My lit professor encouraged us to speed read this the way stream of consciousness works. I tried. If I misunderstood something, I didn't stop. I focus...moreMy lit professor encouraged us to speed read this the way stream of consciousness works. I tried. If I misunderstood something, I didn't stop. I focused on my pace and let the words flow through me in hopes of gaining a sense of the novel. I couldn't tell you what the book is about. I couldn't even tell you if I liked it. All I remember is the anxiety that I wasn't a quick enough reader and the confusion that rushed stream of consciousness left with me, and beyond confusion a lack of stickiness in my memory. I've never tried that with a book sense. I like to savor books and words and reread parts that even if I understood I the gist of the sentence I missed a word or a structure there, and I'm okay with being a slow reader. I'd rather hold on to the things I read.(less)
With so many of my friends having read this and a movie out, I managed to go into this book blind, which if you can I highly recommend. That moment wh...moreWith so many of my friends having read this and a movie out, I managed to go into this book blind, which if you can I highly recommend. That moment where the text on the page didn't quite line up with what I thought it should say and I realized what Tharp was doing was perfect. (view spoiler)[It was when Sutter was dismissing the clues for alcohol addiction. I love unreliable narrators, and maybe unreliable is the wrong word for Sutter because he tells you everything that's going on, but he's a little blind to the details. (hide spoiler)]
I liked Sutter and wanted to root for him even when I didn't like what he was doing. His characterization was very well done. I could picture him, that guy who's the life of the party, who feels the weight of being the life of the party, trying to hold on to a life that's slipping him by all while ignoring the parts of life that haven't been as favorable to him. He was an interesting character because what he sees is very different from what I do; he's the type of person usual there for comic relief in a story, the type of person I can't spend too much time with because they wear on me. And yet, seeing the world through his eyes I found myself entangled in his complexity.
It's not so much that I loved the book. It's that it left an impression. Initially I gave it four stars, but I can't stop thinking about it. (My one complaint was the talk about vampires. On the back cover it confused me (sounded like fantasy), and in the book I thought it was relied on a little too heavily without it developing as a good inside joke theory.) (view spoiler)[I can see why the ending isn't everyone's favorite, but I thought it was realistic and anything else would have dismissed the problem in my mind. There wasn't necessarily a lack of hope for Sutter. He admitted he had a problem and wanted to change and that is a huge step for him. Backslides are inevitable and addiction often needs help to overcome. Maybe Sutter has to stumble a bit more before he seeks the help he needs. And maybe he struggles with it for a long time, if not indefinitely, but I have hope that he puts in the effort to stay on top of his addiction. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I'm sad to see this series end. Izzy was a lot of fun. I often forget that she makes me ache too. Lots of humor, vibrant characters, interesting cases...moreI'm sad to see this series end. Izzy was a lot of fun. I often forget that she makes me ache too. Lots of humor, vibrant characters, interesting cases. I definitely recommend the series.(less)
My main issue with this book is that it isn't the end--a fact I, gratefully, discovered before its somewhat cliffhanger ending. I realized I wasn't re...moreMy main issue with this book is that it isn't the end--a fact I, gratefully, discovered before its somewhat cliffhanger ending. I realized I wasn't reading this because I was enthralled with the Unwind world and couldn't get enough of it, but because I want a sense of closure. While there are unexpected plot twists here and some groundwork set for a finale, it felt less like a progressive setup and more like a delay to the grand conclusion. It didn't read as quickly as I would have liked and at times I was lost not having read Lev's detour, UnStrung. I don't think the book should rely so heavily on expecting the reader to have read it since it isn't part of the main series. Also, while Shusterman is a masterful storyteller, this is riddled with grammar errors that were a distraction. The only part of the novel I really enjoyed was Grace. I was hesitantly curious where Shusterman would take the series after Unwind, but I'm not sure I'm dedicated enough for another installment. I think I'll wait it out and see if reviews compel me to finish the series or not.(less)
Since I started this book, I can't stop thinking about it. I keep wondering what I would do if I were in Lou's place. How I would feel in Wil...more4.5 stars
Since I started this book, I can't stop thinking about it. I keep wondering what I would do if I were in Lou's place. How I would feel in Will's. How I would react if I were Mrs. Traynor, Nathan, Patrick, someone in Lou's family's watching her get pulled into this. The speculation is easy to do because Moyes masterfully crafted her characters so they feel like real people--not caricatures there to portray her controversial issue, but a story of real people dealing with a real issue.
