|May 31, 2012||Posted by Katy under Book Reviews|
Another month is behind us so it is time for another Bookshelf post! This month I only read three books, as I am currently making my way though a 700+ page book. It is a slow process, but I am hoping to be done with it within a week or two.
In the month of May, I finished one series and began another. I also read a book that addressed a difficult subject matter, but made me think and put some things in my life into perspective.
*Spoiler alert! Some of the reviews may give away the plot lines. Read with caution.*
Extras (Scott Westerfeld)
My Rating: 2.8/3
From Goodreads.com: “Fame. It’s a few years after rebel Tally Youngblood took down the uglies/pretties/specials regime. Without those strict roles and rules, the world is in a complete cultural renaissance. “Tech-heads” flaunt their latest gadgets, “kickers” spread gossip and trends, and “surge monkeys” are hooked on extreme plastic surgery. And it’s all monitored on a bazillion different cameras. The world is like a gigantic game of “American Idol.” Whoever is getting the most buzz gets the most votes. Popularity rules. As if being fifteen doesn’t suck enough, Aya Fuse’s rank of 451,369 is so low, she’s a total nobody. An extra. But Aya doesn’t care; she just wants to lie low with her drone, Moggle. And maybe kick a good story for herself. Then Aya meets a clique of girls who pull crazy tricks, yet are deeply secretive of it. Aya wants desperately to kick their story, to show everyone how intensely cool the Sly Girls are. But doing so would propel her out of extra-land and into the world of fame, celebrity…and extreme danger. A world she’s not prepared for.”
This is an additional book in the Uglies Trilogy that I reviewed last month. I was not going to read it originally (because the other three books failed to impress me), but I was interested in the world after Tally rebelled.
I really wanted to like this book, but I was less than impressed. As with the other three books, I know that I am not within the target audience this book is written for, so that could be the reason why I did not like this series. I simply could not relate to the characters.
I found Aya to be incredibly annoying at times and rolled my eyes multiple times while reading the book. I only continued to read just so I could get to the part when Tally and the others come into play (about halfway into the book). From that point, the book picked up a bit and I was a little more entertained.
Overall, I was less than impressed with this book and the three previous stories. I thought all of them (with the exception of the end of Specials) to be slow moving and the characters were a bit underdeveloped. If I was a few years younger, maybe I would have enjoyed these books a little more.
Divergent (Veronica Roth)
My Rating: 5/5
From Goodreads.com: “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.”
I know that I am a year behind the times, but I finally was able to read the book. I was on hold for three months at the library, but good things come to those who wait. To say it short- I LOVED this book! It has the perfect mix of action, conflict, intrigue, and a little romance.
This book has often been compared to The Hunger Games and I can see why, but this book is very different. I loved The Hunger Games and I loved Divergent for different reasons, so I can not say that I preferred one over the other.
What I liked about Divergent is that it is very well written. The characters are developed (especially Tris and Four) and their relationships with each other are well defined. I also thought that Roth did an excellent job of “showing, not telling” the story, something I think is missed in many YA books of this genre. I like to be taken on a journey and fully immersed in a story and that is exactly what I got while reading this book. I was constantly on the edge of my seat, wondering what was going to happen next. This book is definitely a fun read.
I did have some problems connecting with Tris though. Unlike Katniss in The Hunger Games, I was unsure whether or not to define Tris as a “strong, butt-kicking heroine.” There is no doubt that she has the physical strength but mentally, I was unsure of some of her actions. At times, her actions seemed more self-serving than I expected.
Another “issue” I had with this book was the way the chapters were laid out. Now, I come from a very strong theatre/ acting background so maybe this is the “actor” side of me coming out, but I felt that each chapter was a separate scene. There was a definitive break from the action at the end of one chapter to the action of the beginning of the next. The chapters never blended into each other, sort of like a movie. Movies have different scenes and once a scene is over, there is a clean break to the next scene (different action, actors, location, etc). I do not know if this was just me seeing this, but I did notice it. It is not a bad thing, but it makes me wonder if she wrote the book this way on purpose (as she already has the movie rights sold on all three books).
Overall, I enjoyed the book immensely and I am eagerly awaiting my turn to pick up Insurgent at the library!
Try Not to Breathe (Jennifer Hubbard)
My Rating: 4.5/5
From Goodreads.com: “Learning to live is more than just choosing not to die, as sixteen-year-old Ryan discovers in the year following his suicide attempt. Despite his mother’s anxious hovering and the rumors at school, he’s trying to forget the darkness from which he has escaped. But it doesn’t help that he’s still hiding guilty secrets, or that he longs for a girl who may not return his feelings. Then he befriends Nicki, who is using psychics to seek contact with her dead father. This unlikely friendship thaws Ryan to the point where he can face the worst in himself. He and Nicki confide in one another the things they never thought they’d tell anyone—but their confessions are trickier than they seem, and the fallout tests the bounds of friendship and forgiveness.”
I would not have picked up this book if I had not seen it pop up on my Goodreads feed a few months ago. However, I am glad that I did because the message of this book has stuck with me. While I have never dealt with extreme depression and suicidal thoughts, I have had people close to me have these feelings. It is difficult to truly understand the thoughts and feelings of someone who has felt this way.
I could relate to Ryan (the main protagonist) in some ways. His suicide attempt was not sparked by one specific event, but rather his feelings of complete emptiness and feeling as though he were stuck behind glass, cut off from the rest of the world. While I have never felt these feelings to the extremes that Ryan did, I definitely had many of those same thoughts throughout middle and high school. The feeling of being completely ignored by others and unable to find a way out.
I really liked how Ryan and Nicki came together and united. Never once did I question the intentions or validity of their friendship. It astonished me how quickly the two were able to open up to each other and help each other in their own way.
The book definitely addresses a dark and uncomfortable subject matter, but it is just over 200 pages, so it is not a long book. I hope that maybe an independent movie company will come around and make a movie out of this because I think it would be incredibly powerful.
I would highly suggest to pick up this book. It makes you think and learn a few lessons too.
What books did you read this month?
*All pictures are from Goodreads.com*