Allegiant by Veronica Roth

allegiantSummary from Goodreads:  The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories. But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love. Told from a riveting dual perspective, Allegiant, by #1 New York Times best-selling author Veronica Roth, brings the Divergent series to a powerful conclusion while revealing the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.

I liked Allegiant.  I didn’t devour it like I did Divergent and Insurgent.

Why?  Allegiant felt forced, too contrived, too long, too many plot points were resolved far too conveniently.  The concept was solid, however it was too 1984 and The Chrysalids and even A Brave New World…it borrowed from many classics…which is alright, I mean can you really reinvent a genre?  I also had a tough time buying that a sixteen year old girl could do what Tris does and behave as she does.  I bought it in the first two novels, but in this one it seemed a bit far-fetched (mind you, I totally bought what Katniss Everdeen does in The Hunger Games trilogy).

I also found that the characters didn’t grow.  I really enjoyed the evolution of major and minor characters in books one and two.  In book three all of the characters were stagnant.  They were stuck in this perpetual dead-end search for freedom, for a life that was ripped away from them, for peace – both inner and social.

It almost seemed as if Roth had more than one book left inside her and tried to mash it all into Allegiant. The plot didn’t read as tightly as the first two and I think that’s where she lost me.

At first I thought the dual first-person narrative was a great idea.  It was a chance to get into Tobias’ head, but after a while he and Tris sounded the same.

I like the creativity of the story and its comment on the effects of the pursuit of perfection (genetic perfection). I like the relationship between Tris and Tobias – she captures the insecurities and passion that drive teen love. The teens act too much like adults though.  On one hand it is understandable because they are forced to grow up quickly; on the other, it is not believable that they can be so in control of their feelings all the time.

Overall, if you have started this trilogy it is worth reading Allegiant to give the story a conclusion.  The book does provide a conclusion, it will not leave you hanging.  I liked the end of the book.  I thought it was appropriate given the nature of the characters.  I just don’t think it will be the same fast paced, continually changing, fun experience that the first two books in the trilogy offered.

Has the conclusion to a trilogy ever left you feeling less than excited?

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WWW Wednesdays

shouldbereading.wordpress.com asks three questions every week for WWW Wednesdays.  Check out the blog for MizB’s responses.  I think it’s a good, quick way to keep readers updated on what’s going on in my reading world.  Here are my answers:

What are you currently reading? I’m on page 140 of 259 of The Lightbearers by Nora M. Garcia 

What did you recently finish?  Voyager by Diana Gabaldon – read review here.

What do you think you’ll read next? I hope to continue with Allegiant by Veronica Roth and so continue my Fall TBR.  

Wanna play along?  Send me your answers to these questions or answer them at shouldbereading.wordpress.com

Reading Harry Potter with My Son – Can Life Get Any Better?

My son is 4.  He sits through long picture books and loves reading them over and over.  We spend hours at the bookstore checking out new books (and toys, of course).  I felt he was ready for longer reads, so I started perusing the 6-8 year old aisle – long, graphic books.  We would read a few chapters and he loved them – but not enough to want to bring one home.

One ordinary afternoon, I found him perusing my bookshelf.  He started to ask me about the different books on it…what they were about etc.  The conversation in itself was cool.

Then, he found my Harry Potter books.  He loved the cover since I own the children’s cover books.  He heard me say “a boy who finds out he’s a wizard” and he was immediately sold.

“Mommy, will you read it to me?” he asked, his big brown eyes melting me as usual.

“Honey, I can,” as thrilled as I was, I still wasn’t sure if he was ready, “there aren’t ANY pictures in this book.  You have to use your imagination when mommy is reading.  Is that alright?”

“Yes, mommy I can do it.  Read it mommy.”

Who can argue with that?

So, I did.  We started slowly – there were way more characters than he was used to following.  He interrupted frequently – trying to remember who was who and why Harry Potter didn’t just turn the Dursleys into frogs.  Soon, reading sped up and we finished the book in under three weeks!

They were the most magical few weeks I spent with him.  He eagerly awaited bedtime reading, and when he couldn’t wait he accosted me asking me to read Harry Potter because he had to find out who the bad guy was and if Voldemort (sorry – “You-Know-Who”) was coming back.

I loved re-reading Rowling’s work and living it through the eyes of my little boy.  Sure, I glossed over the murder of a unicorn and subsequent drinking of its blood and I underplayed Professor Quirrel’s second face at the back of his head (Isn’t that funny sweetheart?) – but he sat through the whole novel, listened intently to descriptive passages and loved the idea of him possibly being a wizard too.

We are now reading The Chamber of Secrets and every so often run around our yard playing Harry Potter.  I knew I would do this one day with my child, I just didn’t think it would happen so soon.  I look forward to reading the series with him (though, I think I’ll leave the later books for when he’s older).

He shares a love of music with his father and I love that he can share a love of books with me.  Every evening that we read and talk about our favourite parts I realize, that for me, those moments mean true happiness.

What parts of you do you love to share with your children?

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What I’ve Been Reading

Wow…It’s been a long, long time. I’m re-learning wordpress and feeling like a newbie.

I haven’t stopped reading. I just can’t seem to get enough YA fiction. I picked up a few books that a few students recommended and ended up reading each series.

Veronica Roth’s novels had me engrossed for the month of January.  They were fast paced and fun to read.  I am very interested in seeing how the movie brings this world to life and looking forward to reading the last book of the trilogy.  I loved the strength and flaws of the protagonist – fun books.

