Sunday, March 31, 2013

Review: Divergent- Veronica Roth

“Human beings as a whole cannot be good for long before the bad creeps back in and poisons us again.”

In the dystopian Chicago world, 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 Prior, 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...

Hmm...another YA distopian novel, there's an overflow of them these days. And another of the flat-chested, chaste, never-engaged-in-any-fun-business heroine who is thrown into a world quite opposite to the one she's been brought up in. The idea gets a little stale after 10 or so books. Nevertheless, the whole divison of the society into factions was an interesting concept to say the least. After making a startling decision of switching factions, Beatrice has to undergo a highly competitive initiation which includes extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations. The initiation brings about some devastating consequences and transforms all initiates, changing some preheld notions about the existing factions.

Ofcourse having a perfectly hot kickass instructor and a bunch of helpful friends brings a little respite to the situation. Four(yes, it's a name!) is the (initially) distant instructor who helps Beatrice a.k.a Tris to navigate her way through the various difficulties presented by the initiation, backstabbing mates and Tris' inner demons. She also has to hide a secret, which if exposed can prove to be her doom.

The book feels as if it has been hastily written and the the characters have not been given a chance to develop properly. Beatrice's character has potential but somehow she seems confused most of the time. Sometimes she is rational and decisive and other times she risks her life without a second thought. The romantic timing of the book also seemed a little off. All in all, not a very satisfying read. But the people interested in post apocalyptic dystopian world might want to give it a try.

2/5 stars for this one!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Review: Unwind- Neal Shusterman

"I'd rather be partly great than entirely useless."

The Second Civil War was fought over human reproductive rights. To end the bloody conflict, a set of constitutional amendments known as "The Bill of Life" was passed. The Bill of Life states that human life may not be touched from the moment of conception until a child reaches the age of thirteen. However, between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, a parent may choose to retroactively "abort" a child..... on the condition that the child's life doesn't "technically" end. The process by which a child is both terminated and yet kept alive is called "unwinding."

As far as dystopia goes the book was amazeballs. I started to read it with some justified trepidation (cough...chemical garden...cough) but the incredible setting of the story was quite addicting, although more than a little creepy. The dystopian future created by Shusterman sees children between ages 13-18 yrs being legally signed by their parents/guardians to be sent for 'unwinding' ie. scavenging blood, tissues and body parts for the people who need it for transplant. Although the use of the 'need' here might be debatable since getting a new pair of eyes to impress your girlfriend is hardly a life-death issue.

The story follows the experience of three teens- Conner, Risa and Lev-who have been signed up for unwinding. Conner is a loose cannon with a short fuse who has been signed up for unwinding by parents who are apparently fed up of his regular fights and loss of temper. So of course the best solution they come up with is to send their son to a 'Harvest Camp' so that his body may be diced up only to be used in various transplants! Risa is an orphan, a state's ward and a typical realist. She pauses to think through every possible course of action before pouncing on the enemy. When the State Home sends her to be unwind as a result of budget cuts, it's the last straw for her. Lev is the young 'tithe' who was born to be unwound. He has been brainwashed by his family to think that being unwound makes him God's envoy and everybody who thinks otherwise is a sinner.

The entire concept of the 'Chop-Shop' a.k.a the 'Harvest Camp' where the unwinding process if carried out is quite disturbing. Abortion is also illegal but 'storking' a baby ie. leaving it on people's doorsteps without getting caught so as to make it seem like their responsibility is allowed. The irony of the entire situation is palpable throughout the story along with the motto that if something becomes too difficult to handle it becomes someone else's problem.

Funny, but the Bill of Life was supposed to protect the sanctity of life. Instead it just made life cheap. 

Neal Shusterman delivers a subtly hidden message about meeting a crisis head-on and makes us realise the value of life. Although writing in present tense and frequent switching of POVs may be uncomfortable for some the excellent plot more than makes up for it.

3 stars for this one!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Review: The Covenant Series- J.L Armentrout

The Covenant series was like a breath of fresh air after my book-deprived state of several weeks. I’ll be forever thankful to Goodreads for this. There is long list of reasons as to why I loved the books and I’ll start with mentioning that the series consisted of some of the few rare books which actually have a kickass female protagonist. Mary Sues and damsels-in-distress have been hogging the spotlight for far too long.

