Monday, October 28, 2013

Rachel Rambles About Allegiant

Allegiant by Veronica Roth
From Goodreads:
One choice will define you.

What if your whole world was a lie?
What if a single revelation—like a single choice—changed everything?
What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected?

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'm going to have a small spoiler-free version and a large spoilery section of this ramble.

Spoiler-free version:

This book is amazing. I didn't expect anything else after reading Divergent and Insurgent, of course, but Allegiant still managed to impress me with how good it is. That said, there are some things I dislike about it, and because of that, it is my least favorite of the series. Insurgent is my favorite, then Divergent, then Allegiant. But I'm not disappointed by Allegiant at all. I'm more than satisfied with the ending, and I think this whole series is brilliant. If you enjoyed the first two books in the series, you MUST pick up Allegiant because it's a strong conclusion to a fantastic series.


You are now entering the spoilery section. If you have not read Allegiant yet, please do not read the following part of the ramble. Just stop reading now. I am going to put this picture of the cover right here as a buffer. Do not scroll past the cover buffer unless you have read the entire Divergent series. Thank you.

Also, there might be spoilers in the comments so I'd recommend avoiding them. :D

Okay, then. If you're still reading this, I can only assume that you've already read Allegiant? Right? If not, go away! Seriously, don't read this because I don't want to be blamed for spoiling the book for you!

First off, I'll talk about the things I didn't like about this book. Allegiant is not perfect, and I found it frustrating to read at times. The book started off strong, and the ending was even stronger, but the middle wasn't quite as good as I was expecting. It seemed like the book moved very slowly in the middle, and I found myself waiting for something exciting to happen. The compound setting was not as unique and mind-blowing as I'd hoped it would be. I did not expect the compound part of the story after the Insurgent cliffhanger. I expected something more, actually. I found the compound to be fairly unoriginal, something that makes an appearance in so many dystopian novels. Because it wasn't such a new and exciting thing, the compound seemed boring and unimportant at times. I wish the story had focused more on Chicago. I wanted to be right in the center of the factions and the war and the city, instead of being in the compound while Tris and Four sat around doing almost nothing. As a reader, it made me feel restless, and I wanted to skip ahead to the good stuff.

The conflict between the GPs and the GDs seemed unnecessary to me. I didn't find the discrimination against people who weren't "genetically pure" to be particularly interesting, and I don't think it was important to the story. Of course, this is just my personal opinion, but I just wasn't a fan of a lot of the new plot points that were introduced in Allegiant. I feel like it would have been a better choice to focus more on the continuation of the plots from Divergent and Insurgent, and have the story center around the war in the city rather than the issues in the compound. The scenes in the fringe in particular seemed random and necessary, and I feel like it was a waste of time to follow the characters to the fringe when the scenes turned out to not be all that relevant.

Allegiant is told from alternating points-of-view, and honestly, I'm not sure that was a good decision. I understand that it was important to get Four's perspective of this particular book as well as Tris's because they spend a lot of time apart. But I can't say I really enjoyed reading from Four's point-of-view. I have a lot of issues with the way he acted and the choices he made in Allegiant, and he almost didn't even feel like the same character as the Four in Divergent and Insurgent. Also, the points-of-view are very similar to each other. There is no obvious distinction between Tris's voice and Four's voice, which is confusing to read. I had a hard time remembering which point-of-view I was reading, and I wish the perspectives had been more different.

Despite all of these things, I still really like Allegiant. My absolute favorite thing about this book, and this whole series, is Tris. She is one of the best characters I have ever read about. Her evolution from the girl I met on the first page of Divergent to the girl I said goodbye to in Allegiant was fascinating and brilliant to experience over the years that I've been a fan of this series. Tris has grown and changed, and she has become a good person and a total badass. Tris is strong and brave and smart, but she also has flaws and makes mistakes and struggles with guilt over some of the things she has had to do. She has become a soldier in a war, and rather than shy away from it, she has embraced it. Tris is a character that I have grown to care about over the years, and it was heartbreaking when her story came to an end.

