Sunday, January 22, 2012

Review: Divergent

Let me start out with saying that I absolutely LOVED this book! After seeing so many new dystopian books pop up on shelves and after reading the excerpt from this book I was a little worried that it might be a little to much like The Hunger Games or that because it was so well reviewed I might be end up being disappointed. Thankfully I was not disappointed and Divergent was as good as others had stated in their reviews. Divergent, while somewhat like The Hunger Games in the sense that it was a dystopian and that they both had strong female leads was in all other ways completely different from each other. With a strong main character and an enticing dystopian world Divergent had me hooked by page one!
Debut author Veronica Roth has a wonderful writing style that starts the story off at an amazing pace. Readers will not be able to put the book down because they will be dying to know what happens next.  In the compelling world of Divergent, society is divided into five factions each dedicated to something different.  Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Erudite (the intelligent), and Amity (the peaceful).  Certain days, each year, all 16 year-olds must choose the faction in which they would prefer to be in for the rest of there lives.  Once the character chooses they must then pass initiation to remain in the faction. The main character of Divergent, Beatrice, or Tris as we get to know her as, has to make a decision between her family or the faction she thinks she truly belongs in.  Her choice might shock you because Tris is different, Tris is Divergent.
I did not particularly like Tris at first, although I love her name!  I thought she seemed a little shallow and that she seemed to not have self confidence; she did not believe in herself.  The more I read the more I started to realize that Tris was not like that at all and the only reason that she appeared to be that way in the first place was because of her placement in the faction of Abnegation, the selfless. The more I got to know her the more I liked her. She was tough and brave and she didn’t let what others thought of her bring her down. I admired how she made her own choices and that those choices were not based on what everyone else was doing but what she believed was right. It was interesting to watch her grow as a character throughout the book and to see all the things she learned about herself and the world she lived in. Though the world building in this story is amazing, I think its the characters similar to Tris that really make you fall in love with this book.
Four is Tris’ love interest in Divergent, and he is now on my list of favorite fictional guys.  Let me just gush for a minute on how much I loved his and Tris’ relationship!  The relationship that develops between the two of them throughout the book is so realistic and honest.  Four had an amazing, yet conflicted personality.  He was completely closed off from almost everyone and kept a close reign on his emotions, but there were those rare times when he let his vulnerable side show which let the reader and Tris get to know him better.  Four pushed Tris when she almost gave up and he was a great teacher helping Tris train for initiation. The relationship was not overly sappy, but it was still swoon worthy and amazing.
Even though Four was an amazing character, there were others that helped make the story just as great. All the characters somehow contributed to Tris’ success  or downfalls. Some helped make her stronger by trying to make her life harder. During initiation some even tried to kill her, but Tris made friends that helped to protect her.
If there was one thing I that I did not enjoy about this book it would have to be the ending. I felt it was awkward and incomplete. There seemed to be more that could have been added to it. In most books that have sequels the authors leave the readers with a cliffhanger, but in Divergent the ending does not feel like a cliffhanger. The way the book ended did not necessarily make me want to read the next book. I want to know what happens to the characters and that is what is made me excited to read the sequel.
Divergent is such an amazing book and I would recommend it to any reader who loves action and a little bit of romance. Readers will stay up all night reading this book dying to know what happens next. I cannot wait to see what happens in the sequel Insurgent which comes out in May. If you haven’t read Divergent yet go right on to your public library or local bookstore and read this amazing debut novel!  Looking forward to other great works from Veronica Roth.

My rating for Divergent is 5 out of 5 palm trees

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Review: What Happened to Goodbye?

