Book Review – Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Title: Allegiant

Author: Veronica Roth

Format: Hardback

Published: 2013

 

After finishing Insurgent I was quick to pick up Alegiant and read it. I was excited for the read as I had enjoyed insurgent. So I delved in looking forward to getting lost in the book to be jerked right out of the story by the second chapter. Instead of the story being told in first person perspective from the eyes of Tris the story alternates back and forth from the eyes of Tris and Tobias. It is almost every other chapter that the voice changes in first person. Each chapter is marked with whose perspective the story is being told but taking the time to note that every chapter pulls you out of the story that is being told instead of getting lost in it. In addition to that if I got interrupted in the middle of a chapter it was difficult to determine whose perspective I was reading from unless I looked back a few pages at the chapter start.

 

Over all, I don’t mind changing perspectives in third person because that is easy to tell and the voice doesn’t really change just the scene does, but in first person it can be difficult to determine who “I” is. Honestly I feel the story in Allegiant suffered from the changing perspectives and in some ways it was a little necessary but a lot of times it wasn’t and I didn’t see the point of the change in perspective. Alternating back and forth I feel was a poor execution of telling the story. Honestly there are better ways of executing things if there is a need for change in perspective such sections, it still pulls a reader out of the story but not as frequently so one can go multiple chapters without being pulled out. Also a font difference would also help as it is a quick reference and easier to notice than stopping at each chapter to read a name to verify whose talking. Long rant cut short, this made me very cranky and frustrated me with the book.

 

Despite the changes in perspectives, I still read the book because I wanted to know what happened and it was still a good story that kept my attention as far as stories go and toward the end I was locked into the book and was ready to murder a person for interrupting me in my reading as the story picked up and had enough action that changing perspectives was not a bit deal. Overall the book was a pretty good read, and I will give it a 4 out of 5 pages. If the story wasn’t as good as it was the formatting would have forced this book into a 3 out of 5 but the story saves the book keeping at a strong rating and something I would say is a good read but I would warn about the changing POV’s as that can be annoying.

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Book Review – Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Title: Insurgent

Author: Veronica Roth

Format: Hardback

Published: 2012

 

Overall, I feel like everyone on this blog has read and reviewed at least the first book in the Divergent series and some of us have gone forward and reviewed the latter books in the series. I myself have reviewed the first book over a year ago. [ Link ]It was a good read as I recall but I held off reading further considering that my fellow reviewers were doing the same books. I have now returned to the series not because of the not too long ago released movies but rather because I happened to on a lark pick up the audio book of Divergent.

 

In listening to the first book I was reminded of how good the story was and the audio book placed a rather good and compelling voice to the main character of Tris. After finishing the audio book I decided that I very much wanted to read the rest of the series and so I quickly jumped on picking up the next book to read. Once I opened the book I was reminded of how engrossing Veronica Roth’s writing style is. The story was decent but the writing style is one that simply draws you in and refuses to let you go. I found myself quickly lost in the book turning the next page over and over again and hardly noticing when there were chapter breaks.

 

As some of you may know I am a bit of a slow reader. It can take me a long time to get through a book unless it is rather good. In the case of Insurgent I had it done in two days. I hardly put it down for much of anything. I loved how the story traveled to the different factions and there was a lot of interesting information that was revealed in the story. In a lot of ways the action and tension kept pretty strong in this book.

 

Though the book engrossed me and would not let me go and I finished this rather thick book in short order I would still give this book a solid 4 out of 5 pages. Yes the book is good and is certainly a good read but this isn’t a book that I would go rushing out to own and recommend to all of my friends. This is a book that if asked for a book to read I would mention it, or if I see someone already reading it I might remark that it is a good book and a good read but that is where it ranks. I certainly don’t regret reading this book and find that it was time well spend those two days of reading.

Writer Wednesday – Terri-Lynne Smiles

1. Who are you? (A name would be good here…preferably the one you write under)
Terri-Lynne Smiles

2. What type of stuff do you write? (Besides shopping lists)
Cross-genre novels. Currently, The Rothston Series combines elements of science fiction and contemporary fantasy into a believable explanation for real world events. Next year when the series is finished, I have a number of other novels to be released, including a murder mystery without a murder, a futuristic thriller set on an isolated planet/colony, and a discovery story about a woman who finds herself wrongfully imprisoned. The commonality is that they all involve science in one form or another.

3. What do you want to pimp right now? (May it be your newest, your work-in-progress, your favorite or even your first)
The Rothston Series is what’s hot for me right now. The first book, Foreseen, introduces the college-age characters in an exciting romp into the world of adepts – people who can covertly change the decisions made by those around them. The second novel in the series, Choices, follows the two protagonists on a tense and sometimes terrifying trek around the globe as they flee for their lives. It leans slightly toward horror in some of their encounters but sets the stage for the final two installments of the series. Origins, the third book, will be out later this fall, with Common Ground concluding the series in 2015.

