Tag Archives: multiple narrators

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

photo-1

“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

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Impulse by Ellen Hopkins

Impulse

“Love means holding on to someone just as hard as you can because if you don’t, one blink and they might disappear forever.”
-Tony

Sometimes life just gets too hard. Sometimes everything piles up until it feels like you’ve been left with one option: to end it all. That’s what Conner, Tony, and Vanessa thought, at least– but after failing at each of their suicide attempts, they end up in Aspen Springs for recovery. Now they’ve been given a second chance at life… Will they take it or opt out once again?

I know I start a lot of reviews like this, but I really love this book. The re-read for this review was probably the third or fourth, and I never get sick of it. Although I’m in love with all of Ellen Hopkins’s books, this one is definitely my favorite. It’s the first I ever read by her and what made me fall in love with her writing style and writing, period. It’s a little strange to read at first, but if you give it a chance you’ll adapt quickly and end up loving her too.

As I’ve said in previous reviews, books are always more exciting with multiple narrators. This adds to my love for this book, but I don’t think that is the main reason I like it so much. I’ve always been really into books about mental hospital/group home sort of things, as you may know by my numerous reviews about the subject, and the entire book is about this. Plus, it deals with some really important issues and “taboos,” in such a way that I strongly believe everyone should read this book at least once– especially for those who judge by reputation or first impressions, this book should be a real eye-opener.

And, like I say about all of Ellen Hopkins’s books, it’s powerful. I cry just as much now as I did the first time I read it. It really changed my opinion and views on certain things, but I won’t talk about that… spoilers and all.

What I will talk about before I go, though, is the sequel, Perfect. I don’t own it, I haven’t read it, and I haven’t seen it in any bookstores yet, but I really want to read it. From what I’ve heard, it’s three completely different narrators– two of which I remember as Cara, Conner’s twin sister, and Kendra, Conner’s ex-girlfriend who made a brief appearance in Impulse, but I don’t remember the other at all. I think it sounds like it’ll be incredible, and as soon as I find and read it, you’ll be the first to know.

Once again, I forgot to write this review, so the review for the book I’m about halfway done with now (a big surprise, I bet, but I will say it’s a classic) will most likely be up tomorrow. Thanks for reading, and see you then!

-J

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Identical by Ellen Hopkins

Identical

“I will probably die before he does. Dying, for Daddy, would be the ultimate defeat. But death doesn’t scare me. To know exactly when I might expect it, up close and in my face, would actually be a comfort. Because to tell the truth, most of the time dying seems pretty much like my only means of escape.”
-Kaeleigh

Identical twins Kaeleigh and Raeanne may seem the same on the outside, but they lead completely different lives. Raeanne uses drugs, sex, and purging to settle her inner demons, while Kaeleigh turns to bingeing, drinking, and self-harm. Raeanne has relationships with numerous guys, while Kaeleigh struggles to keep one. Despite their differences, their explanations are the same: their father sexually abuses Kaeleigh consistently, while Raeanne is forced to keep quiet and stay away. But after years of enduring this torture, it comes to be too much for either twin to handle alone– but who will step up and release the other?

One word can easily describe this entire 560+ page book: powerful. It’s not for the faint of heart, and definitely don’t read it if you don’t expect to cry in the near future. And I’m not just referring to the twins’ lives– even some of the minor characters’ backstories are tear-inducing. There isn’t much else to say; Identical is one of those beautiful-in-a-sick-way novels that really makes you appreciate everything you take for granted.

Without revealing any spoilers (which is the absolute last thing I want to do, considering the huge one in this book), I think the ending of the novel is definitely a topic of discussion. It packs a punch, no doubt about that, and may even require a second read-through for you to fully get your head around. Once again, no spoilers, but I have to compare it to The Prestige. It was the first psychological thriller/twist-ending movie I’d seen since I watched The Sixth Sense at a young age, and to this day it has stuck with me and has become one of my all-time favorite movies. That’s exactly how Identical was for me: I think it’s safe to say the ending of this book was unlike any other I’ve read, and I need to find more like it.