I really liked Lou. Her sense of humor, her quirky way of dressing, her guarded nature were all very endearing. I liked the banter she had with Will and I loved watching both of them change and grow as they learned to appreciate the world from a perspective so different from their own. I definitely lean toward character-driven stories and this one is very well done.
(view spoiler)[On their last night on vacation, Moyes introduced the option for Will to grow exponentially as a person, to realize that life as a quadriplegic can be fulfilling, to realize that life isn't about the things we can or cannot do, nor is the choice to be happy. When Will said, "this could be a good life," I honestly thought the character development had led to him having a change of heart, at the least to give it a six months delay. I understand why Moyes didn't have him back down--it would have meant backing away from the controversial topic--but his rather cruel answer that Lou wasn't enough seemed to strip away any ground he had gained.
I would have liked a little more from that scene to believe in Will's continued determination when he was given enough to at least make him hesitate. If he had mentioned his health problems, his probability that he wouldn't live long anyway, his desire to end life when and how he wanted instead of by a sudden bout of pneumonia, then maybe my heart would have broken a little for him. As it is, my tears were all for poor Lou who opened her heart to someone who was going to break hers. All along as Will's plan was mentioned, I felt for him, but from then on, I struggled to sympathize with someone who seemed not to sympathize with anyone else. Update: At my book club discussion someone brought up that Moyes didn't want to give Will a voice because so often in these circumstances they aren't given one (as shown by the picture frame scene). I like that aspect of the novel, but by having this conversation with Lou, he is given a voice and doesn't use it. I would have rather either the scene not be there or he take his defense a few steps further. Having said that, I enjoyed that even though it seemed obvious I wasn't sure what the outcome of the novel would be.
The ending felt heavy handed to me. I get why Lou put on a brave face for Will, but it felt a bit like she wasn't allowed to disagree with his decision, that the discourse in the story could no longer be about how it affected her. When she didn't want him to see her blotchy face and his response was, "It's not your choice," I felt like I was being slapped with an ethics lesson and responded adversely. I did not feel sorry for or understanding of Will. In that moment I agreed with his sister that he was selfish. His assisted suicide might have been his choice, but Lou's reaction was hers. Her mode of saying goodbye was hers. Even the decision to let him see her cry-stained face or not was her choice, not his. That moment should have been about his family and Lou, about the memories he was leaving them, about comforting them and making them understand, not about what I the reader thought of the decision. I felt like I was being spoon-fed Moyes' approved reaction. All the characters there charted the same "it's Will's choice" line. I would have much rather his sister refuse to show up or Lou break down and beg him one last time, in those last moments with him, to please give her more time (bargaining is a stage of grief). Not only would the variety in reactions have been more realistic, but it would have opened up the discussion from Moyes's approved reaction to what the reader's ethical/appropriate/realistic response is to a loved one making such a choice. (hide spoiler)]
This would make a great book club discussion. There are themes in here beyond the central one, about family (I loved Lou's family), disability and caregiving (very well researched and Moyes brought up a lot of details of daily life I hadn't considered before), responsibility and commitment, what makes life valuable, education, patterns of wealth and poverty, etc. Despite feeling a little manipulated at the end, it is still an excellent read and I highly recommend it.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Victoria was a complex character I enjoyed unravelling from the get go. On the one hand, I was often appalled at her lack of consideration fo...more3.5 stars
Victoria was a complex character I enjoyed unravelling from the get go. On the one hand, I was often appalled at her lack of consideration for other people and their personal property. She was cold and closed off and determined to fail. On the other hand, she felt so authentic for a child who had grown up in the system and some of her quirks hit home to me at that age. As the book progressed, I glimpsed the soft center she was trying to protect and her vulnerability felt very real to me.
