Tag Archives: dystopian/utopian

The Divergent Trilogy (Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant) by Veronica Roth

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“A brave man acknowledges the strength of others.”
-Four, Divergent

Many years in the future, the city of Chicago has been split into five factions: Abnegation, the selfless; Amity, the peaceful; Candor, the honest; Dauntless, the brave; and Erudite, the intelligent. Each faction has specific jobs and requirements that must be made in order to join. At the age of sixteen, a choice must be made: whether to leave the faction of your parents that you’ve grown up in, or to transfer to another faction. After a simulation that is supposed to show her what her strongest aptitude is, Beatrice Prior learns that she is Divergent, or has equal aptitude for three different factions. This revelation causes her to rethink her previous idea about the factions, and her decision will transform her into a completely different person.

I tried to write that summary without any spoilers, so I apologize if it seems a little vague and uninteresting, because it’s truly anything but. The Divergent trilogy is reminiscent of trilogies like The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner, due to the dystopian future and survival themes, and this trilogy is just as action-packed and compelling. If it weren’t for the trouble I had finding the second and third books, I would’ve had this entire series read within a few days.

Not only do I love the action and suspense in these books, but the numerous themes are also a big deal to me. It’s like Veronica Roth just decided to write about absolutely everything she could think of to try to fit the books into every category possible. And I don’t just mean that this is an action/romance/sci-fi/suspense novel, but the fact that she decided to take nearly every problem a person could be faced with and let the characters struggle with them. The ability to do all of that and still make it work, I think, is what makes this series even more incredible than it would have been.

This trilogy also has a growing fandom, and that fact is an even better reason to try out these books. Although Allegiant, the final book in the trilogy, was released only two months ago, Veronica Roth has already announced a series of short stories from Four’s point of view will be published as an anthology in February. Additionally (and yes, I realize I’ve been ending a lot of my reviews with this sort of statement, but that just means they’re good books, right?), the film adaption for Divergent will be out in March, starring Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort (who will also be playing Augustus and Hazel in the The Fault in Our Stars film adaption) as Beatrice and her brother Caleb.

I’m going to use the end of this post to do a little promotion for the Divergent Fandom WordPress blog, in case you’ve already read the series and want to check it out. It’s a great site that you should definitely check into if you’ve read and enjoyed the series. Thanks for reading, and happy New Year!

-J

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The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver

“They were satisfied with their lives which had none of the vibrance his own was taking on. And he was angry at himself, that he could not change that for them.”

The Giver tells the story of Jonas, an eleven-year-old boy living in a utopian society. Each year at the Ceremony of Twelve, all Elevens receive their career paths, but Jonas has an important task– he is to train with the Receiver of Memory, the most respected Elder in the community who has the job of storing all memories of the past. But as Jonas gets further into his training, he discovers all of the secrets his society is hiding, and how nearly all of the community is living in a black-and-white world (literally).

I hope that was an adequate summary– this is one of those books that is really hard to describe without excessive spoilers. I really enjoyed the book: the symbolism, the foreshadowing, everything. My only problem with the entire book was the “big twist” that I “definitely wouldn’t see coming,” which I suspected from the very beginning.

The thing that came as a big surprise to me– and probably what made me love the book so much– wasn’t a turn-of-events or anything like that; it was the thing about color that I alluded to in the description above. You really have to pay attention to detail to pick up on the fact that everyone in the society is completely color-blind. The way the author uses words like “dull” and “colorless”– they aren’t just plain adjectives, they’re literal. The way the author talks about sometimes Jonas sees things change— he’s seeing small glimpses of color. It’s crazy, and it’s subtle, but it becomes a major plot point later on in the story.

Also, like many other books I’ve been reviewing lately, I’ve just found out a film adaption is being made. (You’d think with a book from 1993 that’s so popular, there would already have been a movie.) It stars Jeff Bridges as the Giver, which I’m extremely excited about, and as soon as I see the movie (which won’t be until sometime in 2014… sigh), you guys will hear about it. See you soon!

-J

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The Maze Runner Trilogy by James Dashner (The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials, The Death Cure)

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“If you ain’t scared… You ain’t human.”
-Alby, The Maze Runner

First thing’s first, I apologize for not posting in nearly a month. The review for The Book Thief was supposed to be up next, but it somehow disappeared right before I posted it, and I wasn’t about to spend another hour rewriting. So, no review for that one for now. Within the next year I’ll probably end up re-reading it, so you’ll see one eventually (and one for the movie 😉 ). Also, a quick note before I get to the review: when I got these three books from the library, I also got The Kill Order, which is the prequel to this trilogy, but I’ve decided not to post it right away for a few reasons. And now to the review.

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.

Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every thirty days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.

Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers.

Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.

(Summary courtesy of Goodreads.com.)

I believe that is the same summary found on the inside cover of the book. I knew I couldn’t do a summary of the first without giving away any spoilers, so it’s probably best to let someone else do it for me. I won’t give summaries of the second and third books because of spoilers, so I’ll just go right into the review.

These books reminded me of something that The Hunger Games fans would like. It’s definitely a survival story, and that becomes even more evident in The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure. Thomas does remind me a lot of Katniss, in his attitude and independence despite what others tell him to do. And a lot of the other characters between the books compare to each other, like Chuck and Prim, and Janson and President Snow. You’ll even find tons of results after looking up “similarities between The Maze Runner and The Hunger Games.” But in my opinion, the first book in each series are the only ones with real similarities.

If I had to describe this trilogy with a few words: action-packed, scary, vengeful, and sad. It’s like a survival thriller mixed with sci-fi, with zombies thrown in. (Well, they’re not exactly zombies, but they’re pretty close.)

