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Divergent

Book #11: Divergent
by Veronica Roth

This book was recently lent to me by a friend because they knew I liked The Hunger Games and figured I would like this series as well! Well, they were right (so far…)

Divergent has been compared to The Hunger Games series and I’ve read that it is described as being very similar. I disagree. The only true similarities are the post-apocalyptic settings and that the main character from both books is a tough girl.

I liked Divergent because I actually liked Tris. I’ve heard people say they didn’t like her, that she was mean or annoying, but I didn’t find her so. That is, yes she was rather mean sometimes but she wasn’t a “mean character” if you get what I mean. She wasn’t evil, she did mean things, but not for the sake of being mean (usually); she did mean things because she’s human.
To call her by her true name, Beatrice was a daredevil but she still had that human kindness from her Abnegation upbringing. Also, as she was a divergent she thought more about what she did than the others did, she was more methodical in her methods of training. With the shooting and knife throwing she would pay attention to things like posture and stance rather than a “pull-the-trigger-with-the-gun-pointing-at-the-target” kind of learning capacity. I admire her (not her selfishness of course, for she is selfish sometimes) but the way she stands up for her friends, and fights for what she believes. The way she makes the hard choice in life, to leave her family behind in order to follow her dreams. I admire that most, the courage to follow your dream and stand by your convictions even through hardship and opposition.

Eric was a clever nasty character, but he wasn’t an attractive nasty character. Sometimes the villains of stories can be intriguing. For example, Loki from Thor and The Avengers is a rather interesting and attractive villain (now I’m not referring to looks here, although he’s that kind of attractive too!) Eric had nothing attractive about him. He was nasty, crazy, cruel, insane, jealous, greedy, and traitorous.

Four was an intriguing  character. There’s so much we don’t know about him (although we learn more progressively through the book). He’s strange; he can be abrupt and mean, sometimes appearing cruel, he’s bossy and stuck up, although when he lets his guard down suddenly you remember, he’s just eighteen. That was something I ha a hard time accepting about Four, the fact that he was only eighteen, he seems so much older. When we discover who he truly is though… that was a plot twist I was not expecting!

Very brief summary (*WARNING: SPOILERS*)

The world has changed. After the last great war people divided into five factions by which to live in order to maintain peace and stability. Beatrice Prior’s family is of  the Abnegation faction. Abnegation believe in selflessness and devoting their lives to helping others. They volunteer, help the homeless, do the jobs no one really wants to do. This year Beatrice is sixteen and will choose the faction in which she will be initiated and live out the rest of her life. All the children her age must do this in a yearly ritual. First they have aptitude tests to determine which one of the five factions they are best suited for and then in the ceremony the next day, they make the final decision themselves. When Beatrice takes her aptitude test the results are inconclusive. She could be one of three factions, instead of being given the one suggested. She could be Abnegation, Dauntless, or Ertdite. This makes her what she learns is a “divergent”. It is dangerous to be known as a divergent, the test administrator changes her test results in the computer to read Abnegation, the faction Beatrice is from and then the test administrator warns her never to tell anyone she’s divergent. The next day Beatrice and her brother Caleb must choose their factions. The whole family expects Caleb will choose Abnegation, he suits it so well, but with Beatrice they are less sure. They can choose, Abnegation: Selflessness, Dauntless: Bravery, Candor: Honesty, Erudite: Knowledge, or Amity: Kindness. When the time comes Caleb goes forward, and to everyone’s shock, transfers to Erudite: Knowledge. Beatrice tries to convince herself to stay for her parents’ sake, but in the end, transfers to Dauntless: Bravery.
The initiation process for Beatrice is hard. She shortens her name, to Tris and, with the other fourteen initiates, some Dauntless-born, some not, she begins to fight for one of the ten spots open. If she is not in the top ten, she is left factionless, a reject, unaccepted by any faction. They learn to shot guns, how to fight in hand-to-hand combat, how to throw knives, how to plan attacks, and combat fear. At all costs they must mask fear. They are Dauntless, they are brave.
If you want to know how it turns out… well, read the book! 😉

All in all, 8 out of 10. I definitely liked The Hunger Games better, but I did read the vast majority of this book while waiting in a hotel hallway for an audition so I might have been slightly distracted 😉 Still, a very good book!