4. What is your favorite book? (Okay, or two or three or… I know how writers are as readers.)
I don’t have a favorite book (unless you count 20 Master Plots by Ronald Tobias), but I have several authors I enjoy for different reasons. I’ll spare your readers my long-winded explanations of the strengths and weaknesses of each and just stick to the list:

  • Edgar Alan Poe
  • Agatha Christie
  • Dean Koontz
  • Ray Bradbury
  • David Baldacci
  • J.K. Rowling

5. What other hats do you wear besides the writer hat?
I was a healthcare lawyer for over 25 years before leaving to pursue writing full-time (meaning almost every waking moment). Writing is much more difficult and absorbing than law. I’m also an active volunteer for a number of charitable organizations and the Board Chair of the Ohio Association of Nonprofit Organizations.

6. What link can we find you at? (One or two please; don’t go overboard here!)
Main Website – www.terrilynnesmiles.com
Facebook – Author Page – https://www.facebook.com/TerriLynneSmiles
The Rothston Series on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Foreseen-The-Rothston-Series/

 

 

 

*****

On Reading…

Reading is important for everyone – writer or not. I can’t say that enough. I read about an hour or two a day but don’t stick to any particular genre – I find that too limiting in terms of voice and style. For example, in the past two months, I finished Veronica Roth’s light YA novel Divergent, John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and John C. Brewer’s international thriller The Silla Project. I am three-quarters of the way through Michael Williams’ literary Trajan’s Arch and failed at reading Brandon Sanderson’s high fantasy Elantris. I have also started Malcolm Gladwell’s nonfiction Outliers, and am re-reading from cover-to-cover 20 Master Plots by Ronald Tobias. During this same period, I also read two unpublished manuscripts – one romance, one contemporary fantasy – and portions of two proposed how-to books. I used to give up on novels that didn’t rivet me to my seat, but now force myself to finish if I can because each book I read provides more insight into writing – either by positive or negative lesson. Nonfiction, on the other hand, enhances my understanding of the world, which then informs my writing. That means if I’m not getting anything out of a nonfiction book by the end of the first chapter, I’m unlikely to go further.

Anyone who writes fiction has heard over and over that reading is essential to writing. This is one of the few “truths” for authors. If you’re short on time, don’t abandon your reading. If you don’t have time to read, your writing will stagnate.

 

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Book Review – Inside Divergent

Title: Inside Divergent: The Initiate’s World
Author: Cecelia Bernard
Format: Paperback
Published: 2014

Okay, so you already know by now that I really really liked Divergent, and that I was pretty much okay with the series.

So I was screwing around on the library website and I saw that this book was available, so I figured what the heck.

*sigh*  I really should have quit while I was ahead.

Inside Divergent features full-color photographs on every page and a few boxes of text here and there.  It’s designed as a movie companion for a movie that hasn’t come out yet, although  all the images are movie stills.  As a side note, I have to say that I still don’t know about all the casting choices, so the book pretty much was annoying all the way through.

Even worse, the book is basically a guide to the world of Divergent, and if you’re at the point where you’ve read the books, you’re dying for the movie and you’re grasping at everything you can get your hands on, you’ll be really annoyed that this book spends most of the book telling you what the factions are.  If you’re not somebody who has read the books and you’re getting this thinking it’s a movie companion, there are spoilers.  For example, Tris’s test results.

So, uh, this book is pretty pointless.

Also, I’m a little confused as to why there is almost no new material whatsoever in this book and Cecelia Bernard – whoever she is – is listed as the author.

I’ll give it a star because it’s pretty, but that’s all it’s getting. 1/5 pages for sure.

Bonus! Want to win something?

Hey, loyal followers.
One of my favorite authors and all-time favorite people, Janine Spendlove, is giving away a copy of the Divergent Thinking anthology that she is in.

If you’d like a chance at winning it, CLICK HERE!!!! for your chance. If you are unfamilliar with either Janine’s work or Divergent (which the antho deals with), search the blog, since they’re both around.

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Book Review – Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Title: Allegiant
Author: Veronica Roth
Format: Hardback
Published: 2013
So, we’re finally at the last book of the Divergent series, and this review is going to be difficult to write because of spoilers.  Bear with me.  To see my past reviews of the series: Divergent (Book 1) or Insurgent (Book 2). You can also see Misheal’s review of the first book HERE or Katherine’s interesting review of the first couple in this post.

Now then.

The book starts with Tris and her friends in Erudite headquarters, where they’re being held for the stuff that happens in book 2.  They then leave the city and discover what is going on outside the city where nobody’s allowed to go.  Beyond that, I can’t really say much without going into a lot of spoilers.  Seriously, a LOT happens in this book.