The end.

Yeah, I guess it's time to talk about the end.

The ending to Allegiant is amazing and perfect and heartbreaking. I did not see Tris's death coming AT ALL, but once I finished the book, I realized that it couldn't have ended any other way. Tris's sacrifice is an example of how brave and selfless she is. I knew she would never let Caleb give his life for the cause, but I honestly thought that Tris would survive. When I realized that she had died, I was heartbroken. Not Tris. No. It's not fair. How could Veronica Roth kill off such a fantastic character? How could she kill off the main character?

But what I've come to understand is that if Tris had not died, if she had not sacrificed herself, then she wouldn't be the great character that she is. Because of Tris's personality and values, the story could not have ended in any other way. If Allegiant had a different outcome, I don't think it would have felt as honest and real as this ending did. As painful as it was to read, I'm satisfied with Veronica Roth's decision to end the book this way. I still can't really think of Tris's death without my eyes welling up with tears, but I'm not mad at Veronica Roth at all. I think the ending of Allegiant is powerful and thought-provoking and well-written.

And as if I wasn't already a mess reading about Tris's death, Four's reaction BROKE. ME. I was sobbing so much. I had my issues with him in this book, but come on, this is Four we're talking about! My baby! I hated reading about his pain and emptiness, but I would not have expected him to react any differently. The epilogue and the scattering of the ashes was beautiful and perfect, and as I read the last sentence on the last page, I found myself smiling through my tears. That, my friends, is how you end a book.

The ending, while incredibly heartbreaking and painful, is definitely my favorite part of Allegiant. In my opinion, it more than makes up for the rough middle of the book. This ending is what I needed from the last book in this series. I needed a conclusion. I didn't think it would be a happily-ever-after, and it wasn't, but I'm more than satisfied with this conclusion to Tris's story. Veronica Roth impressed me with this ending, and I have so much respect for her for being brave enough to end the story like this. I think she's a fantastic author, and I look forward to reading future projects of hers. 

Sooo, if you've read this far, I guess you've finished Allegiant. What did you think of it? Were you satisfied with the ending? How many boxes of tissues did you go through? What is your favorite book in the Divergent series? Tell me everything in the comments below! :)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Rachel Rambles About The Darkest Minds

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
From Goodreads:
When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.


This book has gotten so much hype since it was released, and I heard such amazing things about it, but I never had that much interest in it. But with all the buzz about the sequel lately, I finally decided that I needed to check it out for myself.



Ahem. *stops screaming*

The most impressive thing about this book is that it's a million different things all mixed together. I would have thought that trying to combine so many different genres and tones would make the story way too busy, but it totally works. I would classify The Darkest Minds as part dystopian, part science fiction, part supernatural. It's dark and depressing and humorous and action-packed all at the same time. I think that everyone would be able to find something to love about this book.

The world of The Darkest Minds seems frighteningly real, and it sort of scared me how easy it was to imagine living in this world. I mean, WOW. I haven't seen such amazing world-building in awhile. I was also impressed by the feeling of constant paranoia and the way the main characters are never sure who they can trust. It seems like Ruby and her friends never get a chance to just relax. They are always on their guard, and it creates a suspenseful story that had me on the edge of my seat.

The characters in this book took a little while to get used to, but they all eventually grew on me. Well, I mean, the good guys grew on me. The bad guys? Not so much. (You know who you are Mister [SPOILERS].) I started off unsure if I would like Ruby as a main character or not, but by the end of the book, I had become so used to her narration that I ended up loving her. Liam is my new Book Boyfriend, Chubs is one of the best platonic friends I've encountered in YA, and Zu is impossible to dislike because SHE'S JUST SO ADORABLE. :D I really like the relationship between all four of these kids. They're thrown into a situation where they have to rely on each other to survive, and as a result, they all become so close that they're almost like a family.