DFTBA!
– Becky

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Mockingjay

Book #5 (of 2012): Mockingjay
by Suzanne Collins (young adult fiction)

I’ve said it in two posts and I’m say it again. If you haven’t read The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins then you should have. Go and read them, I promise, you won’t regret it! Also please note that Mockingjay is the third book in this series and this review will be littered with The Hunger Games and Catching Fire spoilers. Please don’t read this unless you’ve read the first two books. Again, you won’t regret it!

This book was very good. It was sad though. Like it had a good ending that I know should have been happy and is, but I’m still left feeling a bit sad… It was a good conclusion though. It tied everything up and it left you knowing it was totally complete and that it was just a story that would always feel a little sad. I definitely teared up a few times and, if I’d let myself, could have bawled, but I didn’t. I like this one, in fact ordering the books from my favourite to least favourite, I’d say The Hunger Games, Mockingjay, and then Catching Fire. They all fit together very well though. The first book, I feel, could have stood on it’s own and will more or less make sense to those who don’t want to read the whole series because it’s cliff-hanger at the end wasn’t too extreme. I would never have wanted to leave the story at that point, but I suppose if a reader wanted to, they could. Catching Fire however, you could not stop reading at. It’s cliff-hanger is too extreme. Once you’ve started the second book, sorry, I’d say you’re hooked!

Be warned, from now on I don’t apologize for spoilers, because I know there’ll be some. Read at your own risk!

The fact that district 13 was still in existence was a part of the cliff-hanger in Catching Fire. Also the fact that Katniss was rescued and taken to 13 but Peeta wasn’t was and that they don’t know what’s happening to him was some thing I as not expecting. I kind of had taken it for granted that if Katniss was there Peeta would be too, but I guess that was part of the cliff-hanger. They’ve destroyed the arena, escaped, Peeta’s gone, and district 12 is demolished.

Hearing about district 12’s destruction and seeing Katniss’ pain as she goes back is so sad. Her description of everything, the dead bodies, the ash covered town, still completely dry from a lack of rain, the bricks of her old house’s chimney all collapsed in a pile, everything destroyed, it’s terrible. When she goes home and finds Buttercup and resolves to bring him back for Prim, things seem to be looking up, until she smells the rose and finds the message President Snow left for her. Then suddenly we’re filled with terror along with Katniss as she realizes he’s still out there, Snow might still be watching her, he’s still in control, he has Peeta.

As this is the last book I sort of wanted to look a little more in depth into a few of the characters from the trilogy.

Gale is an interesting character. In the beginning of book one he’s just Katniss’ best friend. The one who’s helped her hunt since she was 12. The one whose father was killed in the same accident her’s was which is one of the main things that brought them together, hunting in the woods to keep their families alive. Gale is the one Katniss talks to, that she trusts, but she’s not sure if she loves him romantically. She trusts him with her family when she leaves for the games and she feels guilty, like she’s betraying him, when she has to play up the practically non-existant romance with Peeta. When we get to the second book though we begin to see Gale is definitely more rebellious than Katniss, he wants to take down the capitol, he wants to start rebellions, and he wants Katniss to use her popularity as a winner to help start a rebellion. Then the Quarter Quell comes and once again, Katniss trusts Gale with keeping her family alive, which he does.  He exceeds her expectations. When the firebombs rain down on 12 after Katniss destroys the arena, Gale rescues his family, her family, and as many villagers a possible. He evacuates people he becomes a hero and is given a position of responsibility when he gets to 13 which he embraces. Gale is very loyal, her always protects Katniss and stands up for her, he loves her unconditionally. He gets frustrated and upset with her, yes, but he always cares for her and they know how to agree to disagree without harming their friendship. He also wants to help her get what she wants. When he realizes in Mockingjay, that she’s desperate for Peeta to be saved, (she’s practically pining away for him) he volunteers to be part of the the rescue team. Unfortunately Gale’s motives are screwed up most of the time, he is motivated by anger, revenge and hatred. He wants to avenge his father, Katniss, the tributes who’ve had to die, the people who live in the districts starving to give the Capitol wealth. He hates the Capitol for it’s wealth and it’s disregard for the districts and the people there. Gale’s motives are not the right ones and he is very violent in the way he carries them out. His traps for instance, show his disregard for life when he wants to achieve the goal of bringing down the Capitol. He wants to play on human feeling, compassion especially, in order to kill more and to heighten the effect of a trap. In the end Katniss realizes she can’t get over the fact that Gale’s trap may have been the one to kill Prim, he’s not the right match for her. Katniss herself says, “what I need to survive is not Gale’s fire, kindled with rage and hatred. I have plenty of fire myself.” (Mockingjay, page 388)

