Rule Forty-two. All persons more than a mile high to leave the court.

Review: Divergent x Veronica Roth

I love dystopian stories. They are even more fun to read during tropical storms…this I promise you.

DIVERGENT:

Goodreads synopsis:

“In a future Chicago, 16-year-old Beatrice Prior must choose among five predetermined factions to define her identity for the rest of her life, a decision made more difficult when she discovers that she is an anomaly who does not fit into any one group, and that the society she lives in is not perfect after all.”

Beatrice “Tris” Prior lives in future Chicago, where all 16-year-olds must choose which faction they belong to. The choices are Abnegation, Candor, Dauntless, Erudite, and Amity. They undergo tests to see which faction would best fit, however Beatrice’s results are inconclusive. She is Divergent. Still, she must choose one of the five factions. She decides to leave her family in Abnegation and join the Dauntless faction, which is a big deal, since her society lives by the phrase “faction before blood.”

The majority of the story takes place during her initiation ceremony, where she learns that being Dauntless isn’t just about bravery. The faction is brutal and cruel and she is just hoping to survive. She quickly learns that being Divergent is dangerous and the faction leaders are on the lookout for Divergent rebels, so she must try to fit in as seamlessly as possible, which proves difficult in her initiation trials. Because I don’t want to give too many spoilers, let’s just say Tris becomes privy to confidential information that may or may not endanger her family, and chaos ensues.

I read this in a couple of sittings. Veronica Roth writes with such gripping magic. Her style does in fact remind me a lot of Suzanne Collins in all the good ways. It’s descriptive without being so embellished, and the focus is much more on the fast-paced action of the plot. Best of all, no love triangle. I repeat, NO LOVE TRIANGLE. And I loved Tris, you guys. She’s a total badass. Rose Hathaway is my queen bee, but still. I can’t wait to see who they cast in the movie!

I tend to measure post-apocalyptic fiction on a scale of 1 to Hunger Games and I must say this went beyond in my book. Or maybe tied HG. I don’t know yet. It was excellent.

I’m off to read Insurgent…review to follow!

xo Maddy

Review: The Fault in Our Stars x John Green

You guys, this:

This is by far the best book I have read in recent memory.  If you are headed to your bookstore/library in the near future (which, you probably are, or SHOULD BE), this is a must-read. Must. Must. Must.

From the inside cover:

“Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.”

This book has it all. It’s beautiful, heartbreaking, hysterical, witty, and just so incredible. I’ve never laughed/cried so much while reading. Hazel and Augustus quickly became two of my favorite literary characters, their voices so honest and sad but supremely clever.

I love.

John Green deserves the world’s greatest high five for this masterpiece (and like a rucksack full of actual literary prizes).

P.S.! You can watch John read the first chapter here:

Reviews: Matched & Crossed x Ally Condie

Hallo!

HOKAY, I read Matched and Crossed by Ally Condie. I’m a little late to the party (anyone else?).

Synopsis via Goodreads:

“Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander’s face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate… until she sees Ky Markham’s face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it’s a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she’s destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can’t stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society’s infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.”

Le sigh. Can we agree that the best love stories take place in dystopias? Nothin’ like Society royally messing with your plans. Give ‘em the ole 1-2 punch, Cassia! Both Xander and Ky are great. The love triangle reminds me of the Hunger Games (Team Peeta, anyone?).

I like this story a lot, *but* it seems like so much of it was taken from The Giver, which isn’t a bad thing (who doesn’t like The Giver?)…I would just love for a YA author to do a completely fresh take on the dystopian world. With that rant out of the way, I do love the bird’s eye view of the general plot: the Match ceremony, which intrigued me from the get go. That hasn’t been done (that I know of). Plus there were enough twists and turns to keep me flipping pages like a madwoman. And just….Ky. And Xander. *swoons*

Then there’s Crossed:

Synopsis via Goodreads:

“Rules Are Different Outside The Society

Chasing down an uncertain future, Cassia makes her way to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky–taken by the Society to his sure death–only to find that he has escaped into the majestic, but treacherous, canyons. On this wild frontier are glimmers of a different life and the enthralling promise of a rebellion. But even as Cassia sacrifices every thing to reunite with Ky, ingenious surprises from Xander may change the game once again.

Narrated from both Cassia’s and Ky’s point of view, this hotly anticipated sequel to Matched will take them both to the edge of Society, where nothing is as expected and crosses and double crosses make their path more twisted than ever.”

Oh, Crossed. I’m just gonna throw it out there and say I didn’t like it as much as I liked Matched (Please let’s still be friends!).

Maybe it’s a common problem with trilogies…there’s a tendency for the middle book to be like a bridge between the first and third. Sure, there are a couple new characters that appear will have a big role as the third book plays out, and more secrets about the Society and the Rising are revealed, but this one just seemed a little lacking in substance…like there was a lot of “fluff” with the internal dialogue. Did anyone else feel that way? Am I making this up?

Ally did a really cool twist with the narration for this one, though: The POV switches between Ky and Cassia each chapter, which I thought was super cool since they start out on separate paths in this book!

Don’t get me wrong, I finished this book in like 1.5 sittings (I started it before bed then woke up 5 hours later to finish it). I liked it, and you know I’m going to be on edge until Reached is published, but I just didn’t think it was *quite* as strong as the first.

But I still love Ky. And Xander.

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Vivid Book Worlds/Settings!

Top Ten Tuesday is brought to you by…The Broke and the Bookish!

