Divergent by Veronica Roth

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Plot Summary:

In Beatrice Prior’s 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, 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.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are–and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, Tris also learns that her secret might help her save the ones she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

I’m just going to come right out and say it: I really did not like this book. This is a truly interesting world presented with a clear voice within the writing – the writing was good enough that I could not put the book down (even though I really, really wanted to). But it is almost completely devoid of compelling characters. Four is amazing, Tris’ parents were both very interesting, but Tris herself was a whiny neutral mask sort of character who only ever succeeded in pissing me off. On top of that, there was not much depth presented within the factions of the world. The following review will contain slight spoilers for the entire series (but I keep away from major events).

“Becoming fearless isn’t the point. That’s impossible. It’s learning how to control your fear, and how to be free from it.”  

See? Good writing!

Tris has a tendency to whine about how difficult her situation is in this book. She acts as if she’s surprised that succeeding in Dauntless is difficult and the characters around her are painted with disdain when they try to tell her she’s be unreasonable. While I understand that this is a natural thing that many people go through, it’s not something that I can entirely stomach reading. It kind of cemented this as a YA novel, giving us a protagonist that was such a stereotype of a teenager that it forgot to remind us that not all teens are dumb. I don’t want this to seem scathing, but Tris, as a character, was weak. She was presented as this strong woman, and there were very real times where she could not be strong, and that was nice. There were very real times where she had to be selfish, where she had the right to be a little annoying. And there were times when she was being ridiculous and no one was willing to call her on it. It very well could just be me and my perception of her, but most of the time Tris made me want to throw my book across the room. And Four, arguably the strongest and most compelling character in this book, was not strong enough to redeem the entire book. As, for me, a book is only as strong as its characters.

On top of that, the book is filled with unnecessary deaths. Not unnecessary in the frame of war, unnecessary in a literary and practical sense. As in, someone gets shot in the face where they could have easily been shot in the knee and knocked out. And then the author framing said senseless murder as justified and in self defense, even though there was no reason for that person to be shot in the face. And Then, Tris’ reaction to these deaths vary to the point where she goes between 100% understandable to 100% robot in the space of only a couple of chapters. Which can also be understandable, but it doesn’t make sense in the way that the story and the character were framed.

 

I did consider reading the rest of the series, but I was so upset by Tris that I wasn’t sure. So I read ahead, talked to many who had read the books, and decided that I did not need to see more of this world. Why? Because the villains of this world come in one shade, and that seemed to be Erudite. There is not a single Erudite character within this series that is not a completely asshole. And, so you don’t have to check back up there if you don’t already know, Erudite is made up of the intelligent. It is the faction that was created under the belief that ignorance is the root of all evil. As a Ravenclaw, I do take her treatment of this faction a bit personally. They were all robots, which I understand. But they were also all selfish and generally framed as the bad guys. Not one of them stepped forward to say what their faction was doing was wrong. And, if that happened, there isn’t a single die-hard fan I’ve talked to who can remember it. In this world, Erudite is treated like Slytherin. And I have a problem with both. Roth’s treatment of Erudite completely undermines the main idea of the series – that people can’t be categorized like that. Her argument seems to be that people can’t be categorized like that unless they are logical thinkers – those guys are the worst. I can’t get behind that.

Overall, I did not like this book. It was definitely an interesting read, and I do (sort of) understand how so many people can love it. If any of the points discussed above bother you, you probably won’t like it. However, if you’re a fan of The Hunger Games or Twilight, you might really enjoy this.

As a final thought, I don’t want it to seem like I think people are wrong for enjoy this book or the other books listed above. To each his own. I’m only saying that I didn’t get much from it, and ‘I’ has never been synonymous with ‘everyone’.

Good day.

Twlight

I’ve been away for awhile, and I suppose it’s time I talk about Twilight. Because it is indeed day 12 of the 30 Day Challenge (sort of) and I really love to hate this series. Or maybe I hate to love it. Probably both.

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Now, I’ve seen many blogs and authors and generally people completely disregard the Twilight series, and I don’t want to do that. I love talking about Twilight. And, if I’m to be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t have ever really started reading had I not read Twilight. I hated reading. All through grade school unless it was Junie B. Jones of Captain Underpants or a nondescript fairy tail picture book, the chances of my reading it were slim. I was criticized, of course. I still am. In grade school I had a ‘college’ reading level, so why wasn’t I reading harder books? My friends kind of scoff and go ‘I was already reading Harry Potter in first grade’ as if they’re actually above  Junie B. Jones and Captain Underpants. There were a couple books here and there I read on my own and loved, like Bud Not Buddy and a couple of the Goosebumps books and Gilda Joyce. But when I read Twilight, I was introduced to a whole new world of literature. I really didn’t know there were fantasy books that could hold my attention. Fantasy movies had always been my favorite, but I’d seen fantasy books as these tomes you had to commit to. But not Twilight. It was like my gateway drug. But for books. So I can’t just write it off. (As I’ve said in a previous post, you shouldn’t be so quick to write off anything that so many people love).

