liked but did not love Divergent, the book to which Veronica Roth's Insurgent is a sequel. I feel exactly the same about book two, which is frustrating. I was hoping that Insurgent would be higher quality, which is not to say that either of the books are low-quality; they aren't. They could just be better.
This book picks up right where Divergent ends: Erudite exerts some mind control technology on Dauntless, and unable to control their actions, Beatrice's new clan wipes out a good many of the Abnegation. Of course, Tris is immune to this simulation because she's Divergent. Her parents both die in the struggle, and when confronted by a mind-controlled Will, Tris kills him.
This is the cliffhanger that becomes the most obnoxious at the beginning of the book. Yes, I've never killed anyone, so it's impossible for me to imagine how I would deal with the information that a person's nonexistence is a consequence of one of my actions. I understand that. But I do not understand why we must rehash over and over that Tris killed her friend in a life-or-death situation. I don't want Tris to be remorseless, but it felt like every action that our heroine performs was prefaced by how killing her friend makes this action more difficult, in a way almost identical to the way she must contemplate how old, Abnegation Beatrice would do things in Divergent.
Friday, September 28, 2012
Sunday, September 16, 2012
Straub takes us on a journey through the life of one Elsa Emerson, a small-town Wisconsin girl whose father owns a local theatre in Door County. She grows up around the theatre and is enchanted by acting, eventually marrying one of her fellow players and moving to Hollywood to hit it big. She has two girls, rebrands herself as Laura Lamont, divorces her husband and then marries a studio executive. She's famous, she's beloved, she wins an Academy Award for one of her roles.
Then her life goes downhill. She can't keep being famous forever. Her family is crumbling, she can't find any actress work, she's depressed. It's all very tragic. One of the things I was worried about was the Marilyn Monroe potential--here's a book about a small-town girl who becomes famous in Hollywood. Fortunately, Straub never lets this get out of hand. Unfortunately, there are still some issues I have with the book.
Saturday, September 8, 2012
I am always nervous about humorous books because it's very hard to keep up the humor consistently. I once read a humor memoir called Publish This Book that, when I started it, was hilarious. I was laughing at least twice a page, and they were genuine, full laughs. But after the first sixty pages or so, the humor wasn't consistent and I ended up feeling disappointed. There are also my experiences with Dave Eggers and David Sedaris, both of which were major disappointments. I figured, nonetheless, that if anyone could pull off a consistently funny book, it would be Tina Fey.
Monday, September 3, 2012
Our narrator goes under the assumed named Charlie, and the premise is that we are reading these letters that "Charlie" has written us about his life and the goings-on therein. As the novel opens, he's just about to start his freshman year of high school, and he's kind of a loner and a weirdo. One of his friends recently committed suicide and it did not affect him well. Fortunately, Charlie makes friends in older, cooler seniors Sam and Patrick, two stepsiblings who are living the alternative life.
The rest of the book chronicles Charlie's year, and manages to hit on a lot of big issues: smoking, drinking, drugs, homosexuality, suicide, abortion and abuse, mainly. The book received some backlash for being an "issue conglomerate", i.e. a book that fills itself with hot-button issues to make a splash. I never understood that criticism, because the presence of these issues never feels forced or unnatural.
Saturday, September 1, 2012
There's a review excerpt on the back of Absolute Midnight that does a great job summing up the actual books: "vivid." The saga tells the tale of Candy Quackenbush, a normal girl from Chickentown, Minnesota getting transported to the Abarat and its 25 islands (this is the extent to which I will summarize the plot because this is book three of five), one for each hour of the day (and one that is "the 25th Hour" or something like that). This premise is incredibly imaginative and well-executed: each island is unique and is populated by exotic creatures and people.