Posts Tagged: rating: 3

Review: Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham

May 23, 2013 Review 20


Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham book cover//  BOOK INFO  //

Title: Someday, Someday, Maybe
Author: Lauren Graham
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: April 30, 2013
Source: Edelweiss *received in exchange for an honest review
Pages: 352
Genres: Adult contemporary, romance,

A charming and laugh-out-loud novel by Lauren Graham, beloved star of Parenthood and Gilmore Girls, about an aspiring actress trying to make it in mid-nineties New York City.

Franny Banks is a struggling actress in New York City, with just six months left of the three year deadline she gave herself to succeed. But so far, all she has to show for her efforts is a single line in an ad for ugly Christmas sweaters and a degrading waitressing job. She lives in Brooklyn with two roommates-Jane, her best friend from college, and Dan, a sci-fi writer, who is very definitely not boyfriend material-and is struggling with her feelings for a suspiciously charming guy in her acting class, all while trying to find a hair-product cocktail that actually works.

Meanwhile, she dreams of doing “important” work, but only ever seems to get auditions for dishwashing liquid and peanut butter commercials. It’s hard to tell if she’ll run out of time or money first, but either way, failure would mean facing the fact that she has absolutely no skills to make it in the real world. Her father wants her to come home and teach, her agent won’t call her back, and her classmate Penelope, who seems supportive, might just turn out to be her toughest competition yet.

Someday, Someday, Maybe is a funny and charming debut about finding yourself, finding love, and, most difficult of all, finding an acting job.


//  COVER TALK  //

I like the cover and the soft colors, the bridge with the lights and the pop of red provided by the girl’s coat. I think it catches your eye without being too flashy. I was worried at first that it was a bit generic, but now I really like it. It’s got a bit of a nostalgic feel to it.


 I LOVE Lauren Graham so I was hoping for a funny, sarcastic read with a good story.

//  MY THOUGHTS  // 

 I didn’t even know until someone tweeted about it that Lauren Graham had written a book! How cool is that? Someday, Someday, Maybe is loosely based off of Graham’s own experiences in trying to break into the New York acting scene in New York during the 1990s.

When I requested the book I didn’t realize it was set in the 1990s, which ended up being a fun time to read about because I was just a little kid. However, at the same time, I didn’t get some of the cultural references, although some of them were just made up names I’m pretty sure, haha. Graham did a good job of establishing the setting – the hustle and bustle and attitude of New York was well represented, but it didn’t feel cliche. It made me want to not only visit current day New York, but New York in the 90s!

I liked the characters (except her boyfriend, ewww!) and they all showed development throughout the story. Franny was funny and smart, although at times, unconfident and unsure of herself, which I think a lot of 20 year olds, like myself, can relate to. Jane was a great best friend and Dan, her other roommate, was very sweet. Franny’s Dad was so funny. Actually the book had its fair share of funny moments!

It was interesting to learn more of the ins and outs of the acting business. It’s more complicated than one may have envisioned! I also liked how between chapters there were pages from Franny’s agenda with notes and doodles on them. However, this was hard to truly experience on an e-reader screen.

Despite liking the characters, the story lacked a bit of oomph for me – granted, adult contemporary romance isn’t really my genre. Sometimes it just didn’t completely capture my attention and the ending was a bit too abrupt for my tastes. It really felt like an author’s first novel. I think the best thing it had going for it was that you could hear Lauren Graham’s voice come through in the writing – she embodied Franny very well.

If adult contemporary romance (I refuse to call it ‘chick lit’, yuck!) does it for you, I do recommend giving Someday, Someday, Maybe a try. Lots of my fellow book bloggers have given it high praise, and it makes for a good, quick read!

// Share your thoughts… Leave a Comment! //

Have you read Someday, Someday, Maybe? Are you a Gilmore Girls fan (fave episode?)? Do you like adult contemporary romances? Ever wanted to be an actor or visited NYC?


