Posts tagged ‘YA’
After hearing a lot about Divergent by Veronica Roth when it first came out and then again when Insurgent hit the shelves, I decided to track down a copy. My lovely friend Wendy let me borrow hers and I found it to be a fun YA dystopian novel with some interesting world building.
In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves… or it might destroy her. (Synopsis from Veronica Roth’s website)
I absolutely adored that this was set in Chicago. I also really liked that she set it in the future so she could mess with the landscape as she felt she needed to, but keeping some of the major places, like Navy Pier and the giant Ferris Wheel, as landmarks. I thought the different Factions were interesting. The brain washing that went on was pretty intense and really messed with the kids’ heads. I’ve seen that kind of fanaticism at work and it is real and it can be scary. I understand why people have a problem with the fact that there seems to be no real separation of the factions, and it seems that there is no point to them really. But coming from a fanaticism perspective, from my religious upbringing, I can totally see how people are taught to be in the world but not of the world. Where they are taught that you can walk side by side people and despise them and refuse to interact with them.
I also really liked Tris as a main character. Her dilemma seems a little strange to me. Which faction to choose? . . . But, everyone has a choice no matter what their tests are, so why wait until the last second to make a decision you’ve known all your life is coming? Sure, she gets thrown for a loop with the the whole secret thing she learns after getting tested, but that doesn’t actually play into any of her decision making, at all. It doesn’t seem to influence her choosing which faction nor how she interacts with her new family. I mean, if you know maybe you are smarter or better at something than you should be, why wouldn’t you dumb yourself down to not get noticed? Tris is strong and smart, but incredibly naive. Perhaps her prerogative, being someone half my age (gah!). But I learned at a fairly early age that in order to interact with society I had to set aside some of who I am to fit in. Perhaps, in a perfect world, I shouldn’t have to, but I do not live in a perfect world. (Except on the internets, where I’ve built my own world and community.) And neither does Tris. Perhaps this is her biggest fault, believing everything she has been taught, the good and the bad. It takes her a really long time to realize that perhaps she should question some of those teachings and hold back some from the people she is supposed to be able to trust, but maybe shouldn’t.
I was quite taken with all of the tattoos. In fact, I plan on getting a span of flying birds across my back. One bird for each of my siblings and I. When I can afford to do this, I don’t know. But I definitely want to. I think it will go well with the moon goddess on my right shoulder. The start of a night sky on my back!
I really like Four, I liked him better than Tris. He was less naive, but still hopeful. He understood how to interact with his society and what it meant to have a secret. He also was subversive in his tactics and getting away with what he could get away with. I love sneaky characters in books. Mayhaps that is because I can be a rather subversive person myself. I definitely related to his character far more than I related to Tris. I liked their subtle romance which was built on interactions and conversations and wasn’t solely based in INSTALOVE.
One additional problem I had with the book is that it definitely felt like a first book in a series. I understand the author knew she would be able to explain more in further books, but some of the back history of Tris’ family came out of the middle of nowhere and then went nowhere. It was very abrupt and I feel like, if the author had to explain that in this book and not rely on a second narrative, some of the story lines in Divergent would have been tighter and a bit cleaner.
In a nutshell, Divergent is the story of a girl who leaves the comfort of all that she is known to face scary people, a physically demanding lifestyle, and some problems Tris never new existed with her perfect society. She must find the answers to her questions before her secret is discovered.
After seeing a tweet from Jody Gehrman‘s agent on Twitter, I contacted the agent and received a pdf version of Audrey’s Guide to Witchcraft in exchange for an honest review. I really wanted to get my hands on a copy of this book because the blurb sounded like it would be a really fun read, and I’m glad I took the time to pursue this little gem of a book. I’ve been telling everyone who will listen about the coming of age story of Audrey the witch.