Every time I picked up Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones at the book store I put it down and opted for a more adult read.  However, many of my students read the series and swore by it.  They promised no Bella (whatever her last name is – from Twilight).  I finally gave it a try.  I can’t say I fell in love with it – but I found the concept intriguing.  Also, it was the minor characters that most caught my attention and whose story I was most interested in.  I found Clary a little whiny and annoying with her desire to show her strength and her complete inability to humbly accept that perhaps she isn’t equipped to handle every situation.  And, then there’s the dark, brooding, gorgeous Jace.  I did feel sympathy for him, but that was quickly quelled every time he made fun of Simon.  I felt so sorry for Clary and Jace with the brother/sister story line – and rushed through City of Ashes because the whole idea was just plain gross.  Then, I just had to read City of Glass to make sure they weren’t related and at that point I had to admit I was pretty hooked and had to see this thing through.  I read all five books quickly and having fun every page of the way.  When I was left wanting more of the Shadowhunting world, I figured the next logical step (while I wait for book 6) was the Infernal Devices trilogy.

 
   Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince and Clockwork Princess, in my opinion, surpassed the characters of the City of Bones books.  The characters were more rich, the relationships more complex and the heroine just as strong in character as her counterparts.  My students and I had some fun discussions around these books once curriculum talk was over.

It was cool to connect these characters to the ones in the present-day setting of the Mortal Instruments.  My only complaint, can Will Herondale really be that perfect?  Really?

All of these books are so much fun since they really tap into a girl’s awakening…as adolescent girls navigate their changing bodies, their emotional highs and lows, changing relationships with parents and friends and romantic love they learn their strengths, their limits, their beliefs and what they stand for.  These books give voice to that confusing time in a girl’s life by packaging it all into a really fun fantastical adventure.  The perfect boyfriend concept is what worries me…but I’m hoping readers are strong enough to see through that.

Thrill Ride: The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan

courtesy: booksigningcentral.com

Summary courtesy of Goodreads:

Ever since the gods of Ancient Egypt were unleashed in the modern world, Carter Kane and his sister Sadie have been in trouble. As descendants of the House of Life, the Kanes have some powers at their command, but the devious gods haven’t given them much time to master their skills at Brooklyn House, a training ground for young magicians. And now their most threatening enemy yet – the chaos snake Apophis – is rising. If they don’t prevent him from breaking free in a few days’ time, the world will come to an end. To have any chance of battling the Forces of Chaos, the Kanes must revive the sun god Ra. They have to search the world for the three sections of the Book of Ra, then they have to learn how to chant its spells. Oh, and did we mention that no one knows where Ra is exactly? [This book is] narrated in two different voices, featuring a large cast of new characters, with adventures spanning the globe.

The Throne of Fire is a thrill ride.  Rick Riordan maintains a tight grip on a plot that provides action on every single page – literally, the book does not slow down!  It is perfect for today’s middle grade, young adult and even old adult readers.

The Kane Chronicles do play upon age-old themes of good versus evil.  Carter and Sadie are naturally the ones that must lead the battle against Apophis and Chaos.  They are not necessarily “the chosen ones”, but they combine two pharaoh blood-lines and are therefore extremely gifted and powerful magicians.  They hosted the gods Horus and Isis in the first installment, The Red Pyramid, making them bad-ass magicians.  Carter’s intellect is balanced by Sadie’s impulsive and let’s say, very honest nature.  They are the perfect pair to take on Egyptian gods and magicians to save the world.

Rick Riordan’s writing is fast-paced.  The adventures are breathtaking and the minor characters range from young magicians to crazy gods.  It is easy to look past the “formulaic” essence of the book.  The infusion of Egyptian mythology and blending of two worlds offers a different and fun twist to the fight between good and evil and the children that must lead this fight.

Amidst this epic battle, Sadie and Carter must deal with the death of their parents and their feelings for others. Sadie has just turned thirteen and has two very serious crushes.  One on an Egyptian god and another on a fellow magician.  Carter claims to be completely in-love with Zia – a character from the first installment, The Red Pyramid, who taught him magic and essentially helped to save the Kanes’ lives.  Carter is fourteen.

As a thirty-something woman I find it hard to believe that a thirteen or fourteen year old can truly fall in-love…isn’t it more like fall infatuation? But, then I recall the intense emotions of adolescence…I think back to the dilemmas my friends and I shared at thirteen and fourteen of age (eons ago)…yup, a girl of thirteen and a boy of fourteen may say that they are in love and completely believe it.

Combine their raging hormones with their intense longing for their parents and Carter and Sadie become all the more endearing. Riordan masterfully combines the angst & issues of adolescence with the fantasy of being Egyptian magicians. No matter how much magic they know, their teenage problems exist and have no magical resolution.  They must lead the battle to save the world while learning to navigate love, relationships, friendships and their own brother/sister bond.

Riordan combines an exceptionally thrilling adventure, knowledge of Egyptian mythology, travel across the globe and two incredible narrators that take the reader through an exhilarating ride.  For young readers, this book will delight and keep them engrossed for hours.  For old readers, it is such a fun break from perhaps the more serious books we read and will take us back to our earlier years of reading…reminding us of all the books that made us readers in the first place.  I can’t wait to finish Carter and Sadie’s story with The Serpent’s Shadow.

Have you read a book that took you back to your young reading self?