Thursday, April 03, 2014

Review: Divergent

Divergent by Veronica Roth

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have mixed feelings about this book. While I was reading, I kept thinking of criticisms. And then I kept reading. This is another entry in the category of books that are not particularly well written but catch readers with interesting stories and engaging characters.

To be sure, Roth's story outline is not particularly unique. You have typical characters, in typical positions, doing typical things. I don't want to offer up spoilers so I won't give any more details. But you know what I mean. In the beginning, I really struggled with narrative point of view. It seemed like every sentence started with: "I". "I this..., I that..., I saw..., I felt..., I went..." It shows some inexperience in writing first person narration. But it's Roth's first book. Plus, this genre doesn't care much about literary qualities. It's about fun and losing yourself. And this book does it.

I have issues with the sequencing and plot build-up. I knew certain things were going to happen but it took a long time to get to the point where they did. I have the same criticism of the ending. I read this, on my Kindle, as part of the trilogy; I had no idea I was close to the end. Then, boom, done. I was really surprised. I am glad I didn't read this before Insurgent came out. Had I, the frustration with waiting for the story to continue would have been immense.

So, all criticism aside, I enjoyed the story. The book reveals that Roth is a young, female author; you can tell by the way the characters interact. I have already started Insurgent and I am hoping to find that Roth has better developed the story and matured in her writing style.

This is a great teenage fiction read. Definitely a book you can use to get your daughters, nieces, cousins, friends, etc., to read, especially if they are typically averse to books. So, enjoy! I am off to read more about Tris.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Review: The Pillars of the Earth

The Pillars of the Earth
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Meh. The story was entertaining enough but I felt like the writing was somewhat sloppy. I was hoping for more out of Follet, a well-known grocery-store-checkout author (you know, the types of books that are always on display at the checkout stand). I guess the typical, popular thriller doesn't require much literary technique.

The obvious, sloppy trick that Follet used was sex. Lots and lots of sex. And while it was not overly explicit, it was a shame that Follet chose sex as a way to introduce characters and move the story along. Many of the characters were underdeveloped as a result of this "technique" and I found that it distracted, in a significant way, from the story itself (which I actually liked).

I have started reading the latest Brandon Sanderson book, and its quality has cast a harsh light on that offered by Follet in Pillars. I have a hard time recommending the book given the weaknesses that I see in it.

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Monday, September 02, 2013

Review: Franny and Zooey

Franny and Zooey
Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Just read it again... Good stuff...

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Review: Blood Song

Blood Song
Blood Song by Anthony Ryan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really liked this book. It has a fantasy feel to it but it isn't your typical fantasy novel. There is a slight magic system involved but, for the most part, it is a fantasy-laced war and adventure novel. Ryan mixes in great threads of religion, politics, friendship, and betrayal. There are some interesting twists and turns that are fairly unexpected. While the end does not tie everything up into a neat little bow, you do end up with a good understanding of what has taken place and where things might head in the future.

This book is fairly clean with a few cuss words here and there. I think it is good for anyone 14 or 15 and up. Some of political and religious aspects may be tough for a younger reader to grasp but I think it will be a very entertaining read for whoever picks it up.

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Monday, July 08, 2013

Review: Michael Vey 2: Rise of the Elgen

Michael Vey 2: Rise of the Elgen
Michael Vey 2: Rise of the Elgen by Richard Paul Evans

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The first Michael Vey book was great. This one was basically the exact opposite. I don't think it was particularly clever. I RPE could have done a much better job with the characters. The story, the setting, and the use of the characters' special "powers" each lacked creativity. Candidly, this is what I expected to get from RPE in the first Michael Vey book. Maybe this is the proverbial sophomore slump and the third book will be back on track. I hope so because the ending to this book was fairly lame but I was happy to get to the end so I could move on to something else (and that is just kind of sad).

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Saturday, June 01, 2013

Review: The Rithmatist

The Rithmatist
The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

My rating: 0 of 5 stars

I am extremely interested in reading this book. This is Brandon Sanderson's (one of the worlds best fantasy authors) first foray into Y.A. (Young Adult) fiction. Some people say that it is even appropriate for kids 11 and 12.

I love Sanderson. I love all his books. And I love a good teen fiction read. So, my fingers are crossed and I hope this book delivers on its promises. I will let you know.

Whee! Here we go.

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Review: The Emperor's Soul

The Emperor's Soul
The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a fantastic book to get young readers into the fantasy genre. It has a very simple magic system and the main character, a feisty young female, does a great job of drawing readers into the book.

This is a short novella by one of the best fantasy writers alive today (Brandon Sanderson) and I suggest that you give it a try ($2.99 on Amazon Kindle) if you have any interest in broadening your literary horizons. I was amazed at how fast I plowed through this.

As I expect with all Sanderson books, this one was a very good read.

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Saturday, September 01, 2012