Novel Review: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

I was pretty excited when Insurgent by Veronica Roth came out. Divergent reminded me of Hunger Games in so many ways (see review here), and I could hardly wait for the sequel. When this book came in the mail, my daughter and I debated who would read it first. Since I was in the middle of a book, she got it. 🙂 At last my turn came. I hopped in, full of eager anticipation. So the blurb!

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.

“New York Times” bestselling author Veronica Roth’s much-anticipated second book of the dystopian “Divergent” series is another intoxicating thrill ride of a story, rich with hallmark twists, heartbreaks, romance, and powerful insights about human nature.

Available at Barnes & Nobles || The Book Depository

Hmmm…. I guess I’m a bit shocked. I am beyond astonished I didn’t like it nearly as much as Divergent.

I’m really not sure what happened to this book. It’s like the manuscript came back from beta readers with LOTS of suggested changes. Then the changes were made, but no one read through it to make sure everything made sense in the end.

For example, [View Spoiler]

Anyway, the entire book is filled with plot holes and inconsistencies. The Erudite are supposed to be geniuses, or at least logical, but they spend more time asking questions everyone knows the answer to than applying their logic to important tasks… like not letting people with questionable loyalties guard Tris.

Character analysis. I was so not fond of Tris this time around. She was so intent on killing herself, I’m not sure why she didn’t run back to the Dauntless compound and throw herself into the pit. It certainly would have been more effective than risking her life, so others felt obligated to save her and risk getting killed themselves.

Even my beloved Caleb fell through. There was a point I was so proud of him. I thought, now here’s a hero. Resourceful, dedicated, and level headed. Then I found that Caleb was just a simulation in Tris’s head. Talk about your major bummers. He turned out to be the biggest liar of all. And Tris continued to fawn over him until the end. I would have kicked his butt to the curb and never looked back. “To the left, to the left. Everything in the box to the left.”

The ending. I hit it and found it terribly anticlimactic. I think it was meant to be a cliffhanger… end in a way to make me eagerly anticipate the next in the series. But when I hit the big reveal, it was more with a shrug and an “oh.”

This book had so much potential to be good. Unfortunately, it dragged and most of the real story didn’t start until the last 100 pages.

So how did I come up with this rating. Despite my many complaints while reading Insurgent, I clung to a three star rating. I kept telling myself, this had to be at least three stars. After all, Divergent was pretty decent. Every time I hit one of those plot inconsistencies, which were many, many, my rating plunged to 2 stars. Then I’d read on and convince myself Insurgent would pull out of the slump… we had to make it to three stars. Then another plot hole would hit a page later.

I truly wanted to give this 3 stars, but this book was so poorly executed, it seemed dishonest to give it anything more than 2 stars. When I looked through other books which have earned 2 stars from me, this one didn’t even rank that high. I’m totally bummed and feel awful this book wasn’t better. I wish there was a way to take this book off the market and put it through a developmental editor before rereleasing it. Cut the filler, fix the plot screw ups, and make Tris more like the survival Tris in Divergent. This might inch its way to a 1.5-star read, but I hesitate to even go that far.

As it is, I don’t see myself purchasing the next book in this series. I feel like something went horribly wrong, and the people the author should have been able to trust to tell her the truth fell through. I read Divergent and know the author can do better. I’m just not willing to bet my money (or time) on more of the same I got from Insurgent.

I am Candor, hear my truth!

Novel Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

I first saw the cover of Divergent by Veronica Roth MONTHS ago and loved. I’m typically not a sucker for covers these days. I’ve found the promise on the front often doesn’t match the crap on the inside, while books I’d normally pass over because the cover (The Hunger Games and Mind Games), I absolutely loved. Well, I let myself get drawn into this one, but only because the reviews were so wonderful. 🙂 Before we get into whether the book lived up to the cover, how about the blurb from Goodreads:

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, 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 to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating 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 a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

So I hopped into this book and my first thoughts were this is rather telly. I have to admit, I was a bit worried. However, the idea of the different factions piqued my curiosity. My worries didn’t last long, because the story line kept me engrossed to the very end. This mammoth of a book (nearly 500 pages) took me all of two days to finish. I’m an avid reader, but I’m no speed reader. But it was good enough I devoured it. Rawr!

