250 Word Review: Insurgent, Veronica Roth

Summary (From Goodreads.com)
One choice can transform you–or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves–and herself–while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable–and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

Title: Insurgent
Author: Veronica Roth
Length: 525 pages
Series? Yes – Preceded by Divergent & followed by a third title to be anounced.

Plot: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★★
Readability: ★★★
Overall: ★★★★

My opinion:
Having heard so many great things about Divergent, I read that and promptly ordered Insurgent off Amazon.  I’m not sorry I did!

We touched on the similarities between Divergent and The Hunger Games in the review of Divergent, and there are more in Insurgent.  Most notable, the feel of the novels – Divergent is similar in feel to The Hunger Games itself, whilst Insurgent has more of a Mockingjay feel to it.

I found the characters to be just as imperfect and compelling as previously – Caleb, Tris, Four and the others all have flaws and I find that makes them more likable than if they were good at everything and generally perfect.  I thought Tris was more annoying (though I think that was intentional) but I found other characters made up for that.

I found Insurgent the more gripping of the two, but also a little more difficult to keep up with. It’s certainly not hard going by any stretch of the imagination, but I’d be less comfortable to take it on a journey or somewhere I’d be likely to interrupted.

My biggest objection to the book is somewhat difficult to explain without giving plot spoilers to those who haven’t read it yet!  I personally felt the conclusion to the book was reasonably predictable, which was a bit of a turn-off for me, but overall I did enjoy it.

Buy it? I’d be happy to buy it for less than a fiver, which it’s now widely available for.
In a nutshell: Recommended to fans of the series – fast-paced, gripping but a bit predictable.

250 Word Review: The Awakening & The Struggle (Vampire Diaries Volume 1), L.J. Smith

Summary (From Goodreads.com)
Elena: the golden girl, the leader, the one who can have any boy she wants.

Stefan: brooding and mysterious, he seems to be the only one who can resist Elena, even as he struggles to protect her from the horrors that haunt his past.

Damon: sexy, dangerous, and driven by an urge for revenge against Stefan, the brother who betrayed him. Determined to have Elena, he’d kill to possess her.

Collected here in one volume for the first time, volumes one and two of The Vampire Diaries, the tale of two vampire brothers and the beautiful girl torn between them.

(From Amazon.co.uk)
The Awakening: Elena Gilbert is used to getting what she wants and she wants mysterious new boy, Stefan. But Stefan is hiding a deadly secret – a secret that will change Elena’s life for ever …

The Struggle: Elena is torn between her boyfriend, Stefan, and his brother, Damon. But these brothers hide dark secrets and a tragic past that threatens them all. Damon wants to lead Elena astray – and he’d rather kill Stefan than let him possess her …

Title: The Awakening & The Struggle
Author: L.J. Smith
Length: 416 pages
Series? Yes – 1st of 16

Plot: ★★
Characters: ★★★
Readability: ★★★★
Overall: ★★★

My opinion:
I read this years and years ago, thought it was okay, and have never thought about it since.  This year, we started watching The Vampire Diaries at uni, because season 1 was £6 in Morrisons and we were bored.  Last week, I spotted The Struggle & The Awakening in the library, and thought I might as well re-check out the books that inspired the TV show.

First thing to say about the book – it’s pretty different from the TV show (though that may change throughout the series). Meredith is a new character not seen in the show, there are name changes, Katherine is like a totally new vampire and Damon is less likable (on the show I am Team Damon, in the book…Team Stefan).  As well as that, the conclusion to the volume is a plot twist that doesn’t occur until the end of season 3 of the show.

Considering the book independently of the show, I enjoyed it, but wasn’t overly wowed.  I did certainly enjoy it more the first time, which could certainly mean that I’m now just biased in favour of the show.

Buy it? Not one I would purchase, personally.
In a nutshell: Very quick & easy – half a day’s read.  Was okay but didn’t love it.

Divergent (Veronica Roth)

Divergent (Veronica Roth)Divergent Series: Divergent #1
on 7-11-2013
Genres: Dystopia
Pages: 489
Format: Paperback
Source: Library

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--and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. 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.

Plot: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★★
Readability: ★★★★

My opinion:
I picked this up because I’ve heard a lot about it (particularly in comparison to The Hunger Games) and I like dystopian fiction.

There are definitely similarities between this and HG; dystopian world, female protagonist, personal growth, romance and the scene set for an uprising.

HG Difference: Tris chose to leave for another faction, (arguably selfishness), whilst Katniss chose to save her sister (selflessly).  I think that makes Tris a believable character – how many of us have never made a selfish decision?

“We should think of our family…But.  But we must also think of ourselves.” Pg 36.

Some readers object to the five factions as arbitrary segregation and unbelievable. However, the logic behind the factions (revealed very briefly later on) is as believable as the HG concept, I think.

Negative reviews also object to the ‘brave’ acts committed by the Dauntless – many are simply stupid.  This is one criticism I absolutely agree with, however the story suggests Dauntless has deviated from the ideal: stupid thrill-seeking is not the aim, but is plot-relevant.

I enjoyed Divergent, but I don’t know if it’ll make my Top #10 Reads this year.  Probably the Top #20 though.

Buy it? I’d buy it on a deal – 2 for £7, buy 2 get 1 free etc.
In a nutshell: A quick, easy, enjoyable read, worth a look given the hype.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Haunted (Kelley Armstrong)

Haunted (Kelley Armstrong)Haunted by Kelley Armstrong
on 04-09-2008
Pages: 512
Format: Paperback
Source: Library

Eve Levine - half-demon, black witch and devoted mother - has been dead for three years. She has a great house, an interesting love life and can't be killed again - which comes in handy when you've made as many enemies as Eve. Yes, the afterlife isn't too bad - all she needs to do is find a way to communicate with her daughter Savannah and she'll be happy.

But fate - or more exactly, the Fates - have other plans. Eve owes them a favour, and they've just called it in. An evil spirit called the Nix has escaped from hell. She feeds on chaos and death, and is very good at persuading people to kill for her. The Fates want Eve to hunt her down before she does any more damage, but the Nix is a dangerous enemy - previous hunters have been sent mad in the process. As if that's not problem enough, it turns out that the only way to stop her is with an angel's sword. And Eve's no angel...

Plot: ★★★
Characters: ★★★
Readability: ★★★★

My opinion:
Eve was likeable, but didn’t compare to Elena or Paige. Elena, the ass-kicking female werewolf from Bitten & Stolen has a dry sense of humour, an intriguing relationship with Clayton and can hold her own though surrounded constantly by men.  Paige, the white witch From Dime Store Magic & Industrial Magic grew on me over time, through her determination, her conflicted relationship with Lucas Cortez and above all, the fact that she is so easy to relate to.

In comparison, Eve is a black witch, half-demon ghost who also has impressive kickboxing skills.  Her physical abilities, combined with the fact that she’s also a ghost and therefore can’t die, meant the book was less gripping than its predecessors.  I also found her pursuit by Kristof Nash to be a bit lacklustre and generally un-interesting, though I enjoyed seeing him in a more humane light.

The plot itself was good, but over time it got confusing trying to remember who could and couldn’t see Eve in each particular dimension.

Buy it? This is a library rental or charity shop buy in my opinion.
In a nutshell: Read it for a continuation of the series, and as an easy book to pick up after a break, but overall not up to Kelley Armstrong’s usual standards.

One StarOne StarOne Star