Divergent Trilogy: Reviews of Books 2 & 3

Divergent Trilogy: Book 2 – Insurgent

After all of the fast-paced action and excitement of Divergent, the follow-up seemed very lethargic and slow. Insurgent began exactly where Divergent left off with Tris, Caleb and Four on the run from the Erudite and Dauntless forces. In the early parts of the book the characters travelled around between different factions, without much of real importance or consequence happening.

I really struggled to read Insurgent as the story dragged without much real purpose. There was far, far too much focus on the relationship issues between Tris and Four, as they constantly bickered, kept secrets and repeatedly antagonised each other.

Having suffered my way to the end of this book, I discovered that the story didn’t really conclude in any meaningful way, but continues on into the next, and final, book of the series. If the dialogue in Insurgent had been trimmed down and there had been better focus, instead of all the confusion of running around between factions, this might have been interesting. However, I’m really disappointed in the direction of this novel and it makes me somewhat reluctant to continue reading.

At 1 out of 5 stars, I wouldn’t recommend Insurgent. Divergent was a fantastic book, but this one was just boring, stretched out with tedious, irritating and pointless dialogue to flesh it out. No real story progression or character development, with Tris constantly complaining and feeling sorry for herself.

 

Divergent Trilogy: Book 3 – Allegiant

Simply to round-out this series and complete my reviews, I pressed forward and read the final book in the trilogy. However, I found it difficult to focus with the story’s perspectives constantly switching between Tris and Four, as it was hard to keep track and distinguish between them. It seemed to be a persistent battle to remember which perspective I was following, as there was no difference between them and the chapters were so short that they switched viewpoints regularly.

However, one consolation was that this novel provided the answers to questions I had after reading the first book. But since this is revealed fairly early on in the story, it just makes it doubly difficult to finish reading. At 0.5 out of 5 stars I really can’t recommend Allegiant to anyone, as its only redeeming feature is the origin story. This book is extremely monotonous, and so long that I honestly thought it was never going to end.

If you really want to check out the Divergent series, then I suggest that you watch the movies. The films are a lot more entertaining and the story moves at a much faster pace. However all that cool sci-fi tech you see in the movies, they don’t exist in the books. Just be aware that, as with most adaptations, somewhere along the line the books and films become very, very different.

 

See also:

Divergent Trilogy: Book 1

The Hunger Games Trilogy: Book 1

Divergent Trilogy: Book 1 – Divergent by Veronica Roth (Book Review)

The Divergent Trilogy is a dystopian young adult fantasy series set in an alternate reality where the USA is split into different factions, with each faction having unique mannerisms, rules and dress codes. On turning 16, main character Tris must join her classmates in taking the Aptitude Test, which determines their future, by placing them definitively in one of the five separate factions: Abnegation, Erudite, Candor, Dauntless or Amity. Once decided during the Choosing Ceremony, each pupil then leaves to join their chosen faction and train to complete the initiation process. Failure is not an option worth contemplating.

….possible spoiler warning…

Continue reading “Divergent Trilogy: Book 1 – Divergent by Veronica Roth (Book Review)”

My Corona: A Novella by Andrew Mackay (Book Review)

My Corona is a rush release to capitalise on the current crisis. This is badly written, full of spelling and grammar errors, and is very Americanised despite the writer being in the UK. The character’s dialects got on my nerves and made the book difficult to read. While the content may be relevant, shows similarities to current events and provides an insight into future possibilities, I just couldn’t get on-board with it.

It does make the reader think, and I originally began to feel bad about planning to give this a 1 star rating, until I reached the end and the writer’s diatribe. He accuses those likely to give his book 1 star as being ignorant of the situation, placing blame on those that don’t warrant it and siding with those they shouldn’t. Despite beginning his note discussing censorship and right to free speech, he tells us to reserve our blame for those who really deserve it, and give authors like him 5 star ratings just for writing a book voicing their own opinion. Also that those who give 1 star ratings basically deserve what’s coming to them, due to their own arrogance.