{Blog Tour} Review: Release by Nicole Hadaway

March 27, 2013 Blog Tour, Review 4


Title: Release 
Author: Nicole Hadaway
Published: January 2013
Format: eBook
Source: Xpresso Book Tours
Pages: 290
Genre(s): Adult, Paranormal, Historical Fiction

The old saying goes, “The ends justify the means”…

For vampire Miranda Dandridge, using her supernatural abilities to rescue children from impossible circumstances is her means to be a part of the human world that she loves so much, despite the atrocities of WWII.

For doctor Ben Gongliewski, saving his fellow Jews from the horrific death camps is an end for which he risks his own life every day, hiding his Jewish heritage while feigning loyalty the SS.

Neither Miranda nor Ben expects to find love in World War II Europe, but that is exactly what happens as they work for the Resistance. When the war draws to a close, it seems like the vampire and the doctor are free to start a future together. Yet the two forget just how far the Nazis will go to further their own evil ends.

Desperate times make for ruthless men as loves and lives are threatened, but, Miranda and Ben know that their world cannot go to hell, not by any means…

[Goodreads] [Amazon]

— Cover Critique —

I really like the cover of Release. I think it is eye catching, and does a good job of representing the contents of the books. Looking at it, it seems very True Blood-esque which is fitting! The title also really fits the book well.

— Expectations —

I was pretty excited going into Release, as previously noted. Vampires + World War II + the Resistance sounded bad-ass! I’m a lover of both paranormal and historical fiction, YA and Adult, so it seemed like the book for me.

— Review —

I’m not going to spend too much time presenting a summary of Release by Nicole Hadaway because the blurb provided by the publisher does a nice job of it. At the very basis you have a vampire, Miranda, who is sympathetic to the plight of Jewish children during the Holocaust, and Ben, a Jewish doctor involved in the Resistance efforts against Hitler’s Final Solution. Ultimately, their paths cross, and they begin working together. Along the way there is a slew of other characters, both human and paranormal, and somewhere in between: werewolves, fallen angels, demons, witches, etc. Working together, they have to find a way to save humanity from the evils of Hitler and the Nazis… yet, no one can imagine just how evil humans can be!
As you can probably already surmise, Release offers up a unique story for paranormal and historical fiction lovers. I don’t think I’ve ever really heard of a vampire Holocaust novel (writing those words sort of made me cringe, as I can see how that makes it seem exploitive and sensationalist, but I’d just like to say that this novel is nothing of the sort!). I think Hadaway did a great job balancing the historical with the paranormal and creating her own version of WWII, seen through the eyes of of both humans and vampires, werewolves, etc. You can tell a lot of research was done while writing the novel — a lot of it is true to the facts, and the novel incorporates quite a bit of lesser known truths about the Holocaust. For example, there is mention of Hitler’s crusade against homosexuals and the pink triangles they were forced to wear in concentration camps. I’ve previously written a paper on this for one of my classes, and the lack of resources available illustrated just how unacknowledged this is in Holocaust history. Other mentions of people and places had me pulling out my phone to Google things and learn more about them! As for the paranormal part of the story, a lot of interesting vampire and religious mythology was used and/or created which made for a complex story! I can’t delve too much into the paranormal plot lines without revealing much, but I thought the plot was very well done, and very intense in parts.
That said, I did have a few problems with the characters and writing, unfortunately. As I said before, Release introduces you to a slew of characters, from humans like Ben and the Nazis, hybrids like Gertrude the witch and Rose the werewolf, to paranormals like Miranda and Cray, vamps, and Vanessa, a demon. This created a large cast of characters to draw from and we experience the story from almost every character’s point-of-view. However, some narrators had much stronger voices than others. Despite not liking Miranda’s brother Cray’s womanizing ways, I thought he had the strongest narrative voice. It was commanding and captivating, which make for a great read. Also, the POV switches frequently, and at times it wasn’t clear for a few sentences as to who was narrating the story. I think the narration style may have even changed a few times from third person to first? I can’t recall specific examples though.
As for the characters, I did find it a bit hard to relate to them, which is not always necessary, but I do have to find them likeable. I was a bit lukewarm with Miranda — she was an interesting character, and does a lot of good in the book, but I wasn’t loving her. Ben was a bit annoying in my opinion, and I didn’t really care for him. The one character I did really like and connect with though was Rose, a werewolf who was struggling with the fact that her parents knew she would inherit the curse, but had her anyways. Maybe it was because she was a hybrid, but her struggles felt the most real, and her character evolved gradually and the characters’ development was apparent in the end. She was the one I was really rooting for!
Part of my disconnect with the characters may have come from the writing itself, and less from characterization. A LOT of the story is told via dialogue, although there are chapters that are more balanced than others. That means there is a lot of telling versus showing (though that may not bother everyone), and it got a bit repetitive at times. The dialogue could feel a bit… stilted or forced? But like I said, some characters definitely had a stronger narrative voice, such as Cray, and this showed even in the dialogue with his character. Lastly, I think the Release could use a bit more editing (I do believe I was sent a final copy of the ebook). While it wasn’t enough to ruin my experience, I did notice that there were grammar mistakes (its when it should have been it’s, etc), formatting errors, and missing or extra words here and there.
All in all though, despite some issues with the writing, and a  bit of a disconnect with the characters, Release still made for an interesting read! I think the biggest thing Release has going for it is its blend of paranormal and historical fiction that takes you right into the heart of World War II. The plot, while we all know how it end for Hitler and Nazi Germany, is fascinating, with a few surprises thrown in along the way. The story reminded me a lot of a mix between the shows True Blood and Supernatural actually, if they had been set in WWII! If you love historical fiction or are looking for something a bit different in the paranormal genre, then certainly give Release a try.
rating 3

