Today's Grateful List/31 December 2015

  • Going to get answers no matter what

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Possession...Or Not

Possession has a great the Goodgrounds, people live by strict laws and breaking them can mean banishment to the Badlands or worse. Which is horrible news for young rebel Violet, who has been breaking rules repeatedly since first her father and then her older sister disappeared. The one constant in her life is Zenn, the boy she has been matched with for five years, but since he has become a member of the Forces, their time together has been short. So when Violet once again breaks the rules in order to go see him, it's not surprising that she is caught; but this time she is imprisoned with a boy named Jag who seems to be just as determined as she is to not give in to the Thinkers who control their lives. Like I said, great premise...but the execution is so poor, it was almost a struggle to finish the book.

This book started off strong and I was captured at first by Violet's rebellious spirit and the mystery of her disappearing family. I liked that she was devoted to Zenn, but intrigued with her growing relationship with Jag. Once the two escape the Greenies and go on the run, however, things begin to fall apart. Neither Violet nor Jag are very likable at this point, with each abandoning the other and secrets withheld at every turn. It's a lot of "I've got a secret; I hate you; no, I adore you; no, we're fighting again; wait, I've got a superpower!" sort of thing. I'm still puzzling over where the "powers" came from; if they were that strong, wouldn't Violet have had some sense of them before suddenly realizing she can control everyone? Both Jag and Violet just aren't very empathetic creatures. Jag betrays Violet so often that I truly wanted to smack him...and Violet kept falling for it. Ugh. And while I sort of liked Zenn, considering he was controlled and unable to fight against the Association, he was pretty much worthless as a boyfriend.

Once again, I'm wondering where the editors are. This story moves so quickly and confusingly among scenarios that I stopped rereading segments because, honestly, I just did't care. When Violet enters Jag's dreams, there's no warning and nothing to separate it from the rest of the least use italics or SOMETHING to let me know something odd is happening. The whole bit with the simulation, set up by Jag, was so preposterous and confusing that I skimmed it. Seriously, did no one read this part closely before going to print? And I still don't know why Violet's father was like he was and whether or not he even cared about her.

Saving this one from the deadly one star rating is the beginning, which was good and made me feel like Violet would somehow rescue her entire world on her own, and the last chapter, which was a surprising way to end the story. But along the way, we get so much techtricity, feelings, and uninteresting characters that I lost interest fast. I'm still puzzling how this one made it to print with its unlikeable characters and it's confusing plot. Not recommended.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Divergent is set in a dystopia of, we can only assume (by where it takes spoilers!) the future. Society has separated itself into five "factions" and all young adults choose their faction (for life!) at age sixteen. Raised in Abnegation, Beatrice has always felt like she didn't quite have the selflessness it took to remain in that faction, and inspired by her brother Caleb choosing the Erudite faction, she chooses Dauntless. Dauntless is only for the brave, those willing to put themselves in danger for both the protection of others and their own thrill seeking. Leaving her home behind, Beatrice changes her name to Tris and begins training with the other new recruits for the coveted ten spots as a new Dauntless. But Tris harbors a major secret...her aptitude tests didn't show she actually belonged anywhere...she's a Divergent. 

Divergent is gritty and violent, and Tris spends quite a bit of the story being beaten up and injured. Still, she's determined to persevere, and her quest is made more determined when she finally admits her attraction to Four, one of her trainers/leaders. But it also becomes clear that those in charge of Dauntless no longer share its high ideals, and Tris will have to decide if she can let her forbidden Divergent side lead her into uncharted territory in order to save others. Does she have the courage? And what will be the cost? 

Loved Divergent--it's well written, with many on the edge scenes and characters I with whom I could easily identify. Tris's loneliness and determination are remarkable, and the ultimate choices she must make left me very eager for the sequels. I loved Four; I'm glad he could see that special something in Tris that went beyond her looks and into her soul. Though much of the book seems to be a set up for a showdown in the society, there is enough action to keep the pages flying. I would actually give this one 4.5 stars as I sit here impatiently waiting on the next book in this trilogy. Well written, well plotted, intriguing...this one's a keeper.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Hmmmm...Where Have I Been?

Wish I could say I've been sitting on a beach drinking margaritas and reading, but that'd be a big fat lie. No, I haven't been doing anything other than drowning in the sea of Back To School and one great big humongous novel, which was a great read but took me freaking forever to finish. So now I've got a backlog of reviewing to get through...first up is the Mother of All Summer Reading...


Yep, all caps. You don't wait 5 years for something and not over celebrate, people.  Review below.
Contrary to many, I am overall pretty satisfied with George RR Martin's A Dance With Dragons. Does it have problems? Well, yeah, and some of those are huge. But is it the worst book of the series, deserving of the derision and vitriol that's been heaped upon it by lots of reviewers? Certainly not. Allow me to elaborate.

I won't recount the plot here (if plot is even the right word...meandering at times, achingly slow and then devastatingly wicked at others); there's entirely too much going on. Most of the chapters are Tyrion's, Jon's, and Dany's points of view, but others surface as well, including Theon, Davos, Jaime, Cersei, and Arya. There were a couple of POVs I must admit to being puzzled by, but I have to hope that ultimately Martin will bring them to a satisfying intricacy with the main characters. Would I have loved to know what Brienne and Sansa were up to? Sure, but it's all right. We're moving along, however slowly, and lots of Tyrion is always worth it.

Biggest complaints? Well, the pacing is off in the first two hundred pages or so, with way too much detail given to traveling woes and feasting items. In any other series, these would be deal breakers. Do I think Martin's editor was snoozing? Probably. Just because you are uber successful doesn't mean you should be allowed to enumerate every food on a table. My other big, huge complaint is that it had been so long since I'd read A Feast For Crows, I was LOST for a hundred pages. That's my own fault for not rereading, but I also lay some blame on Martin, since five years between books is inexcusable.
What I liked? Lots of things.The dialogue is perfect and the intrigue is thick. We got vintage Martin with double crosses, lots of gore, and set ups galore. Loved, loved, loved Theon's comeuppance and what he does later in the novel; loved Barristan Selmy's honor; loved the twist with Rhaegar's son. I found what happened with Dany and her dragons distasteful, yet entirely plausible; I know that the bloodletting has only barely begun after Cersei's humiliation. And poor Jon Snow...always trying to do the right thing, but it's usually at the wrong time and with the wrong people. Martin's world is convoluted, overblown, and nasty, much like the world we live in today. His writing, however, while needing editing, still draws one in and builds suspense, causing me to continue turning pages and luxuriating within the boundaries of the Seven Kingdoms and Beyond. Personally, I'm invested for the long haul, even if A Dance With Dragons pales when compared to A Storm of Swords. It's not the comparison I try to keep in mind, it's the journey.