CriticallYA Reading: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent 198x300 CriticallYA Reading: Divergent by Veronica RothDivergent by Veronica Roth
Book DepositorySeries: Divergent #1
Published by Harper Collins, Katherine Tegen on February 28, 2012
Genres: Dystopian
Pages: 487
Format: eBook
Goodreads
five stars CriticallYA Reading: Divergent by Veronica Roth
In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, 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 alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are--and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating 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 unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, Tris also learns that her secret might help her save the ones she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

I bought Divergent by Veronica Roth when it was on sale in the Nook store for $2.99 thinking, “Oh, I’ll read this soon!” Which turned into “I’ll read it before the movie.” Which turned into, “I’ll read it when the hype dies down… NEVER.” And before you dangle me over the pit, let me tell you something. I’m really sad that I waited so long to read this book. I’m sad that I judged a book by its hype.

So, what changed my mind? I decided I wanted to read Young Adult fiction with a more critical eye. Read between the lines. Use my film studies and bring it over to the book side of things. I took a class called Women in Film not too long ago. If you ever get a chance to take a film studies course, DO IT. It just really opens your brain. ANYWAY, Divergent was on the tippy top of my list. It was partly sparked by Veronica Roth’s keynote at YallFest last year in which the topic was the “strong female main character.” I saw her again just the other day at Agnes Scott College, and she harped on some of the same things. I think it really boils down to the fact that these fictional heroines being called “strong” is a misnomer. Yes, they do have points of strength. Of course. But while reading Divergent, we’re constantly reminded by Tris of how weak she is, how weak she thinks she is. She does show her strengths in her Capture the Flag tactics. I don’t think Four even points out her other strengths until that point, I think? He might have given her a tiny pointer on fighting before that, but I think it’s important to point that out. She’s not looking to him for validation at all. He’s just really damn good at knowing everyone’s strengths and weaknesses, which makes him an exceptional instructor. Basically, he views her as his equal.

Let’s be real, Tris was kind of whiney here and there, but wouldn’t you be, too, if you were training for Dauntless initiation and you had to prove your physical and emotional strength? I’d find it hard to get out of bed in the morning! Tris chose this path of most resistance. That is important. I really loved that she didn’t start off this totally meek little girl. She asked questions, she said how she felt… So it felt natural for her to change factions. Sure, she was still a stickler (Stiff, as she was often called), but that was also important to keep in her complexity. She even gets the tattoos of her two factions. We can’t forget our past. It’s always a part of who we are. We also change and grow as we move forward.

Veronica Roth is the queen of eye choreography, as she called it on Thursday. There’s a LOT that can be said in a look. In Divergent, I viewed (no pun intended) the look as gaining knowledge, as rebelling. That’s what Tris really lusts after: knowledge. That’s why it seems like her favorite word is “Why.” Okay, yes, Four is quite attractive to her, but I think a good part of that is because he’s also looking for knowledge in order to change the way their community is being run.

NOTE: This is a thing that I’m iffy about, but I thought I’d talk about anyway to see how y’all feel/think about it… We can’t talk about feminist theory without talking about the p-word. Patriarchy! Woo! Just kidding, we don’t cheer for patriarchy. I think I’m correct in saying that Abnegation is the one who really runs the government because they’re selfless. Each faction has their own representatives. Marcus Eaton and Andrew Prior are the representatives of Abnegation and are coming into question in the newspapers. Jeanine wants to shut them down, but she’s definitely got a twisted way of doing so. Jeanine is definitely the crazy person you don’t want supporting your cause because she wants to turn a whole faction into her version of the Cyber Men from Doctor Who. The patriarchal views of the citizens of Chicago are obvious with how women are treated. Specifically how Peter treats Tris. It’s the way he talks down to her and tries to kill her. In that scene when he and the other two are holding her over the pit, the novel gives some vague details about him grabbing her in a way, but basically, he sexually harassed her. He saw her as a threat to his strength and sought to demystify her. The author is in no way conveying that this is okay, hence the reason why Four beats the crap out of him.

Another awesome thing is the recurrence of Tris basically saying, “We’re all complex people!” No one truly fits in one faction, as no one truly fits into one stereotype, norm, etc.

Hey, I’ve gone this far in the review without talking about the people who are labeled as Divergents?! GASP. They’re the counter-culture. They have power, and because they’re seen as a threat to the way things have been running, they get killed.

I kind of wish we knew more about the world outside of the walls of Chicago, kind of like how we know about the different sections of the world in Legend, but it makes sense that the citizens only know this part of the world.

TL;DR – Divergent is hella feminist and super good. And hype doesn’t always mean a fluffy book. Also, I highlighted a BUNCH of passages from this book (on my ereader!), which definitely signifies how much I loved this book.

five stars CriticallYA Reading: Divergent by Veronica Roth

BookTube-a-Thon 2014 TBR!

It’s time for the BookTube-a-Thon and as tradition says, I have to tell you what I’m reading!

LE BOOKS:

Book with Pictures
The Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks

Start and finish a series:
*William Shakespeare’s Star Wars by Ian Doescher
*William Shakespeare’s the Empire Striketh Back by Ian Doescher
*William Shakespeare’s the Jedi Doth Return by Ian Doescher

Genre you’ve read the least this year:
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride by Ian Doescher

Book with Red and Book-to-movie:
Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers

Friend’s choice:
*Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

 

* = books that were given to me by publisher in exchange for honest review.

I’m so excited to be participating for the 2nd annual BookTube-a-Thon! What will you be reading this week?

