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So what if I am divergent?

Do you like dystopian novels?  Do you like action and adventure?  Tired of love triangles, and silly romances ruining the gritty world of a post-apocalyptic society? Then Veronica Roth’s new Divergent Trilogy is the series for you.

In Divergent, Beatrice Prior has lived her life trying to be as selfless as possible in the Abnegation faction.  Now she is forced to make a decision.  This is the first decision she will ever make completely on her own.  She must choose a faction. However, before she can choose a faction she must pass the exam.  The exam should help Beatrice make the right decision, but what happens when the test results come back inconclusive?  She is divergent.  She is warned divergent is not a good thing, but is given no additional information.  She is still allowed to choose a faction, but must never tell anyone her true fortune.  Beatrice is left with little information and an even harder decision.  Now the decision must be based on a gut feeling.   How will she know which is right?  Once on the stage at the Choosing Ceremony, she doesn’t think she acts… a classic characteristic of Dauntless.

Now an initiate for the Dauntless faction she is put through a series of test.  Her limits are tested, and her strength is found.  She knows she has chosen correctly.  But she is still divergent.  What does divergent mean?  How will it affect her training and the rest of her life as Dauntless?  If she fails, she will either be killed or factionless, living on the streets with nothing.  She must keep it a secret.

Once committed to Dauntless, she shortens her name to Tris and accepts the life she has chosen.  The more she learns about Dauntless the more she learns about the meaning of being divergent.  No matter what she encounters Tris never gives up.  When I say she never gives up, I mean it.  Tris never gives up.  She has to face her fears head on.  She willingly steps up the challenge in order to get stronger and braver.  Somehow Tris knows she will need to be brave in order to be selfless.  She figures out that some of her characteristics are deadly.  She learns how to combine the positive aspects of bravery and selflessness to fight as hard as she can for what she knows is right.

There is a little romance, but who doesn’t like a kiss every now and then?  The romance lightens the mood, and shows the softer side of Tris and the Dauntless world.  I was thoroughly impressed with Divergent.  I am more than tired of the love triangles.  It annoys me that ever young woman in a dystopian novel is more concerned about who she will kiss next than she is about the world collapsing.  Maybe it is Tris’ selfless attitude but she is one awesome heroine.  She stands up for what is right, while caring for those she loves.  Plus, those she loves would never expect her to take care of them first.  Every character has more to teach Tris than she could possibly imagine.  She grows and changes when other characters start to trust and love her.  Together, they fight for the greater good.  They all know what is right, and want good to win no matter what, just another refreshing quality of Divergent. 

Insurgent is the second title of the Divergent Trilogy.  There wasn’t much of a cliffhanger in Divergent, but there is more than a desire to keep reading.  The action is just beginning!

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And then there was Pandemonium

Book number two in the Delirium trilogy, Pandemonium.   It is almost as good as the first.  (I say almost, only because I love Alex.)   

This will not be like any of the other book review you have ever seen on this blog… Pandemonium demands defiance.  The entire Delirium world would not exist without defiance.

So here are a few things I loved about the book.

  1. Pandemonium illustrates Lena’s journey on both sides of the fence.  Lauren Oliver does an exceptional job creating two worlds inside one book.  Alternating chapters between then and now was a wonderful way to show the growth in Lena, and to explain current situations.
  2. There is a ton more action.  Lena’s journey is rough.  She proves she is one tough cookie.
  3. And a lot more love Lena keeps spreading the love.  She just can’t help it.
  4. Lena never forgets.  She may have moved on but she never forgets.  She is still so in love with Alex.  She knows what he has sacrificed for her.  She knows he has given her a special gift.  As she begins to fall for another she hesitates.  She knows the importance of love, and does not want to hurt anyone.  She is cautious while simply letting herself fall.
  5. Oh the ending… I want to read the book all over again, just so I can read the ending.  It was perfect.  I cannot wait for the final installment of the Delirium Trilogy.  Team Alex all the way!

Here are a few things I did not love about the book.

  1. Raven, why do you have to be so mean?  There is little insight into her life.  What has happened to make her the way she is?
  2. Stupid trilogies!  I want to know what happens now!!!  There are a lot of loose ends.  Lena’s story is so good I don’t want to wait for the final installment.  It must have some answers to the questions, and bring closure to Lena’s life.  It must!