Well sorry, but this honest 1 star review has less to do with coronavirus and the novellas content, and more about this writer’s awful attitude, and a story that is badly written, badly formatted and a headache to read. If this book hadn’t been so rushed, hard to follow in the beginning, and placed in front of the sharp, roving eyes of a proofreader, maybe it could have been enjoyable. I’m glad this only cost me 99p.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Book Review)

By now most people are probably familiar with Suzanne Collins Hunger Games novels, and since I’m not exactly a fan of the movies I put off reading these books for a long, long time. However, I have always been a firm believer that novels can convey much more depth, detail and emotion than a feature film, and as such I have finally bitten the bullet and chosen to read these novels.

 

For those not already familiar with the story, the Hunger Games is a savage entertainment event hosted by a totalitarian Capitol, in which 24 tributes, one male and one female from each of the twelve outlying districts, are chosen by a form of lottery to compete against each other inside an arena until only one of them remains alive.

 

As already mentioned I watched the film, long before embarking on this novel, and my main gripe with the movie was that it took a very long time to reach the crux of the story, instead choosing to focus more on all of the boring background preparations that led to the event itself. Much to my immense irritation the book is even worse, as over a third of the entire novel is taken up by these same events.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the whole novel is told entirely from Katniss Everdeen’s frame of reference alone. We are never formally introduced to any of the other competitors, or provided with much real information on them, including their names, and their deaths are just glossed over, as if they are pointless and irrelevant side-notes. As a reader we are given nothing to warm us to the other tributes, and as such we don’t really care much what happens to anyone except for Katniss. And maybe Peeta, thanks to the annoyingly fake romance that blooms between them.

Once again however, I find myself shaking my head at this crazy insistence that a good dramatic love story, is the best, and possibly fastest way to a great novel. Because, honestly, it’s really not. I don’t want to read The Hunger Games for its sappy romance, I want to enjoy it for the tense and exciting action. I want to care about the characters, I want to root for an unlikely winner, to bite my nails with the anticipation of what mayhem will happen next.

Unfortunately, The Hunger Games, aside from being a blatant, toned-down rip-off of the Japanese Battle Royale, is an extremely long-winded and incredibly boring romance novel, in which very little of relevance actually happens. Although slightly better than the film, at just 2 out of 5 stars I really couldn’t wait for this overly stretched out story to end, and in my opinion it should have ended with just one winner.

 

See also:

Book 2 – Catching Fire

Book 3 – Mockingjay

Wayward Pines: Genesis (Book Review)

Genesis is a Wayward Pines Prequel by Steven Konkoly. Steven builds on Blake Crouch’s original Wayward Pines series, by crafting a story which aims to answer some of the burning questions left behind by the original trilogy. Mainly, how did David Pilcher create the fenced off town of Wayward Pines in the first place, with all those abbies surrounding the Superstructure.

 

Genesis begins with David Pilcher and his elite crew emerging from the suspension pods, to discover that they are all that is left of humanity. With the help of Adam Hassler, Pilcher begins his massive project to recreate the town of Wayward Pines, by constructing the 12 foot electrified fence that will eventually surround and protect the idyllic little town.

Steven Konkoly does such a great job with this novel that had I not read his name on the front cover of the book, I wouldn’t have known that Genesis wasn’t actually written by Blake Crouch himself. It remains true to the original series in every way imaginable, and is a fantastic addition to the world of Wayward Pines. This book is perfect for old fans already familiar with either Blake’s series, or the TV adaptation, as well as for unfamiliar newbie’s who are looking for an introduction to the story.

There were one or two points that I noticed didn’t correlate with the original novels, but these were extremely minor issues that most others wouldn’t notice, and which aren’t overly relevant. Otherwise, this is a great book, if a little short. At 5 out of 5 stars I would highly recommend Genesis.

 

Those who haven’t already done so can watch the trailer for the Wayward Pines TV series here:

 

Or check out my reviews of Blake Crouch’s original Wayward Pines trilogy here:

Book 1: Pines

Book 2: Wayward

Book 3: The Last Town

Uprising: 12 Dystopian Futures Boxset – Cheatc0de by Michael Campling (ARC Review)

The Uprising Box set is a collection of 12 full length novels by various writers, all with the theme of dystopian futures. I kindly received an ARC of this huge boxset from author Michael Campling, and am voluntarily choosing to review each of the individual books contained within its 2,381 pages.