I usually love to read science-fiction and action books and so the time had come for me to add a little variety and switch genre's for one read. That is when I turned to What Happened to Goodbye? by Sarah Dessen which is one of  those books that may not be so action-packed but is still wonderful all the same.
I speak from experience as a teenage girl, Sarah Dessen's books are easy to relate to. What teenage girl at some point doesn’t want to just start all over again and become someone new, someone different? Enter Mclean Sweet, the main character of What Happened to Goodbye?, also known as Eliza, Lizbet, Beth, and Liz. Her parents are divorced and she lives with her dad who relocates frequently. Trying to escape her past, everywhere she goes Mclean changes her personality first from perky girl, to drama queen, finally to all around joiner. But, when she arrives in Lakeview everything changes. Mclean is forced to somewhat be herself again.  Almost everyone one at some point in their life wants to change who they are or start over
One thing that has impressed me with Sarah Dessen’s books is just how real her stories seem and how easy it is to relate to all her characters. The stories she tells deal with a lot of problems that teens face everyday and some that I can relate to in my daily life.  We all have troubles with our families, our friends, boys, and you don’t find many writers who really write about such real problems, but it is something I love about Sarah Dessen’s books.
In the last Sarah Dessen book I read Just Listen, one of my favorite aspects of the book was the characters. I loved their unique personalities, how well they interacted with one another, and how the author makes them come to life. How you can find characters in the stories that are just like people you know in your real life. In this book that is also one of the many things that I really enjoyed about reading it. I love how each and every one of the characters has a completely different personality yet they all mesh together perfectly. Mclean for example, has one of those personalities that others can’t help but connect with and she instantly starts making friendships the minute she gets to Lakeview. She creates relationships with all that she meets, even those that might not fit in, which is one thing I love about her character. While I loved almost all the characters there were a few that stood out besides Mclean. One character I really enjoyed reading about was Deb, one of the girls in the story that Mclean becomes close friends with. Even though at the beginning Deb, was a little out of the circle and shy once we got to know her I loved her sparky and happy personality that made me want to become friends with her myself. Dave was also a character that stood out to me from the beginning and while I liked how he was different from some of the other guys I have read about in Dessen’s books I didn’t fall for him like I did some of the others. Dave just didn’t connect with me like I thought he would. To me, there was just nothing special about Dave. He seemed to have no flaws and he was just to perfect, just like out of a book. The other guys I have read about from her books just seem more real to me in the way that they have flaws and have feelings  and I could picture them in being real, but Dave being so flawless just doesn’t fit in this unperfect world.  Seeing as he was different I thought I would have some kind of connection with his character, but even now as I think about it I feel as if I didn’t get to know enough about Dave to truly make an assessment on his character.
I loved many things about What Happened to Goodbye?, but one thing that disappointed me in this book was the lack of connection/romance between Mclean and Dave. Maybe, this book was intended to be more focused on the family aspect instead the sweet and romantic aspect, but even so I felt like Mclean and Dave had so much potential as a couple that could have been elaborated on. I wanted to enjoy reading about Mclean and Dave so much that I would jealous of Mclean, but because I never really felt there relationship click, that didn’t happen.
I enjoyed this book thoroughly. Although I would not consider this book my favorite of Sarah Dessen’s I did think it was a good read and even if one is not a contemporary or realistic fiction fan I think anyone could enjoy reading this meaningful,light hearted book.

My rating for What Happened to Goodbye? is 3.5 out of 5 palm trees

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Review: Trickster's Queen

Starting out, I didn’t exactly have super high expectations about this book. While the first book, Trickster’s Choice was a good read it wasn’t as action packed as I had thought and hoped. Trickster’s Queen was completely different than its prequel drawing me into the story by page one!
Usually when reading a sequel to a book, the reader finds the first one much more enjoyable, but with these two book this is not the case.  As Aly’s adventure continues she is faced with new challenges and all kinds of adventures.  Between spying on the palace and protecting the future queen Aly has her hands full.   Besides the exciting action with the rebellion we are drawn deeper into Aly’s relationships with the other characters and we get to know them and Aly just a little bit better, allowing us to find more things in common with the characters.  Some of these people are the spies that she has trained to help her and others are leaders in the rebellion that she has grown fond of and become partners with. While in Trickster’s Choice we didn’t get to see Aly interact a lot with others, in this book we get to see her fight, strategize, and love which shows us a lot more of Aly that we had not seen before.
As Aly grows as a character throughout the book she also learns things about herself and her companions that she thought she never would. While, at times, her confidence is a good thing at some points in the book Aly grows too confident in herself and makes mistakes, making her easy to relate to as a character.    When reading if I realize that the character has no flaws and is perfect it ultimately turns my interest level down. I think most readers are like me and enjoy reading about main characters that have flaws and sometimes make mistakes.   We like to know that they are human like we are and that even the amazingly brave and wonderful characters we read about in book are not without flaw.
Not to give any part of the story away, but Aly learns that sometimes people need to split up for a little while to figure what they want, and sometimes people need to leave permanently to achieve what they had always wished for, and that the people we put on thrones or on pedestals don’t necessarily want to be there.
In the end, I thought this was a great read! It captured me in and I was able to relate so much more to the characters. I was glad that I was able to finish Aly’s adventure and that I could experience the journey alongside Aly and all the other characters we met along the way.

My rating for Trickster's Queen is 5 out of 5 palm trees