Tag Archives: violence

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 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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Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson

Twisted

“Why bother trying?  What was the point?  So I could go to some suck-ass college, get a diploma, march out into a job that I hated, marry a pretty girl who would want to divorce me, but then she wouldn’t because we’d have kids, so instead she’d be the angry woman at the other end of the kitchen table, and the kids would grow up watching this, until one day I’d look at my son and he’d look just like that face in the bathroom mirror?
If that was life, then it was twisted.”
-Tyler

High school senior Tyler Miller used to be the kind of guy who faded into the background—average student, average looks, average dysfunctional family. But since he got busted for doing graffiti on the school, and spent the summer doing outdoor work to pay for it, he stands out like you wouldn’t believe. His new physique attracts the attention of queen bee Bethany Milbury, who just so happens to be his father’s boss’s daughter, the sister of his biggest enemy—and Tyler’s secret crush. And that sets off a string of events and changes that have Tyler questioning his place in the school, in his family, and in the world. (Summary credited to Goodreads.com)

I have mixed feelings on this book. I kept waiting for it to get better, for a real story to develop, for something, but it never came. In that aspect, this book irritated me. On the other hand, the characters were well-developed and generally likable, making my hate for the story especially frustrating. The main character, Tyler, is a hardworking, dysfunctional teen who knows what it’s like to be both popular and unpopular. His best friend, Calvin, aka Yoda, is a Star Wars-obsessed non-athlete with a crush on Tyler’s younger sister. Bethany is easily the most popular girl in the school, coming from a rich family and used to getting what she wants. See the variety of these characters? And that’s only three of the numerous characters featured in this book. So, overall, it was okay. Definitely wouldn’t recommend it, and don’t want to read it again, but it was good for a one-time thing.

Well, there’s not much else to say. I apologize for this not being the book that’s a big change like I promised, but that one will have to wait– I couldn’t really pay attention from the start, so it’ll most likely take me a while to read, and I don’t really want a take-forever book at the moment. Anyway, the next review will be here soon– most likely Monday or so. See you then!

-J

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The Immortals Series by Alyson Noel (Evermore, Blue Moon, Shadowland, Dark Flame, Night Star, Everlasting)

The Immortals Series

“Today’s worries are yesterday’s fears and tomorrow’s stories.” 

I’m not sure how many of you guys read my little note on my 100 Book Challenge page, but in case you didn’t and don’t feel like going back, I’ll just give you a quick explanation. I was planning on rereading Heaven Is for Real, that short and sweet book that’s been crazy popular for a while now, and reviewing it for you guys in a whiny but professional manner– as I usually do when I dislike a book, even a little bit. However, constant family issues and other personal problems posed a threat. I was a complete mess for a while and didn’t once think about my blogs. So one day, while I was a little cooled off, I decided to cancel the 100 Book Challenge and take a break from blogging for a while. And during my break, I finally finished Heaven Is for Real (it took me nine days total because of everything that was going on– which is sort of embarrassing considering that book is tiny) and reread the Hunger Games series and Immortals series. (No reviews for the Hunger Games series, though, just because I don’t know what I would say other than how much I love the books and how much I’m in love with the character of Finnick.)

But what I really came here to say is: Break’s over, guys. J’s back. And now, it’s back to the most popular time on this blog: reviewing time.

The Immortals series is an action-packed fantasy told from the point of view of Ever Bloom, a sixteen-year-old who recently lost her family to a devastating car crash. Ever wades through her new life in California, hiding beneath loud music and hoods to block out the constant noise that comes with the psychic powers she gained after the near-death experience. That is, until she meets Damen, who seems to be the one person that she can’t read– the one person who silences everything around her– the one person she can’t help but feel attracted to. But Damen is hiding a secret himself, and when it is revealed, it will change both of their lives forever.

Considering the name of the series, I highly doubt what I’m about to mention would be considered a spoiler. But, if you’re still determined not to learn a single thing that could be “spoiler-ish”, you may want to stop reading now.

In the first book, Evermore, we get a background on Ever’s life and how she adjusts to her new school and powers. She uses loud music to block out the endless stream of thoughts coming from everyone around her, avoids touching people at all costs for risk of seeing their entire life story, and learns to deal with seeing everyone’s aura and talking to the ghost of her little sister, Riley (who, eventually, got her own series, which I haven’t read yet but would really like to). Then we meet Damen, who arouses Ever’s suspicions when she can’t read his mind, can’t see his aura, and gets nothing with a touch. He seems to read her mind at times, taking her suspicions even further until he reveals his secret: Damen is immortal, and had made Ever immortal after the crash that claimed her family.

There’s never a dull moment in this six-part series, which constantly reveals new secrets, problems, and enemies. It’s exciting, it’s romantic, it’s philosophical– it’s everything you could ask for in a fantasy series. And just when you think you know everything, a new problem appears.

Just like with most series I read, the final book, Everlasting, was my favorite. After everything that had happened in the previous novels, I constantly wondered what Alyson Noel could do for a big finale without turning one of my favorite characters against them (as she had previously done, but I won’t get into that). The series definitely went out with a bang, though, and I loved every minute of it.

Although, numerous Goodreads users disagree entirely. I’d say it’s about a fourth of the readers out there that hate this series with a passion. I can tell they’re frustrated because Ever always seems to make terrible decisions under pressure– but Alyson Noel has her admit to it being her weak point, and besides, without terrible decisions, how could there be a plot in the first place? So yes, Immortals series-haters, I do understand where you’re coming from, because Ever’s decisions have frustrated me beyond belief as well. But everyone makes bad decisions at some point in their lives, and Alyson Noel is just acting upon this common weakness.