On the plus side of things, after how much I hated book 2, this book seriously redeemed the series.  I still think that book 2 could have been condensed into a couple chapters in book 1.  But in this book, the story moved quickly, the characters were interesting to read about (for the most part), and I got a lot of the questions that I had in book 1 answered outright or at least well enough.

On the negative, I still have issues with Veronica’s decision to just go from one book to the next as easily as one chapter to the next.  These books came out like eight months or a year or something apart.  And with NOTHING to recap what happened in the last book, there are several places where I had to stop reading and try to remember what happened.  Oh, wait, why are they at Erudite…?  What does this term mean, again…?  Who is this person…?  Really, would it have killed Roth to give us a wee bit of overlap?

Also, Caleb annoyed the hell out of me.  Yes, I understand why he was there.  Yes, I get what the author was doing.  But every scene with Caleb in it annoyed me somehow.

Also, and here’s the biggest one… I have already complained about first person (especially first person present).  I hate it, and it’s almost never done well.  While Veronica’s story is good enough to make that okay, in this case it was the most annoying thing ever.  Why?  Because every single friggin’ chapter changed the main character that we were following between Tris and Four.  And while I like Tris and Four, it’s really annoying to have to remember who is talking when all anyone is saying is “I am doing this stuff right now.”   There were several instances when I was so into the book that I forgot that the POV changed until somebody referenced the character that I thought was speaking.  *sigh*

PRO TIP – when we’re all into a book and reading, we’re not stopping to look at the chapter headings to change point of view.  Just sayin’.

Honestly, it got to the point that I would only read a chapter at a time and stop whenever the POV changed.

 

End result – the good outweighed the bad for the most part, but I have to only given this a four out of five because of the POV thing.  Sorry.

Books Review: Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Title: Divergent
Insurgent
Author: Veronica Roth
Format: 
Electronic
Published: 2011 (Divergent) 2012 (Insurgent)

 

The premise of this dystopian Young Adult trilogy is straightforward enough.  I’d even argue that it is perhaps too straightforward and therein lies its primary undoing.     The books are based on the idea that future Chicago is divided into clans (here known as “factions”) based SOLELY upon the individual’s personality trait.

The first book is the story of one Special Snowflake called Beatrice who leaves the Abnegation (eg. Quaker) faction of her birth for the more daring Dauntless.   She gives herself the cool, hip new name “Tris”, jumps off a seven-story building into a pit and then makes herself over from a quiet blonde in gray to the kind of person you instinctively avoid on the subway.    Most of the first book chronicles her transition from meek child to what is supposed to be an elite warrior but is really nothing more than a person with uncontrolled impulses toward danger.     Theoretically the Dauntless faction is the security and armed force for this fragmented new Chicago.   Reading the story, however, it’s obvious that Veronica Roth has absolutely no CLUE about how one trains a soldier.  For crying out loud, the bulk of my knowledge in the subject comes from GI Jane and George RR Martin novels and even I know that discipline is the primary skill instilled in any soldier.    Yet the Dauntless faction operates on the exact opposite of discipline, praising people for acting on their most erratic impulses.    That means that fully two thirds of the first book are a frustrating mess of watching punk teenagers get even MORE annoyingly idiotic.     The last third of the book shifts gears entirely, dumping us into the inevitable war between the factions that were originally designed to keep the peace.

I can go on and on about how terrible these two books are, about how incomplete their setup is, about how much they don’t make sense.   But instead I’m going to let you in on a bit of a secret.

These are Christian Fiction.   

In her acknowledgements of the first book,  Veronica Roth says “Thank you, God, for your Son and for blessing me beyond comprehension” .   In the second book she thanks God for “keeping His promises”.   Other than those two sentences there is little mention of religion or faith in the thousand-plus pages of story.   But it’s painfully clear that these are meant as a Christian Fiction-style response to The Hunger Games.     By the middle of Insurgent the messages about peace, sacrifice, character are coming fast and furious.   Roth said that she “[tries] to avoid preaching of any kind” yet these books  read like the author has had a steady diet of heavily-polemic Christian Fiction a la Janette Oke and Ted Dekker.

I’m a devout follower of Christ Jesus, and not ashamed of that fact.   Yet I also make no bones about my extreme dislike for most fiction marketed primarily to Christians.   It has been my experience over the past 40 years of being a reader that much of the fiction sold for Christian audiences is more concerned about re-making the philosophical points found in the Bible than it is about telling a story.    Because of that the stories are often weak, illogical, profoundly uninteresting.      What I find very curious about these two books is just how odd  it is to have the weaknesses so prevalent in Christian-targeted fiction and also to not have the overt “and then Jesus saved all of Chicago” moment.       I find myself wishing that Roth had either decided to write a better series or to make this one more open in its morality play.     As it stands, these first two books in this series are doubly-hollow and wholly illogical.

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