Okay, I think that’s enough gushing in one day. I’ll have another review for you guys in a few days, and most likely it’ll be a big change from the reviews I’ve recently posted. This is a big year for books for me, and I hope you’re all as excited as I am. Have a great Labor Day weekend, and I’ll see you soon!

-J

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Crank Series by Ellen Hopkins (Crank, Glass, Fallout)

CrankGlassFallout

“Crank is more than a drug. It’s a way of life. You can turn your back. But you can never really walk away.”
-Kristina/Bree, Crank

So I’ve done it. After thinking about it for 50+ reviews,  I’ve finally made a full series post. Now this is as weird for you as it is for me, so please bear with me as I try this out.

The first book in the series, Crank, tells the story of Kristina, described as “gifted high school junior, quiet, never any trouble.” One day, when she decides to visit the father who has been missing all of her life, she discovers a powerful drug: crystal meth. Soon Kristina’s life is changed forever as she falls deeper into lies, trouble, and addiction.

In Glass, Kristina continues to struggle with her addiction, but with all new problems. As everything around her falls apart, she’ll have to find new ways to get with the monster, and they won’t be pretty.

Fallout takes place nineteen years after the events in Crank, and is told by Kristina’s teenage children, Hunter, Autumn, and Summer. Although their lives are completely different, they have one thing in common: their mother has torn their families apart, forcing them to live separately (and in some cases, without knowledge of each other). But when their paths intersect, their individual lives will be changed forever.

These books are impossible to put down. I know I would’ve had them all read within a few days if it weren’t for my final exams this week. The series is, like Ellen Hopkins’s other novels, not for the faint-hearted, and as real as it gets. Also, I commend the author for her incredible talent of being able to write a teenager’s point of view flawlessly, no matter the subject matter or age range.

The character of Kristina in the first book, Crank, was especially relatable to me due to the description of her personality (quoted above), and I think that made me like the first book a lot more. It is really interesting to see how someone like Kristina could turn down the dark road of crystal meth so easily, and how it affects everyone around her. By Glass, though, the story starts to drag on a little. It feels like most of it is being repeated, or that the words don’t matter and are only there to take up space. I became bored with this book very quickly, and feared that the final book of the series would be even worse. But, I can gratefully tell you, Fallout was my favorite of the three.

The narrator change is what made Fallout interesting to me right from the start. Books are always more exciting with separate narrators, considering you have three different voices, three different points of view, three different lives instead of one throughout the whole 500+ page novel. But the change in narrator wasn’t the only thing that made this addition the best.

Although it makes me upset to finish a series, the final book is usually my favorite. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows of the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, Everlasting of the Immortals series by Alyson Noel, and Fallout of the Crank series by Ellen Hopkins all have that in common, for two main reasons: one, the climax is biggest and best thing the author can possibly think of; and two, the author always finds a way to tie all of the previous events together perfectly. This denouement, as my English teacher says, is so exciting to me. And the final book in the Crank series fits this description well.

I hope this extra-long series review was worth the thirteen-day wait for me to post again. This review was exhausting, so I think I’m going to stick with some single books for a while until I’m ready for another hour-long reviewing session. Please let me know what you think of the series review style and whether you think I should do this for every series I review. Thank you so much for reading, and have a great summer!

-J

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles

Jumping Off Swings

“I stretch my fingers across my belly and glide my hand back and forth, waving softly.  Sometimes I think I feel a hand reaching out for mine.  Or it could be a foot, kicking my hand away.  I wish I could tell the difference.”
-Ellie

Ellie has always used sex to gain confidence. She wants someone to care about her, and sex makes her feel like someone wants her. So when she and Josh mess around at a party one night, she thinks it’ll be like any other time. The last thing she expected was to get pregnant– but she did. Jumping Off Swings is told from the point of view of four different teenagers who are all affected by Ellie’s pregnancy and everything afterward. But whatever choice she makes will affect each of their lives in some way, and there’s no way to change it now.

