Saturday, May 17, 2014
New York: Katherine Tegen Books, 2013.
For the earlier books in the series, a ****spoiler**** warning...
And a link to my reviews of Divergent and Insurgent.
Tris and her friends are still at the Erudite compound after the factionless uprising and the showing of the video that many in Abnegation died to protect. Tobias' mother, Evelyn, has essentially established a dictatorship and forcibly dissolved the factions. Tris wants to get out of the city now that she's seen the video. Meanwhile, a group calling themselves Allegiant - allied to the founders' original intent for the city, including the factions - forms in opposition to Evelyn. Tris doesn't entirely agree with them, but could working with them get her the answers she needs?
Between the hype and how much I enjoyed the first two books in this trilogy, Allegiant had a lot to live up to. There was a lot I enjoyed: Tris and Tobias talk to each other (I was getting annoyed with the non-communication throughout Insurgent), the pages turn fast, and we get to see into Tobias's head as well as Tris's as the first-person narration moves back and forth between them. Unfortunately, I found the reasoning behind the creation of the city and the factions overly simplistic and less than believable. It didn't quite live up to all I had hoped it would be. That being said, I found the ending fitting and would definitely read the series again as a whole; this one just isn't my favorite.
Since I'm posting this many months after the book has come out (and, in fact, several months after I read it) - for any who have read the book and had thoughts on the ending, I thought I'd point you to Veronica Roth's post about why she make a certain choice about the ending. Whether you loved or hated what happened, what she had to say provided a lot of food for thought.
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
by David Margolick
New Haven : Yale University Press, c2011.
In September 1957, Central School in Little Rock, Arkansas, was court ordered to integrate. Nine black students were to attend. One of them, Elizabeth Eckford, walked alone and was turned away by National Guardsmen. During her walk, photographers captured her while white students behind. In particular focus was Hazel Massery, face contorted standing just behind Elizabeth in the picture. This is the story of that photograph and how these two women were forever impacted by that day.
David Margolick gives a much broader picture that the one photograph of that day, beginning with brief explanations of how Hazel and Elizabeth reached that point, and continuing with the story of what happened to the Little Rock Nine after they began at Central. While much of the Civil Rights era was before I was born and reads like history to me, both of these women experienced it and are still living, making the issues of race relations and prejudice all the more present and less historical in feel. It's a powerful story and one that leaves a lot to discuss:
- Should a person be defined by one moment?
- How would you have reacted as a student, either black or white?
- Can major breaches like these ever truly heal?
Sunday, May 11, 2014
New York : Greenwillow Books, 2013.
This review for the final book in the trilogy with Girl of Fire and Thorns and The Crown of Embers contains ****spoilers**** for both titles.
Queen Elisa is on the run from Conde Eduardo, who has begun a civil war in her kingdom. Hector, the captain of her guard, has been captured and Elisa, her maid Mara, Belen and Storm will attempt to rescue him.
The first books were truly enjoyable reading, and the final book in the trilogy lived up to my expectations. Elisa is the bearer of a Godstone, and prophecy dictates that she has some great service to perform; she doesn't know what that means, but she strives to make the best decisions and plans that she can for her friends and her country. She has grown much from a princess who was kept in the dark to a more self-assured queen, even if she has moments of questioning her choices and motives. I really liked this fantasy series because Elisa's character is so incredibly human. She's not the damsel in distress and she's not a kickass heroine either, but she weighs her choices, frets sometimes, and always does the best she knows how to do. Because of that, I'm sure I would enjoy revisiting this trilogy in the future.
Thursday, May 8, 2014
New York : Ballantine Books, c2006.
***Spoilers*** for earlier books in the series: His Majesty's Dragon and Throne of Jade.
Will Laurence and his dragon, Temeraire, are suddenly recalled from China by orders from the aerial corp: they are to return by way of Turkey to pick up dragon eggs that Britain sorely needs in their fight against Napoleon. But of course, nothing is ever straightforward in war and political machinations between nations. Meanwhile, Lien is still enraged by her prince's death and is plotting revenge on Temeraire.
I'm continuing my reread of the earlier Temeraire books in an attempt to get caught up on the series, and am thoroughly enjoying revisiting these stories. I read and listened to this one in turns; the audiobooks are read by Simon Vance and excellently so. Perhaps because the majority of the book is a journey (just like the second) or because it was drawn out over several weeks while I listened, I don't like it quite as well as the first two books. The story continues to develop the characters and shows Laurence's evolving views on the treatment of dragons as he and Temeraire continue their travels and conversations.
Monday, May 5, 2014
New York : Riverhead Books, c2007.
Oscar is a social misfit; he is interested in all things science fiction, and wants to become the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien. Growing up in Paterson, New Jersey with his tough-as-nails mother and sister, he is luckless in love. The narrator, who calls himself the Watcher, gives us the story not just of Oscar, but also of where he came from and the curse that seems to have followed his family from Trujillo's rule in the Dominican Republic.
This is a difficult book to categorize. It's smart and funny and heartbreaking. It's rawer in language and content than what I tend to read. There are several references to science fictional works and untranslated Spanish terms, neither of which I could really understand without help (thanks to Google translate, I've learned an awful lot of Spanish insults and swears). About the only thing I had in common with Oscar was a love for Tolkien. And yet, I was drawn into the story of this boy very much unlike me, and his family who could not escape a power-hungry dictator. I cared about Oscar and his sister Lola and wanted to see them make good. It's the sort of book I'm hard-pressed to describe an audience for, but one I would recommend for someone who enjoys unique, inventive fiction.