Audrey has a bad feeling all day, she knows, in her gut, that something is terribly wrong with her mother. When she finally gets home after school, her mother is no where to be found, and she wont answer her cell phone either. Then, a long lost “cousin”, Sadie, shows up on their door step as Meg, Audrey’s sister, and Audrey are eating the last of the melting ice cream right out of the tub. Sadie informs the girls that she will be staying with them while their mother handles a “family emergency.” But Audrey is suspicious, her mother never talked about her side of the family and with her their father dead, Audrey and Meg didn’t really think they had much in the way of extended family. All they really knew about their mother’s family was that she grew up as part of a hippie commune.
Then strange things start happening to Audrey, her senses are heightened, she shatters glass with her mind, and knocks over one of the Mean Girls at school by shooting at the girl with power from her eyes. Plus, Audrey is having visions of a scary man who shows up, in all places, on her creme brulee. Audrey confronts Sadie with all these strange happenings, sure they have to something to do with her mother. Sadie tells Audrey she is a witch, in particular, an alchematrix, with a genetic predisposition to magic from her mother, who didn’t so much grow up on a hippie commune as on the Land full of Clan folk, all witches and sorcerers. Sadie confides in Audrey, that the Clan thought Audrey and Meg were Mundanes, and that was why Sadie (who communes with nature, and isn’t a heavy weight witch) was sent to watch them as their mother (a powerful witch) confronts a nemesis from her past. Everyone is surprised that Audrey is a witch as a witch can only be born from two people with magic in their blood, and Audrey’s father was a Mundane Audrey’s mother married after leaving the Clan and magic. Audrey begins to question everything she ever knew, and as her powers start to mature, she embraces her alchematrix side eager to help her mother in the fight against the bad guy, whoever he may be, even if she doesn’t know exactly what it is he is doing wrong. Other than bringing people back to life who should be dead, that is.
Audrey’s Guide to Witchcraft was engaging and exciting. I really enjoyed the alchemist aspect of the story and how Audrey’s propensity for Chemistry and baking fed into her craft. Audrey is your typical 17 year-old and sometimes she is a bit whiny, but usually she gets over herself and does the right thing. Usually. So, I didn’t find her annoying, but instead she was courageous, if confused. Which stands to reason for someone who never knew they might turn out to be a witch with some strong magicks. I had some trouble with Audrey’s really advanced vocabulary (in her thoughts, as it is told from her point of view). I’m not sure even an obviously intelligent 17 year-old would think in such terms, but I understand the desire to balance what someone may say with a more articulated thinking. I also had trouble with all of Audrey’s recipes throughout the book. Normally, I don’t mind cooking mysteries that have recipes scattered throughout them, so I think the reason I didn’t like this aspect was because Audrey wrote down whatever list or recipe that had to do with anything, including recipes for cooking and for magic. I would have preferred if the recipes actually written out would have been one or the other. I also thought the recipes detracted from the suspense of the story, maybe if they had been at the end of the book instead, it would not have been so distracting.
Audrey is quite an engaging character. She is smart, loyal, and cares about her friends and family. Her coming of age story is powerful as she deals not only with the normal teenager stuff, meeting a boy, liking him, kissing him, but she also has to deal with understanding her magic and what it means, not being able to tell said boy about being a witch even as books fly around their heads as she kisses him. Audrey is also extremely loyal to her best friend, Bridget, one of my favorite characters in the book. Bridget lacks a little self confidence, but grows and gains some as the story progresses. Plus she is a total geek of the first order, and that is always cool in my book. This was a fun fast read that I became totally engrossed in as the story progressed, enjoying the mystery, magic, and madness.
Audrey’s Guide to Witchcraft is full of teenage confusion, the consequences of magic, and how the past has a way of affecting the future even when you think you put it behind you. You can pick up a copy on Amazon for a mere .99 cents or you can download a free copy on Smashwords today. Smashwords will be giving out free copies every Dark of the Moon (currently July 18 (TODAY!) through July 2o). So check it out!
