Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Review: Divergent

Divergent by Veronica Roth 
Genre: YA Dystopian

"In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, 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 to determine who her friends really are. 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 a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves... or it might destroy her."

Who wouldn't immediately go out and buy this book with such an enticing description? If you haven't already done so, please do; this novel is well-worth the money and time. Divergent measured up to all the good things I have heard about it from friends and family. It has plenty of action, but also is very character-driven. The main character, Tris, is very straight-forward and often blunt, which can be a bit irritating at times, as well as her brusqueness and stubbornness, but she recognizes that she has faults and desires to change them throughout the novel. I love that this character is so self-reflective and sensitive to her faults, because it causes the readers to be as well.

Veronica Roth does a good job of exploring and developing the characters (mainly Tris), while also moving the novel along at a good pace. I also love the deep questions she brings up about bravery and fearlessness. The whole premise of the novel, a society divided up by different values, is just fascinating to me, and Roth explores the pros and cons of them well, especially in the sequel, Insurgent, which I will probably expound upon in another blog post.

I couldn't find much, if any, fault with this novel. I find the characters intriguing, and Roth is not afraid to show life in all its brutal, yet hope-yearning reality. This novel will definitely keep you on your toes with the action and societal/character mysteries. I give it a 4.5 out of 5 and recommend it to 16 year olds and up because of a few violent/graphic scenes.

What I learned: Bravery is about moving on even when you don't want to. Bravery encompasses self-sacrifice and honesty.

My favorite quote: "Becoming fearless isn't the point. That's impossible. It's learning how to control your fear, and how to be free from it, that's the point."

-There's a movie coming out soon (March?) based on this movie, so make sure you read the book first! If you want to read more about Veronica Roth, her books, or the movie, check out her blog:  

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Review: Ender's Game

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Genre: Science-Fiction 

Summary from the back: "Intense is the word for Ender's Game. Aliens have attacked twice and almost destroyed the human species. To make sure humans win the next encounter, the world government has taken to breeding military geniuses-and then training them in the arts of war...The early training, not surprisingly, takes the form of 'games'...Ender Wiggin is a genius among geniuses; he wins all the games...He is smart enough to know that time is running out. But is he smart enough to save the planet?"

I heard a lot about this book and have wanted to read it for a long time. And now that I graduated college, I have the time :). I haven't read a lot of sci-fi books, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this novel, and it wasn't  what I thought it would be like. But according to the author's supposed plan (I read his intro), the book is excellent and his story-writing skills are superb. 

I found the way the children are trained fascinating and the sad way that they are treated true even in our world today, albeit to a lesser degree. The harsh treatment of the children and the idea of war as a 'game' reminded me a lot of The Hunger Games, although this novel is completely different in many ways from that series. The author knows much about how power and leaders work and this was very enlightening. I came to know and love Ender, the main character, and could see parts of myself in him, which I believe is the trait of a good creator: to show a reader him/herself in the characters to that she can come out of the novel changed. 

I'm a visual person; I like descriptions and clear images when I read, and there wasn't much of that in this novel. So it was difficult at times to picture the ships and rooms that the soldiers live in. I was also confused at times about what was happening politically on earth. Orson Scott Card could have explained some of these things more clearly for the reader. 

Overall though, the novel was well-written, thought-provoking, and interesting, so I give it a 3.5 out of 5. I recommend it to 16 year-olds and above because there is some language and graphic images. With every book that becomes a movie, I advocate reading the book before watching the movie, so you can truly comprehend/understand what is happening. But that might just because I love books so much. This novel is also a series, I believe, and I most definitely want to check out the others. You can learn more about this author and his books at his website here

What I learned: War/fighting is most definitely not a game. An important quote that's made me think about love and hatred (don't worry, it's not a spoiler) that I'm still chewing on: "In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it's impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves." What do you think about this idea?

Merry Christmas, by the way! Let us remember the truest, greatest story of all this season!