* I received an electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Interested in checking out the rest of the Release blog tour posts?

Have you read Release? What did you think? Do you know of any other WWII paranormal stories?


Review: Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley

March 18, 2013 Review 14


Title: Pretty Girl-13
Author: Liz Coley
Releases: March 19, 2013
Format & Source: eBook (Edelweiss)
Pages: 352
Genre(s): YA, mystery, thriller

Reminiscent of the Elizabeth Smart case, Pretty Girl-13 is a disturbing and powerful psychological mystery about a girl who must piece together the story of her kidnapping and captivity.

Angie Chapman was thirteen years old when she ventured into the woods alone on a Girl Scouts camping trip. Now she’s returned home…only to find that it’s three years later and she’s sixteen-or at least that’s what everyone tells her.

What happened to the past three years of her life?

Angie doesn’t know.

But there are people who do — people who could tell Angie every detail of her forgotten time, if only they weren’t locked inside her mind. With a tremendous amount of courage, Angie embarks on a journey to discover the fragments of her personality, otherwise known as her “alters.” As she unearths more and more about her past, she discovers a terrifying secret and must decide: When you remember things you wish you could forget, do you destroy the parts of yourself that are responsible?

Liz Coley’s alarming and fascinating psychological mystery is a disturbing – and ultimately empowering page-turner about accepting our whole selves, and the healing power of courage, hope, and love.

[Goodreads] [Amazon]

— Cover Critique —

I think the cover gives a good feel for the book – creepy, dark, disturbing, gritty. The concept of a girl in a doorway or cabin makes more sense as you read on in the book. I also like the font they used!

— Expectations —

Not going to lie – the main reason I downloaded this was that I kept hearing good things on Twitter about this book. I hadn’t read many reviews, but I love a good psychological thriller/mystery so when I saw it was available for download on Edelweiss, I went ahead and put it on my ereader.