I stumbled across an interesting quote the other day while working on an art project/ birthday present for my sister. Who told me she got my package, but never said she liked my art work. Thanks a lot Megan! I wish my birthday was in June maybe I would get some cool art work as presents instead of, “Oh, do you mind if this is both your birthday and Christmas present?”
Yes I mind, I mind very much, but thanks anyway.
Where was I? Oh right, the quote. So I stumbled up on this quote, and it made me sit up a little straighter and think a little harder. (I tend to over analyze things.)
Dreams are illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you. - Marsha Norman
I have some of the most unusual dreams I’ve ever heard recounted. I’m not even kidding. What’s more, I remember nearly every dream that I have, which happens frequently. Like last night for example when my downstairs neighbor came popping into my apartment sans invitation to determine if I had hot water or not. While trying to usher her back out (note in real life my downstairs neighbor is a man, who plays the keyboard without head phones, and even more tragically, SINGS) I was also trying to get my sisters to stop organizing my Barbies in my secret closet under the attic (note I own neither Barbies nor do I have an attic).
The strangest dream by far I had was when I dreamed that a young girl with blond ringlets and a pink party dress was standing in the middle of the gravel road screaming her head off. I was in the middle of changing a flat tire in pitch black while using my cell phone as a light when I heard her. I turned my head to the left to see what was wrong and she decided at that moment to split in half down the middle of her face and body falling into paint gloops onto the road. Out of her now disintegrated body stepped the skeleton of an old man, with star light bones lit and glowing and a loincloth around his hip bones. His lower jaw hinged open and he spoke to me, “It’s opposite day, the pound cake becomes a wedding cake.” And he walked away.
So I was thinking of all the really weird dreams that I have and this quote when I drift off to sleep one night. And of course, I had a strange dream. Very young adult dystopian in nature. I have these kind of dreams a lot. Maybe I’ll write them all down one day and write a book. Often they are cross pollinated by books I’ve read and this dream is no exception, but there are dreams where I truly have no idea how my brain came up with them. Like the day I ate my cheetoh fingers. Anyway. As I was saying, I dreamt yet another strange dream while napping from a long day and an even longer week. Two jobs will do that to you.
I was a little girl in a blue gingham dress and all the children in my dream were being rounded up for some Bad Reason. We were all in some huge facility, and I knew where they were taking us next was not a good place. In order to get out I had to find hidden messages in weird places. I had some sort of device put in my wrist that allowed me access to certain places when I scanned it. I gleefully entered a public bathroom and found a hidden message. In an ironing board. In a public bathroom. You heard me.
I was attempting to add the knowledge I knew to the hidden message (since we were all trying to help each other get out of the facility) when a guard entered the room. I slid into a stall, climbed up on the tank which went to the top of the stall. I pulled my feet up and waited, barely breathing. At this point, as happens in many of my dreams, my vision blurred and my range of seeing shrunk. But I was determined to not get caught, so I carefully felt around to position myself to not be seen. The security guard was talking to someone outside, who was trying to bribe him. But like all good bad guys the guard could not be bribed to save the life of a child.
The security guard came in to the bathroom, but I never saw who he had been talking to. I was hiding after all. He began checking every stall, starting with the one furthermost from me. I was sure I was going to be found out especially when he opened the stall right next to mine. I was terrified he was gong to come to me next and drag me away, but instead he found another runaway. A little boy who stared at me in horror as he was pulled from the bathroom by the guard.
Suddenly I was standing in a slum area in front of a door, two girls were sitting in the door way. One, who looked like Dianna Agron on drugs, said, “How is a dead b—- standing here?” The other girl who Dianna was slumped against shut her up with a firm hand across her mouth. The other girl and I had a look of understanding pass between us. I leaned forward and said harshly,” I have information to trade for an artifact.” Then I thought, wait how did I get away and end up here, I need to go backwards in the dream and found out.
I woke up.
I’m hoping Marsha Norman is wrong because, otherwise I have a very very scary soul drawing some horribly fantastical illustrations.