Taylor's writing is spectacular. She earns a 10 for the way she can put together words and phrases and images that are so unique and fresh and beautifTaylor's writing is spectacular. She earns a 10 for the way she can put together words and phrases and images that are so unique and fresh and beautiful that I couldn't help but pause and re-read certain passages over and over again. She has a GIFT and I am very jealous! That said, this story was also fun and unique, so rich and full of great, multilayered characters and creepy, colorful scenes....more
When it comes to dystopian novels, the stories I am drawn to are those that are close enough to reality to make me shiver at the prospect of probabiliWhen it comes to dystopian novels, the stories I am drawn to are those that are close enough to reality to make me shiver at the prospect of probability. The Hunger Games felt disturbingly plausible considering humanity's violent history combined with a morbid attraction to reality TV. Though I have enjoyed other dystopian novels, including Divergent (which is somewhat of an exception to this), I think the key element of probability is lacking in most dystopian novels. Although most dystopian imagined worlds are unique, creative, even thrilling; their detachment from any kind of reality often leaves me feeling cold.
Whither is different. It is one of those novels that takes your breath away for all the wrong (or right, I suppose) reasons. You are appalled and horrified at DeStefano's world, not only because of the pervasive dehumanization of females, but also (or mostly) because of the chilling familiarity to our not-so-distant past. Wither's world felt eerily similar to the way women were viewed and treated only a few hundred years ago in civilized countries, and even presently in places like the middle east and Africa. I couldn't help thinking I was reading a historical fiction novel about King Henry VIII and his wives, or even the more current "A Thousand Splendid Suns," it felt too disturbingly real.
The story takes place in a future world where modern science, in its attempt to create perfect humans, has doomed every newborn to die young—males live to age 25, and females to 20. While a cure is supposedly being sought after, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamy to keep the human race alive. Despite her twin brother's watchful eye, 16-year old Rhine is kidnapped and forced to wed a young man, not much older than herself. Though her new home is like a palace, where everything she could ever dream of is at her fingertips, the only thing she truly wants—freedom—is impossible to find.
DeStefano's writing is gorgeous, yet not flowery. The author probably had nothing to do with the cover, but kudos to Simon & Schuster for perfectly capturing the feel of this captivating, haunting, beautiful book. ...more
I loved the friendship-turned-romance in this book, and felt the juxtaposition between romance, suspense and creepy murder details was done really welI loved the friendship-turned-romance in this book, and felt the juxtaposition between romance, suspense and creepy murder details was done really well. Toward the end the romance got a little gushy for me, but other than that I totally dug the main characters....more
I've always been fascinated by the mathematic, scientific and astronomical achievements of ancient societies - whether it be Egyptians, Mayans or whomI've always been fascinated by the mathematic, scientific and astronomical achievements of ancient societies - whether it be Egyptians, Mayans or whomever. So, over the past couple of years as talk of the impending 2012 apocalypse has increased, I've been curious about the so-called Mayan calendar that predicts the end of the world on December 21, 2012.
This book is presented like a college course (because as the introduction explains, it is going to be a college course in fall of 2012 at Penn State), and because of that it was somewhat tedious and long-winded even though the book is only 132 pages. There were interesting sections, especially as the authors delve into the Christian conversion of the pagan natives of Mexico and Central America by the Spaniards in the 1500s. This helps to debunk the myth of the Mayans apocalyptic predictions basically because before the invasion of these Christians with their "hell & brimfire" beliefs, it appears that the Mayans' calendars were not so much trying to predict the end of the world, but rather predicting earth cycles. Thus, December 21, 2012 merely marks the end of a cycle and starts all over again the next day.
I think it makes sense. It is funny how easily people are persuaded to believe in just about anything they hear or read about without trying to educate themselves before jumping on the current bandwagon. However, I was bugged a little by the authors' dig at people of faith, as if all belief in anything Christian or religious otherwise, is just weird ignorance. "Belief offers an explanation without need for evidence" is a bothersome statement because I think science and faith go hand in hand. The world and the universe and the history behind it are so vast and complex that it's ignorant for any human to think they understand it completely. 'Proof' is really only found when we stop and look backward. History teaches us that humans assume to know everything at a moment in time. But that moment is always obscured by limited perspective. Things are always changing. The world and the universe is in a constant state of evolution. So are we. Because of that, it's easy to predict future events or to smugly turn our noses up at people who "believe" rather than demand proof. But I think we would all do better to embrace a little of both - to educate ourselves as much as possible while still recognizing that we know very little....more
As good as the Hunger Games, but completely fresh. Fast-paced, extremely well-written, and characters you want to root for. (The ending was how I thouAs good as the Hunger Games, but completely fresh. Fast-paced, extremely well-written, and characters you want to root for. (The ending was how I thought the final action sequence in Mockingjay should have gone). Sort-of a mix between The Hunger Games, The Matrix, and maybe Ender's Game? If you've been to Chicago, you may enjoy the setting even more— a dystopian city with recognizable skeletons of old landmarks, a screeching L-train rambling through the city, and a murky marsh for Lake Michigan.
The romance was believable and definitely took backseat to the action, though there was plenty of kissing by the end. Lately, it seems YA authors have been trying to write the "anti-Bella" heroine, but most of the time their attempts at illustrating tough independence is overpowered by sarcasm or snarkiness, and the effort feels forced. Not so in this case. Our heroine, Tris, slowly, realistically develops over the period of the book, and even when she recognizes the courage and bravery she is trying to find in herself, she still doesn't discount the other parts of her that are softer and maybe not so brave. It becomes a celebration of all character traits, one never at the expense of another.
Though it isn't a complaint, just a slight warning that the violence is somewhat heavy, but definitely not over the top by any means. Probably for older teens. This is my favorite YA book of 2011 so far....more
Beautiful story about hope and survival during the brutal Soviet Union occupation of the Baltic states during World War II. I have read so many accounBeautiful story about hope and survival during the brutal Soviet Union occupation of the Baltic states during World War II. I have read so many accounts of Japanese and German atrocities committed during WWII, without realizing the horrors endured by millions of people at the hands of Stalin. This account of human suffering is told through the voice of a fifteen year old girl, named Lina, who was taken in the night along with her family and sent to Siberia. Between Shades of Gray reminded me a lot of the book "The Endless Steppe," which is a true account of a similar experience, but not any less compelling. I especially loved the sweet, innocent love story in the midst of pain and suffering, reminding me that love has a way of healing almost anything. The author poignantly quotes Albert Camus at the end of the book: "In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer." Highly recommended, even if you felt like you've read enough of WWII sadness....more