Here are my picks for Most Vivid Book Worlds/Settings:

1. Everywhere Harry Potter goes

Hogwarts, Hogsmeade, Diagon Alley, 12 Grimmauld, The Burrow, all of it.

(source)

2. The Shire

I’m determined to live in a Baggins-esque earth home one day.

(source)

3. Panem

THE CAPITOL. Ra ra ra ah ah ro ma ro ma ma:

(source)

4. Narnia

tibby's quotes.

…said no one ever

(source)

5. The Emerald City

(source)

During tornadoes I cross my fingers that I’ll get swooped up to the land of Oz. I mean, don’t you? (Humor me?)

6. Green Gables

I melt a little every time I read about Lover’s Lane, Willowmere, Violet Vale, and Birch Path.

(source)

7. Neverland

Yup, I’d rather be at Mermaid Lagoon.

(source)

8. Hundred Acre Wood

that moment where I realize I’m quickly regressing

(source)

9. Whoville

+ everything else Dr. Seuss ever did

P.S. What happened to Taylor Momsen?

(source)

10. Wonderland

because where else can you find a hookah-smoking caterpillar?

(source)

**As a general rule of thumb, any book that contains maps is probably gonna be off the Richter amazebeans**

Penguin Classics x Coralie Bickford Smith

Here I am again, obsessing over Penguin Classics. Again. I mean, what else is new? They just get everything so right. Like these and these. And my latest idée fixe, the hardcover classics designed by Coralie Bickford Smith. I can’t stop thinking about them.

Coralie’s designs are stamped on the linen cases. The endpapers are colored. There are ribbon markers. Need I say more?

You can choose from a stellar variety of Victorian classics from the likes of Dickens and the Brontes, as well as childhood classics like Little Women and Treasure Island. Most importantly, you can secure the entire Jane Austen collection. I know.

Review: Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Apparently The Hunger Games is the gateway drug to dystopian lit. I’m now living in the future and not looking back.

From the back cover:

“Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can’t wait. Not for her license–for turning pretty. In Tally’s world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there.

But Tally’s new friend Shay isn’t sure she wants to be pretty. She’d rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world–and it isn’t very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.”

Tally lives in a post-apocalyptic city where everything is contained, controlled, and isolated. She has spent the past four years in Uglyville and is looking forward to finally joining her best friend Peris in New Pretty Town. Until she meets Shay, that is. Shay shows Tally that there is a world outside of their own, one that is unregulated by the authorities, and when Shay tells Tally that she’s not going to turn pretty, Tally has a tough choice to make.

She can either turn pretty and spend her life devoid of original thought, partying all day and looking gorgeous just like everyone else, or she can escape with Shay and find freedom in the unknown land that lies beyond, called “the Smoke”. But then there’s Peris, waiting for her back in New Pretty Town, and he reminds her of the promise she made to him. The day of Tally’s operation does not go as expected, and Special Circumstances sends her out as a spy to retrieve Shay and the others that escaped.

I really, really enjoyed this book. Not only was I totally engrossed in the plot, I felt really connected to Tally and torn with the decisions she had to make. Westerfeld does a supreme job of building a sci-fi world. I loved how he made connections to contemporary society (i.e. the rollercoaster in the Rusty Ruins) and coupled that landscape with the futuristic hoverboards, bungee jackets, and other gadgets. It made the story that much more believable, like Tally’s city was really constructed on top of our world.

Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Happy Monday, friends! I’m on recess for the rest of the month, kind of like the Supreme Court, which means full dedication to tackling my ever-growing Goodreads list.

Let’s get to it.

I’m still sort of wrapping my mind around Thirteen Reasons Why. I’ve been both wanting and waiting to read it (if that makes sense), mostly because I was intrigued by the premise but at the same time, the idea just seemed so…heavy. It’s not exactly a summertime beach read if ya know what I mean.

From the back cover:

“Clay Jensen doesn’t want anything to do with the tapes Hannah Baker made. Hannah is dead. Her secrets should be buried with her. Then Hannah’s voice tells Clay that his name is on her tapes–and that he is, in some way, responsible for her death. All though the night, Clay keeps listening. He follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his small town…and what he discovers changes his life forever.”

Any copy that ends in “changes his life forever” and I’m so there. You got me.

But suicide. Oy.

The concept of the book is basically brilliant. You are reading a simultaneous narrative: Hannah’s voice on the tapes and Clay’s thoughts as he’s listening to them. Genius, right? Now I’m kicking myself for not listening to the audiobook. It took me a couple chapters to really get used to the style, but I think overall it’s great. From the get go I needed to know what happened.

As the title suggests, there are thirteen reasons why Hannah commits suicide, thirteen people, really, who affected her life is way they didn’t know. She leaves a shoe box full of cassette tapes to be passed around among them. It’s as ghoulish and haunting as it sounds. The first cassette centers around the incident that started a whole chain of events that led to her death, and the buildup keeps the pages turning, especially as various characters and stories intertwine.

Along with the tapes, Clay has a map of the town that Hannah left him. Throughout the  narrative, Hannah directs him to points on the map where each incident took place. Clay’s an interesting one. He’s the “good kid” at school, whose reason for being on the list is far different from the others, and he’s the character who really makes the story compelling. You feel like you’re with him on this journey to unraveling Hannah’s story and understanding her actions.

I think this book is a great read for anyone in high school. If I had to sum it up, I’d say that the book is about what we do and say to others, and how those actions and words, no matter how small, affect people (so go give someone a high five).

…and I’m off to secure Jay Asher’s second book, The Future of Us!

 


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