Pandemonium. I don’t even know what else to say.  It was wonderful.  Together with Delirium, it is phenomenal.  If you haven’t read Delirium, you need to.  Then read Pandemonium.  But be warned, Lauren Oliver has not released the date for the final installment.  Trust me; you will want to know how it ends.

Is Ashfall the new Hunger Games?

Okay.  I have done a lot of research and they are calling Ashfall the new Hunger Games.  Of course there are similarities, but I would not call Ashfall the new Hunger Games.  For starters, I thoroughly enjoyed Ashfall, and while I LOVED the Hunger Games movie, I did not like the book.  I do, however, hope Ashfall becomes a wildly popular YA series, propelling it to be a multi-million dollar movie, because frankly this book deserves to be a movie.  If Hunger Games can make it to the big screen so can Ashfall. 

While this is a YA book, I see Ashfall: the movie as an R rated flick.  I’m sorry, but not all YA books turned movies have to be rated PG 13.  A lot of YA books are dark and dirty.  I want to see the words come to life, no need to tone it down.  The dark sections are what keep Ashfall realistic.  Ashfall: the Movie needs to be for the over 18 crowd.  It is a gruesome book, and the world is overdue for a good end of the world movie.  Shoot it documentary style, and people will love it.  There’s no need to cheese it up.  The facts will sell this movie.  Put “This could really happen” on the movie’s poster and people will flock to the theaters.  This could really happen?!?!  Enough said… that is terrifying!

Now, if I were to make the movie I would make the Alex and Darla just a couple of years older, college freshmen or something like that.  I would cast what’s his name from High School Musical, Zac Efron as Alex.  It is about time he gets dirty.  He has done too many love stories, as far as I’m concerned. This role would totally put a major spike in his popularity chart, and he needs it.  Who for Darla… How about Dakota Fanning or Chloë Grace Moretz or AnnaSophia Robb?  Can’t quite decide…

For now, we have no idea if Ashfall will even be made into a movie. So, we are left to our dreams and imaginations. In October, Ashen Winter is released.

It better be good.  Otherwise, Mike Mullin can kiss a movie deal good bye.

Do you have what it takes to survive?

Ashfall begins with a bang.  Literally, a bang from a supervolcano!  Alex Halloran is left home alone for the weekend.  Finally, he will have the freedom to do whatever he wants for an entire weekend.  Well, that was before a giant boulder crushes his house, and the ash started to fall.

Mike Mullin’s first novel Ashfall, follows Alex on a 140 mile adventure of toxic gases, murderous cannibals and a ravening FEMA camp. The action begins on the first page, and it does not stop.  Yellowstone has irrupted, and ash is falling like snow.  Plus there are the thunderous bangs, and the ear splitting sound waves.  With no one else at home, Alex seeks help from his neighbors and community members.  He quickly learns this is more than anyone is prepared to handle.

When looters break into his neighbor’s home, and his neighbors fight back, Alex sees for the first time the effect of the disaster on human beings.  He believes he has seen the worse of the worse, but little does he know things can get a lot worse.   Alex decides to set out on his own.  He has made a commitment to himself to find his family in Warren.  He knows he will need help from others, but has more confident in his own skills and morals.  He sets out across the ash on his father’s cross country skis with nothing more than bottles of water, can goods, and his martial arts bo staff.

He seeks shelter under logs, and in abandoned homes.  He is welcomed by some and threatened by others.  Alex sees the devastation is larger than he first imagined.  No one knows how long the aftermath with last.  Everyone is hoarding what little food they have.  Alex presses on.  He is appreciative of the families who are willing to trade or share their food with him.  He knows he will find his parents and stays positive through the hunger and exhaustion.

Until, he gets sliced while fighting a cannibal named Target.  Stumbling into a barn, Darla and her mom nurse Alex back to health.  Immediately, Alex is impressed with Darla.  She shares Alex’s desire to live.  Unfortunately, trouble follows Alex to Darla’s farm, and soon Darla’s world is turned even more upside down.  Darla follows Alex when he has to move on toward Warren.  They work well as a team.  Darla always seems to be there when Alex needs her the most.  Together they never give up hope.