I enjoyed the progression of the story with both her present endeavors as she turns 18 and is kicked out of the system (without an education or any skills to survive) as well as the interweaved memories of her one chance at a normal life. I was curious to discover what could have gone wrong to put her back in the system, but mostly I enjoyed Diffenbaugh's beautiful writing. I loved the concept of reviving the tradition of flowers as a way to communicate and was happy to see Diffenbaugh included a dictionary in the back. I referenced it quite often during the story. There were a few times I felt the story bordered on a corny flower doctor who could fix everyone's problems with the right floral arrangement, but it didn't take it too far. (Although I am tempted to dig up those poverty-bringing clematis vines off my property and plant a bunch of corn and wheat.)
I was sure the story was a solid 4 stars, but the second half of the novel felt off to me. The events felt like they had taken the story off course solely to complete the character and story arc. (view spoiler)[While I totally understand that Victoria would panic at the idea of having a baby and flee from her postpartum anxiety, I didn't really understand her motive for leaving Grant when she would have assumed him to be the better parent. I get that the thought of commitment scared her, to both Grand and a baby, but I would think that she would either commit to neither or to both. I felt a little lost as to what she was expecting or planning during that hiding out period. Nor did I completely buy into the steps to her leaving the baby and then coming back into her life. I can't pinpoint exactly what about it felt off to me, maybe that it was a little too good to be true (especially, increasingly Renata's generosity), but it felt forced to me.
[On a side note, reading this while I nurse my own infant, Victoria's postpartum period gave me a bit of anxiety. Leaving her baby for extended periods, setting her on the hard counter, driving her that far in a basket in the back seat. They seemed like very real things Victoria would do, but I wanted to reach into the story and pluck that poor baby from her night of abandonment. There were a few things that were off about the period too. Victoria's engorged breasts didn't seem to bother her until a whole day or more after she quit feeding. They would bother her within hours. I was also confused that Victoria bought several cans of formula and then went through then in a couple of days. While there is single-serving formula, cans will last awhile.]
I always knew Victoria would end up reconciling with Elizabeth, even before I knew what had separated them. I thought the ending could maybe redeem the awkward patch while Victoria was gone, but it felt a bit contrived too. (For example: the March 1 birthdate meant to parallel Hazel's beginnings to Victoria's. While Victoria's parents were unknown, Grant could have easily done a little research through Renata and found out the baby's birthdate.) I'm glad it ended the way it did, not just for Victoria but Grant and Elizabeth too. The story doesn't explore in great depths the damage done to Grant or Elizabeth through their lives, but they were broken souls too. It's why they connected with Victoria and saw something in her worth saving and why they were good for her. I wondered what would have happened to Victoria without them in her life. It's doubtful she would have ever ended up off the streets. (hide spoiler)]
In the acknowledgments it says Diffenbaugh drew from her own experience as a foster mother for this story. I'm glad to see her tackle the subject of foster care for older children, particularly those who are left without assistance into adulthood. I haven't read many books about foster care and it's nice to see an author dedicated to such a worthy cause. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Nothing of interest happens for the first several hundred pages (more like 400), which only led to me picking out all the pl...moreMaybe closer to 2.5 stars.
Nothing of interest happens for the first several hundred pages (more like 400), which only led to me picking out all the plot holes in this turn of events that didn't quite make sense to me:
*Wasn't what defined Tris as Divergent was her ability to resist the serums? Now there is no correlation to it and her reaction an anomaly? What exactly is Divergent then? Although I did like Tobias' comment about Tris having a stubborn gene.
*The genetics didn't make any sense, especially the Bureau's response. In order to breed out undesirable genes, people with those genes are locked in a city until those genes are bred out. That goes against logic, even Roth's when GPs are encouraged to breed with other GPs. The explanation on why a country would pursue such a destructive prejudice is weak, but stranger things have happened so I was willing to suspend my disbelief.
*I'm not even sure I really grasp the Bureau's relationship with the experiments, what they gained from them, and how it was supposed to help them in the battle against the fringe. Their reactions to the experiments were opposing, sometimes intervening and other times aiding in conflicting agendas. The only reason for the serum connection was to fuel Tris. It didn't make much sense otherwise.