One of the aspects I loved about Divergent was the characters… they were all human. And I don’t mean human as in not the shape-shifters I so love, but rather human as in flawed. Not one person in the novel was invincible. Though it’s generally unheard of the heroine to meet her demise, even Tris had vulnerabilities which made her susceptible to a quick end. She certainly had her fair share of injuries. So Tris had her physical weaknesses, but mentally she was a tiger. At times she was even overconfident. I could relate to her.

As for the story line, it often reminded me of The Hunger Games. The stakes weren’t nearly as high–there can be only one–but that’s not saying much considering the outcome for the characters who didn’t meet their goals. Looking at my notes, I made a few predictions. All but one came to be true. 🙂 I’m still holding out for the last prediction which might occur in a sequel. That’s not saying the story was predictable… just a few character aspects.

Back to the book living up to the expectations of the cover art. I’ll say yes and no. The book was great. I loved it! However, when I found out the meaning of the symbol, I was a bit disappointed at the one dimensional aspect of it. Still wicked looking cool though. If you enjoyed The Hunger Games, I say give Divergent a try. Lots of entertainment to be had.

I had a couple of passages I loved. And now I’m sharing them with you. 🙂

  • I don’t understand why, but I don’t want Eric to look at me any longer than he already has. I don’t want him to look at me ever again.
  • “What is the point in providing food and shelter for an animal that just soils your furniture, makes your home smell bad, and ultimately dies?” ***OMG! I so get this. I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m totally not an animal lover. But I married a husband who owns a dog. I want the best for this dog for my husband’s sake… but really, I can’t stand the thing. He stinks… and I’m not just talking about the typical dog odor… I’m talking about old gym sock stink because he needs to be bathed more often than my husband thinks. When I became the alpha female of the house, I ruled no dogs on the furniture. The rule holds up when someone’s in the house, but when we leave, it’s on. This weekend we came home and the filthy beast had ripped a hole in my loveseat. GRRRR Thanks for listening.

So I was thinking about which faction I’d fit into best. My ex-husband once told me that I didn’t care enough to lie. I wouldn’t say that. I do care, a lot. I just think lying is more hassle than it’s worth. HOWEVER, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to say less about things I dislike… sometimes. 🙂 But I swear it’s like having Tourettes and trying to hold back a twitch. Eventually, the truth builds up and explodes out of me. So I’m going to say Candor would welcome me with open arms.

What faction would you be?

You can find Divergent by Veronica Roth at:

The Book Depository

Barnes & Nobles

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, 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 to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating 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 a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

 

Sunday Showcase #5

Okay… this week I got a little greedy at the NetGalley. I’m going to make good on them though. They’re all at the top of my reading list. I’m starting to get the hang of this NetGalley thing. I’ve learned not all copies are available for the Kindle, so I’ve been declining those that would require me to sit in front of the computer to read. Before my Kindle I would have read a galley copy with little complaint. With so many books available to read on my Kindle, constraining myself to a computer screen seems a bit pointless. Enough blab about convenience… on to my weekly grabs.

Life hasn’t been easy on sixteen-year-old Emma Conner, so a new start in New York may be just the change she needs. But the posh Upper East Side prep school she has to attend? Not so much. Friendly faces are few and far between, except for one that she’s irresistibly drawn to—Brendan Salinger, the guy with the rock-star good looks and the richest kid in school, who might just be her very own white knight.

But even when Brendan inexplicably turns cold, Emma can’t stop staring. Ever since she laid eyes on him, strange things have been happening. Streetlamps go out wherever she walks, and Emma’s been having the oddest dreams: visions of herself in past lives—visions that warn her to stay away from Brendan. Or else.

Why I picked it up: The cover caught my attention because I think I might have seen this posted on someone’s blog. I read the blurb and thought… maybe. I figured I’d give it a try. This one I received from the NetGalley.

Available at: The Book Depository, Barnes & Nobles

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, 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 to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating 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 a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

Why I picked it up: I’ve been seeing this cover for months and months now and love it. I’ve just got into the young adult genre last year and have developed a fondness for dystopia. It doesn’t hurt others have been raving about this one. Well, my copy finally came in this past week. It took me two days to read it. Let’s just say I enjoyed it. Though it’s early yet and the post won’t go live until June 6, 2011, here’s the review link for those who visit in the future.

