I picked this one up cold from a vibe from Goodreads. Quite a few people seemed to be talking about it and making it book of the month. Having read thI picked this one up cold from a vibe from Goodreads. Quite a few people seemed to be talking about it and making it book of the month. Having read the 500 pages in under a weekend, I can see why.
The story is set in a crumbling Chicago of the future, some time after an unspecified ‘war’. Society has rebuilt itself along tribal lines: Abnegation, selfless charity workers, Amity, friends to everyone, Candor, who never lie, Erudite for knowledge, and Dauntless, the closest to the military. Everyone belongs to one clan, above all other sentiments, even to their family.
When Beatrice Prior is tested to see which clan she should take for the rest of her life, she’s stunned to discover she’s ‘Divergent’, having attributes of more than one clan. Told to hide her test results or her life will be in danger, she chooses the hard and brutal life of a Dauntless, fearless and militaristic. I was expecting her to announce she was Divergent at the start of the book, but it didn’t turn out like that.
The book follows her training and selection, and at times is brutal and honest in its description of the violent life the Dauntless lead, though never to the detriment of the story, or simply for gore. There’s also a romance between Beatrice and her instructor Four, an understated sub-plot that becomes more important at the end of the book. That was the only part that felt flat for me – there didn’t seem to be much chemistry between them.
The characters are all drawn well, each has their own personalities and weaknesses and strengths. Only the villains Peter and Molly seemed a little cartoonish, but that didn’t stop them from being brutally efficient at removing the competition.
Every page of this book has something going on. Either Beatrice is being tested, is falling in love, is trying to discover what it means to be ‘Divergent’ and why she should hide it, or is trying to stop war breaking out.
There isn’t a space wasted, and the pace of the book doesn’t slow at all. I rocketed through it, stuck to every page....more
Since the age of eight, David has wanted only one thing: To be a girl, a secret he keeps very much to himself. But when Leo Denton arrives at his schoSince the age of eight, David has wanted only one thing: To be a girl, a secret he keeps very much to himself. But when Leo Denton arrives at his school, events start to spin into a new direction…
This is the first book I’ve ever read about trans-gender teens. It's a long way from the YA of ten or more years ago - all we got then was "Oops I farted." Kudos to Williamson for taking it on. It’s a gentle introduction to the subject, split evenly between David and Leo (Leo is hiding a secret of his own, but no spoilers).
Of the two, Leo is the more interesting character. His family dynamic is diverse and more edgy, his story moving the plot along more than David’s, which is quite static. Leo came alive, while David was a more of a shadow. They come from very different backgrounds and families, but they find a common ground and a shared secret.
Williamson could have made this story very dark – TG suicides, self-mutilation, the horror of being trapped in a body that isn’t the right sex – but she largely skips over the tragedy, brushing into low grade bullying and dodging the bigger issues of non-acceptance.
Instead, she takes the story in a different direction, showing how positive this can turn out, the power of finding a friend and acceptance for who you are. It’s heart-warming rather than depressing or despairing, and that made it more refreshing. ...more
Evie O’Neill is sent from her boring rural town after pushing the limits of her 1920s lifestyle too far. She’s sent to her uncle in (Book one of four)
Evie O’Neill is sent from her boring rural town after pushing the limits of her 1920s lifestyle too far. She’s sent to her uncle in Manhattan, a 1926 Manhattan alive with parties and socialising and handsome men, a place full of possibilities, where anything can happen…including a supernatural serial killer.
This is book one of four, and boy-howdy diddly does it feel like it. Bray constantly shoves the main plot aside to introduce as many characters as she can, jamming them all in. All of them “Diviners” with a specialised supernatural talent (Evie can pick images from objects, Isiah can see the future, and so on). The problem is, there’s very little interaction at this stage between them, just passing tangents, a dozen plot lines opened but not closed. The main push of the story – Evie against the serial killer – is side-lined for far too long, and the pace slackens to a crawl. A slow crawl.
On the plus side, Bray has done her research, and the book soars with the details, from the language, to the dress and the casual references to the stars and society of the day. It feels like 1926, right down to the smallest detail.
One of the problems with writing a young adult book set in the past is the amount of exposition you can drop in; stop and explain what a “Victriola” is, or just press on? Bray chooses the second option, then weaves in details to keep us in the loop. The world is very real, as are the characters, with dialogue that shines with wit and quick-fire humour.
It’s a good book which could have been a great book, but I won’t be coming back for book two. I don’t expect the plot to get any faster (and a review I’ve seen confirmed it), so I’ll be getting off here. Thanks for the ride....more
In a world where unwinding – the dissolution of teenagers for organ replacement – is legal, a group of very different teenagers struggle to survive inIn a world where unwinding – the dissolution of teenagers for organ replacement – is legal, a group of very different teenagers struggle to survive in any way they can.