I had more questions I'm sure, but those were the ones I bothered to write down and therefore remember. The questions only compounded during the climax. (view spoiler)[Why didn't the rebels go after the memory serum going out on the planes instead of risking the death serum? Why didn't David inoculate himself against the memory serum when he bothered with the death serum? Why was it all of a sudden so easy to get in and out of a locked city without notice? Evelyn's turnaround was improbable, but okay, I'll buy into it for Tobias' sake, but I'm not sure how that solved all the city's problems, the tension set up in Divergent, or the memory swipe in one establishment erase a nationwide prejudice, but the problems kind of all fizzled in the end. (hide spoiler)]
I appreciate what Roth did with the prejudices, showing how it affects individuals and society, but it wasn't enough to keep me interested for the first 400 pages. If Roth had sacrificed plot points for character development, I would have been okay with that, but not only was I having trouble remembering the secondary characters (and felt nothing at plot points that involved them), I was losing Tris and Tobias too. Tobias was one of my favorite male leads in Divergent, but here he was such a pansy. Part of that is Roth showing him crumble under prejudice and part was adding his voice without any distinction to Tris' voice. Writing distinct voices is very difficult to do, and I always appreciate when an author does it well, but if a story is to be told from two perspectives, it hurts the characters if it isn't done with at least some distinction. I almost wonder if it wouldn't have been better to write Insurgent completely from Tobias' perspective and then alternate this one once his voice was set. I really struggled to keep his character in check to the Tobias I knew, Tris too to a lesser extent.
While I found the climax and conclusion rushed without appropriate resolution, I actually liked THE SCENE. (I found Roth's explanation for it interesting and worth the read, after one finishes Allegiant.) The details were rushed, but it was sweet and touching, and I felt for the characters in the followup scenes. I might have even gotten choked up. I also liked the parallels to the beginning of Divergent in the final chapters. However, I think I was supposed to feel like I was holding on to the characters in the epilogue, but I didn't. It was the only scene in the book that I thought was too long. I would have preferred more wrap up to the world Roth created, from a withdrawn perspective (a different person/distance/time) than that drawn out scene. I'm not dissatisfied with the way the series ended, but I think it could have been stronger.
I took issue with this quote: "To me, when someone wrongs you, you both share the burden of that wrongdoing--the pain of it weighs on both of you. Forgiveness, then, means choosing to bear the full weight all by yourself."
I disagree. Forgiveness means giving up your weight. Forgiveness is more about giving yourself permission to stop burdening yourself than the release you give the other person. The weight Tris would have carried had nothing to do with forgiveness and more about future events.
And I liked this quote: There are many ways to be brave in this world. Sometimes bravery involves laying down your life for something bigger than yourself, or for someone else. Sometimes it involves giving up everything you have ever known, or everyone you have ever loved, for the sake of something greater. But sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes it is nothing more than gritting your teeth through the pain, and the work of every day, the slow walk toward a better life.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
At the pool's edge I might be ugly, But when I speak strokes I am beautiful.
My biggest beef with novels in verse is the arbitrary line breaks, but this...moreAt the pool's edge I might be ugly, But when I speak strokes I am beautiful.
My biggest beef with novels in verse is the arbitrary line breaks, but this felt like real poetry, those line breaks serving a purpose. It's a short book--I read it in a few hours' time--but it tackles a lot of issues: abandonment, bullying, being the new girl, teenage insecurity, loyalty, first love, and swimming, which isn't an issue but I speak swimming so it resonates with me.
This was a fun read. While some of the plot points are a bit stretched, I really liked Charlotte and laughed at some of the dialogue. Plus, the ending...moreThis was a fun read. While some of the plot points are a bit stretched, I really liked Charlotte and laughed at some of the dialogue. Plus, the ending wasn't nearly as cheesy as Austenland. (less)
As with The Shadow of the Wind, I found the writing in Angel's Game beautiful, occasionally over the top, but it drew me in and had me wanting more. I...moreAs with The Shadow of the Wind, I found the writing in Angel's Game beautiful, occasionally over the top, but it drew me in and had me wanting more. I liked the complexity of the characters and was especially fond of Isabella. Her banter with David might have been my favorite part to read. Barcelona is the perfect setting for the gothic novel and a stronger presence than any of the characters.
The story isn't as good as Shadow of the Wind, but I didn't expect it to be. The climax in particular got to be a bit much and a little far fetched. What kept me reading, besides the writing, was curiosity about how to classify the novel. Is it a mystery with a clever villain always one step ahead of David, a psychological thriller with a mentally unstable narrator, or a supernatural tale that is in essence a religious allegory?
