“Divergent”—A Book Review

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“I am Divergent. And I can’t be controlled.”

 

Divergent by Veronica Roth: I finally got around to reading it! I wanted to wait until the third and final book was released before I started the series, and I’m glad I did. Fans of books like The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Matched by Ally Condie, and The Pledge by Kimberly Derting are sure enjoy this series.

Most of you have already read this book, or know what it is about, so I’m just going to give you a very brief summary:

Typical dystopian setting, people are crazy, so the area around Chicago has divided itself into five different factions. Each of these “factions” hold a characteristic to be most important: Dauntless=bravery, Erudite=brilliance,  Amity=peace, Candor=honesty, and Abnegation=selflessness. With each faction upholding a certain characteristic above all others, the societies can cohabitate. Or so is the theory.

Belonging to one of the factions is the most important thing. If you fail to become a functional member of one, you are kicked out and are forced to live a life of the factionless, roaming the boarders, belonging to no one.

 

“To live factionless is not just to live in poverty and discomfort; it is to live divorced from society, separated from the most important thing in life: community.”

 

Upon your 16th year in school, you are administered a test that tells you which faction you would function strongly in, and you are given the choice to stay in the faction you were born into, or pick another.

 

“Faction customs dictate even idle behavior and supersede individual preference.”

 

Beatrice “Tris” was born into Abnegation, but never quite got the hang of being selfless and quite. When her test results are inconclusive, she discovers that she is something rare—she is Divergent. This means that she holds too many strong characteristics to belong to just one faction. Warned that she must keep this a deep secret, or people may try to harm her, she chooses to become a member of the Dauntless community.

 

“Becoming fearless isn’t the point. That’s impossible. It’s learning how to control your fear, and how to be free from it, that’s the point.”

 

Tris quickly learns that people aren’t always what they seem. Everyone has a hidden secret. Can she keep her secret hidden, and can she make it through the Dauntless initiation alive?

 

“I am deeply suspicious of people in general. It is my nature to expect the worst of them.”

 

I give this face paced read four out of five stars. The characters were strong, the messages were clear, and the story was intriguing. The only reason I didn’t award it five stars, is because it almost feels like it’s been done before, just with a different setting and different names. I was seeing a cross between Vampire Academy combat training, The Hunger Games districts, and every other YA novel implication of “there is something special about you, main character.”

Looking forward to the movie and the next two books in the series 🙂

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“Arclight”—A Book Review

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Arclight by Josin L. McQuein was an interesting read. It definitely put a new spin on the post-apocalyptic genre.

In the future, very few humans remain. The small number of humans, that are still human, live within a compound surrounded by the Arclight. Anything beyond the Arclight means death. Light is safety. Light is life. The people in the compound live on a nocturnal schedule, doing normal activities at night, so they can be on high alert, ready to take action if necessary.

Then one day a girl comes out of the Dark, giving people a reason to hope again. Maybe there is a way for humans to regain their rightful place as the dominant species. In order to save Marina from the Dark and bring her into the light, several members of the compound had to sacrifice themselves, causing a lot of hostility from her new classmates (having lost a parent in her rescue).

“They died for the hope that a human coming though the Dark alive meant…something.”

Outside of the Arclight, living solely in the Dark, are creatures called the Fade. The humans must do all that they can to keep themselves safe from the Fade, holding on to everything they can that still enables them to identify with humanity. Living in a walled off compound, never being able to experience nature (for the Fade have claimed anything outside of the Arclight as theirs), or any part of the outside world is the most saddening part of this tale.

“The Fade took that from us. They stole the moon, and robbed us of the stars.”

Arclight contained an interesting lore on creatures I haven’t encountered yet. This aspect of the book I found pretty interesting, if not a little confusing at times. But I found the pace of the book to be a little slow and lack luster. The romance wasn’t pulse-pounding enough for me to care too much about the fate of the young lovers involved.

All in all, it was pretty interesting, just not outstanding. I give this YA book three out of five stars.

“The Maze Runner”—A Book Review *movie being filmed*

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The Maze Runner by James Dashner is a thrilling book fans of The Hunger Games are sure to enjoy.

Thomas wakes up in a steel elevator, having no memory, other than his name. He still knows basic skills and objects, but has no memory of having learned them or where he came from.

When the elevator stops, and the doors open, he finds himself face to face with a group of teenage boys. The place he arrived in is called “The Glades,” and it is run by this ragtag group of boys, each having a duty to perform. And just like Thomas, none of them have any memories from before they got there. They inform Thomas that every thirty days, a new boy is delivered, as are supplies needed for survival.

The Glades is a sort of camp, encased by a giant maze, alive with out-of-this-world mechanical creatures. Each night, the doors to the maze close, and each morning they open up again, so that the boys tasked as a “maze runner” can venture out and run the maze. These maze runners literally must run the entire time they are in the maze, to avoid being caught by one of its menacing creatures and killed. While in the maze, they must make maps, so that hopefully the boys will one day figure out how escape The Glades.