— Review —

I’m so conflicted y’all — I’ve never had this happen before, but I agree both with the 1 star ratings (mostly Kelly’s) aaaand the 4-5 star ratings of this book. How the heck does this happen?!? I’m going to try and explain my thoughts, but it’s also hard to do so with this type of book and not spoil things. But, here it goes…

Pretty Girl-13 is Angie, a thirteen year old girl who is kidnapped while on a Girl Scout camping trip in the woods. Three years later, she shows up on her street, and is reunited with her parents. Thing is, she doesn’t remember anything at first and believes she is still thirteen! Turns out that Angie has dissociative identity disorder (DID), or alter personas that were created to help Angie survive her ordeal. In order to find out what has happened in the last three years and to take control of her own life, Angie, with the help of a therapist, has to tap into these personas, which stirs up many disturbing memories.

OK, first of all, this book was enthralling, albeit, disturbing. I read it all in one day, and when I had to go out to do some grocery shopping I really didn’t want to because it meant I had to put the book down. As soon as I got back, I picked it right up again. The story’s structure — that of hearing from both Angie and her alters, and learning what happened to her piece by piece — really worked for me, and made the story even more fascinating. While I am going to talk about the problems I had with Pretty Girl-13, the fact that it held my attention for 4+ hours counts for a lot in my books.

Yet, as much as I thought the story structure worked and the book was well paced, I had a lot of problems with this book. As Kelly points out in her review, there is a LOT going on, and at times it does seem like a mess of a storyline. Like, what else could POSSIBLY have been thrown at Angie?!  By the end, it is emotionally exhausting because Angie has been through almost a ridiculous amount of crap. I’m not denying that these things can happen, as we have seen in the past that they can, but it did seem overwhelming. The end had me kind of eye-rolling with one incident, but I was still enthralled with the story. The upside to the storyline that had a million different elements is that I think Liz Coley did present an empowering narrative regarding mental health. HORRIFIC things happened to Angie, that she and her alters had to endure for years, and at a young age at that. It would be completely understandable for Angie to never be able to get over those years of her life. Yet, Angie is very resilient. **Somewhat spoiler ahead!** She works hard with mental health professionals to deal with her DID and to feel happy and whole again. It’s a constant battle, but she works at it. I think that was a very positive message to a dark and disturbing story.

The major issue I had is in regards to how Angie’s parents and friends reacted upon her return. I understand that everyone reacts differently in times of grief, etc. but their reactions just struck me as so out of place that it really bothered me. Angie’s parents often left her on her own (sometimes out of necessity… but still, she is having a bit of a hard time adjusting… and she was kidnapped! You’d think they’d want someone watching her?), and after learning of her DID when she mentioned that she must have blacked out or zoned out… for 8 hours, no one said anything!! They just didn’t seem wholly attentive to Angie at times. As for her friends, well let me say that I was dumbfounded at their reactions, except for Kate’s, who I felt reacted the most realistically (asking questions, being worried, trying to offer support). Livvie and Greg’s reactions were appalling in my opinion. It was very “Where were you? Oh you don’t know? That is soooooo cool”. I believe Greg actually said “Well, you don’t look bad/hurt, so it can’t have been that bad”. Dude, she’s been gone three years, and you can pretty much deduce that she was held against her will! Then they crack jokes about her being gone and possibly being held! It didn’t bother me when Angie did this, or even later, when Kate did, because Angie recognized that she needed to use humour to deal with what happened, but this is Livvie and Greg’s reaction immediately upon reuniting with Angie. As time goes on, these characters become more unlikeable for various reasons, but these reactions just seemed so unrealistic and disturbing that it really bothered me while reading.

