“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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“The darkest minds tend to hide behind the most unlikely faces.”

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The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken was an exceptional YA read. This novel will keep your mind grasping at straws, and your eyeballs devouring the words on the page.

 A disease called IAAN has swept across America, killing children starting at the age of ten on through puberty. All of a sudden, young children are literally just dropping dead. But it’s not the dead kids the adults fear—it’s the kids who live. The kids that survive the disease have varying mind powers and, as always, grownups fear what they can’t explain. They have labeled the remaining kids as Psi and they are rounded up and shipped off to “rehabilitation camps.”

 

“Abilities. Powers that defied explanation, mental talents so freakish, doctors and scientists reclassified our entire generation as Psi. We were no longer human. Our brains broke that mold.”

 

These rehabilitation camps, however, are more like Jewish concentration camps. Kids are herded into a classifying colored group based on what ability they posses: Blue=telekinetic, Green=sorters, good at math, photographic memories, Yellow=control electricity, Red=fire, Orange=the most dangerous of all…the ability to enter and control your mind.  

Thus, our main Character Ruby was taken and placed in a camp the day after her tenth birthday. She is labeled as a Green, but she has a secret…she was wrongly sorted. The day of her tenth birthday, she did the unthinkable—she erased herself from her parents’ minds. It was an accident, and she didn’t know that she was doing it, but her parents freaked nonetheless when they woke up to a strange little girl in their house that they had no recollection of. And poor Ruby had no idea what she had done; but still, the PSF’s (Psi Special Forces) promptly came and took her away.

When Ruby manages to make the doctor at the camp sorting her believe that she is a Green, she gets placed with the other Green girls at camp. Eventually the Oranges, Yellows, and Reds disappear…they are too dangerous to have around, for not all Psi kids are good and innocent. There have been many incidents of Reds setting fires, Yellows blowing things up, and Oranges convincing the PSFs to open fire on their comrades.

 Ruby, like all of the other children of her generation hates her life, and wishes more than anything that it’s just one big nightmare—but knowing deep down that it isn’t. This is her life now. But, one day while slaving away in the fields of the “self-sufficient” camp Ruby works at, the Calm Control goes off (a sort of dog whistle white noise that only Psi kids can hear), but this time it’s painful effects are worse than usual, debilitating her completely.

With the help of an odd source, Ruby manages to escape and eventually ends up with a ragtag group of kids who have also managed to escape the confines of camp. There’s Zu, a mute eleven-year-old Yellow girl, Charles “Chubs”, a studious and very cynical Blue, and Liam, the kind-hearted leader, with the purest soul, also a Blue.

These four escapees are on a mission to find the Slip Kid, who is said to help other Psi kids get in touch with their parents (for not everyone’s parents flipped out and thought of their kids as monsters, wanting them sent far away from them). Sticking together, avoiding Skip Tracers (bounty-hunters, basically) and PSFs who will do anything to capture all kids and throw them into a camp, this team forms a special bond, slowly learning how to live again. And more importantly, to believe that living is actually worth the effort. That they are worth it.

 

“It doesn’t make you a bad person, you know—to want to live your own life.”

“My mom said once that education was a privilege not afforded to everyone, but she was wrong—it wasn’t a privilege. It was our right. We had the right to a future.”

“Maybe nothing will ever change for us,” he said. “But don’t you want to be around just in case it does?”

 

This tumultuous adventure will have you digging into your soul and questioning the basic rights of a human being—no matter how young or small—and analyzing the irrational behaviors fear can induce. What it must be like to be a young child and have your own parents, the people who are supposed to be there for you no matter what, look at you like you are some kind of monstrous creature. And even worse, to have to face the own darkening thoughts in your own head as a cast aside of not knowing how to control your powers: “They weren’t afraid of themselves; they weren’t crippled by the weight of what they didn’t know.”

This harrowing story receives five out of five stars from me! The sequel, The Never Fade is set to be released in late October, and I cannot wait!

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!

“The Casual Vacancy”—A Book Rant

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Just like millions of Harry Potter fans out there, I could not WAIT for J.K. Rowling’s new book, The Casual Vacancy. And let me tell you, I was totally not prepared for the complete and total letdown of this novel. Holy Balls, it was HORRIBLE!!!

 Absolutely NOTHING HAPPENS in this book! I swear there was no plot. It was merely 503 pages of boringness. And I did finish it, I swear…I kept hoping it would have a killer ending that would redeem the rest of the story, but NO, it didn’t. The ending was just as anticlimactic and lackluster as the rest of the tome.

Also, I feel like J.K. Rowling was on a mission to prove that she could do something other than “squeaky clean,” and went out of her way to use profanity and shocking sexual imagery. Some of the narrative descriptions in this volume had me crossing my legs…it was that crass and revolting. I get it J.K, you can use the “F Bomb.” Congratulations. But next time, let’s trying using it in a meaningful way to accentuate the plot and help the story to progress. Not just dropping it wherever, just because you can. (And this is coming from someone who cusses like a sailor.)

The supposed “plot” of this novel:

In the small English town of Pagford, Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly, leaving a seat open on the town’s council. This happens at the very start of the tale. The rest of the book is about several different people and families in this small town and how this open seat on the council (and the town in general) affects their lives. This story literally follows about twenty different around and basically eavesdrops on their mundane lives. That’s it. The whole story.

Besides the fact that there are way too many characters to keep up with, everyone’s life is completely dull and uneventful. Not to mention the fact that pretty much every character was an utterly horrible person. I get it; I know that most people are not inherently “good,” and everyone has skeletons in their closet, but the way this story was written, I didn’t even remotely feel anything for these characters. They were all selfish and ignorant and I wanted to punch every single one of them in the face. And I’m not a violent person. I wanted to like this book, I really did, but WOW, such an epic fail.

In an interview with BBC, 26 September 2012, News Entertainment & Arts, Rowling says, “I don’t mean this in an arrogant way but I did not sit down to write this novel thinking “got to prove”. I had nothing to prove.”

To me, this basically translates to, I’m super rich and I can write whatever the f*ck I want, because I’m J.K. F*cking Rowling and people will buy my books. Period.

 

My advice…DO NOT READ THIS BOOK! I give it one out of five stars. And that’s being generous.

 

People

“A vivid read with great, memorable characters and a truly emotional payoff….Rowling captures the humanity in everyone.”

^ All I have to say about this review is, “False.”