Alexandria a.k.a Alex is passionate and feisty, a little sarcastic and volatile, but undoubtedly an admirable character who kicks ‘daimon’ butts on a regular basis. She doesn’t have a single drop of Mary Sue blood in her veins, doesn’t start sobbing her heart out at the slightest mishap and she certainly isn’t meek or docile.

“Come one step closer, and you’ll end up like your buddy upstairs.” I hoped I sounded threatening enough. Not likely. “Try me.”
His brows rose. “Now you’re starting to upset me. That’s two of us you’ve killed.”
“You keeping a tally or something?”
The ringleader advanced on me. “Do you know what I’m going to do to you?”
I swallowed and fixed a smirk on my face. “Blah. Blah. You’re gonna kill me. Blah. I know.”

“Several write-ups for issues of disrespect toward your teachers and other students,” he continued. “A particular note here, written personally by Instructor Banks, states your level of respect for your superiors is seriously lacking and had been an ongoing issue.”
“Your problems with respect didn’t appear to be your only issues.” He picked up another piece of paper and his brows rose. “You were disciplined numerous times for sneaking out of the Covenant, fighting, disruption of class, breaking numerous rules, and oh yes, my personal favorite?” He looked up, smiling tightly. “You had racked up repeated demerits for breaking curfew and for fraternizing in the male dormitory.”

Yep…definitely a rebel!

The second thing about the books that was quite intriguing was the whole Greek Mythology setup with a twist. It was incredible how the author justified each minor addition to the myths with a story and the entire concept of forbidden love between half blood and pure blood hematoi(descendants of demigods sired by the Olympian gods) is quite a treat.

The third thing would have to be the most droolworthy assortment of hawt guys! :P

Enter Aiden St Delphi- pure blood Sentinel, dedicated to saving the world from ‘aether’ thirsty ‘daimons’, he can follow Alex to the end of the Universe. He is not overbearing(maybe a tad protective), is hotness personified(stormy gray eyes, dark locks, six packs and the like), he can wield daggers and spar his way to victory….he doesn’t sparkle in sunlight…yeah he is damn near perfect. At least as perfect as perfect can get with having a childhood tainted by a painful tragedy, a brother who appears to be Dionysus, the party god’s soul twin and a ‘breed order’ that forbids him from being with the girl he adores. Aahh…the angst!

“Yes.” He brushed my hair back from my face. “Since the night I saw you in Georgia, you’ve been under my skin. You got inside me, became a part of me. I can’t shake it. It’s wrong.” He shifted us, rolling me across the bed until he leaned above me. “Agapi mou, I can’t...” He brought his lips down to mine once more.

But even Aiden has nothing on the almost-but-not-quite antagonist of the series, the powerful ‘Apollyon’ Seth. Having a pureblood mother who didn’t want to have anything to do with him and a half blood father he never knew didn’t make his childhood the most delightful one. But everything changed when he turned out to be the First Apollyon of the generation and a potential Godkiller.

“You cannot tell me that Seth is not primed for disaster. He already has an ego of a god, and trust me, I would know. The kind of power that a God Killer can harness is astronomical and unstable. He is already feeling the effects of it.”

There are two sides to Seth- the arrogant, rude, cocky, womanising and power hungry SOB or the seldom seen vulnerable, caring and sweet guy who has the hots for Alex.

He rolled his eyes. “I mean, what if you had other choices not given to half-bloods? To live a normal life?”
“I already did that,” I reminded him, “for three years.”
“Would you do it again?”
Why he was asking this? “Would you?”
Seth snorted. “I wouldn’t give up being a Sentinel for the world. Or being the Apollyon. I rock.” Laughing, I rolled my eyes. “Wow. You’re so humble.”
“Why should I be humble? I’m great.”

The description of the Olympian Gods is hilarious. The absurdity of Hades dressed in leather pants and Artemis checking out Aiden’s ass coupled with Dionysus resembling a college dropout and Apollo telling Zeus to ‘kiss it’, makes the books an absolute laugh riot at times.

Two leather-encased legs, then narrow hips, and a broad chest appeared out of thin air. By the time my gaze traveled to his face, I think I’d stopped breathing. “Darkly handsome” didn’t do him justice. “Sinfully beautiful” wasn’t even in the ballpark when trying to describe this raven-haired god. The smell of sulfur and smoke gave away his identity. Hades was sort of hot for a god, and I was sure he was there to kill me.

J.L Armentrout has definitely surpassed herself. Wish April would come soon....can't wait for Apollyon!