Lastly, and this one may be a bit spoiler-y, so proceed to the final paragraph if you don’t want to be spoiled at all. OK, so Angie has an alter persona that was originally identified, with help from her therapist, as the one known as Little Wife. When Little Wife shares her story, she explains that she took over for one of the other alters at night, so that she and she alone endured the sexual abuse at the hands of their kidnapper. One of the other alters referred to her as the Slut instead of Little Wife. After reading Little Wife’s story, Angie says out loud a thank you for what she did for her and the other personas. However, from then on, Little Wife is referred to as Slut for no apparent reason. I understand the other alter calling her Slut as there was animosity between some of the alters, however, she was literally being sexually assaulted!!! It’s not like she was promiscuous or anything (not that a woman who enjoys sex should be called a slut anyways)! So I could sort of understand the other alter referring to Little Wife as Slut because of animosity and history, etc. BUT THEN one of her freaking doctors refers to the alter as “Slut… oh I mean the one called Little Wife”. How is that acceptable in any way?!?! 

*sigh* So as you can see, this was a difficult review to write because of such conflicting emotions. On one hand, I really loved the book for the interesting storyline regarding DID, the format the book took, and a fairly empowering message regarding mental health. However, I really disliked, and in some cases, hated, other aspects of the book, and many things just didn’t seem to make sense. But the fact that I practically inhaled this book in a few hours does count a lot for me. I think that if you aren’t a picky reader like I am that you will definitely love this book more than I did. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this book, and in fact, did so already to my best friend! I think a lot of the issues I had may have been more personal preferences of what I like/dislike in a book. So, if you are looking for an enthralling book that is a psychological mystery, I would definitely recommend Pretty Girl-13, because even despite the issues I had, I still couldn’t put it down! As for a rating… I’ve really wavered between a 3.5 and a 4. I think because of the issues I personally had with it, I have to give it a 3.5, although I could also have given it a 4 just based on pure read-ability. I just didn’t want to give off the wrong impression if people only see a 4 star rating, and feel that a 3.5 conveys that I did like it, but it had some issues.

rating 3

* I received an electronic version of the book off of Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Have you read Pretty Girl-13? What did you think? What are your favourite psychological thrillers/mysteries? Do you know of any other books that feature DID?


Review: When Love Comes to Town by Tom Lennon

March 16, 2013 Review 8


Title: When Love Comes to Town
Author: Tom Lennon
Published: March 1, 2013 (first published 1993)
Format & Source: eBook (NetGalley)
Pages: 192
Genre(s): YA, contemporary, LGBTQ

The year is 1990, and in his hometown of Dublin, Ireland, Neil Byrne plays rugby, keeps up with the in-crowd at his school, and is just a regular guy. A guy who’s gay. It’s a secret he keeps from the wider world as he explores the city at night and struggles to figure out how to reveal his real self–and to whom.

First published in Ireland in 1993 and compared to The Catcher in the Rye by critics, Tom Lennon’s When Loves Comes to Town is told with honesty, humour, and originality.

[Goodreads] [Amazon]

— Cover Critique —

I really like the new cover When Love Comes to Town received for its 25th anniversary. It’s crisp, clean, and has a sort of Irish feel with the dark blues and greens!

— Expectations —

I wasn’t too sure what to expect — I requested this one blindly without looking at other reviews. I was interested because of the LGBTQ theme and the fact that I had just come back from a trip to Ireland, and I haven’t read many books set there.