Katniss in Mockingjay is very different from the Katniss we met in The Hunger Games. In the beginning of the series she’s a loner, she trusts very few people, and only knows for sure that she loves her little sister Prim. To be honest, Katniss isn’t that likeable from the start, although it’s nice to see her laughing and talking with Gale before the reaping. When she volunteers for Prim we see how deep her love for Prim goes and how far she’ll go to protect those she loves.  Katniss stays more or less the same through this book except that she’s getting to know Peeta better and beginning to like him and thinking she might love him and she’s beginning to get confused and torn within herself. Do her loyalties lie with Peeta or Gale? This theme runs, underlying, throughout the series as Katniss gets to know herself. When we get back to district 12 after the first Games, Katniss begins to feel the need to protect her family and those she loves again when President Snow threatens them however as we go through the second Games (Quarter Quell) starting with Cinna gets beaten unconscious in front of her right before she enters the games until her rescue to 12, we can see that she’s slowly breaking down. Katniss is much more panicky and paranoid than usual and once she’s “safe” in 13 and she finds out Peeta’s not there, she looses it, she has a mental breakdown. Once Peeta is rescued Katniss is thrilled, everything will be fine now! On her reunion with him though, everything breaks down again. Peeta tries to kill her and they figure out he’s been “hijacked” or brainwashed against her. This breaks Katniss all over again and it’s extremely hard for her to come to terms with it. Eventually Haymitch wakes her up a bit and gets her to start treating the recovering Peeta the way he would have treated her if she had been the one “hijacked”. Katniss’ last breakdown is when Prim gets killed and with this breakdown she refuses to talk for days. The one person she’s been focused on protecting this whole time is gone. Two years before she took away Prim’s certain death and now what has it done? All that’s changed is there’s a war. Prim is still dead. Katniss blames President Coin (the leader of district 13, who takes over Panem after the rebellion is successful) and at the planned execution of President Snow where Katniss is to kill him, she chooses instead to shoot Coin. In this way she feels she’s partially avenged Prim. Katniss is sent away, back home to district 12 with Haymitch, and eventually Peeta (who has mostly recovered). Here we see who Katniss finally settles into being, she’s more subdued and she fights Peeta as he tries to be friends again. She fights him and fights him but eventually the two get married and we see our last sight of Katniss, a married woman, a mother. Katniss realizes she can’t survive without Peeta. It’s like Gale to Peeta when they thought Katniss was asleep, Katniss didn’t focus on who she loved when she chose between Peeta and Gale, she picked who she thought she couldn’t survive without. (Mockingjay, page 329)

Peeta, oh Peeta, the trouble he causes… In the first book Peeta starts out as someone they’re trying to program us to not think well of but we can’t help but think well of him. When he’s drawn to be the male tribute Katniss reaction is basically, “Oh great, not him, how can I kill this guy, he saved my life once” Peeta is selfless, she loves Katniss and he will do anything in his power to keep her alive, he’s loved her since he was about five. Peeta will do anything to help Katniss but he’s alright with lying to her and keeping secrets. He doesn’t prep her on his interview confession, he joins the careers without explaining tho her and she thinks he’s betrayed her, he pulls the pregnancy card in Catching Fire. Peeta has the right motives, but he doesn’t always go about them the right way. He’s also humble, he doesn’t expect to win, but he’s gonna get his true love to win. Peeta cannot stop protecting Katniss, even as he’s being tortured by President Snow, we see on the television, he fights through it all to try and warn her about the bombing that’s coming to 13. As we go through the series, we grow to love Peeta more and more. That is way when he returns in Mockingjay, hijacked and hating Katniss, we’re almost as shocked and heatbroken as she is. We withdraw, suddenly hating Peeta, what has he done? Giving into this brainwashing… We then watch as he slowly becomes more and more like himself, he decorates the wedding cake, he begins to comfort people, be kind, say things like he used to say them. Eventually the real Peeta is back enough to start protecting Katniss again. There are times when he wants her to leave him behind in case he hurts her, or when he wants to go off and cause a distraction, likely getting himself recaptured or killed, so that she can get her “mission” done. Peeta begins to shine back through and we start to allow ourselves to like him again. Eventually the old Peeta is almost completely back and he waits again for Katniss, waits until she’s ready to marry him. Peeta is patient and humble, kind and strong, he’s a protector and an artist, he’s a dreamer and a schemer, and he wins.

