Friday, November 23, 2012

Insurgent, by Veronica Roth

 I just finished the second book in Veronica Roth's dystopian Divergent trilogy, Insurgent, about a society divided into five factions, each based on a particular value. Among the society, there exist the factionless, most of whom have minds different from the others, minds that are more flexible, that can see value in more than one faction. Those people with more flexible minds are called the divergent. In book two, a group has arisen to resist the efforts of one faction to dominate the others, but the motives on either side of the war aren't as black and white as they seem.

The compelling plot had me on edge for the entire read. Although the fast-paced plot was sometimes exhausting, I felt like Beatrice, the main character, unwilling to rest.

At times, I doubted twists in the plot and worried I was being manipulated and would come to the end, disenchanted and upset. But the ending brought all of the plot points together in a way that overcame my doubts and reinstilled my confidence in the saga, and now I'm eager for the next book. Hurry up, Veronica Roth!

Divergent, by Veronica Roth


At first, I didn't think I was going to enjoy this novel, because the choosing ceremony reminded me too much of Lois Lowry's The Giver, but it didn't take long for me to change my mind. I was quickly drawn into the action, into Beatrice's dilemma, and into her relationships with the people around her.

I appreciated how the author represented all five factions without favoritism. All five had positive and negative traits, allowing readers to decide which faction best represented their values. I found myself contemplating which faction I would choose. My initial thought was Euridite, because I love seeking knowledge, but I wonder if my love for peace is greater, putting me in Amity. I would definitely not choose Abnegation or Dauntless! Not sure about Candor, either.

Although the action was gripping, the relationships between the characters are what kept me reading. Roth really knows how to draw her characters and make them real. In fact, as much as I loved The Hunger Games, I think I enjoyed this story more because of that, and I can't wait to read Insurgent.

Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein

This story, about two young women, a Scottish spy and an English pilot during World War II Nazi-occupied France, pulled me in, yanked me around, and left me feeling breathless. The narrative begins in Queenie's point of view, as she writes to literally save her life as a prisoner of war in a French hotel that's been converted into a place of torture by the Nazis. Queenie oscillates between recalling what she knows of the wireless operators working for the resistence and Ally forces--including their codes, locations, and activities--and details about her torment as a prisoner. As a once refined, uperclass student at Oxford, Queenie employs literary devices to dramatize her story for her captors, writing more than required. She also needs to write, to help her deal with her terrifying situation and to return to a time when she was still with her best friend, Maddie.

Maddie, the English pilot, is not refined. At a time when women were discouraged from flying--used only as a last resort--she just wanted the opportunity. Raised by grandparents who own a motorbike store, Maddie has her own motorbike (and independence) and quickly learns how to work on engines. Once her talents are recognized, she quickly becomes the go-to pilot for a French resistence unit flying by moonlight on secret airfields getting people in and out of the country, not far from where her best friend is being held captive.

I don't want to give too much away, but the story continually surprises to the very end while it simultaneously pulls at your heartstrings. The attention to detail--historical, geographical, and mechanical--was sometimes difficult for me to follow, and I would think a teen would have even greater difficulty. I also worry the details about torture might be hard on some teen readers. I often thought while reading that the novel may be more suitable for adults. But maybe I'm not giving young people enough credit.

Poison Princess, by Kresley Cole

This post-apocalptic fantasy novel based on the arcana of the Tarot cards pulled me in with riveting action and compelling characters. I grew to really care about Evie, the main character, and fell in love with Jackson, the sexy eighteen-year-old Cajun boy who protects her through much of the story.

As much as I loved the book, I was confused as to why Evie was telling her story to Arthur and couldn't believe she would tell this stranger such intimate details. The ending explains why,but I wish the novel would have hinted to this explanation from the beginning. The whole time I kept thinking, "The author didn't need this frame around Evie's narrative. Why did she even include it?"

As wowed as I was by the revelations at the end of the book, I was disconcerted by the many unanswered questions. Because this is the first book of a series, I guess I'll defer my judgment until I finish it, which I definitely plan to do!

Sabriel, by Garth Nix

I'm glad I read this story. Initially I didn't like it. Nix started the story off with lots of action, but did little to make me connect with and care for the main character, Sabriel. I pushed onward anyway, and became intrigued by the author's creativity, especially with the necromancer's use of bells. LOVED that. The charter marks and sendings were also interesting, as were the paper flyers. The world, in general, was captivating, and by the last half of the story, Sabriel's character began to shine. I also enjoyed the relationship that developed between Sabriel and Touchstone.

The empowerment of females is a major theme that made me love this book.