Insurgent, by Veronica Roth

2012 Book 83: Insurgent, by Veronica Roth (6/7/2012)

Reason for Reading: Second book in the Divergent trilogy

My Review 4.5/5 stars
The second book in the Divergent trilogy picks up almost immediately after the end of the first book. Tris explores the boundaries of friendship and betrayal as she fights to reestablish balance in her torn-up world. Like Divergent, Insurgent isn’t JUST an exciting dystopic novel with unique world-building and enticing protagonists, it is also a deeper book which will make the reader see areas of grey the in the choices the characters make. It’s a suspenseful, fun, and thoughtful book. I definitely recommend it to anyone who reads dystopic YA lit.

Divergent, by Veronica Roth

2012 Book 82: Divergent, by Veronica Roth (6/2/2012)

Reason for Reading: Curiosity

My Review 5/5 stars
The future Chicago has 5 factions of people, each representing a moral value: Amity, Dauntless, Candor, Erudite, and Abnegation. At the age of 16, Beatrice Prior and all her classmates must choose which faction to join. Beatrice struggles with the choice—does she follow her desires or does she choose to stay with her family? I was deeply impressed by this book. This isn’t ANY YA-dystopia-with-strong-female-lead. This is an amazing coming-of-age story that explores the meanings of morals, identity, and courage. Furthermore, Roth has managed to create a female lead who is strong while still leaving her human AND keeping her morals intact. Beatrice is an admirable and courageous young woman, despite her youthful identity crisis. Roth has also written a suspenseful and intriguing tale—I read the book in one sitting because I simply didn’t want to stop. The action is exciting without being gore-spittingly violent. Sure, there’s violence…there has to be for the plot to work. But Roth describes the scenes so well that people can imagine as much (or as little) gore as they wish. Gore is not inserted for its shock value. Divergent is exciting enough that all action-lovers should be thrilled, and the people who appreciate a more deeply meaningful story will be satisfied. I can’t wait to read the next!

PS FYI I’m comparing it to The Hunger Games, which I found to be tastelessly violent with a rather unlikeable main character. But that’s just me! 🙂

The Speed of Dark, by Elizabeth Moon

2012 Book 60: The Speed of Dark, by Elizabeth Moon (4/9/2012)

Reason for Reading: Autism Awareness Month

My Review 4/5 stars
Lou Arrendale is a high-functioning autistic man in a near-future world. When his employer starts to put pressure on him to be one of the first human subjects in a dangerous brain-altering experimental “cure” for autism, he questions what it is to be Lou. Is his autism part of his personality? What does it mean to be “normal?” Are the normals even normal? This book is full of deep questions of identity and categorizing of humans. It is also about mistreatment of disabled people by bigots. In fact, I thought the bigotry was a little over-done to the point of not being realistic…but maybe this is Moon’s idea of what the near future will be like. Or maybe I’m naïve. 🙂 This book was very thought-provoking and interesting, though I thought it lacked verisimilitude. And there were three (apparently) independent secondary characters named Bart within a 25 paged interval. Not sure what Moon was trying to say there—maybe she really likes the name Bart. 🙂 Anyway, despite my nit-pickiness, I thought it was quite a good book.

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

2012 Book 35: The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins (2/22/2012)

Reason for Reading: My friend Shweta has been telling me to read this book for quite a while. Now, my friend Alicia insisted I read it so that we can go watch the movie together.

My Review 3/5 stars
In a post-apocalyptic country called Panem, The Capital takes two children as tributes from each of its 12 Districts for an annual reality-TV survival competition. The children must fight until there is only one survivor. I understand why this book is so popular. Collins is a fantastic writer—the plot was fast-moving, suspenseful, and creative; the characters were well-developed and likable. However, I did not like this book. The idea of kids being forced to murder kids for entertainment is disturbing and tasteless as far as I’m concerned. It didn’t work for me in Lord of the Flies and it didn’t work for me in The Hunger Games. I thought about continuing with the rest of the series, but it would appear from the reviews that the next two books are just as violent, so I guess I don’t see the point. I do really appreciate that it was very exciting and well-written though. I practically read it in one sitting despite my disgust at the premise. It deserves 1-2 stars for the premise and 4-5 stars for the writing, so I gave it 3.