Science Fiction Double Feature: Earthbound and Earthquake by Aprilynne Pike

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

by Aprilynne Pike
Series:
Published by Penguin, Razorbill Genres: Science Fiction
Source: the publisher
four stars Science Fiction Double Feature: Earthbound and Earthquake by Aprilynne Pike

Earthbound lays the groundwork for the series and we get, bit by bit, Tavia’s story and how she’s connected to the glowing triangles and the mysterious Quinn.

Characters
OMG BENSON I have no idea what to call Tavia’s aunt and uncle since their names change halfway through the book for reasons, but I wish… THINGS. AGH. It’s so hard to talk about this book because it’s so action-packed in a way that would mean spoiling if I said too much about certain characters.

Story
Loved the running, the cute (tiny bit of romance… don’t believe the front cover), and the Sci Fi and mythology. The Earthbounds are so neat because instead of just plain ol’ living forever at the age of 17 or some other excuse, they are reborn, but have similar faces. I thought that was pretty genius especially for the diligo idea. That’s the couples that are meant to be together forever. Which is a big part of the series story arc thing. Or at least one of Tavia’s big dilemmas.

Overall
I didn’t know how to feel about this one because so much stuff is going on and Tavia is getting kind of overloaded with all of the information. It’s a BIG story though with lots of things involved. It’s in a way that keeps the plot moving as we learn ALL THE THINGS!

Earthquake gets really science-y with Tavia helping find the vaccine for the virus that has been spreading throughout the Earthbounds.

Characters
I felt like we were never really given any reason to like Logan. There’s this undying admiration for Tavia, but other than that, he’s just a loyal lap dog. I felt like in Earthbound we really got to know Benson. I did LOVE Thomas and Alanna. Give ‘em a minute. I mean, really. GIVE THEM A FREAKING MINUTE. *closes the door*

Daniel was a mix of President Snow and Caesar Flickerman. I really don’t know how else to explain him other than… You know that uncle you have that can be kind of mean but sometimes he says nice things? That’s Daniel. But you always feel like he’s gonna kill you. Hopefully your uncle doesn’t think that about you. Also, his plans with the virus don’t really make sense until near the end of the book. So, there’s that.

Story
Just as good as the first book. It’s edge-of-your-seat but in a slightly different way than the first because instead of running away from the scary people, Tavia and her friends have to work with people who are slightly scary.

Overall
This book definitely leaves you wanting more of this story and wanting to know how Tavia will save the world.

four stars Science Fiction Double Feature: Earthbound and Earthquake by Aprilynne Pike

Unboxing Books July 2014

You know those videos in which people unbox their monthly subscriptions (Nature Box, Julep, etc.)? Well, I knew I wanted to do something similar when I saw two packages on my front porch this afternoon. I knew I needed to capture my reaction when opening the second package, as you’ll see in my video. Necessary, I tell you!

FTC Disclaimer: I received both of these books for review in exchange for my honest review.

The Books:
Homeroom Diaries by James Patterson and Lisa Papademetriou, Illustrated by Keino [Goodreads | Pre-Order | Preview]
Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins [Goodreads | Pre-Order | Preview]

City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare Review

8755785 198x300 City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare ReviewCity of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare
IndieboundBook DepositorySeries: The Mortal Instruments #6
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books, Simon & Schuster on May 27, 2014
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 725
Format: Hardcover
Goodreads
four half stars City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare Review
In this dazzling and long-awaited conclusion to the acclaimed Mortal Instruments series, Clary and her friends fight the greatest evil they have ever faced: Clary's own brother.

Sebastian Morgenstern is on the move, systematically turning Shadowhunter against Shadowhunter. Bearing the Infernal Cup, he transforms Shadowhunters into creatures out of nightmare, tearing apart families and lovers as the ranks of his Endarkened army swell.

The embattled Shadowhunters withdraw to Idris - but not even the famed demon towers of Alicante can keep Sebastian at bay. And with the Nephilim trapped in Idris, who will guard the world against demons?

When one of the greatest betrayals the Nephilim have ever known is revealed, Clary, Jace, Isabelle, Simon, and Alec must flee - even if their journey takes them deep into the demon realms, where no Shadowhunter has set foot before, and from which no human being has ever returned...

Love will be sacrificed and lives lost in the terrible battle for the fate of the word in the thrilling final installment of the classic urban fantasy series The Mortal Instruments!

725 pages seemed quite daunting, but once I got through it, I felt like I could read any big book! With Clare’s writing, it’s a quick pace, but nicely balances out the action and the serious talks and the hilarious lines.

ADVICE
If you have not read The Infernal Devices series before this book, DO IT. One of the characters will thoroughly confuse you and you won’t understand why and how and what the heck is going on if you haven’t read TID. It’s one of those things that is so important and wonderful if you’ve read TID. Just do it, okay?

WHAT I LIKED
I wasn’t the biggest fan of the previous two books in this series. They were absolutely ridiculous and rather painful for me. City of Heavenly Fire redeemed the series and reminded me what I loved about each character, scene, witty line, and more. It tied everything together quite well between this series, The Infernal Devices, and introducing us to the main characters of The Dark Artifices.

I love Clare’s writing in how visual everything is. I could imagine the demons and the place they were going through to get to Jonathan. I also love the witty / hilarious lines. Alec had the most sass and even when he was drunk, he was on point. We also get drunk Simon, which is just plain hilarious.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
That ending went on a little too long. I know, this book is so long and I love this series! But there comes a time when you just need to let it go. Okay, now you’re singing that song. Okay. It was nice to see the wedding and to see some other things be explained. It just dragged on way too long. It’s nice to see some peaceful moments after being dragged through a demon dimension, but c’mon. C’mon.

OVERALL
Super fun, super wonderful. I can’t wait for The Dark Artifices! Also, I heard that Cassandra Clare announced that there will be some short stories / novella things for Simon? WANT.

four half stars City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare Review