A review: Allegiant by Veronica Roth

‘Allegiant’ is book three of Veronica Roth’s Divergent series and when it first came out in October 2013 faithful readers rushed to grab their copy and devour the juicy conclusion to the saga of Tris and Four.

Then they all jumped online and started tweeting and blogging and complaining.

I stayed away from all the reviews, I managed not to read a single word about The Ending because at that point I hadn’t read the second book and also I don’t like spoilers. I received both books for my birthday and finally had enough spare minutes strung together to read both books this month (thank heaven for school!) Oh happy January!

SPOILERS AHEAD

I don’t usually write any spoilers in my reviews, but in this case I’m not sure I can really say what I think about ‘Allegiant’ without giving some things away, so here goes.

‘Allegiant’ is different from the other two books in the trilogy in that it tells the story from both Tris and Four’s point of view – usually alternating chapters between the two. Getting to look inside Four’s head and get a better understanding of who he is and why he does the things he does, was pretty cool and I think it gives the reader the ability to look back at the whole story with a more insight. Four’s story makes more sense once you’ve been inside his head. BUT, I also found it annoying because every so often it would not register with me at the start of a new chapter WHO was narrating and then a couple of sentences would just make NO SENSE and I’d go back and look under the chapter heading and think ‘Oh, right!’

The way the story ends, being inside Four’s head is a necessity – which actually made me wonder if the ending was not determined until after the first two book were written, forcing this change in style and if the other two books could also have been from both Four and Tris’s points of view.

‘Allegiant’ follows on from ‘Insurgent’ opening with Tris pacing in her cell where she is being held prisoner for her part in the attack on the Erudite headquarters. With the help of Four, Tris achieved her goal of exposing the truth – which turned out to be a video clip revealing that there are people outside the city, past the fences where the factions had previously been prohibited to go. This was the secret the elders of Abnegation died trying to expose. They believed it was time for all of those in the city to be made aware of what lies beyond the fence. The video plays on a giant screen for all to see, and Tris hopes this will be an end to the fighting. The Erudite no longer have this secret to protect, and kill for. But with the fall of one dictator comes the rise of another and although no longer forced into factions, her people still find themselves divided and on the edge of war.

There’s a lot of fighting, a lot of conspiracy stuff, a lot of ‘who’s side are you on?’ and Tris and Four’s relationship takes a lot of damage as they both try to find their own truths and figure out what they should fight for, what they can live with, and what they should live for.

I find it tough to summarize ‘Allegiant’ because a lot of it felt like more-of-the-same which is a shame because overall, I did enjoy this series. I just grew a little weary of the conspiracies and the forming of another alliance to fight our common enemy stuff. I did enjoy the twists if you will, I liked what lay outside the city, I liked the reasoning behind the founding of the faction system, I liked that there were other projects in other places. I liked that the system out in the real world was just as flawed and that Tris had to keep fighting the good fight for justice and truth and life. I didn’t like David, I thought he was creepy!

Now, the ending drew a lot of criticism online – apparently a lot of people did not appreciate how Ms. Roth chose to finish her tale.

I loved it.

SPOILER

Life doesn’t neatly tie up all the loose ends into a sweet little bow. Stuff doesn’t always turn out how you envisioned in your rosy little dreams. ‘Allegaint’ does not finish with Tris and Four getting married and settling down to start a happy, factionless, genetically interesting family.

Tris dies. Four falls apart. Then he starts to put himself back together, and life goes on.

I loved it.

 

 

 

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A Review: A Game of Thrones

George R. R. Martin’s ‘A Game of Thrones’ is the first book in his series ‘A Song of Fire and Ice’ (There’s also a cool TV series on HBO)

King Robert Baratheon rules from the Iron Throne in the city of King’s Landing, his wife Queen Cersei  of House Lannister, at his side, protected by the kings guard and advised by the lords who sit on his council. There has been peace in the kingdom for many years.

When Jon Arryn, Hand of the King, suddenly dies – his wife and young son leave the city in secret. They take refuge in The Eyrie, the impenetrable castle in The Vale, the lands held by the Arrryn family, cutting off all contact with the outside world.

King Robert rides north, away from the comforts of his palace, through the lands he knew as a boy, to Winterfell, home of Lord Eddard Stark, Robert’s best friend. Robert appoints Lord Stark as the new Hand of the King, a title Ned does not want but feels honor bound to accept.

In a land where summers last for years and winter brings more than darkness and cold, Lord Stark fears that winter is coming once more and is loathe to leave his home, but Robert was his best friend and is now his king, and so he must travel south.

When Robert and Ned last rode together, they killed the mad king and wiped out the entire Targaryen line, save a young boy and a baby, who were saved from death and sent across the seas. Robert took the throne and the Seven Kingdoms, joined as one, enjoyed peace under his reign. But with the death of Jon Arryn, all that will change.

Ned’s wife Lady Catelyn Stark, sister to Jon Arryn’s widow Lysa, is sent a secret message hinting at murder and treachery in King’s Landing. Tragedy befalls the Stark household and Lady Catelyn must remain, while Ned rides south with the King determined to find the truth and do his duty to his king. He must investigate Jon Arryn’s death without raising suspicion, he must keep his family safe despite the separation, he must advise and protect King Robert, and he must return home to Winterfell, because one thing is certain – winter is coming.

When I first started reading ‘A Game of Thrones’ I immediately thought of both ‘Lord of the Rings’ by J.R.R. Tolkien and ‘The Stand’ by Stephen King.

LOTR, because this is an epic tale. A new world is waiting within the pages, a world of kings and knights, duels and sieges, loyalty and honor, dragons and dark magic. (yes, there are dragons!) There are castles and entire lands, all richly detailed, and a history so real you’ll find yourself believing it to be true.