This is a sequel to the outstanding Unwind – one of the few books I’ve given 5/5 to, I believe. Neal Shusterman is one of the best writers I’ve ever come across – YA or otherwise. His world is totally believable, his characters are full and complex. There’s nothing flat here in dialogue or pacing; not a sentence is wasted. His writing is flawless.
His heroes and villains are both beautifully realised. Nothing is black and white; the heroes make hard choices, they make realistic choices as to what actions they can take. So do the villains. Everyone thinks their actions are right and the moral choices they make feel right to them. As readers, we empathise with them, even if we don’t agree with their actions.
Shusterman isn’t afraid to ask tough questions: Questions about how society treats its teenagers. Questions about leadership, and standing up for what you believe in – questions about leaving people to die so that others can live; questions about what it means to be a hero. There are no easy answers, either in the book or in the world.
So why not 5/5 again?
In ways, this felt like a bridge between Unwind and Unsouled (Book three). As a result, there was a slow sense of exposition going on – a lot of questions, but no answers. The pacing is slow – don’t expect explosions on every page – but the evolution of the characters and their situations is handled so well, the slow pacing can be forgiven. New story arcs develop, but not many of them complete.
I will be reading Unsouled, and not just so I can see how all this plays out; I want to spend more time with the wonderful writing and powerful world Shusterman creates.
Ruby and Kaz hope that a three day outdoor music festival will clear their heads about their changing worlds. Of course, nothing goes to plan...
I wentRuby and Kaz hope that a three day outdoor music festival will clear their heads about their changing worlds. Of course, nothing goes to plan...
I went with this on a recommendation from Becky – she got an ARC and loved this book. It isn't usually the genre I'd pick for my YA reads, but I've had fun with Non Pratt before with TROUBLE, so I gave it a whirl.
Boy, does Pratt know her characters! Both Ruby and Kaz leap right off the page with witty and realistic dialogue, pulling you right into the heart of who they are. Their narrative voices are very different, a real strength to Pratt's writing (One minor complaint...I don't think Ruby would use the word portmanteau).
I was tugged along with the girls through their problems with boyfriends new and old, changing schools, bad decisions and new friends. And these teenagers are realistic – they drink, they fret, they get out of their depth and into bad situations through their inexperience.
What a delight they are to be with. I'm thinking of how refreshing they are compared to the pretentiousness of the characters in The Fault in Our Stars. Read this and then TFiOS back-to-back...then tell me who has nailed teenagers better.
The minor characters were all given room to breathe and grow as well, going through their own character arcs off page. Everything is moving along, nothing is wasted.
Only at the end does Pratt lose the plot a little, veering towards soap opera tricks to bring one of her plot lines to a close.
It's a great character study from a very talented writer. ...more
I got to 25% of the Kindle copy before I stopped. It's a corporate thriller set in the worldNo rating – didn't finish it.
(This was a read-for-review)
I got to 25% of the Kindle copy before I stopped. It's a corporate thriller set in the world of real estate. It was fine for the most part before the 25%. For the most part...the rest of the time, it read like a first draft: There were tense changes, POV switches midway through paragraphs and numerous typos. A character on a ski slope inhales the "fridge mountain air" ; a characters name is mis-spelled; There were sentences without a subject that made no sense.
A bigger problem was the telling and not showing, particularly of the love interest, who we were told was beautiful four times without being shown it once – having someone stare at her as she walked by, for instance.
The notes at the end made this clear that this was a revision of a book already published...and that it had been proofread by a few people before it saw the light of Kindle-dom. Also in the addendum was an extract from Part Two of the series, where a character "...barley escaped with their life." Ouch.
What started out as the main plot - the murder-mystery of a character killed by a hired assassin - just fell apart at the 25% mark into recondite and very...very...dull real estate jargon. It wasn't moving the plot along, so I skimmed it to the end of the chapter, where another real estate board meeting was taking place, filled with more boardroom jargon. I skimmed that as well, then decided it wasn't going to get any better and dropped it.
Sorry, Mr Danley. You pretty much lost my interest when you spent a chapter talking about how the assassin came to name his cat. ...more
Mikey’s sister was sexually assaulted; Ellie’s brother Tom allegedly did it... But when Mikey meets Ellie, they start to fall for each other despite tMikey’s sister was sexually assaulted; Ellie’s brother Tom allegedly did it... But when Mikey meets Ellie, they start to fall for each other despite the problems between their families.
So this is Romeo and Juliet then?
Not quite...there was a lack of certainty for me as to whether the two of them would get together at the end. The narrative splits between the two evenly, giving them both a voice and an opinion. Despite some odd toilet moments from Mikey, it’s a strong story for both. Ellie believes her brother, and Mikey believes his sister.
There are some unusual similes - "A bird, with a splash of white on its chest, like milk on an oil slick.", and they carry the imagery nicely and make the book.
(view spoiler)[ Once thing I didn’t get was a sense that Mikey’s sister was lying to be malicious. Tom is obviously very dangerous when crossed, and that weakened the ambiguity. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Having a destination, Lev, Risa, Connor and Cam are on the move again. Their arcs, started four books ago, come sluggishly to a closBook four of four.