I kept waiting for Zafon to definitely answer that question, but he never does. At first I was a bit disappointed, but now that I've had time to reflect on the story, I'm okay with the open ending. However, I wish some of my questions had been addressed, especially about what exactly happened in several of the scenes. (view spoiler)[My biggest disappointment was never finding out what exactly happened to Cristina. I never felt connected with her as a character (not nearly as much as Isabella), but I still felt a little heartbroken at her death and wondered exactly David did experience. I wasn't crazy about everyone dying, but it left David alone to contemplate what happened without anyone else's perspective to ground him. He didn't get any more answers than we do and that was part of his penance.
I loved the hints that David was going crazy (such as the men in the alley getting beat up) and the creepiness of Mr. Corelli as the devil. I especially loved him pressing David for a stronger villain. My interpretation is that The Boss was the one behind the crimes, like the fire, but that he never got his hands dirty opting to work through people like David, twisting his mind to his will. So it's a little of all three: a mystery, a psychological thriller, and a religious allegory. (hide spoiler)].
Once I finished the book, I couldn't wait to discuss it and devoured other reviews, looking for others' interpretation of the novel. I didn't catch the tie-in to The Shadow of the Wind until then, and glad Isabella was the connecting link. I'm glad to see the story continues.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
In some ways I liked this better than Edenbrooke. There is no twirling, which is probably why I liked Kate more than Marianne, and the castle on the m...moreIn some ways I liked this better than Edenbrooke. There is no twirling, which is probably why I liked Kate more than Marianne, and the castle on the moor was cool, but then Henry was a bit sappy for my taste so it washes out. I also found the story a bit predictable (not the worst thing in a romance) and lacking in Regency era propriety. It's little things like Sylvia stopping by Kate's house and going to her room uninvited, the hours or unsupervised time Henry and Kate have (some of it is from sneaking around but not all), the moments of dishonesty from a love interest, and Kate's mother's behavior (there is plenty of consequence for Eleanor's flirtiness but nobody seems scandalized by Mrs. Worthington's). Nothing too drastic, just enough to make it harder to believe the time period.
While I enjoyed the story as is, it could have been stronger with a bit of side character and plot development. Miss St. Claire and Sylvia both could have been better developed and become viable threats to Kate's happiness. There was some inner struggle with Kate about admiring Miss St. Claire and envying her, but she never develops into either a vicious or admirable character. With the rift developing between Sylvia there could have been some conflict since she is Henry's sister, but neither her relationship with Kate or Henry is developed. Mr. Brandon could have been a stronger divergence. Maria and Mrs. Worthington could have been disastrous, not merely pesky. Mrs. Delafield's plotting for her son's future could have also added a plot twist and turn there. Something to make me doubt that Kate was going to get what she wanted. I would have also liked a bit more of the gothic creepy factor.
It's a fun, quick read and it definitely had moments that made me smile. If you liked Edenbrooke, you'll like this one too. It follows the same formula.(less)
This is my second Kate Morton novel and while I didn't love it as much as The Forgotten Garden, I still really enjoyed it. If it weren't for The Forgo...moreThis is my second Kate Morton novel and while I didn't love it as much as The Forgotten Garden, I still really enjoyed it. If it weren't for The Forgotten Garden, I may have even figured out the ending sooner (I kept double-guessing myself), but I'm glad it surprised me.
(view spoiler)[While I got the abusive husband from the second Henry was introduced, I expected the twist to be that Vivien and/or Jimmy took of with the money. I loved how Morton eased my loyalty from Dolly as the main character to Vivien until I found myself wishing Vivien were the one who survived. Morton is very talented at weaving stories out of chronological order, dripping in clues and revelations along the way until by the end you've place in the last puzzle piece and can see the grand picture.
While I loved the slow development of the characters and mystery, and the back and forth in time, I was left with a few questions: if Jimmy saw Vivien on the beach, why was he surprised it was her and not Dolly when he came to visit? Henry spent all that time going after Dolly but why not Jimmy? Unless he always suspected it was Vivien and she was the only one he was interested in. Also, I never quite got why Laurel took such notice of the stamp so that it would set off her memory. (hide spoiler)]
It was a fun story and I enjoyed trying to piece it together.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)