But something strange happens. The day after Thomas arrives, the elevator is back, twenty-nine days ahead of schedule. In it: a girl. No girl has ever entered The Glades. And even more disturbing: she is unconscious, frozen in a coma. And even more alarming still: the girl carries with her a message: “no more supplies or boys will be sent.”

The boys are now completely on their own, with no more mystery supplies and kids appearing through the elevator. The creatures in the maze are growing more ominous by the hour…and time is ticking.

This pulse pounding tale is sure to get your adrenaline flowing. I like to think of this book as “The Hunger Games, but at an all boy camp—with one comatose girl.”

Overall, I give this book four out of five stars.

Unfortunately, I didn’t like the sequel, The Scorch Trials as much as I liked the original, but I would still give it 3 ½ stars.
This series is definitely worth the read.

The Maze Runner movie is currently being filmed in my hometown, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and is announced to be released in 2014 🙂

“Across the Universe”—A Book Rant

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Across the Universe by Beth Revis is a horrible, and horribly boring, book. Maybe it’s just me (because I’m not much of a sci-fi person), but I just could not get into this story.

The beginning isn’t completely horrible, when they describe cryogenically freezing the main character, Amy, and her parents. They are putting them on a spaceship named Godspeed, where they will remain asleep on the 300 year journey it will take to “the new Earth.” This new planet is called Centauri-Earth.

However, something goes mysteriously and terribly wrong, when fifty years prior to reaching Centauri-Earth, cryo chamber 42 (Amy’s chamber) is unplugged and she wakes up early. Refreezing her would be risking death, therefore, Amy’s only hope at survival is to remain awake and live upon the spaceship.

Elder is being trained to be Godspeed’s new leader by Eldest, the current leader. Elder is a bit rebellious, and not completely content to follow the ways of the ship, like a good little soldier, without asking questions. Elder is also enraptured by Amy. She is the only teenager on Godspeed aside from Elder.

The rules that keep the ship running are completely utilitarian. Every person aboard the ship performs an exact function. They basically are mindless slaves, who farm to provide food for the ship. And they ALL look alike from years of breeding (and inbreeding) aboard the ship—this is also why Elder finds Amy fascinating…she has an actual hair and eye color.

The way the people on the ship live completely repulsed me…it was way worse than in other dystopian tales, such as Matched, The Hunger Games, and The Pledge. They are pretty much cattle. The breeding was the worse…when it becomes a generation’s “season,” they basically put Viagra in the water supply, causing everyone to hump like rabbits ALL OVER THE SHIP, with no regard, whatsoever, to modesty. They literally just mount each other and go at it in the middle of the road.

Of course there is a whole “unveiling” of a deeper plot, but whatever. I was totally disinterested by that point and didn’t even care.

And all of the reviews called the book completely romantic and spicy…completely FALSE. I don’t how I even made it all the way through this book. I give it one out of five stars.

Delirium Trilogy – A Book Review

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 The Delirium Triology (Delirium, Pandemonium, and Requiem) by Lauren Oliver is an excellent dystopian tale fans of The Hunger Games and Matched trilogies are sure to love.

In the future, love is considered a disease, known as amor deliria nervosa. According to the new bible (The Book of Shhh), the “disease” affects your mind so that you cannot think clearly, or make rational decisions about your own well-being.

The solution to keeping America safe from this horrible disease, known as love: The Cure. When citizens turn eighteen, they have a procedure done that will remove their ability to fall in love. This procedure leaves a three-prong mark behind the ear, so that others will know you are cured.

The downside of the cure (though some consider it an upside): not only is your ability to love removed, but other strong emotions disappear as well. The Cureds basically float through life in a zombiefied state. People for the cure argue that the cure allows you to think rationally, eliminating the irrational and haphazard emotions that love brings to the table.

Quoted from a cured person:

“We are not the evil ones. We are reasonable and compassionate. We stand for fairness, structure, and organization.” –Requiem

However, the cure doesn’t always work for everyone. And there are also many people who are part of The Resistance: those who don’t believe in the cure, and want the freedom to choose love. Most of the Uncureds have fled to The Wilds—the areas of the world outside of society’s boarder fences— living like animals, scavenging for food and shelter; but they are free. These people are known as “Invalids.”

Some of the Invalids have rallied together and infiltrated the society, sporting fake procedural marks under their ears. These emissaries, collect information, make fake documents, and plant false information within the cured society, in hopes that The Resistance can take back the control of the world.

Lena’s father died when she was young and the procedure didn’t work on her mother—she went crazy from the deliria and threw herself off a cliff. Thus, since early childhood, Lena has been under the care of her very strict, rule-abiding, aunt. Lena cannot wait to be cured and is counting down the days until her procedure. She is afraid she will go crazy like her mother and wants, more than anything, to be normal.

Then she meets Alex.