The Darkest Minds is one of the best books I've ever read. I devoured this book in just a few sittings, despite the fact that it's pretty large at almost 500 pages. This book has no dull moments. Something exciting is always happening, and just like the characters never seem to slow down, as a reader, it felt like I was thrown into one action-packed/scary/suspenseful/intense situation after another, with no time to relax in between.

I'm so glad I finally gave into the hype and read this because IT'S SO AWESOME. If you haven't read The Darkest Minds yet, JUST DO IT. You will not regret it.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (31)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine.

Great by Sara Benincasa
From Goodreads:
In Sara Benincasa's contemporary retelling of The Great Gatsby, a teenage girl becomes entangled in the drama of a Hamptons social circle, only to be implicated in a tragedy that shakes the summer community.

Everyone loves a good scandal.

Naomi Rye usually dreads spending the summer with her socialite mother in East Hampton. This year is no different. She sticks out like a sore thumb among the teenagers who have been summering (a verb only the very rich use) together for years. But Naomi finds herself captivated by her mysterious next-door neighbor, Jacinta. Jacinta has her own reason for drawing close to Naomi-to meet the beautiful and untouchable Delilah Fairweather. But Jacinta's carefully constructed world is hiding something huge, a secret that could undo everything. And Naomi must decide how far she is willing to be pulled into this web of lies and deception before she is unable to escape.

Based on a beloved classic and steeped in Sara Benincasa's darkly comic voice, Great has all the drama, glitz, and romance with a terrific modern (and scandalous) twist to enthrall readers.

This book had me at "contemporary retelling of The Great Gatsby." I'm a huge Gatsby fan, so I have high hopes for this book.

What are you waiting on this week? Leave links to your WoW posts below so I can check them out!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Rachel Rambles About The Chaos of Stars

The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White
From Goodreads:
Isadora’s family is seriously screwed up.

Of course, as the human daughter of Egyptian gods, that pretty much comes with the territory. She’s also stuck with parents who barely notice her, and a house full of relatives who can’t be bothered to remember her name. After all, they are going to be around forever—and she’s a mere mortal.

Isadora’s sick of living a life where she’s only worthy of a passing glance, and when she has the chance to move to San Diego with her brother, she jumps on it. But Isadora’s quickly finding that a “normal” life comes with plenty of its own epic complications—and that there’s no such thing as a clean break when it comes to family. Much as she wants to leave her past behind, she can’t shake the ominous dreams that foretell destruction for her entire family. When it turns out there may be truth in her nightmares, Isadora has to decide whether she can abandon her divine heritage after all.

Oh my gosh, you guys. OH MY GOSH. This book. THIS BEAUTIFUL PIECE OF LITERATURE. I can't even.

I'm a huge fan of Kiersten White, so I've been anticipating this book for a long time. I had some really high expectations, and let me tell you...this book did not disappoint!

Shall we make a list of all the things I love about The Chaos of Stars?

We shall.

Egyptian mythology- Before I read this book, I thought of myself as more of a Greek mythology girl. I really didn't know much about Egyptian mythology, but now? Now I think it's freaking awesome! Egyptian mythology for the win!

San Diego setting- I've never been to San Diego, but this book makes me want to hop on a flight immediately and visit some of the places where Isadora spends her time. The setting is so rich, and I love the modern backdrop to a story with elements of ancient mythology. It's really awesome to read a story about Egyptian gods that's not set in Egypt!

Awesome main character- I love Isadora with all my heart. She might be one of my favorite protagonists of all time. She's strong and funny and stubborn and angry and realistic, and I was able to relate to her in so many ways (you know, minus the whole "Egyptian gods as parents" thing). Another teenage character that Kiersten White totally nailed. 

Emphasis on family- I didn't realize how few family stories I read until this book. The Chaos of Stars is about Isadora's strained relationship with her family, especially her mother. Growing up with Egyptian gods for relatives isn't easy, and as a result, Isadora has to learn how to deal with her anger and frustration. She spends time away from her family during the book, and in that time, she begins to appreciate and understand her family in a way she'd never been able to before.