One thing I love about this series is the variety of characters. You’ve got the good guys and the bad guys, the people you aren’t sure about, the people you think are bad guys and end up being good guys, and vice versa. There are big debates about love/hate relationships with certain characters, the love triangle that starts in The Scorch Trials, and more. All I can say is, in order to spark so many interesting debates on these topics, James Dashner must really know what he’s doing.

And finally, the movie. Whoever casted for this movie did an awesome job, in my opinion. I’m not totally happy with who they picked to play Frypan, but other than that, everything is perfect. And the photos that are already up on the IMDB page– wow. It looks like it’s going to be an incredible film adaption, and I can’t wait to see it when it comes out.

Well, folks, that’s all for today. I’ll be back with another full-series review soon, and possibly a Halloween-themed post before that. Until then!

-J

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Hollowmen by Amanda Hocking

Hollowmen

“I know you wish things were different, but they aren’t. This is the way things are, Remy. And they’re not going back to the way they used to be, no matter how much you want them to.”
-Max

As the sequel to Hollowland, Hollowmen starts off six months after its predecessor left off. Other than a few, this book introduces numerous new characters, and is much more heartbreaking than you’d expect.

As you already know, my spoiler-free nature of reviewing causes problems when I review a series, so many that I sometimes consider making one long post for a series instead of one for each book. But I’ve already come this far, and I’m going to finish this review no matter how bad it sucks. So let’s get started.

I have a theory (one that many of my fellow GoodReads members share) that Amanda Hocking ended Hollowland how she did only because she wanted to write another book. She could have easily changed the ending, but I guess her way makes for more suspense leading up to the next in the series. That being said, Hollowmen starts off strong, with pain and suspense around every corner. The entire series is a fight for survival, and at times you may get so into the story that you feel the adrenaline or fear of other characters.

If you get attached to characters easily, this should not be one of your first choices. Hollowland didn’t have too many lovable characters die, if any, but its sequel is a different story. Don’t even think about liking a character t00 much, because in this book they’re either dead, zombified, or turn evil. (Or, in one particular character’s case, gone throughout the entire book.) It happened to me countless times before I realized it wasn’t going to stop. It’s painful and it sucks, but it makes for a good story.

Although I loved the other book, this one was much better in my opinion (despite the fact that all of my favorite characters died). The ending was very realistic, unlike what you usually see in apocalyptic stories, and it made me feel much more at ease. Its shortness makes for a quick and easy read, which unlike most, I really enjoyed.

If you’re looking for a totally awesome and underrated zombie novel, or just a quick and interesting read to get you through the day, Hollowland and its sequel Hollowmen would definitely be my top pick. (And if you do decide to check them out, please let me know, as I haven’t talked to anyone else who has read them and I’m eager to hear what they have to say.)

And finally, I am very pleased to announce that my GoodReads account is working again after re-creating it twice. You can find me at http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/18209699-j — I’ll follow back anyone and everyone, and I’ll respond to anything you send me, so please follow and send me messages! 🙂

-J

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Hollowland by Amanda Hocking

Hollowland

“This is the way the world ends – not with a bang or a whimper, but with zombies breaking down the back door.”
-Remy

After zombies break into the quarantine where she lives, nineteen-year old Remy is on a mission: to find her brother, who has been taken to another quarantine several states away. Along with a thirteen-year old girl, a former rock star, and a doctor-in-training, Remy fights to survive the ongoing apocalypse and return to her only living family member.

The thing I’ve learned from reading the reviews of Hollowland on GoodReads is that people either really like it or absolutely hate it. I, fortunately, am one of the readers that loved this book. I truly think that it should be much more popular than it is and don’t fully understand why it isn’t.

Amanda Hocking has one problem with her writing: she hasn’t gotten the hang of developing supporting characters. I can’t say I know much about any of the characters except the main character and narrator, Remy. Sure, I know the basics, but I couldn’t really tell you much else about them. One review I read made a great point, one I (sadly) can’t share with you since it contains a spoiler about the ending of the book.

This was one of the first books I downloaded when I first got my Kindle last summer. Due to this, I can’t read/review its sequel, Hollowmen, since I can’t find the PDF online and can’t pay for it at the current time. Also, I apologize for the disappearance of my previous review, Rosebush, that deleted when I tried to post it (like what happened to my review of Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac not too long ago), and that I won’t be rewriting it. I spent half an hour writing it the first time, and it would be far too frustrating to try to write it again.

I’ll leave you on a lighter note: this is my 50th review, which means I’m halfway done with my 100 Book Challenge!

-J

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Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines

Girl in the Arena

Let me just start off by saying I have no idea how to describe this book. It doesn’t seem dystopian, but at the same time it does. It’s not a love story, but it’s somewhat about love. It’s just so hard to explain this book, so please bear with me while I try my best.

In a world where gladiator-style fighting is the most popular sport, Lyn is a celebrity. Her nickname, “the Daughter of Seven Gladiators,” comes from the fact that her mother remarried seven times, each time to a gladiator that she lost in the arena. Lyn’s current stepfather, Tommy, has a big match coming up against an extremely gifted fighter; she is so worried that she lends Tommy her dowry bracelet for good luck. When Tommy is killed in the arena, his opponent picks up the bracelet, forcing Lyn to marry him by law– unless she fights him herself.

Girl in the Arena was a lot better than I expected it to be, and full of action. Throughout the book, Lyn is faced with so many problems, including the death of her seventh stepfather (which, by law, means that her mother cannot remarry), caring for her autistic brother Thad, and training with her best friend Mark (whom, I believe, she has feelings for). Just when you think she’s solved a problem, another one pops up in a consistent cycle of suspense.

I’ll go ahead and recommend this to any fans of The Hunger Games series, in case you didn’t expect how similar they seem.

-J

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