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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