— Review —

I read When Love Comes to Town by Tom Lennon at the same time I was read another book about LGBTQ youth from a male perspective: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan (for the read-a-long I’m co-hosting) which led to some interesting comparisons. When Love Comes to Town is set in Ireland during the year 1990 (the year I was born!) and as the new forward points out, it is a different time than the one we live in now. There was no “It Gets Better” campaign, homophobia was even more prevalent, and there weren’t chat rooms to find others like you. This was all in stark contrast to Will Grayson, Will Grayson, in which whole chapters are IM conversations! 
The plot of When Love Comes to Town is fairly simple. Neil Byrne is an athletic sixteen year old, who lives in Dublin with his family. It is just coming up the end of the school year, and he is taking his exams. He’s having to make some decisions that will impact the rest of his life, such as where to go to college. During this time, Neil, who has known for a while that he is gay, becomes increasingly involved in the gay bar scene, meeting new people and new friends that support him. Despite the support, at times his involvement in the LGBTQ community adds even more challenges to his life. He hasn’t told his family, or his friends, although he often feels that deep down they suspect the truth. Neil’s story is about coming out and coming to terms with ones’ sexuality and the tough times along the way. While it is categorized in the romance genre on Goodreads … I wouldn’t really call it that. It’s certainly a depressing story. Although this was at a time when a lot of LGBTQ stories were almost strictly about the struggles of coming out, so I can’t retrospectively judge it for having a bit of a singular narrative. However, it did a fairly good job from straying away from LGBTQ stereotypes. While many of the characters at first glimpse appear to be a bit stereotypical, Lennon presents many sides to each character. There is the macho/butch Neil, who is also sensitive and caring; effeminate Daphne, and two trans women/cross dressing men Gladys and Penelope (I understand trans & cross dressing are NOT the same, but it wasn’t very explicit as to how they identified… although I think they may have been referred to as “trannys”). There was a wide age range of characters represented as well.
One issue I did have was that this was almost exclusively a gay male narrative… to the point that it just seemed as if lesbian or bisexual women were being excluded on purpose. There are 2-3 instances of lesbian women in the narrative, and one of those instances is to remark at his friend Becky being uncomfortable around them. 2 out of the 3 instances involve the same women and the second instance is made in passing. It just seemed very strange that here Neil was going to the gay bar a few times a week in the summer and lesbian women were never really involved in the story. As for bisexual men and women, they are mentioned once and in a biphobic manner, perpetuating myths about bisexuality. Becky tells Neil to avoid bisexual men, as they will break his heart because they are too fluid, don’t know what they want, and as a result, won’t commit to a relationship. I know even today that biphobia is an issue in LGBTQ communities, but it was still disappointing.
As for the characters, I thought many of them were interesting and added to the plot, but I actually had the toughest time connecting with the main character, Neil. I’m not sure if this is because I don’t read a lot of male narrated books, but I think it had more to do with the fact that the writing style of the book was… strange. It would switch frequently between first and third person point of view. The first person point of view could go on for a page or two and be a stream of consciousness (especially when he had been drinking). It was a bit jarring at times and despite the fact that I got to see inside Neil’s head, it didn’t really bring me closer to the character.
For the most part, the book was just OK for me. It read quite quickly, and it was interesting to read a book set in the year I was born, in a country that I had just recently visited. The only part of the book that I thought was very well done and that the strange first/third person mixed point of view worked well was at the very end. It made me very emotional, but then the actual last page was just… odd. I don’t want to spoil it, but it just left me a bit confused as I thought about the message of the book. If anyone has read it, I’d love to talk about it!
Looking back, I think I’d still have chosen to read When Love Comes to Town, as it provides insight into the not so distant past and had me also thinking about the present, and the future in regards to LGBTQ issues. While it doesn’t read as YA does today, as it is a bit more mature, and the writing is quite different then today’s bestsellers, When Love Comes to Town is a classic YA book that deals with tough issues in what I imagine, for some, is done in a relatable way.

rating 3

* I requested this book on NetGalley, and received an electronic version of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Have you read When Love Comes to Town? What did you think? What are your favourite LGBTQ YA books? Do you know of any other books set in Ireland?


Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

February 2, 2013 Review 12


Title: Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth
Published: May 2011
Format & Source: Paperback (bought)
Pages: 487
Genre(s): YA, dystopia

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–and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. 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.

[Goodreads] [Amazon]

— Cover Critique —

I like the cover. While it isn’t what I am usually drawn to, I believe it has mass appeal. The Dauntless symbol is eye catching and adds visual interest. The paperback edition has a foil/shiny cover which adds a nice touch!