Available at: The Book Depository, Barnes & Nobles

It is 1968. Lynnie, a young white woman with a developmental disability, and Homan, an African American deaf man, are locked away in an institution, the School for the Incurable and Feebleminded, and have been left to languish, forgotten. Deeply in love, they escape, and find refuge in the farmhouse of Martha, a retired schoolteacher and widow. But the couple is not alone-Lynnie has just given birth to a baby girl. When the authorities catch up to them that same night, Homan escapes into the darkness, and Lynnie is caught. But before she is forced back into the institution, she whispers two words to Martha: “Hide her.” And so begins the 40-year epic journey of Lynnie, Homan, Martha, and baby Julia-lives divided by seemingly insurmountable obstacles, yet drawn together by a secret pact and extraordinary love.

Why I picked it up: I saw this advertised on Goodreads and clicked on the link for  more information. I’m a little up in the air about this one. Though the story sounds intriguing, I’m a bit skeptical about a novel spanning 40 years. How does one squeeze so much in a tiny little work? 🙂 Still, I’m going to give it a try. In fact, I’m starting it tonight. Who knows? I might be pleasantly surprised. I found this offered on the NetGalley and was approved for it. Thanks again NetGalley.

Available at: The Book Depository, Barnes & Nobles

“Once upon a time there was a girl who was special. This is not her story. Unless you count the part where I killed her.”

Sixteen-year-old Alison wakes up in a mental institution. As she pieces her memory back together, she realizes she’s confessed to murdering Tori Beaugrand, the most perfect girl at school. But the case is a mystery. Tori’s body has not been found, and Alison can’t explain what happened. One minute she was fighting with Tori. The next moment Tori disintegrated—into nothing.

But that’s impossible. No one is capable of making someone vanish. Right? Alison must be losing her mind—like her mother always feared she would.

For years Alison has tried to keep her weird sensory abilities a secret. No one ever understood—until a mysterious visiting scientist takes an interest in Alison’s case. Suddenly, Alison discovers that the world is wrong about her—and that she’s capable of far more than anyone else would believe.

Why I picked it up: Okay, this is just weird. I really don’t know what to expect from this one. Curiosity about what’s going on with Alison and her abilities has me intrigued. I don’t think this is available yet, but you can preorder it. Another NetGalley copy.

Available at: The Book Depository, Barnes & Nobles

By all accounts, Jake Daniels should have died when his SUV collided head-on with a moving truck. Now the vision of the mysterious woman who saved his life is consuming his every thought. A formerly nonreligious person, Jake becomes obsessed with learning more about angels, near-death experiences and spirituality. He leaves his fiancĂ©e and art career on hold to travel the country searching for the mystery woman, who he believes is an angel. As he’s drawn into a series of earth-shattering angel and demon experiences, Jake discovers he’s being prepared for an imperative task-to step into world affairs to prevent the clash of civilizations and reverse the violence and hatred of the post-9/11 world. As his search for answers leads him around the world and across faith traditions, Jake questions: Why him? Why now? And is it too late?

A riveting novel about the urgent spiritual and political questions we face in the 21st century, Messengers will leave you reconsidering your outlook on life and death-and why we are here.

Why I picked it up: I don’t pick up too many spiritual books these days. I would like to get back into Christian reading again. I came across the Messengers and it looked intense. I’m so hoping it is. Anyway, another NetGalley copy. I told you I went overboard.

Available at: Barnes & Nobles and The Book Depository

A free woman of color in the 1830s, Margaret Morgan lived a life full of promise. One frigid night in Pennsylvania, that changed forever. They tore her family apart. They put her in chains. They never expected her to fight back. In 1837, Margaret Morgan was kidnapped from her home in Pennsylvania and sold into slavery. The state of Pennsylvania charged her kidnapper with the crime, but the conviction was later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. It was the first time a major branch of the federal government had made a pro-slavery stand, and the ruling in Prigg v. Pennsylvania sewed the bitter seeds of the states’ rights battle that eventually would lead to the Civil War. Yet, the heart of this story is not a historic Supreme Court ruling. It is the remarkable, unforgettable Margaret Morgan. Her life would never be the same. Her family had been torn apart. Uncaring forces abused her body and her heart. But she refused to give up, refused to stop fighting, refused to allow her soul to be enslaved.

Why I picked it up: I believe I also saw this advertised on Goodreads, and it appealed to me as a fictional history lesson. I only hope the writing isn’t as redundant as the blurb. 🙂 I also found this on NetGalley and was approved for a copy.

Available at: The Book Depository, Barnes & Nobles