And before I wrap this review up and head off to bed, I want to take a minute to mention two things about Alyson Noel’s writing– one compliment, one constructive criticism. The compliment: I love how she uses unusual names for her characters. And although she does use them frequently in these books, she also uses them in other books– though I’ve yet to read all but one. A couple of my favorite names she has used are Echo, Ever, Haven, Evangeline, Misa, Rafe, Honor, Adelina, and Roman.

Now, some quick constructive criticism. Alyson Noel tends to recycle a lot of phrases when describing things, which tends to get somewhat annoying. While I’m writing this, two big examples are jumping out at me: the Shadowland and the Great Halls of Learning. The Shadowland first came into play in the eponymous third novel of the series, Shadowland, and was described as “The Shadowland. The home for lost souls.” And in every book since then, that’s exactly how she describes it. Along with the Great Halls of Learning, which, during their first appearance in Blue Moon, the second installment of the series, were described using the same monuments and repetition of the word “facade”. And guess how she describes it in every other book it appears in?

Anyway, I think that’s enough for tonight. I hope you enjoyed my review, hope it was worth it after all of the time I’ve been off. And, although I just came back, I’m going on vacation soon, which basically means I won’t have time or a way to review. I’m using this time to reread the Harry Potter series, if I can, which I was planning to do soon anyway but would cause me to disappear for a while again. But since I recently got four new books, and have at least three that I’ve read but haven’t reviewed yet, I promise I’ll return with more reviews as soon as possible. Until then, keep enjoying the summer! 🙂

-J

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The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

The Outsiders

“Sixteen years on the streets and you can learn a lot. But all the wrong things, not the things you want to learn. Sixteen years on the streets and you see a lot. But all the wrong sights, not the sights you want to see.”
-Ponyboy Curtis

No one ever said life was easy. But Ponyboy is pretty sure that he’s got things figured out. He knows that he can count on his brothers, Darry and Sodapop. And he knows that he can count on his friends– true friends who would do anything for him, like Johnny and Two-Bit. And when it comes to the Socs– a vicious gang of rich kids who enjoy beating up on “greasers” like him and his friends– he knows that he can count on them for trouble. But one night someone takes things too far, and Ponyboy’s world is turned upside down…

I copied that summary from the cover of the book because, let’s face it, my summary wouldn’t have done this incredible book any justice. Being a classic, you’ve probably heard of this book before– or at least the movie, or at the very least, the famous quote, “Stay gold,” from this book. Usually I wouldn’t be interested in “classic literature” at all, but this is one of my favorite books of all time.

While this may seem weird to some of you, I’m sure the avid readers out there will understand when I say I have a crush on a fictional character from this book, and odd as it may be, that character happens to be Two-Bit. It didn’t help when I saw the movie for the first time and twenty-one-year old Emilio Estevez was cast as Two-Bit in his first movie role. (He was amazing in that movie, by the way, and portrayed the character perfectly. Actually, all of the actors in that movie did.)

I’d better stop before I start gushing. I’ll end it on this note: go read this book as soon as you can. Go watch the movie right afterwards. And even if you don’t want to read this book, go watch the movie anyway. It’s perfection, and it’s full of gorgeous actors from the 80s (Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, etc), which just makes it that much better.

-J

*I just today noticed that this review didn’t post on Thursday when I wrote it. Sorry!

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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

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The Dream Where the Losers Go by Beth Goobie

The Dream Where the Losers Go

“…What’s real is real. You don’t need to hold on to the echo.”
-Elwin “Lick” Serkowski

After cutting her wrists as a suicide attempt, Skey Mitchell was taken to a group home to recover mentally. She spends her time there slipping into her dream world full of dark tunnels and cave wall markings, enjoying the one place where she can escape from her thoughts. Then she finds a boy in her dream, wandering the same tunnels. No longer alone in her escape from reality, Skey tries to help the boy as she deals with her problems outside of the dream as well.

This was so difficult for me to read. I hated every character in the book, even the “good guys”, which made it hard for me to feel bad for the characters after something unexpected happens. I saw every “twist” coming from a mile away, too, making the book just plain boring.

The summaries make it sound like the tunnel dreams are the main plot of the book, but really they aren’t. I tried my best to give a good summary without any spoilers, so I probably made it sound the same way, but the main plot is actually about Skey’s trouble going back to school after being in the group home for so long. I guess it doesn’t really matter, though, because either way the book was dreadful.

-J

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Shattering Glass by Gail Giles

Shattering Glass

“We’re all imprisoned in different ways.”

This is the kind of book that surprises you without surprising you. For example, in Carrie by Stephen King, you get excerpts from the book Sue wrote after the incident mixed in with the actual story. In Shattering Glass, you get quotes taken from characters and acquaintances of characters after the incident. So, yes, it kind of tells you what is about to happen, but somehow you don’t expect it anyway.

Rob Haynes is the most popular student in his school. He has control of everything, including his posse, and knows how to get whatever he wants. So when Rob sees some kids picking on Simon Glass, the biggest loser in the school, he decides to challenge himself and make Simon popular. Soon Rob realizes he is no longer in control, and as Simon becomes more and more popular, he begins to turn against everyone who got him this far, including Rob.

My summary probably made Rob seem like the good guy, but I feel that he isn’t. Even from the start, I didn’t like him at all. Honestly, he seems like the male version of Allison from the Pretty Little Liars series to me, and if you’ve ever watched the show or read the books you already know that’s not a good thing.

Anyway, I’ll stop with the references and just get to the point: this book was awesome. I have two other unread books by Gail Giles that I’m already excited to read, and by the premises of those books I can tell she’s a crime and violence kind of writer. The book I’m reading now is fairly short, so be ready for another post within the next two days. Adios!

-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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