— Expectations —

I think it is reasonable to say my expectations were a mix of medium/high, as I had heard a LOT about this book (it seemed as if almost every book blogger had read it!) and all of it was good. Then there was the hype machine for the second book, Insurgent, which as a book blogger, I couldn’t escape. However, dystopia isn’t really my genre, so I wasn’t sure how much I’d like it. But the book sounded interesting enough so I bought it.

— Review —

As you may know, I read Divergent throughout the month of January for the TBR Pile Read-a-Long I co-hosted with Evie (Bookish). While I liked parts of it, and overall it was an interesting story, to me it was just OK.
Divergent tells the story of Beatrice (Tris), a young woman living in Chicago, although it is a very different city compared to the one we know now. In order to stop war and fighting, factions have been established, which relate to what one believes the cause of war is, and the values one holds: Abnegation (selflessness), Amity (peaceful), Candor (honesty), Erudite (intelligence), Dauntless (bravery). Beatrice and her family are members of Abnegation, but she does not feel like she belongs there. A test taken at sixteen helps determine which faction a young person belongs to, which causes much anxiety, as the saying goes “faction before blood”. The test result and the choice Beatrice will have to make  will affect the rest of her life.

*mild spoilers ahead*
For me, the biggest problem I had with Divergent was the the world-building, or perhaps I should say the lack of world-building. Kelly’s (Radiant Shadows) post on world-building in Divergent, which I read when she originally posted it, stuck with me and while I couldn’t remember all the details, it did influence my reading, and thus, this review. I agree, for the most part, with much of Kelly’s assessment. I just didn’t buy into the whole faction system. How can segregating people by one belief or value and expecting them to uphold these values bring about peace? In my mind that is only going to breed extremism, hate and more prejudice! I just had what seemed like a million questions going through my head while reading– is it only Chicago that is divided in factions? What really caused the society that we see now? War is just an easy explanation that is given, but not really thoroughly flushed out. These critical questions really impacted my reading of the book because I just couldn’t get behind the whole premise.
I also found myself not entirely invested or attracted to the characters. Beatrice/Tris is the type of character I am usually drawn to — brave, smart, and a bit against the system. However, I felt like she lacked a lot of personality, and I think it is a cop-out to say it is because she is from Abnegation. She just felt … empty, sometimes? There were moments where I liked her, but I didn’t have a strong attachment to her character. The only characters I really enjoyed were Christina, and for a time, Al. While I found other characters interesting, such as Tris’ mom, and Tori, I wasn’t invested in them. I’d heard a lot about Four, who again, was interesting but I wasn’t gushing over him or anything. I do think I liked him a bit more than Tris though — he felt more human, more alive, in some regards..
Nonetheless, I did find the book interesting, and at times, thrilling. The idea of working through your fears in the Dauntless initiation made for great reading! I liked getting to know the Dauntless culture, however ruthless it had become. There were enough twists and turns throughout the story to keep reading, despite the issues I had with the world-building, and lack of interest in the characters. The last eight chapters or so it really picked up and the ending was done well in my opinion — it doesn’t leave you on a big, frustrating cliffhanger which I appreciated. I will also admit that I may have enjoyed Divergent if I had read it all quickly, instead of spread out over a month. I think it relies on a quick reading to obscure some of the problems by drawing you in with the excitement and thrills. Actually, I think it may make a better movie than book, to be honest!

Overall, while I did have problems with the premise and wasn’t overly attached to the characters, Divergent kept me interested enough to want to read book two, Insurgent. After I voiced my opinion of the book on Twitter, Giselle (Book Nerd) chimed in, saying she had similar problems with the book, but that she enjoyed Insurgent more because it addressed the world-building more so than in the first book. That gives me hope, and so I shall read on!
rating 3

Have you read Divergent? What did you think?

If you want to discuss the book more thoroughly you are welcome to participate in our final read-a-long discussion!