Alex is the perfect mix of a typical boy, heartwarming softy, and imaginative teenager.  He has the determination to overcome any obstacle.  He is stubborn when it comes to helping people, and is quick to act.  Darla is level headed, and knows a little about everything.  Ashfall is exciting before Alex met Darla.  But when they travel together it becomes great.  Darla fills in the gaps.  Ashfall is a serious story of action and adventure, but has a lightness about it that will make any reader cheer.  Their determination is infectious.  I question whether or not I would have what it takes to survive.  Alex is a normal kid living a normal life.  I don’t have a black belt in taekwondo, but a little determination goes a long way.

Alex and Darla’s story continues in Ashen Winter, the second book in the Ashfall trilogy.  What else does Mother Nature have to offer?  And will Alex and Darla be able to survive on determination alone?

You thought your high school was bad

Benson Fisher was tired of getting bounced around from foster family to foster family.  Never having roots throughout his childhood he wanted to settle down, make friends, and finish out high school like a normal 17 year old.  So he applied to Maxfield Academy.   Maxfield Academy sounded great on paper, but once Benson arrived he realized he should have been careful what he wished for.

Robison Wells’, Variant, takes you inside the stone walls and fences of Maxfield Academy.  Benson was used to high schools with gangs, and fist fights.  He was used to having to stand up for himself. He had no friends, no family, and no one to watch his back.  He thought Maxfield Academy would be a pleasant break from the norm.  Upon arriving at Maxfield Academy, Benson learns that this school is unlike all others.  There are no teachers, no test, no grades, and no way out.  Immediately, Benson knows he must escape.

Benson’s dreams have been crushed.  He would give anything to have the freedom to do whatever he wanted, and he can at Maxfield, as long as he stays on the school’s grounds… and follows the school’s rules.  The first person Benson meets is Becky.  She informs him of the rules, but the rest Benson will have to figure out for himself.  He is given a wrist watch containing a personalized chip.  This chip will unlock the doors Benson is allowed through.  If he doesn’t have access, the door will remain close.  The catch is that the school has a mind of its own.  It chooses when to allow access and when not to.

In addition to the crazy rules, and the temperamental school, Benson is forced to join a gang.  The gangs consist of Society, Havoc, and Variant.  Society’s loyalty to the school is frightening.  Havoc’s drive to overcome obstacles may be helpful, but is not directed towards the school.  Variant is the only gang left.  If Benson has to choose, he knows the members of Variant have the desire to escape.

After living with Variant, and the other gangs for a while Benson starts to feel like he has made friends.  Benson met Jane, and starts to see why people haven’t tried to escape.  The food is good, the classes are easy, and they get to play paintball every few days.  His classmates are all foster kids, loner children with nowhere else to go. However, Benson can’t shake the desire to get away from all the cameras and microchips.

The more Benson wants to get out, the more the school fights back.  Until one night when Benson discovers something that will change the school forever.  He learns the truth.  The problem now is that he can trust no one.  Now he has to come up with a way to show the rest of Variant, and to escape.

Robison Wells does an excellent job creating the world inside a nontraditional high school.  The issues are the same with some much needed pizazz.  This book does not take place in the future, but is unlike any book about high school I have ever read.  It really has it all; action, adventure, and of course some romance.  Plus it ends with a phenomenal cliff hanger.  Feedback, the sequel to Variant comes out in October.  Trust me you will want to continue the journey with Benson Fisher.

Have you ever been in love?

Oh the wonderful, exciting, euphoric feelings of being in love.  Who doesn’t love love?

However, remember the flip side.  The magnificent feelings of being in love also bring anxiety, fear, and insecurity.  Are the glorious feelings of being in love worth the heartache?

The delirious feelings of being in love make us forget the insecure feelings of falling in love.  Over time the anxiety fades, and trust sets in.  And so begins Lauren Oliver’s new trilogy, Delirium.

The Delirium Trilogy begin with Delirium.  Magdalena (Lena) Ella Haloway, will never experience falling in love.  Lena lives in a futuristic society that looks like modern day, but with no love.  At the age of 18 each member of society undergoes the process of being cured.  The government has proven that love is a disease, amor deliria nervosa, and it must be abolished.  The government has control over everything, deeming certain types of music and movies inappropriate for their society.

Lena is about to turn 18 and cannot wait to be cured.  She has seen the effects of the disease, and does not want it to take over her life.  She willingly goes along with the process of being matched and evaluate.  Lena knows the most important day of her life is her evaluation day.  Once Lena has her results she will know who she will marry, where they will live, and how much money they will make a year.  She will even know how many children she will have.  Love will not be a factor.  She does not have to love her husband or her children.  She will be obligated to fulfill certain duties and that is that.

