|Pictured: Me and my last paycheck|
To kick things off I'll be reviewing the "Divergent" series by Veronica Roth, which I'm assuming you already knew if you read the title. But later on, I'll talk about John Green's "Paper Towns", which I just finished about ten minutes ago.
If you are friends with me on Facebook you may have seen the review of this series that I posted on my Film Annex blog a few days ago*. While this review will be similar, because my opinions haven't changed, it may also be fleshed out a bit more. If you don't want to read that review again, skip a few paragraphs and go see what I thought of John Green.
Let me start by saying that I think that this trilogy is one of the most well-paced, action-packed, dystopian novels that I have read in quite a long time. Possibly ever. Following the success of "The Hunger Games" series, many more novels and series began to spring up in the dystopian genre, hoping to get them some of that readership. Because of this, I feel that the books have gotten a little...formulaic. Take one love triangle, a world divided by something, a post apocalyptic area of the U.S., a power struggle, add water and voila! You've got yourself a hit. I miss books and authors like Orwell and Huxley. Orwell has fully admitted to basing many ideas and themes for "1984" off of Aldous Huxley's "A Brave New World" and in that, there are many similarities to be found, however, the books are vastly different. There is almost no way to confuse one with the other. The differences between "Divergent" and "The Hunger Games" are not so staggering.
So I went into this series with a little bit of timidity, fully knowing that many of my peers had liked the book and had hyped it up to absurd levels. I was afraid it wouldn't live up to all of the amazing press it had gotten. I was in love by page three and finished the entire first book in four hours. I went back to the store the next night to by "Insurgent" and "Allegiant". One of the great things that I loved is that there are strong female characters that are central to the plot and easily are the most bad-ass out of all the characters. These are women you wouldn't mock, because you would be afraid they would eat you for breakfast. Raw. Yet, they are still women, they are still people. Oftentimes in the effort to create a strong female, her femininity gets left out, or her humanity altogether. It is important to me that these are characters who COULD be real, because as a reader, I related to them more.
The series employs a lot of devices and themes that are marks of the genre, such as separation of society, corruption amongst the lawmakers, coming of age (which is a more recent thing in dystopian literature again, because of THG series), and lots of action/violence. However, these are used well. The faction separation that Roth presents here is not only smart, but an amazing turning point to build a series around and she executes it flawlessly. Plus, no love triangle! For a brief moment in book one I thought a triangle might emerge, because one is hinted at, but nothing happens and the people who fall in love only fall in love with each other. There is no dramatic decision making involved. There are also excellent examples of racism and discrimination that make themselves more and more apparent as the books continue, leading to a (spoiler alert!) civil war. Because if we don't learn from history, it will only repeat itself.
From the non-whiny leading lady narrator to aptly described fight sequences that lead the reader begging for more, the "Divergent" series is a must read.
This book is about growing up, leaving your small town behind, and I want to say being in love, but at the same time, it really isn't about being in love at all. It is about discovering that people aren't enigmas to be solved, they are just people. And sometimes, the adventure isn't in the execution. It is in the planning.
For a book about a boy who goes off on a search for the missing girl who he has had a crush on since the fifth grade, "Paper Towns" does an excellent job of not being cheesy. And if there are cheesy moments in the book, another character calls them out and we giggle together. Yes, I sit alone in my room and laugh while reading good books. Don't hate me because you ain't me. Anyways. I was really afraid towards the end of the book that this would end up as another "boy goes on long soul-searching journey and earns a girlfriend" type book, because I honestly hate those. But something marvelous occurs in this book. The boy doesn't really get the girl in the end, and also, the main character, who is a dude, is also totally a feminist (my opinion but if you've read the book I bet you'll agree), and there is more to the story than him just going on a soul searching journey. It is about realizing that for everything that people are, they are just people.
I read this book in about four hours, meaning all in one sitting, and I couldn't have been happier. Although it isn't a particularly difficult book to read (hooray for YA literature) you may find yourself experiencing secondhand emotions a lot, considering that the characters are so well written it feels as if I'm watching the action in the book take place in front of me, like a play.
All four books were fantastically good reads and a good showing of how good YA books should be written. Now on to "An Abundance of Katherine's" by John Green and another full week!
Have a book to suggest to Alexis? Leave it in the comments below!
Alexis Olmstead is a 20something waitress, diva, bibliophile who spends her days hiding in her room reading too many books. She is currently learning to paint her nails in the lines and perfecting her cat-eye liner. For more rants, raves, reviews, and irrelevant opinions, check back often.