Book 8 finally brings us to Michael Campling’s novel Cheatc0de, book one in his Downlode Trust series, and out of the twelve books in the Uprising box set, this is the one which I have been the most eager to read. This is because I am already familiar with most of Mikey’s other books, and was a huge fan of his LitRPG novel Prison Quest, which he co-wrote with Saffron Bryant. Cheatc0de sounds like it could be very similar, and his Downlode Trust novels are the only books of his that I haven’t yet read.

 

The story centres on Hank, a teenager who uses his total immersion Virtual Reality gaming hobby as an escape from an otherwise difficult home life, and his father, Mervin an ex-military man struggling with his past, and the responsibility of raising his son single-handed. After finishing school, Hank straps in to his favourite VR game, hoping for a fun distraction from life. Usually a solo player, he unexpectedly encounters a fellow gamer called Will, who lures him into joining an unsanctioned mission with the promise of lots of easy money.

While sceptical at first, Hank soon warms up to Will as he realises that the two of them really do perform better as a team. However, Will is reluctant to share his secrets, and Hank begins to harbour doubts about his friend’s motives. Unknown to Hank, Mervin joins the game eager to relive his days in the military, and places both his own life and Hank’s in danger. But will the rewards of the game outweigh the risks and consequences for Hank? Can he complete the mission? Will he survive?

 

While this is not technically LitRPG, not like Prison Quest, I rather enjoyed the story. It was fast paced and engaging, and being a non-gamer myself I found the story simple, fairly easy to follow and mostly entertaining. The virtual world appeared realistic and well thought out, and it has a relatively small cast of characters, which I found oddly refreshing.

While technically it is another good novel from Michael Campling, I can only rate this at 4 out of 5 stars as there were quite a number of errors, which is unusual for this author. Also, I struggled initially with Mervin’s chapters as they didn’t quite gel together with the main storyline at first, and it wasn’t until later when he joined the game that it all began to finally ‘click’ with me and make sense. My final issue is the neat and tidy conclusion, which I thought fell a little flat. I was expecting a bit more action or danger, more nervous tension, or just something to give it more of a realistic feel.

That being said, I will be continuing on to read the next book in the series, book 2 The Trust.

 

See also:

The Bottle Stopper – Angeline Trevena

 

Bird Box by Josh Malerman (Book Review)

Bird Box was added to my TBR list so long ago that I’ve almost completely forgotten the reason why, however I think it was due to its description as ‘the scariest horror novel of all time’ or something along those lines. Not entirely certain though, but when I discovered that Netflix had turned the book into a film, I finally decided to increase the priority and get the book read sooner rather than later.

 

It is a post-apocalyptic tale of survival, in which a single mother attempts to raise her two young children, while protecting them from an unknown danger that lurks outdoors. Having deduced that the time is ripe, Malorie gathers the children together and they flee their home to try and find safety elsewhere. They make their escape by boat, while blindfolded to protect themselves from looking at whatever force or creature lurks outside, causing people to commit suicide.

To me, the premise sounded a little bonkers, and I wasn’t entirely convinced that it would work. Driving a car while attempting not to look at what’s happening around you? Rowing a boat blindfolded along a rough river in the dark? Walking anywhere outside with your eyes closed/covered and somehow not tripping over or falling down steps/stairs and hurting yourself all the time?

Unsurprisingly, my initial suspicion was right. First off, the fact that the writer couldn’t be bothered to give the children proper names, instead simply referring to them as ‘Boy’ or ‘Girl’ for the majority of the novel, really irked my nerves. Second, and most importantly, there was no explanation for what it was that actually happened. What did people see outside that caused them to commit suicide? Was it a creature? If so, where did it come from? How many creatures were there? The list of unanswered questions goes on and on, without resolution.

I comprehend the meaning behind the story less now that I’ve read the book, than I did before I started. Therefore, I rate this book at just 2 out of 5 stars. There is very, very little horror in this novel, or suspense, or action, or indeed very much of anything of real substance. It actually becomes a bit dull and repetitive as the book plods along with this ridiculous concept. It also boasts the longest boat ride since Gendry in the TV version of Game of Thrones. That said however, it did enough to keep me reading until the end, but I only wish that there had been a more satisfying conclusion.

