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)”

Cell by Stephen King (Book Review)

October 1st begins like any other ordinary day in Boston. Clayton Riddell has turned a corner in his graphic art career, but his good mood is soon to be cut short. While waiting in line for the ice-cream truck at around 3pm, the people ahead of him suddenly go berserk, violently attacking each other.

All across Boston everyone with a cell phone turns violent and aggressive, harming both themselves and everyone else around them. At first Clay can only watch in horror as the spectacle unfolds before his eyes, however once he realises that the problem is due to some sort of subliminal message being carried by cell phone signals, his thoughts soon turn to his young son, Johnny.

Although Clay and his recently estranged wife Sharon don’t own a cell phone, their son Johnny however, does. When Clay is unable to contact his family via a landline telephone connection, he vows to brave the chaos and find a way home to Maine, before his son decides to use the little red cell phone in his possession.

Will Clay find his family before they transform?

 

Favourite Quote:

“It’s like the fucking Night of the Living Dead.” – Officer Ulrich Ashland. (p31)

 

Cell is a bizarre story from master of horror Stephen King, in which an electronic pulse is sent out via the cellular telephone network in America to all cell phone users turning them violently insane.

As if that basic concept wasn’t already creepy enough to have you destroying your phone, vowing never to touch the abhorrent device again, the story gets even spookier when those individuals that are unaffected all have the exact same nightmare. The crazy people seem to be able to communicate telepathically, both with each other and also with those still sane, influencing people while they sleep.

The crazies don’t remain dumb, blank-faced idjits but gradually develop psychic powers as they flock together, thinking as one mind.

Let’s not forget that King’s novel was released back in 2006 before the rise of the smartphone, so let’s just take a short moment to consider the myriad ways that phones can now be manipulated, and the ramifications of a real-life hacking event if anyone were to obtain control of smartphones worldwide. Doesn’t bear thinking about, does it?

At 4 out of 5 stars, Cell is an enjoyable, thought-provoking novel, although rather disturbing at the same time. The only fault is that it ends a little abruptly.

 

2016 sees the movie release starring John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson and Isabelle Fuhrman.

 

I was extremely excited to finally watch the story come to life however Cell is an absolutely atrocious film.

The director has taken a number of liberties when it comes to the details of the adaptation which distorts the story. It becomes a jumbled mess which doesn’t flow very well resulting in a movie that is difficult to understand.

With bad acting, poor dialogue and very short, clipped explanations Cell is a film that no-one can relate to and which doesn’t make much sense. With so many details from the book being changed and warped it almost comes across as an entirely different story altogether.

Cell is up there on the list of terrible Stephen King adaptations, but while the film is a waste of time, the original novel is a recommended read.

 

See also:

The Shining

The Shining: Book 2 – Doctor Sleep

Four Past Midnight Collection

Supernatural: Fresh Meat by Alice Henderson (Book Review)

Fresh Meat is book number eleven in the series of TV Tie-in novels from the CW show Supernatural, and is written by Alice Henderson. It takes place during season seven between episodes 5 (Shut Up, Dr. Phil) and 6 (Slash Fiction), and technically comes before book ten in the series if you read them in chronological order.

 

…possible spoiler warning for those not familiar with the TV series…

Continue reading “Supernatural: Fresh Meat by Alice Henderson (Book Review)”

The 5th Wave: Book 3 – The Last Star (Book Review)

The Last Star is the third and final novel in Rick Yancey’s 5th Wave trilogy for young adults.

…warning: potential spoilers for those not already familiar with books 1 and 2…

Check out my review of book one, The 5th Wave here, or book two, The Infinite Sea via this link.

Continue reading “The 5th Wave: Book 3 – The Last Star (Book Review)”

The 5th Wave: Book 2 – The Infinite Sea (Book Review)

The Infinite Sea is the second novel in the 5th Wave trilogy from science fiction writer Rick Yancey.

 

***warning: this review may contain spoilers for those not already familiar with book 1, The 5th Wave***

Continue reading “The 5th Wave: Book 2 – The Infinite Sea (Book Review)”

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (Book Review)

The 5th Wave is a science fiction novel from writer Rick Yancey and is the first book in the 5th Wave trilogy to become a major motion picture, recently released in cinemas.

 

Wave 1 – An electromagnetic pulse that wipes out all of the planets power and electronic devices

Wave 2 – Destruction by tsunami

Wave 3 – Infection via birds

Wave 4 – Alien invasion

Wave 5 – We Fight Back!

 

The Rules:

1 – Don’t trust anyone

2 – To stay alive is to stay alone

 

Cassie Sullivan, a sixteen year old survivor of the first four waves of the alien invasion is possibly all that is left after she loses her family to this apocalyptic tragedy. She must remain alone if she wants to survive, because there is only one rule that can protect her now: trust no-one.

