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)”

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

Wayward Pines: Book 2 – Wayward (Book Review)

Ethan Burke is the new Sheriff in charge of the idyllic town of Wayward Pines, and is the only person to have ventured beyond the electrified fence that surrounds the town. He knows the secret that lies beyond the walls and of the unpleasant reality that Dr. David Pilcher is shielding from the rest of the inhabitants.

Ethan is slowly adjusting to his family’s new life in Wayward Pines and following Dr. Pilcher’s orders to ensure the other residents adhere to the town rules, keeping them oblivious to the 24/7 sniper surveillance and the danger that surrounds them.

However, not all of the inhabitants are as willing to forget the past or to forego their old lives and loves. It is feared that a rebellion has been formed by the residents that seek to escape and return to the outside world, headed by Ethan’s ex-colleague Kate Hewson. They call themselves ‘The Wanderers’ because they have found a way to remove their microchips, trick the cameras and travel around town at night, unseen.

Ethan must convince ‘The Wanderers’ that his loyalties do not lie with David Pilcher, in order to insinuated himself within their ranks in a bid to find out their true purpose and foil their operation. As leaving Wayward Pines is not an option.

Meanwhile, Wayward Pines has also had its first murder. A woman called Alyssa, originally acting as a mole within ’The Wanderers’, is found stabbed to death near the outskirts of town and Ethan has been tasked with investigating the incident. When he finds out that the woman was a part of the staff in the mountain complex, he wonders why the investigation wasn’t conducted internally, but soon learns some shocking truths.

Is Ethan’s ex-colleague Kate to blame, or is there a more sinister plot behind Alyssa’s death? And what are ‘The Wanderers’ really up to when they sneak out about town late at night?

 

Favourite Quotes:

“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present. Work hard, be happy and enjoy your life in Wayward Pines”. – Prominent notice to all the residents of Wayward Pines.

 

“So, lawman, are you walling us in? Or walling something out?” – Peter to Sheriff Burke. (p33)

 

“Never assume you know where someone else is coming from”. – David Pilcher. (p78)

 

“For every perfect little town, there’s something ugly underneath. No dream without the nightmare”. – David Pilcher. (p228)

 

Wayward is the second instalment in Blake Crouch’s sci-fi mystery trilogy, Wayward Pines, which has now become a ten episode TV series directed by M. Night Shyamalan, starring Matt Dillon and Shannyn Sossamon. Wayward is the sequel to ‘Pines’ and the precursor to ‘The Last Town’.

There are a number of differences between the book and the TV show, however the main plot themes remain in tandem and continue the story of Ethan Burke’s new life in the peaceful little town of Wayward Pines.

At 5 out of 5 stars Wayward is a fantastic continuation of this exciting sci-fi mystery series that ends with a number of surprising twists, some that even those already familiar with the show might find unexpected.

 

See also:

Wayward Pines: Book 1 – Pines

Wayward Pines: Book 3 – The Last Town

 

FantasticLand – Mike Bockoven (Book Review)

I was initially drawn to the book cover for Mike Bockoven’s FantasticLand, with its eerie image of an empty fairground Ferris Wheel, before Amazon’s synopsis intrigued me further; The book’s description sets the scene of a disaster stricken amusement park in Florida, where a large number of college-age employees must fight for survival, after being cut off from both modern technology and the rest of society. Left to their own devices for a considerable length of time, these employees resort to drastic measures in a bid to survive.

While searching for something different to read over the holidays, I picked up this intriguing novel, promising a thrilling story full of mystery and horror akin to Lord of the Flies and Battle Royale, and found to my surprise that initially once I started reading, I didn’t want to stop.

While reading the prologue I found it difficult to determine whether the content was fiction or true-to-life, however another quick check on Amazon’s synopsis confirmed that it was indeed fiction, as initially suspected. However, with that out of the way I soon realised to my dismay that the story is told through the eyes of a reporter, by way of separate interviews conducted with people who lived through the disaster. This immediately put me off from continuing to read, but since I hate to leave a book unfinished, and the basic premise had piqued my curiosity, I persevered.

The interview style of narration, in which survivors each explain their part in the events, tended to veer off on tangents, interrupting the flow of the story. Since it jumps around from person to person and park area to park area, we don’t really get to know any of the characters in-depth, resulting in the reader feeling detached and un-invested in their survival. As a result we don’t really care who survives and who doesn’t.

I would probably rate FantasticLand at a fairly average 3 out of 5 stars. The book hits terrifyingly close to reality with its haunting depiction of stranded teens, starved of social media in a technological age fueled by a constant need to connect with their peers. The severe disaster which cuts these people off from regular society is also far too realistic a scenario, once you take into account global warming, climate change or the magnetic pole shift. However, it lacks somewhat in its first-person interview style execution. I really wanted to love FantasticLand, but the constant violent scene, after violent scene, after violent scene got really old, really quickly and I became disassociated with the story.

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