Friday, May 24, 2013

CBR V Review #22: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

“Like a wild animal, the truth is too powerful to remain caged.” 

Man, it kills me that I didn't write my reviews of this and it's prequel right after reading them, because now I remember so little.  And I adored them both, so that blows.

Insurgent continues the tale of Tris and the others as the world around them starts to shift dramatically.  It's really hard to talk about the plot of this one without getting super spoilery (especially because to talk about it requires spoiling the first book).  Still, suffice it to say that this book continues the story and builds on Divergent's foundation very well.

It's fascinating to see how the relationships in this one shift, as they must.  There are some pretty serious side switchers in Tris' life, and it leaves you questioning everyone.  The relationship between Tris and Four gets still more interesting, and I do really adore the two of them, both as a unit and independently.  I think one of the things I value most about Four is that he's this incredibly strong male figure, but he is so completely, irreparably broken at the same time.  He has some pretty significant weaknesses, and I like that Roth doesn't shy away from that or try to compensate for them.  They just make up who Four is, and the flaws are as important as his more positive and strong attributes.

I love how each of these turns into me loving Four instead of talking about Tris.  I'm sure lots of other reviewers have dedicated thousands of words to Tris Prior, but I find Four to be the more interesting and compelling of the two.

I'm looking very much forward to reading the last installment in the series when it gets released!

Friday, May 17, 2013

CBR V Review #21: Divergent by Veronica Roth

“We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another.” 

Divergent, yet another in the trend of post-apocalyptic YA fiction, is set in a world where we mankind exists in five factions, Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent).  We are immersed in the world alongside Beatrice "Tris" Prior, an Erudite who is approaching the annual selection day, where every 16 year old is tasked with selecting which faction they will belong to for the rest of their lives.  Each faction has an initiation period that follows, and Tris's poses a number of challenges to her.  As she moves along the path to her chosen faction, secrets start coming out that could shake the foundation of all she holds dear.

Speaking on this book too much would spoil things, so I'm going to steer clear of most of the plot.  Tris is a great character, leading a book filled with other very interesting characters.  Even the ones that just pass through you get a reasonably good sense of as three dimensional people, not just filler, which is nice.    But my favorite character isn't Tris, it's Four.  Four is a fascinating character with so very much going on inside of him.  I love his relationship with Tris and with all of the other initiates.  He's awesome.

I burned through this book and then tore through the sequel (review to come) and now am waiting with everyone else for the third book, which comes out later this year.  I have a lot of reservations about the upcoming film adaptation due to casting, but I'm still interested in seeing where it goes.  A must read for fans of the genre.

CBR V Review #20: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

“When a monster stopped behaving like a monster, did it stop being a monster? Did it become something else?” 

Graceling is set in a world where sometimes people are given specific gifts, called graces.  Some of these gifts are easy to benefit from (Grace of Cooking, for example, I would find pretty handy).  Katsa, our protagonist, is graced with killing.  Manipulated by her uncle, King Randa of the Middluns, Katsa has grown to despise her grace and the things she is forced to do for him.  Her only solace is a special group she runs behind the scenes, one that tries to combat the evils of the kingdom and offset Katsa's conscience for the things Randa makes her do.  On one mission for this group, she comes across Prince Po, graced in combat arts.  The two of them make quite a pair, investigating something big going on in the kingdoms.  Their world is full of secrets, which threaten to tear some things apart while bringing Po and Katsa closer together.

This book was a lot of fun to read, though it had an uneven tone to it on occasion.  Katsa is a very interesting character, one whom I grew to love a lot more as she learned to love herself (despite that sentence reeking of Dr. Phil, it happens to be true).  Po is a fantastic character, and the interplay between the two is wonderful.  I'd love to read more books that are The Po & Katsa Adventures, but the sequels in the series don't seem to revolve around them.

As a woman with a love of combat, I enjoyed seeing a female character who kicked a whole lot of ass.  I especially enjoyed that she started out much harder and softened as she learned more about her grace.

I'd recommend this for people who enjoy good YA Fantasy.