Monthly Archives: April 2014

Book Review: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

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The war has come to the factions in the second Divergent book by Veronica Roth, called Insurgent and a lot more is going to be put to test than Four’s and Tris’ evolving relationship. In a dystopic society where you are catagorised by factions which in themselves include some sort of faction rivalry, it is always said, faction before blood and Tris finds this out the hard way. In Roth’s second book to the three part sequel of the Divergent series, Tris is starting to find out a lot of things the hard way and things aren’t always what they seem when it comes to finding out the truth, whether it be what instigated the war to who you can really trust.

Caught up in other people’s family dramas and her own when faced with working with her brother Caleb, her only surviving family member. Things will take a rollarcoaster adventure both physically and emotionally as Roth writes a surprisingly gripping experience that leaves the writer actually wanting more throughout unlike the initial book, but doesn’t deliver on a sound ending.

Unlike the first book to this series, Insurgent has that flame to it which Divergent failed to light. In Divergent, I felt the introduction to it was slow and rather confusing at times. Taking on the perspective of the first person, tends to have that effect on readers especially if you’re not aware of the prerequisite dystopic themes that is heavily surveyed  on the back of the book. Insurgent’s plot could be why the introduction was so quick paced because the reader left off from Divergent’s ending. Though, the reason why I liked Insurgent more was because there were several well done climaxes to it and there was a fire that was metaphorically lit to keep the reader wanting to more, where as, Divergent failed to deliver on that.

I couldn’t put this book down, because for a Young Adult book, it was really well done and considering how much the whole dystopic genre has been popularised since Hunger Games came to our screens amongst young adults, I usually like to avoid where possible. But Insurgent delivered but what’s stopping me from giving it a full five out five stars, is the ending. I don’t know why, but Divergent left me not wanting more by the time the ending came around. It was this huge expected climax at the end, more than just Tori getting revenge and Tris struggling to stop her friend, I would have liked to see a little bit more adventure and more evenly spaced out at the ending. So I’ll give it a four out five, just because I was reading this until 2 am at some points of this book.

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Book Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

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In a world set in the genetically modified future, you have one hard decision to make in your entire life time and that could pave the way for fortunate, or unfortunate things for you. Abnegation, Candor, Erudite, Amity or Dauntless are the factions Beatrice, the protagonist, is faced with to choose from. But no one ever mentioned Divergent as being a faction to her. Veronica Roth, has created this futuristic novel, Divergent, that follows the life of young Beatrice, (who then later gets known as Tris later in the book) and her adventures in the quick and cunning faction of Dauntless.

Being the youngest of her selfless Abnegation family, Beatrice has set herself up for some adventure. The initiation process is tough and grueling, both mentally and physically, but on the lighter side of things, she meets some friends and of course, foes, along the way. But what is ahead for everyone in the Dauntless faction, no one saw coming. She must separate friends from foes as she finds out on more than one occasion, that sometimes you have to be selfless in order to be brave.

This book sets the initial foundations for the Divergent trilogy of books, which has recently been made into a motion picture which was firstly published in 2011 (I was reading a 2013 edition). Using the first person narrative, Roth plunges the reader head fist into the deep end immediately, which can be confusing at times and it’s up to the reader to try and piece things together. Initially, I was unsure of Roth’s technique to immediately put the reader in the deep end, but as I read on, the technique was somewhat justified. On the terms of character development between Beatrice and other characters, it’s a rickety edge on some characters and I would have liked to see more of a development between Beatrice and her parents in the first few chapters. But in having said that, I liked the cautionary approach to the relationship between Beatrice and Four.

Be aware mature adult readers, that this book is designed for a teenager audience and you may be used to more of an extensive and diverse plot, but Divergent will not be for you if you set your expectations too high. In having said that, coming from a literary point of view, it has had a few good climaxes in the plot, but they weren’t consist and they weren’t maintained. For an example, the ending of the book was a huge let down and I expected it to want me to immediately pick up the next book in the series. It hasn’t done that. It’s got a spark, but there’s no raging fire and it’s ultimately lacking something that I cannot put my finger on. I would recommend it to any of my teenager friends but not to my adult ones as I suspect they would display sincere frustration at the plot holes, and I would give it a 3 out of 5 stars.


Book Review: Learning Not to Drown by Anna Shinoda

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Everybody has skeletons; but some skeletons shouldn’t always remain hidden away in the closet. Skeletons we don’t want to face or we dread to see the day they show themselves, but they always end up coming out. Debut novelist Anna Shinoda has presented the literary world her first Young Adult book, and she has also confronted several hard issues. Ten years in the making, Learning Not to Drown, was released to the public on April 1st 2014. Clare, the main protagonist and the story teller in this book, confronts her skeletons in this confronting novel about what happens when those skeletons have been kept locked for too long.

Clare has always loved her brother Luke, always loved him for being the bigger brother who looked out for his little sister and fended off the bullies. But he hasn’t always been there for her and despite having his darker side blanketed by parents that loved him no matter what, she is about to find out what her family’s skeleton has been hiding.

Luke is a known trouble maker, and is out of jail. But how long can he keep his illegal activities away from his beloved little sister? When Clare finds out about what he has been up to, she is faced with some heavy decisions. Decisions her parents, do not approve of and she will be left in a tangled web of lies, hard choices to make, and secrets.

Anna Shinoda, the author, takes on a challenge to wrap the reader’s heart in her hands and to take the reader on a rollarcoster filled with emotions. A challenge that has been completed with a raging success. The novel she has produced is somewhat very emotional, set to make the reader think, and to think hard about the emotions Clare goes through in this book. Adapting the first narrative technique, you walk with Clare every step of the way, and this contributes to the intensity of what Clare is feeling. The character development of Clare herself, and the relationships she holds with her family and her friends, they were developed well that the reader doesn’t feel overwhelmed with so much information at once, but the reader is still left wanting more of it and Shinoda delivers.

This has been quite a challenge for Shinoda personally, to write this book, and it is difficult to pinpoint and specify all them, but this novel that has set her writing career in unbreakable foundations among many people that can relate to Clare (including Shinoda) has shone through. To tackle such issues like a family member enduring jail time, lies, secrets, and trying to break free of poisonous relationships, I think that takes a lot of courage, especially when you have a debut novel that you can strongly relate to. The composition is great and it flows smoothly throughout.

I’m an avid Young Adult lover personally when it comes to my book shelf/shelves (more like it), but I think Clare and Shinoda have really broke the surface when it comes to a great Young Adult read. It’s lived up to other reviews that I have read, that it’s indeed raw, gritty and down to the bone. It’s a book that captures the reader’s attention immediately and holds your attention through out. I would easily give this book a five out of five star rating and I would recommend it to anyone.


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