world, t...moreOkay, first can I just say that I’ve had this stuck in my head the entire time I’ve been reading this book. Which isn’t the worst song in the world, thankfully, but yeesh.
So much about this book is appealing to me: It takes place in the future but has a 1920s bootlegger vibe to it, as well as a touch of the Gotham City, with the criminals basically running the place and the DA letting it slide. There’s a dash of romance, which isn’t too cheesy or Romeo and Juliet-ish (although there is a bit of that element as well), and a girl who is just trying to protect her immediate family—her older brother (who suffered a head injury as a child that affected his mental development), her younger sister, and their invalid grandmother—from being sucked into the illegal activities of their mafiya Family. And there’s a dash of Essence of Soviet Russia thrown in for good measure, and not just because the Balanchines are Russian mafiya.
Anya is a strong character. The titles of the chapters had me smiling (sometimes grimly), and her narrative style is never dull. She is a smart cookie, hell-bent on survival and protecting her family, but there are also moments where she seems very much sixteen and it is overwhelmingly sad that she’s living with all of this on her shoulders. Her friendship with Scarlet isn’t overly angsty or competitive, although there is some discord. And Win... oh Win. He starts off so flat and blah, and I was thinking, Oh great, this again, but then he turns out to be funny and sweet and I get the feeling there will be so much more to him in the next two books.
There are a lot of loose ends, though. I’m not sure if this is a dystopian future or what, but basically the government is perpetually broke and there are taxes on everything, from water to paper to emails. Pretty much no new clothes are being manufactured, paper books are officially a thing of the past, and coffee and chocolate are illegal. Coffee can be found at speakeasies, and chocolate is supplied by “the big-five chocolate families,” one of which is Anya’s, the Balanchines. There’s no explanation as to how the world got this way, and the only reasoning behind why chocolate is banned in the US now is Anya’s recollection of her father explaining to her that it was just something the Powers That Be found easiest to live without and so it was made verboten. Not very solid world-building, but not entirely illogical either.
Truthfully, I thought the book started out very strong, lagged a bit in the middle, and then picked back up in the last 70 or so pages. I toyed with the idea of giving a 3.5 based on how intense I found the ending, but I couldn’t bring myself to bump it up when the middle bits fell so flat with me. Before I’d even really begun my personal race to the finish, however, I had already requested the second book in the trilogy from the library. (Yes! It is! A trilogy! I thought it was a standalone until I consulted GR. I! Am! So! Excited!) I should get it in the next two days, but I will have to savor it slowly, like a good bar of Balanchine Special Dark, as the final book doesn’t come out until October.(less)
This is wavering somewhere between 3.5 stars and an unprecedented 3.75 stars for me. I’m leaning more toward the 3.5, which is partly because I...moreOh boy.
This is wavering somewhere between 3.5 stars and an unprecedented 3.75 stars for me. I’m leaning more toward the 3.5, which is partly because I had such unbelievably high expectations for this book and quite honestly it was a bit of a struggle to get through parts of it, while other parts had me all, “Whaaaaat?”
I don’t even know where to start. I guess I’ll begin with what I felt was right with The 5th Wave and go from there.
I’m not usually a sci-fi fan but I’ve noticed myself leaning more toward alien-type books recently. Up until about a year and a half ago I was pretty much strictly a realistic fiction kind of girl. Then I got into dystopias and apocalyptic fiction. Then I read the Lux series (which, sorry, I know I bring it up a lot) and I started getting more into the idea of aliens. So The 5th Wave is a winning combination for me in that it brings me into the middle of the beginning of the alien apocalypse and everyone is struggling to survive while the Others keep watch. Score!
The book is also told from several different perspectives: Cassie, the bold high school girl who lives only to keep her promise to her younger brother, Sammy, and reunite with him; a Silencer; and Zombie, whose real identity is pretty obvious from the get-go but his portions of the book are so action-packed and interesting that I didn’t care. Sammy’s narrative didn’t do anything for the story, the Silencer’s basically served as a massive spoiler, and Cassie really grated on me, but Zombie—wow. All the action, the psychological trauma, the internal battle between what he wanted to be and who he still was... this guy had it all going for him, and I was more able to lose myself in his chapters than in anyone else’s.
But alas, nothing gold can stay. My problems are thus:
Firstly, if every narrator you have is going to be telling me not to trust anyone, I’m not going to trust anyone. The very intriguing idea of who to trust when you don’t know what the enemy looks like is brought up time and time again, and yet when it came down to it, I was the only one not trusting anybody. All the characters were toting around their weapons and lamenting the fact they were all alone in the world, and then the moment someone else comes along and offers them a lifeline they take it.
Second, when the interchanging narratives are set up the way these are, it’s basically Spoiler City. I knew the identity of the Silencer long before Cassie did, almost immediately after his chapter ended, so there was zero suspense there. I knew Zombie’s pre-alien apocalypse identity at the open of his chapter. There were a few plot points that kept me guessing—what Cassie saw at Camp Ashpit vs. how Vosch explains it later to Zombie; the twist between Zombie and Ringer out in the combat zone—but for the most part it was a matter of me slapping my forehead and yelling the alien apocalypse novel version of “don’t go into the basement!” at all the characters.
There is a lot of repetition—of the Milgram tests, of the theme of a person-as-battlefield, of a silver chain linking someone to something—and while some of it did serve nicely to tie the narratives together, some of it seemed like a bit of a stretch. How many people talk about feeling linked by a silver chain? It makes sense if you are the person who happens to own said silver chain; then you may see ways you are “chained” to other things, ideas, or people. But if you have no idea of the significance of a SILVER chain, why are you going to drop that line? Cassie.
And finally, my biggest grievance: Evan Walker, y u so creepy??
I’m reading reviews where people love this guy, and I got a distinctly Edward Cullen/Christian Grey feel from the dude. He (view spoiler)[lurks outside doors, changes Cassie’s clothes when she’s unconscious, dresses her in his dead sister’s clothes, talks about the dead girlfriend he loved so, so much right before kissing Cassie, tells a girl he hardly knows how she saved him, reads her diary, does some weird soul-meld with her, and, oh yeah, he stalks her for months while trying to summon the willpower to kill her(hide spoiler)]—and I can’t even blame Stockholm syndrome for why Cassie falls under his dubious spell. Any respect I had for her was pretty effectively squashed when she started getting hearteyed over Evan.
[Side note: I keep seeing things in reviews about a love triangle. The entire time I was reading I dreaded the advent of the love triangle, but there isn’t actually a love triangle. It’s more like an unrequited love line which serves no purpose to the narrative. Can’t we all just kick alien ass without getting weird feelings in our pants for people who don’t like us back? And while I’m doing side notes, did anyone else keep misreading Camp Ashpit as Camp Apeshit? Because I did. Every. Single. Time.]
So The 5th Wave wasn’t nearly as good as I thought it would be, but I’m still very much looking forward to the rest of the series. There was incredible tension in the narrative, because I knew when the characters were being stupid even if they didn’t, and I kept proverbially leaning forward in my seat waiting for them to realize what I already knew. Children being trained up for war creeps me out in any context, even if the logic behind it is a little shaky. And while there are flaws in the logic of the 5th Wave, Waves 1 – 5 are just ingenious. I mean, if aliens were to come to our planet and try to take it over, honestly these are great ways to divide and conquer humanity.
Which makes me suspicious that Rick Yancey might actually be an alien. Do we actually have any proof that he is who he says he is? Sure, he’s smiling all innocently in his author photo, but (view spoiler)[Dr. Pam was super smiley, too (hide spoiler)]. Can someone please get Mulder and Scully on this?["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)