That is until Lena completely bombs her evaluation and delivery truck confusion allow her to take her evaluations again.  Also, her friend Hana, dares her to join her at an illegal party.  Boys and girls will be hanging out together listening to banded music after curfew.  To Lena this all spells disaster. Lena’s curiosity and desire to prove Hana wrong win.  She sneaks out of her house, and what she sees and feels at the party change her forever.

She listens to forbidden music, is shocked by boys and girls dancing together, and meets Alex… again. Lena thought Alex was just another security guard.  That night she learns Alex has something to hide.  Agreeing to meet Alex the next day, start Lena’s suspicions about the disease.

Needless to say Alex has a lot to tell Lena.  Through Alex, Lena learns that her world has never been what she has imagined.

Delirium will take you from the anxious first meeting of Alex and Lena to their love creating a trust stronger than any government’s rules or regulations.  Delirium will have you questioning the realistic qualities of love, while rejuvenating your passion for everything you love.  The process of being cured, removes the opportunity to love anything.  Lena has been going through her life blind.  Not allowing herself to fully enjoy anything.  Why love running, sunsets, or Hana if one day it won’t even matter?  Lena decides it matters and it matters a lot.  While loving another person requires a lot of trust, Lena discovers she would rather take a chance on love, than live blind for another day.

Lauren Oliver does an amazing job creating this alternate, but realistic society.  The thoughts and feelings of Lena are so relatable, but yet unimaginable. However, Lauren Oliver will leave you wondering if love really is a disease.  Was Lena really wise to subject herself to the tortures of living with love?

We will find out in the second book of the Delirium Trilogy, Pandemonium.

So many series… So little time…

Between the next in the Lunar Chronicles, the Survivor Trilogy, and the Hunger Games Trilogy, I know what I will be reading for the next two years.  Add in the new Weirdsville series and I won’t have to ponder what book to read for two and half years.  And to be honest, I’m not so sure I’m happy about it.

I have a serious love/hate relationship with series.  I love series.  Series allow the characters to grow over time.  I become invested in the characters and want to know how each story will affect the overall tale and the characters individually.   I hate series.  Once I start a series I want to complete the entire series, which is fine if it is a trilogy. Beyond a trilogy… now I’m annoyed.  Pushing the boundaries of my investment to the stories are series with four or five novels.  Yes, I did read the entire Twilight Saga, which we all know contains four entire novels.  But by the end of the third I was asleep.  The characters and plot had exhausted my desire to know more.   I steer completely clear of series containing five or more.  Yes, that means I stopped at number two Harry Potter.   But series keep me coming back.  My love over takes the hate.  I am drawn to series.

So, Nearly Departed by Rook Hastings is the first in a new series about the supernatural and the life ever after.  Five individuals were assigned to work on a school project together. All unwilling to work together, they decide to make the most of it.  Little did they know they were destined to work together on everything, but the school assignment.  Emily, Bethan, Kelly, Hashim, and Jay all have something to gain by working together.  For some it is support.  For others it is popularity.  For one it is their life.

Emily lets the group in on a little secret.  She hears, but doesn’t really hear, ghosts in her house.  Destined to work together, they agree to go on a ghost hunt at Emily’s house.   As the night goes on strange things start happening.  After further review of the evidence their suspicions were confirmed.  Emily’s house contains a ghost.  But now what?

Strange things happen all over Woodsville, enough for the town’s members to nickname it Weirdsville.  The sky is constantly grey, and the sun never shines.  They start to think the ghost is just part of living in Woodsville.  It comes with the territory.  Having been built on an ancient rainforest the town’s people grow accustom to blaming the weirdness on the town’s dark past.  Despite this belief, Bethan, Kelly, Hashim, and Jay set out to help Emily.  Through the experiences and excitement they form a friendship, and end up helping more than Emily.  Each find out what they need was different than what they wanted.  Through helping Emily they realize the town is in need of the positive energy found in their new friendship.

I am already wondering how the next in the series will be able to continue the suspense and determination of Nearly Departed.   I love being able to pick up a new novel, already having pieces of the characters’ background.  With that knowledge I am instantly part of that series’ club.  I belong to the series until the end… unless it goes over four novels.  I have to draw the line somewhere.