The Stand, because there are SO MANY CHARACTERS! Seriously, there are a dozen important players whose thoughts, words and actions you must follow throughout the novel and they all have family members, friends and enemies (and pets!) that are important to the overall understanding of the tale. Like The Stand, you have to put some effort in to keep everyone straight, (wait, was that the same guy that that other guy was talking to?) but when you do, it’s well worth the effort.

George R.R.Martin has created a world that pulls you right in, the characters are rich and interesting, some you root for even though you know it’s fruitless, they are doomed, others you despise but you turn the pages eager for the next encounter.

The game of thrones has many players, who shall prevail? You have to keep reading.

 

 

A review: The Casual Vacancy

I decided to ask Santa for J.K. Rowling’s latest novel ‘The Casual Vacancy’ but it wasn’t in any of the gifts under the tree, so I bought it for myself.
I just finished reading it last night while the family watched The Lion King.

First of all I feel that it’s important to state that this is not a kids book! (Apparently there were some unhappy parents out there who had failed to pay attention to this fact. See reviews on Amazon.)
‘The Casual Vacancy’ is J.K’s first novel for adults – it says so on the inside flap of the jacket – and it contains bad language and some adult themes (sex and drugs, but no rock and roll.)
Set in the quiet little English country town of Pagford, this novel follows the lives of some of Pagford’s citizens as they interact with each other following the death of Barry Fairbrother – banker and member of the parish council.
The void left by Mr. Fairbrother’s death is felt throughout the community, in different ways and for different reasons, and soon the people of Pagford find themselves set against each other.
His position on the council is up for grabs, and his side of an old argument is now missing it’s best fighter.
Lines are drawn, alliances made and broken, secrets exposed.

The Casual Vacancy is an intriguing tale of life in a small town, where everyone knows each other and if you’ve ever lived in a small town you will definitely understand it.

I enjoyed reading this novel, the characters are real, sometimes disarmingly so. The twists and turns of the story keep things moving along, and the pages turning – I would recommend this book to a friend with the phrase ‘it’s quite good’ but would I have picked it up in the first place had it not been written by J.K.?
No, I don’t think I would.

A brief review: Fifty Shades of Grey

Ok, so I probably shouldn’t write a review of a book I have not finished reading but honestly I just can’t bring myself to pick it up again.

My book club selected Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L James for our July book because, well I think because they fell for the hype and thought it would be great to have an excuse for reading the thing.

“You’re actually reading that?!” *Scandalized facial expression*

“Yes Mom, I need to read it for book club.”

So, anyway… I got it on my Kindle (because then no one can see the cover!) and started reading… and right off the bat I disliked the main character. Skip ahead to where the female MC meets the male MC, and I didn’t like him either.

I have been unable to finish this book because I don’t like any of the main characters, there’s no real story to speak of and the sex scenes so far (I’ve only read about 60% of the book) are somewhat contrived, repetitive, unrealistic and boring. Yeah, it’s mommy porn and I said it was boring. I’m not a prude, I enjoy a good steamy scene as much as the next red-blooded female….it’s because no matter what type of book it is there needs to be a story, a plot, some direction that the author is taking you… without a story line it’s just a series of scenes!

I looked Fifty Shades up on Wiki and read that it started as Twilight fan-fic. Aaaahh yes, that explains a lot.

(Side note: I have read all of the Twilight books and although they are not among my favorite reads, and I found some parts hugely annoying, overall I was entertained.)

I’m just not enamored with the idea that if someone is beautiful enough (so beautiful  you can barely look at them, oh gasp, he’s so beautiful, oh can he be real? He’s. Just. So. Beautiful!) then you don’t worry about all the things that are horrible about that person – like the fact that they are stalkers, watch you sleep at night or discover your location by tracking your phone, like the fact that they admit that they want to cause you pain (just a little bit, you’ll like it), like the fact that they demand that you keep secrets from your friends and family, like the fact that they try and control everything that you do, including what you wear and what you eat.
Not all books need to have a message but can we please not write books that send entirely the wrong message?

A review: Dark Water Rising by Marian Hale

Dark Water Rising is a well written work of historical fiction which deals with the devastation caused in Galveston, Texas by a massive storm in 1900.

Sixteen-year-old Seth Braeden is not happy when his family moves from Lampasas to Galveston, but his father is drawn by the promise of a brighter future for his sons in this bustling new city, and doesn’t want to hear any complaints. Thomas Braeden dreams of sending all of his boys to college, but Seth desperately wants to become a carpenter, just like his dad.

Seth’s uncle finds him a job building houses near the beach, but the work will only last until school starts. Seth’s spirits are lifted by this chance to prove himself. He makes friends with the other boys on the building site, and even meets a pretty girl who promises to join him for a swim on the weekend. Everything is going well for Seth and his family, and he begins to think the move to Galveston was not such a bad thing after all.

When a storm warning is issued one hot afternoon, many of the Galveston Island residents flock to the beach to enjoy the spectacle, but as the storm strengthens and the Gulf surges, excitement turns to fear.

Seth watches in horror as the ocean rises up to reclaim the land. Streets flood, buildings are destroyed and soon Seth finds himself in a battle to survive, to find his family and friends and to somehow make sense of the destruction.

Marian Hale puts the reader right into the action and Seth’s struggles become our struggles.

Prior to reading Dark Water Rising I had heard vaguely of the terrible storm which swept away Galveston, but this book makes it all so very real.

My only worry is that it may be too dark, containing too much death and sorrow for a middle school reading assignment. The descriptions of the dead bodies are quite vivid!