Fun group of friends- Once Isadora gets to San Diego, she meets a few friends, who become important parts of the story. Unlike a lot of books, the friends don't fall to the sidelines as a quirky bunch of characters used mainly for comic relief. Tyler in particular is a really developed character who is crucial to the story, and I love how her friendship with Isadora gets stronger throughout the book.

Cute boy- Oh, Kiersten White and your cute boys. I thought no one would top Lend from Paranormalcy, but oh, how wrong I was. I totally fell in love with Ry from the very first page he was on. The relationship between Isadora and Ry is totally adorable and swoon-worthy, but it isn't the main focus of the book at all, which I really appreciate.

I could probably continue listing things I love about this book for a long time, but I think I've covered all the main points, so I'll leave it at that and let you fall in love with this story for myself. I think The Chaos of Stars is absolutely brilliant, and it might just be my favorite Kiersten White book yet.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (30)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine.

Noggin by John Corey Whaley
From Goodreads:
Listen — Travis Coates was alive once and then he wasn’t.

Now he’s alive again.

Simple as that.

The in between part is still a little fuzzy, but he can tell you that, at some point or another, his head got chopped off and shoved into a freezer in Denver, Colorado. Five years later, it was reattached to some other guy’s body, and well, here he is. Despite all logic, he’s still 16 and everything and everyone around him has changed. That includes his bedroom, his parents, his best friend, and his girlfriend. Or maybe she’s not his girlfriend anymore? That’s a bit fuzzy too.

Looks like if the new Travis and the old Travis are ever going to find a way to exist together, then there are going to be a few more scars.

Oh well, you only live twice.

I loved John Corey Whaley's Where Things Come Back, so I'm excited to read another one of his books! The summary for Noggin is so intriguing and weird, and it makes me wish the release date was a lot sooner.

What are you waiting on this week? Leave links to your WoW posts below so I can check them out!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Rachel Rambles About Two Boys Kissing

I apologize for my unexpected absence from the blog recently! School and life and being a teenager has gotten in the way of blogging, but I should be around a bit more now! (I can't speak for Megan though because she's even busier than I am. :P)

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
From Goodreads:
New York Times  bestselling author David Levithan tells the based-on-true-events story of Harry and Craig, two 17-year-olds who are about to take part in a 32-hour marathon of kissing to set a new Guinness World Record—all of which is narrated by a Greek Chorus of the generation of gay men lost to AIDS. 

While the two increasingly dehydrated and sleep-deprived boys are locking lips, they become a focal point in the lives of other teen boys dealing with languishing long-term relationships, coming out, navigating gender identity, and falling deeper into the digital rabbit hole of gay hookup sites—all while the kissing former couple tries to figure out their own feelings for each other.

I don't even know what to say about this book. Seriously. I'm kind of speechless.

This doesn't usually happen. Usually, I find a way to ramble on and on and on about books I love. But I'm having a hard time coming up with words to convey just how much I love this book.

As soon as I finished reading Two Boys Kissing, I immediately wanted to flip to the first page and read it again. I want to return my library copy of this book and purchase my own copy so I can read it over and over again, because I can tell that this story is one that I will never get tired of. It's beautiful and powerful and I loved every page of it.

Something that surprised me about Two Boys Kissing is how it is so much more than a story about two boys kissing. I'd started reading the book expecting a fun story about two boys trying to break the world record for the longest kiss, and what I got was something else entirely. Two Boys Kissing is narrated by the generation of gay men who lost their lives to AIDs, but the main characters in the story are gay teenagers in 2013. This format highlights just how different the lives of the former generation are from the current generation, and it's a fascinating contrast. The story-telling is unique and poetic and beautiful, and the cast of characters is varied and developed. The reader gets to know all the different boys in this book really well, and it's kind of amazing how David Levithan manages to give each of them so much character development in such a short book.

Rather than try to come up with more words of praise for this book, I'm just going to end my ramble with this: Two Boys Kissing is amazing and you should read it as soon as possible.

Trust me. This book is something special. You don't want to miss it.