This is one of those books that I enjoy reading, but wouldn’t recommend it to anyone else. Pregnancy is the main conflict in the story, and if that’s what you’re looking for, then by all means read this book. But if you’re expecting anything more, don’t bother. Don’t get me wrong, Jo Knowles does a great job of writing this book, but I can’t help but feel it’s missing something. Really, I don’t know what it is, but the book just seems a little empty.

Otherwise, it’s a great book. I applaud Jo Knowles for being able to tell the story in different points of view without making all of the characters sound the same. I noticed that’s something most authors seem to struggle with, but Jo Knowles makes it look easy.

Short review, yes, but it’s a short book. Like I said earlier, I wouldn’t exactly recommend it unless this is exactly the type of book you’re looking for. If it’s not, you’ll probably be disappointed by it.

-J

Tagged , , , , , , ,

What Happened to Cass McBride? by Gail Giles

What Happened to Cass McBride

“I was begging him. I knew it would get me nowhere. I watch TV. I read those kinds of books. The bad guy likes the begging… He gets off on it.”
-Cass McBride

After reading this book and Shattering Glass, I’ve developed a particular liking for Gail Giles. What Happened to Cass McBride? is really a book you keep thinking about long after it’s over, and those kinds of books are always the best. I have to say, this is one of the few books that actually scared me, in a way– reading about this kind of topic with Gail Giles’s descriptiveness makes you really feel what it’s like to be trapped like Cass, and that’s kind of scary sometimes.

David Kirby killed himself not long after being rejected by Cass McBride, the most popular girl in school. Although there’s no way of telling, Cass can’t shake the feeling that his death is her fault. But David’s brother Kyle believes Cass must pay for her actions– so he buries her alive.

One thing I really like about this book is how it switches between three different points of view. It goes from Cass’s perspective of being buried alive, to Ben’s perspective of the investigation, to Kyle’s perspective after the whole ordeal as he’s being interviewed by the police. It’s a really strong novel, and I loved every second of it.

-J

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan

Love is the Higher Law

“The secret to living long is to have something to live for.”

Well, it’s a little late, but I promised you a review within the next few days and here it is. This is the only 9/11 book I’ve ever read, and I’m having some mixed feelings. Like I said in my review for The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, I’m really not too interested in history-related books, so this is a little new to me. Okay, here we go.

Love is the Higher Law focuses on the New York City area during 9/11. There are three sides to this story: Claire, who is in school when it happens; Jasper, who sleeps through it, oblivious to the situation; and Peter, who witnesses the attacks firsthand. Their separated stories are told, and eventually the three meet (Claire goes to school with Peter and meets Jasper by chance, and Peter and Jasper had a date planned for that night before they knew) and their stories mix.

This is a great book, don’t get me wrong. It’s just not my thing. I know there’s not a lot of 9/11 YA novels out there, and I’m really glad that I found one and read it. But now I know it’s not my type of book. I do like that David Levithan mixed so many elements into one book, and it kept my attention through its very short span. If this is the kind of book you’re into, definitely read it, and if it’s not, at least give it a try.

-J

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Big Mouth and Ugly Girl by Joyce Carol Oates

Big Mouth and Ugly Girl

Big Mouth and Ugly Girl is the kind of book that makes you feel the characters’ emotions. Unlike any other book I’ve read, the author switches between first and third person point-of-view, which is confusing at first but also makes the story very unique. Matt’s story is told in third person, telling of a witty student who is interrogated by the police after making a joke about blowing up the school to some friends. Ursula’s story is told in first person, telling of a misfit basketball star who just wants to be accepted. When Ursula decides to stand up for Matt and tell the truth about what happened the day he was taken into custody, the two misfits form a friendship.

Although Matt’s point-of-view should have been elaborated on more (in my opinion, anyway), Big Mouth and Ugly Girl was a heartbreaking book that really shows you what it’s like to be “different.”

I’ll definitely be checking into some of Joyce Carol Oates’s other books, particularly Freaky Green Eyes, of which there is a preview in the back of Big Mouth and Ugly Girl.

-J

Tagged , , , , , , ,