 

 

Since I finished the book, I decided to persevere and watch the film as well, which stars Sandra Bullock as Malorie. I thought that maybe seeing the story visually might be better than reading about it, however I’m still not convinced. There were a few differences between the book and the film, some obviously understandable, but others that simply just confused me. If you want to watch it for yourself though, I’ll let you make up your own mind about it.

Uprising: 12 Dystopian Futures Boxset – The Bottle Stopper by Angeline Trevena (ARC Review)

The Uprising Box Set is a collection of 12 full length novels by various writers, all with the theme of dystopian futures. I kindly received an ARC of this huge box set from author Michael Campling, and am voluntarily choosing to review each of the individual books contained within its 2,381 pages.

 

Book 7 of the box set is called The Bottle Stopper, and is part one of The Paper Duchess series by Angeline Trevena. This dark dystopian fantasy follows the life of seventeen year-old Maeve who works in her Uncle’s apothecary shop.

Without a Mother to care for her, six year-old Maeve is taken in and raised by her Uncle Lou, a drunk prone to violence against women. Eleven years on, Maeve works in her Uncle’s shop bottling the Miracle Medicine that Lou sells to his customers. However, the medicine is actually foul water taken from the local river, and instead of curing people he’s really making them sick.

When her best-friend dies after a dose of Lou’s medicine, something deep inside Maeve snaps and as his violence towards her escalates and hidden secrets come to light, she begins to plot revenge and escape.

 

As mentioned earlier this is a rather dark, distressing tale which takes place in the slums and poorest regions of the fictional location of Falside. Society has regressed backwards to a point where women no longer have rights and are regularly abused and treated abominably. Even those in the richer areas don’t have it easy, being forced into marriages in a bid to correct the low birth rates of females which have skewed this society into a mostly male-dominated world.

In this unregulated low-class society, Lou falsely convinces his customers to buy river water masquerading as medicine, which makes me cringe in disgust. In fact, a lot of this book is difficult to read, not just the deplorable actions of this one man, but also due to the way it demeans women and the struggles that the poor face as they desperately seek an escape from the slums of Falside.

In this respect The Bottle Stopper is a very realistic story, intriguing enough to be enjoyable, but also rather distressing making it hard to choke down. What irritated me though, were the number of characters that were randomly introduced merely to provide information and little else of value. While the book isn’t all that long, it does sometimes feel a bit too drawn out. Once Maeve’s plan is put into action, it seems to take an awful long time for the story to reach a conclusion.

At 4 out of 5 stars I would definitely recommend this fairly well written book to those looking for a dark dystopian read, and who don’t mind reading about difficult issues such as excessive violence and abuse against women.

 

See also:

The Sigma Surrogate – JT Lawrence

The Given – Colby R. Rice

Hedon – Jason Werbeloff

The Girl in the City – Philip Harris

The Watcher – A.J. Eversley

The Jacq of Spades – Patricia Loofbourrow

Cheatc0de – Michael Campling

Uprising: 12 Dystopian Futures Boxset – The Jacq of Spades (ARC Review)

The Uprising Boxset is a collection of 12 full length novels by various writers, all with the theme of dystopian futures. I kindly received an ARC of this huge boxset from author Michael Campling, and am voluntarily choosing to review each of the individual books contained within its 2,381 pages.

 

I have to admit that I struggled with book 6, The Jacq of Spades by Patricia Loofbourrow. I’m not a fan of steampunk novels and as a result I didn’t like this Victorian-inspired mystery noir. The story is set in 1899, in a domed city called Bridges which is split by four rivers, and containing an island at its centre. Four families are in control of this city; the Spadros, Diamonds, Harts and Clubbs.

The main character, Jacqueline is a poor woman from the slums who has married into one of the four major families, the Spadros family. In a bid to maintain some independence she secretly works as a private detective, and has been hired to investigate the case of a missing boy. Twelve year-old David Bryce has disappeared, and the only clue to his whereabouts is the picture of a red dog.