Primrose, Katniss’ little sister is the last person I’m going to characterize. Prim starts out as Katniss’ darling; she’s the only person Katniss knows she truly loves and she’s a sweetheart. She has compassion on everyone and everything. She keeps a mangy cat because she loves him and dotes on her pet goat. We, along with Katniss, see Prim as someone to be protected, sheltered, looked after. When Katniss returns home from the first Hunger Games, Prim is starting to grow up. She’s excited about Katniss’ wedding that is coming up with a girlish glee, but then when Gale is almost whipped to death, she and her mother are the ones that take control and begin to fix everything. the two people who were portrayed as the weakest, the ones who most needed taking care of are suddenly taking care of everyone, and keeping Gale alive. Prim is strong and keeps her head. Apparently she frequently helps her mother with patients while Katniss, strong, tough Katniss, gets sick and lightheaded. When Katniss finds out she’s going to the games again, Prim is a little rock, helping her, encouraging her, pampering her until she goes. We next see Prim in district 13 where she’s working with her mother in the hospital areas and in school, eventually, to become a doctor. Prim takes care of people one on one, she’s more personable. Katniss protects people and goes off and fights for them, not really with them more than she can help. When Peeta is rescued and reutrns hijacked, it was Prim who thought of the reverse hijacking technique. It was she who thought of the plan that ended up saving Peeta, they boy who Katniss ends up marrying. When Prim is **SPOILER! MAJOR SPOILER** killed in the trap, it was because of her compassion and her need to help others; she couldn’t see others suffer and do nothing. We see Prim grow from being a quiet little girl who needs her big sister to protect her, to someone who will put herself into danger in order to help keep someone alive.

This book was fantastic, I felt it was a really good conclusion to the trilogy and although whenever I think of it my heart breaks a little, I don’t think it could have ended any other way. I do wish Prim could have lived though, I honestly wish that that hadn’t had to happen. If it hadn’t though, Katniss wouldn’t have killed Coin and Panem would have turned into a giant district 13 which would have been frightful! It had to happen, it was just super sad.

I don’t have time to make a personal summary of the book so here’s the one off of the bookflap.
Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss’ family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.
It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans – except Katniss.
The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss’ willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels’ Mockingjay – no matter what the personal cost.

All in all, 9 out of 10. A very good book. I liked The Hunger Games better, but this one was very, very good.

And now, just for fun! This is a Hunger Games parody version of I Wanna Go by Britany Spears. It well made and hilarious! (Warning to diehard Hunger Games fans, it’s meant to be a joke, not taken seriously!)

Talk to ya later! DFTBA
– Becky

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The Raven Saint

Book #4: The Raven Saint
by M.L. Tyndall (Inspirational Fiction)

This is the third book in a series of three and like Spy Kids, they should have just stopped with two…

Having said that, this is definitely not a bad book, it’s decent; much better the Becca by the Book (Book #1) it just didn’t hold my attention as well as the first two in the series.

This series is about three sisters and there’s a book focusing on each one of them. I enjoyed the books about Faith (The Red Siren) and Hope (The Blue Enchantress), but this one, the one about Grace, just wasn’t doing it for me. It might be because Faith and Hope were naughty (okay not naughty, they were adults, I just like the word naughty today) and their books were about them turning into good Christian girls (realistically, not like BAM overnight angels appear! Wow, miraculous transformation! Nope, nothing like that.) while Grace was the pious sister and this book was just about her becoming less pious and more human. That’s not quite as dramatic and interesting a change…

It was still a good book, MaryLu Tyndall is a very good author so she kept it from being a boring book, she just should have written this one first in the series so they could get progressively better instead of falling flat at the end.