But when she meets Evan Walker everything changes. He saves her life, and she saves him by giving his life purpose and meaning. Together Cassie and Evan keep each other safe, and alive. But can she really trust him? Is he really who he claims to be?

Meanwhile, an army of uninfected children are being trained for the war.

 

Favourite Quotes:

Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vosch (quoting Stalin): “A single death is a tragedy; a million is a statistic.” (p128)

 

“We’re here, and then we’re gone, and it’s not about the time we’re here, but what we do with the time.” – Evan Walker, (p178)

 

The 5th Wave is a story full of courage and hope against the worst odds imaginable. Aliens have invaded Earth, their intention: to make our planet their home. But in order to do so, they must neutralise the human race.

The book begins at the end of the 4th wave and is a little confusing when it jumps back and forth between present day and the past, or between the viewpoint of one person and that of another. However, eventually we reach a period of cohesion and the story starts to make a bit more sense.

Unfortunately there are a few areas that to me don’t quite seem logical, though I am loath to discuss them here for fear of spoiling the story.

Despite those occasional little niggles that I am unable to comprehend I did enjoy this interestingly unique take on the invasion genre and give the book 4 out of 5 stars, but I’m not sure that the story actually reached any real conclusion. Maybe this was intentional in order for the author to release his story as a trilogy, but even separate novels should have some sort of cohesive end that fits the overall arc of the book.

 

 

See also:

Book 2 – The Infinite Sea

Book 3 – The Last Star

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (Book Review)

Station Eleven is a science fiction post-apocalyptic survival story from Emily St. John Mandel. The premise is of a flu epidemic that rips through Toronto, Canada, very quickly and killing anyone who comes into contact with it.

The book begins with a riveting narrative (see sentence above) in which an actor named Arthur dies while performing a Shakespearian play onstage. It then follows Jeevan, a trainee paramedic and member of the audience as he discusses the flu epidemic via telephone call with his friend Hua, who works in a hospital. After that, the story becomes a jumble of different plotlines that drift back and forth and sideways, with no real direction or meaning.

There’s a Travelling Symphony composed of various actors and musicians, most of whom don’t even use real names, instead being called third cello, the clarinet, sixth guitarist etc. The book also narrates prior details of Arthur’s life before the flu epidemic, and brief accounts of his ex-wives and close friends during the early days of the outbreak. But things only begin to get interesting about 70% of the way through the book, and even then it’s just a temporary respite from the monotony.

Currently, I can’t quite remember what prompted me to read this book. I think I saw a review online, or a recommendation somewhere that piqued my interest. However, it wasn’t really worth bothering with. I persevered to the end, mostly just to see if the book improved or if the individual elements later came together to make proper sense. Sadly, this didn’t really happen, and there wasn’t any real conclusion as such. At 1 out of 5 stars I found the novel to be dull, disjointed and nonsensical. My advice, best avoided.

Hunger Games: Book 2 – Catching Fire (Book Review)

Midway through the year between the 74th Annual Hunger Games and the 75th or Quarter Quell, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, the joint winners of the most recent event must now embark on the Victor’s Tour.

However, Katniss’s defiance in the arena which led to the Capitol announcing two joint victors for the very first time in the history of the games, is on the verge of inciting an uprising or revolt. President Snow has warned Katniss that she must use the tour as a means to quench the spark and convince the District’s that her actions were simply those of a terrified young girl in love, and not an act of rebellion.

Unfortunately, she fails in her task and as the 3rd Quarter Quell or 75th Annual Hunger Games approaches, President Snow has a shocking announcement:

 

“On the 75th anniversary, as a reminder to the rebels that even the strongest among them cannot overcome the power of the Capitol, the male and female tributes will be reaped from their existing pool of victors” (p128)

 

Katniss must now return to the arena and once again, fight for her life in the Hunger Games.

 

Catching Fire is the second novel in the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. In a similar manner to the preceding novel The Hunger Games, Catching Fire focuses its main bulk on the monotonous lead-up and preparations for the big Hunger Games event, as well as the uprisings or sparks of rebellion that Katniss Everdeen has unexpectedly ignited. As a result it takes over two thirds of the book for the actual games and of course the real action of the novel to begin. In truth, the hunger games are so brief that what entertainment value it provides is extremely limited, since it lacks excitement and also in what little confrontation and bloodshed that even the original Hunger Games novel failed to provide.

However, unlike last time we are actually introduced to the vast majority of the other competitors, including their names as well as detailed descriptions. While this is a huge improvement it is not enough to convince me that this is in any way a successful trilogy, especially not now that the story has mutated into one of pure war. My rating is just 1 out of 5 stars.

 

See also:

Book 1 – The Hunger Games

Book 3 – Mockingjay

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