Alex shows her his procedural mark under his ear, showing Lena that he is safe to be around: he has been cured. As Lena starts to hang out with Alex, she finds herself drawn to him. He doesn’t act like the other Cureds…he seems to still have that life spark that leaves most people once they have had the procedure. And Alex doesn’t seem to want Lena to get the cure, loving her fire:

“Everyone is asleep. They’ve been asleep for years. You seemed…awake.” Alex is whispering now. He closes his eyes, opens them again. “I’m tired of sleeping.” –Alex

The closer Lena gets to Alex, the more afraid she becomes that she is susceptible to the disease. But she can’t love Alex and he can’t love her, he’s been cured…or has he?

Lena must decide if falling in love is worth the risk: leaving the protection of an unfeeling society behind and fleeing to The Wilds so she can be with the boy she loves.

“I’d rather die on my own terms than live on theirs. I’d rather die loving Alex than live without him.”—Lena

This compelling series will have your heart sprinting as you cheer for this young couple’s future together, and having you yelling out loud at the absurdity of the society’s rules. While the writing is a bit slow and tedious, the overall story totally makes up for the lackluster prose. I give the series four out of five stars!

“Under The Never Sky” – A Sizzling Dystopian Tale

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Imagine a world where the simple act of being outside can be lethal.

The setting = the future. Aether storms have become rampant, lighting up the sky with strange lightening that destroys all in its path.

The Solution = Pods; Dome houses built to be a self-contained way of community. Members of the Pods spread out across the world are known as Dwellers. How do Dwellers keep from going completely insane being sealed inside an indoor habitat? With a Smarteye; a small, flesh-colored, device that fits right over your eye, and places you in the virtual world of your choosing, known as Realms. Go for a stroll along the Thames River in London, meet your friends for gelato outside a café in Italy, go cliff diving off the cliffs of Mohr. And even better…you can feel all sensations while in the Realms, as if they were actually happening.

The downside to this way of living = people weren’t meant to be constrained and as a result, a few quite literally go “stir crazy” and lose their minds, along with all sense of reality. This is where the story begins…a young man (who just so happens to be the Consul’s son) leads Aria (a teenage girl, and a Dweller in the Pod named Reverie) into a restricted area of the Pod and starts a fire, burning the space down, and causing three human lives to be lost.

How does Aria escape death herself? A Savage (a being who lives outside of the Pods) just so happens to be snooping around Reverie, and saves her from the deranged Consul’s son, taking Aria’s Smarteye with him when he leaves. But of course, there are never any consequences for the authoritarian’s children, thus Aria is laden with the blame of the fire.

Aria’s punishment = Exile to The Death Shop (the wastelands outside of the Pods). Aria thinks she is simply being transferred to another Pod to be with her mother, but instead, she is kicked out of the Hover and dropped directly into the borderlands, where the Aether storms run unbridled and have no mercy.
And then there is Peregrine, known by most as Perry. He is a Savage, and the younger brother to the leader of a tribe known as The Tides. Where the Pods are 100% advanced, futuristic technology, The Death Shop is a leap in the opposite direction, resembling the days before such modern conveniences as electricity existed. The outside tribes battle against everything the Aether tries to destroy, hunting and fishing to stockpile goods for harsh winters.

On a hunting trip gone bad, a Dweller Hover appears by the shore and snatches up Perry’s young nephew Talon, and trying (but failing) to retrieve the pilfered Smarteye from Perry. Perry is racked with guilt over his nephew’s kidnapping (not the first kid to go missing among The Tides), and flees his tribe and compound out of shame, determined to rescue Talon.

Told in alternating points of view, Perry and Aria, two refugees, collide during an Aether storm and band together out of necessity—Aria has no knowledge of life outside the Pods and is desperate to find her mother, and Perry needs to get the Smarteye repaired so that Aria can use it to locate his stolen nephew.

On their expedition through the wastelands, Perry begins to learn that his hasty judgment in labeling Dwellers as inept may not apply to all. Aria repeatedly proves herself, determined to make it through The Death Shop and fix her Smarteye to help locate Talon in exchange for an escort to her mother’s Pod. Along the way, she begins to see the ruggedly handsome Perry in a new, less callous, light. And the fact that Perry is Marked as being gifted with a dominant sense, not only as a Seer, but also as a Scire (one who can sense temperaments), makes his and Aria’s journey all the more interesting.

If you loved The Hunger Games and crave the next greatest adventure, look no further. “Under The Never Sky” is a heart pounding, gut clinching, thrill ride, soaked in romantic suspense! READ IT! READ IT NOW!

“She’d survived the outside. She’d survived the Aether and cannibals and wolves. She knew how to love now, and how to let go. Whatever came next, she would survive it, too.”

***

And also, the sequel (“Through The Ever Night”) is just as amazing! I hate it when you get psyched about a series and the sequel comes up flat; it’s the worst kind of dissapointment for a booknerd. Alas, I am pleased to say, this is definitely not one of those times!