Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Review of the Sequel

Ok doods, there may be some potential spoilers in here, so put on your Spoiler Alert glasses to pick up the signs...

During our Snowpocalypse I was snowed in for several days, so I spent much of that time vegging out, reading, playing Minecraft, etc. The book I was reading was Divergent by Veronica Roth. I was pleasantly surprised by the story, despite a rough beginning of cliche similarities to The Hunger Games and middle-schooler-ish behavior on the part of the main characters. I devoured the majority of the book in a single night, unable to put it down.

So you can imagine how I very enthusiastically started the sequel, Insurgent. This book too took me little time to finish, but I have to say I was not as enthusiastic about the tale as a whole.

This book picks up on the crux of attacks, conspiracies, secrets, and massacres. Tragedies have occurred, hard decisions have been made. And the characters revert to their beginning-30-pages-of-the-first-book idiocy.

Tris, the main protagonist, has suffered much in the battles that ended "Divergent". She has associating physical and emotional trauma because of it. Her boyfriend, Tobias, the main male protagonist, is also struggling with the sudden proximity of his father, whom he has run away from in the past.

When things get tough, the characters get tougher, right?

Wrong. Tris spends almost the entire book lying to and 'betraying' Tobias because 'she has to'. Erm. Sorry, hun, I don't care what kind of post- or pre-apocalyptic world you're living in, but you never ever ever have to lie to the one you love. Ever. Communication is key, after all, so what are you doing?

In the end Tobias discovers her in her 'act of betrayal' (which is also highly overblown and ridiculous) and naturally feels childishly 'betrayed' (yet again, how did this girl's attempt to find information ahead of its destruction lead to the conclusion that she betrayed you?) and says he 'doesn't know her' blah blah blah. Five paragraphs later he's had a change of heart and it's all sappy and mushy and then BAM cliffhanger.

If it sounds like I'm being pretty hard on the book, it's because I am. I really enjoyed the first book, but now I have little to no motivation to go and buy the third book and read it. This is a repeat of the "Eragon" books by Christopher Paolini all over again. He was an idol of mine for the space of about a year when his first book, at age 15, came out. Then the sequel followed and my admiration evaporated. It was such an overly-dramatic rendition of angst, plus dragons. Ack.

To sum it up, I give "Insurgent" 2 stars out of 5...a steep drop from the 4 stars out of 5 that I would have given "Divergent". 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

If I were a Rich Girl

I'd be dangerous.

Did you know that the Franklin Library makes collectible leather-bound editions of just about everything? Classics, mostly, but also fantasy and science fiction, histories, philosophies, biographies...everything you could wish for in a gorgeous personal library with rolley ladders and a huge fireplace in the middle.

Yes. A central fireplace. With comfy chairs all the way around it. And a cabinet full of tea and snacks. And a super plush rug so thick you can't see your toes in it.

It's not like I've thought about this or anything.

I made the dangerous mistake of browsing the Franklin Library's website the other day when it was pointed out to me that a handful of classic, leather-bound books I inherited from my Mema were Franklin Library books (and thus worth something. I guess I've got my nest egg settled). As a result I have two book collections (they sell them individually and by the collection, just so you know) worth together about $10,000 and equalling somewhere in the neighborhood of 130 books. A science fiction collection and a Tolkien collection by Easton Press (I have a couple of fairy tale books from this beautiful printer).

See why I'd be dangerous? I'd buy out the Franklin Library in a heartbeat.

I have a small leather-bound collection from various sources, some worth not very much, some worth quite a bit (to my eyes). But always, always...I must have more! It's a problem.

This is an Easton Press book I was given for Valentine's Day this year, a collection of Irish Fairy Tales. I had been drooling over it in an antique book store and plotting to return and get it myself, but my lad beat me to it. I shall have to plot sufficient revenge...
Especially considering he followed that up with the companion to this book, a collection of English fairy tales, both illustrated by Arthur Rackham, one of my favorite artists.

I suppose, if I have to have a vice, collecting beautiful or good-smelling books isn't a bad one. Like being addicted to QT lattes.

Which I may or may not be. I plead the Fifth.

I'm too busy oogling over my leather bound novels and sipping my latte...

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Divergent's a little...Hungry?

Welcome back after the Snow-vasion! You might have noticed that we had no post last week. This has nothing to do with a lack of free time to create said post and everything to do with the utter lethargy that comes from having an entire city shut down around you, coated in snow and ice. Especially when it's the one or two snow days every three years you get to take advantage of.

But now, it's book review time. No, I'm not going to be reviewing that favorite, Snowpocalypse 2014: Scenes from Inside Your Car. Neither am I going to be discussing the tried and true Gotta Get the Bread and Milk.


My sister in law got me "Divergent" by Veronica Roth for Christmas. We had been discussing it earlier, especially in light of the movie that is coming out. I had heard of the books also from my cousin, but upon seeing the trailer for the movie, wasn't impressed. It looked like every other angxty teen romance with the mousy little girl and the tattooed bad boy. But I was encouraged that, while a little odd, it was a good book.

We'll not speculate much about the movie. But I have my negative suspicions.

I started "Divergent" with an open mind, but the first thirty or so pages were about what I had expected. A book following the wildly successful "Hunger Games" trilogy and trying so very hard to be a teen romance version of the same story. A dystopian society that divided in order to have peace, resulting in various 'factions' (instead of districts) where everyone belongs and has a certain characteristic: bravery, peace, love, service, knowledge, truth. And then there's this one loner girl who doesn't quite fit in who is forced to make a decision that radically changes her life, by swapping factions...sound familiar? She's also a 'Divergent', which means she fits into more than one faction and is considered dangerous. Why? By whom? Who knows. But apparently they'll kill her if they find out. Oop.

So the beginning was awkward and a bit cliche, especially the Dauntless faction, who are the brave, the courageous. Because apparently to belong to the brave faction you have to get tattooed and pierced and wear black and be an adrenaline junkie. Hmm.

Needless to say I wasn't really feeling the burn to finish the book. But the Snowpocalypse did do one thing for me-- it gave me a chance to read. So I spent one night burning the midnight oil reading "Divergent"...and then the early morning oil...and then I read about 3/4 of the book in the space of one night. Finished it clean off.

It got really good. The book, despite its small weaknesses, pulled me in and I couldn't put it down for an instant. I really wanted to know what happened, and so I finished the entire novel off in almost one go.

The characters grow stronger. Where they maybe start off one-dimensional and middle-schooler-ish, they flow into their allotted spaces and expand. The tension and difficulty of Dauntless initiation, of joining a new faction, is intense. Many do not even survive. And the relationship between the 'mousy girl' and the 'tattooed bad boy' is not at all what one would think. It has actual...*gasp*...depth! The characters have brains and know how to use them. Instead of being a little girl with a small-dog complex, Tris, the main character, actually listens to advice on how to protect herself, even if it means acting weak and small. Four, the love interest, isn't always brooding and dark. He opens up and acts, you know, human, and he does this more often than not. His brooding behavior is actually a symptom of shyness and introversion.

Luckily, my sister in law got me the second one for Christmas as well. I'm only missing the third. It's not going to take me long to need it.