Sunday, 27 September 2015

Review: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Name: Insurgent
Author: Veronica Roth
Publisher: Harper Collins
Date published: 2012
Rating: 4/5

One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.
Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.
- From Goodreads.

Despite any flaws Insurgent may have had (and it really didn't have many), I found I couldn't stop reading it. I just kept turning the pages because I was so interested in it. It was pretty addictive and I ended up reading it all in one day.
I thought it was a good sequel to and a good continuation of the first book in the series, and it wasn't too dull, like some middle books are in trilogies, with not much going on, only filling the space between the first and third books. This wasn't like that, not too much anyway, and it had everything I liked about the first book, the fascinating world and characters, the imagination behind it, and it managed to keep going at the same pace.
It left me really looking forward to reading the next, and final, book to find out how it all ends. The Divergent series is a very exciting one, that can't be denied.

Add the book on Goodreads | Author's website

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Name: Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth
Publisher: Harper Collins
Date published: 2012
Rating: 4/5
Spoiler warning: Moderate

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

- From Goodreads.

At the beginning of Divergent, I couldn't really relate to the Dauntless at all, I couldn't understand them, and then I realised that I didn't really like the way they and some of the other factions worked. Then I realised that maybe that was how I was supposed to feel, because, while some members of Dauntless understood the real values of the faction ("I believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another"), they were then punished for that, and it was clearly a corrupt faction, just as Erudite was discovered to be, and maybe even just as the whole faction system was. I thought it was clever how you came to realise these facts over time while reading the book.
The story included some really interesting ideas, of the future, of a dystopian society, with the factions, the relationships between them, down to the characters themselves. All of these ideas were well thought out and consequently quite interesting. It was clear that a lot of thought and effort had gone into creating the world of Divergent, and that left me intrigued to know more about it.

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Sunday, 13 September 2015

Review: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

Name: Will Grayson, Will Grayson
Authors: John Green and David Levithan
Publisher: Penguin
Date published: 2013
Rating: 4/5 (actually more like a 4.5 out of 5, but Goodreads doesn't do ratings by halves, so I suppose that I won't either).
One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two strangers cross paths. Two teens with the same name, running in two very different circles, suddenly find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, culminating in heroic turns-of-heart and the most epic musical ever to grace the high-school stage.
- From Goodreads.

In Will Grayson, Will Grayson, I thought that there was a really interesting dynamic between the two Will Graysons (Grayson's?). They were two very different people who still managed to understand each other despite their differences. I liked the symmetry of the fact that they only met twice; the first time towards the beginning, on the night that sort of put everything into motion (I don't want to say the night when everything changed, or the night that started it all, or anything else like that, because it doesn't start everything, because some things have already started and you can never really say exactly when something starts, and it wasn't when everything changed because some things were already changing and some things didn't change - but I digress), and for the second time on the night of the play, where the book ends. I don't really know why, but that kind of symmetry is really quite satisfying (and now that I've spent half of the review blathering on about symmetry and other nonsensical things, let's move on to the next point).
Despite the fact that, I suppose, this book could be called a romantic comedy (or a comedic romance?) (although calling it that would very much simplify everything and would actually really not be a great summary), it wasn't an easy read, in that it challenged you a little, mostly with the cat thing (I'm not a great philosopher), but also with other stuff, for example, in dealing with issues of sexuality, body image, and depression (which it dealt with in a good manner, I thought).
Finally, I would also like to note that I would have thought that David Levithan's Will Grayson's complete lack of correct capitalisation anywhere at all in his sentences would have really annoyed and frustrated me, and maybe it did at first, but eventually I got used to it, and actually ended up sort of forgetting it by the time the book had finished, so I think that must be a plus point.

Add the book on Goodreads | John Green's website | David Levithan's website

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Review: Love, Rosie by Cecelia Ahern

Name: Love, Rosie
Author: Cecelia Ahern
Publisher: Harper
Date published: 2014
Rating: 5/5
Best friends since forever, Rosie and Alex have shared their hopes, dreams - and firsts. But one awkward moment at eighteen, one missed opportunity, and life sends them hurtling in different directions. Although they stay in touch, misunderstandings, circumstances and sheer bad luck seem to be conspiring to keep them apart. Can they gamble everything - even their friendship - on true love?
- From Goodreads.

One of my greatest weaknesses is stories of romance, or, even better, stories of romance and comedy (Love Actually? Notting Hill? Four Weddings and a Funeral? Yes, please), and Love, Rosie has both, and a brilliant combination of both, at that.
The fact that the story takes you over a lifetime, rather than just looking at a year or so in the character's life, really means you can take the time to get to know all the characters and become attached to them, to understand them, to really feel like you've spent time with them. Consequently, the more emotional parts of the story really get to you, really make you feel the happiness, sadness and everything else.
I felt like you really get to know the places in the story, as well as the characters, especially Ireland. You get a real feel for exploring the world, with all the travelling the characters do. I really like it when you can travel the world through reading books and this book definitely has elements of that which add to its enjoyment, and there is definitely a lot to enjoy about Love, Rosie.

Add the book on Goodreads | Author's website