 

I neither enjoy detective noir nor steampunk stories, and this is no exception. To begin we are thrust into the centre of a world that we know little about, without any explanation or background. Prior events are drip-fed to us slowly in a confusing manner, via Jacqueline’s memories and dreams, which aren’t always linear in nature. While the major portions of background information regarding past events are separated from the main text, this isn’t always the case and the narrative sometimes jumps suddenly to and fro between current and previous events without warning, much to my irritation.

I also found it odd that the rich ladies were constantly referred to as ‘mum’ rather than the British term ‘ma’am’ which I would have expected, this was another aspect that I found confusing and which was never explained. Overall I found this book to be rather boring and baffling, always feeling like I was missing something important, something that would’ve clicked everything into place for the story to ultimately make sense. However, this never occurred.

I also feel that the mystery wasn’t really investigated properly, and not much of any real interest happens throughout the book, which meant that I didn’t really care what happened. It ended a little abruptly as well with too many aspects left unresolved, so at 1 out of 5 stars The Jacq of Spades has been the least enjoyable story from the Uprising Boxset so far.

 

See also:

The Sigma Surrogate – JT Lawrence

The Given – Colby R. Rice

Hedon – Jason Werbeloff

The Girl in the City – Philip Harris

Watcher – A.J. Eversley

Cheatc0de – Michael Campling

Uprising: 12 Dystopian Futures Boxset – Watcher by A. J. Eversley (ARC Review)

The Uprising Box Set is a collection of 12 full length novels by various writers, all with the theme of dystopian futures. I kindly received an ARC of this huge boxset from author Michael Campling, and am voluntarily choosing to review each of the individual books contained within its 2,381 pages.

 

Book 5 is another young adult dystopian sci-fi novel, Watcher by A. J. Eversley. Robots created as slaves to humanity have revolted, turning against their creators. Coupled with the Carbons, robotic humanoids, together their goal is to wipe out humanity.

The book focuses on two main characters, jumping to and fro between their first-person narratives. First up there is Sawyer Russo, a member of an underground resistance movement known as Watchers, who help guard the surviving humans from attack by their enemy, by protecting the location of their secret base camp. The other is Kenzie, a fellow human survivor who the Watchers save from attack during a daring rescue mission.

With previous weapons experience, Kenzie attempts to fit in with his new comrades by joining the Watchers and Sawyer is tasked with his training. As Sawyer teaches the new recruit how to enhance and develop his skills, an unexpected relationship blooms between them. However, when the enemy discovers their location Sawyer is suddenly thrust into a precarious position and the line between friend and foe is thin.

 

The Uprising Box Set is a large collection of full length novels, and after quickly reading the first four books on the lead up to its release date, I became a little overwhelmed by the sheer amount of content within its pages, and decided to take a short break from it.

I struggled a bit to convince myself to return and review the remaining novels, not because I hadn’t enjoyed the previous stories, but because I was very apprehensive to read Watcher. The book’s cover has a comic book feel to it which put me off a little and made me tentative towards reading it. Truth being told, it didn’t look or feel like a book that I would be interested in, and coupled with my unsettled opinion of androids, and robots at war with humans, its synopsis alone was enough to have me consider skipping the story.

However, I’m glad that I decided to give it a chance as looks can be deceiving. It took me a little while to relax into this surprisingly enjoyable story, but once I did I found that I didn’t want to stop reading. My fingers were continually turning the pages, my brain eager to learn what would happen next. I found Sawyer a little self-involved, impulsive and petulant, but I loved the mysterious Kenzie, and just as I began to figure him out, a twist would have me rethinking his motives – Is he really a good guy? Or is he the enemy?

Watcher begins with plenty of action, and is fairly action-oriented which helps it to keep a good pace. It fills you in on the backstory of prior events in a gradual way spread throughout the narrative, as opposed to throwing it at you all at once like some dystopian books can do.

Unfortunately there were some grammar problems but all in all, despite my tentative reluctance, I actually enjoyed reading Watcher and look forward to reading more books from this trilogy. At 4 out of 5 stars I would recommend this to those interested in young adult science fiction.

 

See also:

Book 1: The Sigma Surrogate – JT Lawrence

Book 2: The Given – Colby R. Rice

Book 3: Hedon – Jason Werbeloff

Book 4: The Girl in the City – Philip Harris