So here comes the part where I admit something to you. I’m a sucker for romance books. I tend to mock my mum and my sister for reading cheesy, girly romantic books but I actually eat them up in hiding (no, not literal eating silly! that’s wasteful!) so I do like this book because is had a sweet romantic theme coming alongside the make-Grace-more-human theme. All the books in this series have the romantic aspect to them, the other two just had a more dramatic “co-plot” (“co-plot”? Does that make sense? Like a side plot? Sub-plot? whatever…)

I do like this book because it does show the story from the pious girl’s point of view and then it shows her transformation (also from her point of view) which can (I guess) make it easier to understand (and help!) pious people. It shows the story from the “good girl’s” point of view which is a nice change from the bad-girl-turns-good stories, it’s just because there isn’t really any badness that the story gets a little monotonous (big word! 10 points…)

OKAY

**SPOILERS** (One of those Quick and Basic Summary Things)

Lady Grace Westcott is tricked into an ambush by her bribed maid and finds herself kidnapped and onboard the ship Le Champion, a prisoner of French Capitaine Rafe Dubois and his “sultry dark eyes” (my goodness, I should write those blurbs on the back of books!). Grace learns she is to be sold to a Spanish Don in Columbia in revenge against her father. Grace is stunned, wondering what she could have done to deserve this as she’s served God her whole life. The book follows the journey to Port-de-Paix where Grace escapes dressed as a boy (a common disguise in ship-kidnapping books it seems) aided by a crew member, gets robbed by some men in an alley, roams the street for four days, steals, almost gets caught, gets saved by a prostitute who then takes care of her (immediately recognizing hat she’s a girl) and tries to find Grace a way home. Grace realizes that she’s been a beggar, a thief, and is now only alive because of the help of a prostitute and she begins to realize how judgemental she is. She finds herself at the house of Capitaine Dubois’ worst enemy, his father, whom the prostitute has said will help her get home to Charles Towne. Captaine Dubois discovers Grace is missing from his ship and tracks her down to his father’s house, and with much diffficulty he convinces Grace that he has decided not to sell her to the Don and will take her home. Grace changes her mind about coming with him to help his stepmother (who was his fiancé at one time, awkward…) to escape the abusive Monsieur Dubois. Furious at her apparent betrayal to him, the Capitaine re-kidnaps Grace and decides, he is going to sell her. Angrily he discovers his stepmother (Claire) has snuck on board his ship (so she was going to desert Grace anyway) and he sends Claire away (although they’re at sea so all she can do is get stuck sharing Grace’s cabin). Claire gets ill, poisoned and cursed by her mulatto maidservant and the ship gets surrounded by two enemies. They manage to sneak away from the enemies and Grace rebukes the illness and curse and Claire miraculously begins to recover. Just as they’re about to get to the island the Spanish Don lives on and Capitaine Dubois has decided not to sell Grace again, Dubois’ father catches them in his ship (come to get his wife no doubt) and then suddenly most of Dubois’ men turn on him in mutany aided by Monsieur Dubois’ men. Monsieur Dubois is now going to sell Grace and take the money for her. The Capitaine manages to escape after his father and Grace have left to the island and goes after Grace. He manages to rescue her and she falls into his arms. He proposes and then they’re stuck waiting on the island for the Capitaine’s crew to send a ship back once they get home (to avoid his father’s suspicion). Handily, Grace’s sisters turn up in Faith’s ship (she used to be a pirate) because while in Port-de-Poix Grace managed to send a message home telling them where she was and was going. Grace has realized that she should be less judgemental and be more gentle and Dubois had a revelation about God while stuck in the hold before his escape and now trusts God as his father (rather than his jerk of an abusive earthly father). They go off home and (I imagine) live happily ever after.

I always feel like in that summary bit I kill the book and make it sound so dry and boring. They’re really much more interesting than I make them sound!!

Overall: 7.5 out of 10 stars, Decent, but kinda slow.

I’ve got two books I’m in the process of reading, hopefully I’ll finish one soon!
– Becky

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