Having a destination, Lev, Risa, Connor and Cam are on the move again. Their arcs, started four books ago, come sluggishly to a close. I plowed my way through this one. Shusterman takes his time to explore the characters and develop them right to the end. It feels like he didn't quite have enough material to stretch to four books.
I had a few problems with this one. There were a surprising number of easily spotted typos, for one thing. But more importantly, some characters who were working up to be major players were forgotten in the climax. I would have liked to have seen them standing at the end, to know how they were doing.
This is a series that was running low on steam towards the middle of book three, and it’s straining to reach a conclusion by the end. Stop at the gut punching UnWind or go no further than UnWholly....more
Four teenagers and an asteroid that’s coming to most likely kill them all and everyone else in the world in a matter of months…What would you do withFour teenagers and an asteroid that’s coming to most likely kill them all and everyone else in the world in a matter of months…What would you do with the time that’s left?
The premise for this is great: Teenagers are suddenly presented with a finite lifespan. Instead of seventy years to plan for, they have months. They all decide that what they have doesn’t make them happy. The book started off with a strong premise and some interesting characters – Andy the slacker was the most interesting from the start, certainly the liveliest and most carefree.
But then they all dissolved into a mess of similarity. Each character had an epiphany, a crisis, a resolution. They all went through it at the same pace, encountering problems that were cookie-cutter to their personality types.
There was almost no point naming them and they might as well have been called The Slacker, The Jock, The Outcast and The Achiever (Subgroup: Pushy Parents). Nothing really surprising happened to any of them. It would have been a joy if one had said, “Yes, I am, actually happy with who I am and where I’m going.”
It felt like the author had chained them to a rowing boat, and they all pulled together, all the time, perfectly meshing until they crossed the finish line. Their character arcs were calculated to a fraction of a degree, and they were absolutely NOT allowed to deviate in any way. It made them two dimensional and they didn’t work for me.
And they were the only characters to go through their arcs as well. Secondary characters ended the book as they began it; there was no sense of them having lives of their own, of them coming to terms with the end of the world.
Teenagers, of course, rarely have a sense of contentment. Most of them don’t have a clue as to where life is taking them…well, I pretty much don’t either. That’s the fun part of living. ...more
This is a sequel – of sorts – to Keenan's first book, Blue Heaven. I say of sorts there because the books are really stand alone. Read them in any ordThis is a sequel – of sorts – to Keenan's first book, Blue Heaven. I say of sorts there because the books are really stand alone. Read them in any order and you won't be out of the loop.
It's not as witty as Blue Heaven. The plot centres around a socialite who wants to re-launch her career and her billionaire husband and his business rival. There are subplots on subplots and everything twists and turns.
One of the problems with the novel is the amount of reported speech in place of dialogue. Reported speech is along the lines of: "Elsa said that she thought that Kitty was a liar. Kitty replied that if she was a liar, then Elsa was a thief."
It's easy enough to swallow in small amounts and it usually moves the plot along to more important points, but there are whole pages of reported speech, almost chapters of it with minimal dialogue.
Because of that, the characterisation falls over and it slows the pacing down to a crawl. There's also less witty one-liners and humour than Blue Heaven, and since – let's face it – that's the reason I'm reading it, it didn't help.
I was glad to get done with this one. Between this one and Blue Heaven, I'll go for Blue Heaven. ...more
**spoiler alert** Quadriplegic consultant-detective Lincoln Rhyme is back hunting a killer who tattoos his victims with poison...
This is the second Rh**spoiler alert** Quadriplegic consultant-detective Lincoln Rhyme is back hunting a killer who tattoos his victims with poison...
This is the second Rhyme I've read back-to-back and I've noticed some patterns. About a third of the way through, one of Rhyme's proxies will stumble across the killer. They'll chase them for a while, but since we know there's a long way to go to the last page, of course they escape. It happened in the last Lincoln Rhyme I read (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...), and it happens in this one.
Also, there's a recurring subplot with a teenage (now growing into adult) surrogate daughter of one of Rhyme's proxies, Sachs. Sachs will tell Pam (the teenager) that the man she's with is dangerous, or married or whatever. Pam will argue and storm off; Sachs will eventually be proved right.
Now the plot for this one. It's a little odd, hence the spoiler tag. The entire plot is a misdirection...inside a misdirection inside a misdirection. The killer is not a psycho, but is doing it to fake out poisoning the city water supply. Which is actually another red herring for another scheme.
I'm not quite sure what to make of the odd triple red herring structure. I know it's annoyed some reviewers, but the misdirect is handled with complete dead-pan seriousness so that I can forgive Deaver for it. There's almost no foreshadowing, which I think is where it stumbles. Give us a little clue, at least.
If anything it feels like Deaver didn't quite have enough material to make a full novel, and the extra plots were patched in on a re-write. But it's still enjoyable enough for me to want to finish the book....more