So I’ve compiled a list. Five things I hate about Twilight and five things I love.   

The Shit List

1. It’s not a saga. I know, of all the things that could possibly bother me, it’s one word. But i hate it when people describe something and they do it wrong. A saga is a long story of heroic achievement. It’s not a long story, as it takes place over only a couple of years. And it’s not about heroic achievement. It’s about love and standing up for what you believe in. Something extraordinary happening to a normal girl. People like Bella because she’s basically normal, not because she especially heroic. So it’s not a friggin saga and stop pretending it is.

2. The friggin love triangle. I hate love triangles with every fiber of my being. If you really loved the first one, you wouldn’t have fallen for the second one. It was also unnecessary to the story, and it doesn’t make sense that it was Renesme because  fantasy needs to be rooted in basic fact to work and I just can’t go with that. it also seemed to perpetuate the idea that and guy and a girl can’t ever just be friends and it made Jacob out to be a whiny little asshat when his base was of perhaps the best friend a person could ever have.

3. Character development. Fantasy or no, the characters are still people and people tend to react to certain things in certain ways. I like Edward in the movies infinitely more than in the books, because he makes more sense. 90 years and he never had sex? Really? And why the hell would he leave? And why did Jacob suddenly need to have Bella? And why didn’t Charlie really try to find his daughter? I can’t handle it.

4. Accidental abusive relationship. Accidental is the key word here, and abusive if probably the wrong word. Let’s say unhealthy, leaping right over the edge to obsessive. He left, and she was a zombie until he got back. Depression, I get. But that was slightly extreme. And if that whole soul mate thing caused her to do that, then I still don’t understand how Edward could have left in the first place. But the fact remains, he went so far as sabotaging her car so she couldn’t visit her best friend. People say ‘oh, he’s just protective’. But seriously. If your boyfriends messed up your car so you couldn’t see your friend, would you be okay with it?

5. Some of the plot points really kill me. An example: I get that Bella is so good as being a vampire. It offers a great contrast. But the explanation is bullshit. Everything happens for a reason, Bella was meant to find her soul mate. They could only ever be together in immortality – as vampires. Okay. I can dig it. But as an explanation to her being so good at it? By that very logic, they all should have been good at being veggie vampires as they were all meant to become vampires to find their soul mates. Meyer could have just as easily said Bella was good because she’d had so much preparation. She had seen these things and she knew what to expect and it was her choice and all that good stuff and it would have made much more sense.

Really Great Redeeming Qualities

1. The discussions I can get from it. I have spent so much time talking to people about how it would have looked with our various style of writings. I’ve heard some people say they would have switched it to a different point of view, like Edward or Jacob, and make the romance a subplot, teasing you with it so that its that much better when you finally get there. With me, it would probably be 3rd person. With  the kinds of things I write, though, it would have been about the Volturi and the corruption there and this huge dark thing about a romance existed between a Volturi member and a Cullen or something completely weird like that. I like contrast. Anyway, i get some great discussion about Twilight. It’s one of those things people can just talk about.

2. The lore. It’s all very interesting and serves to remind people that it’s fantasy – you can basically do whatever you want with it. You want to make a vampire sparkle? Then go ahead. Have a blast. I mean, I think that’s kind of ridiculous, but still very interesting.

3. Racial tension. I love stories with racial tension, and I think it does a lot to mirror the sorts of issues we face today. it makes the whole thing more interesting and more frustrating to read. While it was dealt with a bit weird, I believe that fantasy is one of the best ways to get across the racial tensions we still face today. I mean, there was just about no logic to the tension between the shapeshifters and the vampires. Basically, they thought the other side was dangerous and didn’t slow down enough to double check. For awhile, it kind of seemed like the wolves were more biased than the Cullens, but if you really read it, that so isn’t true. And I think it was all an accident.

4. The characters. Not Bella. I don’t like Bella. She’s a neutral mask character to the point where she becomes boring. She starts out enjoyable, then become insufferable. Until she’s a vampire and done with that whole damsel thing. But then she’s just kind of boring. But the Cullens. I love the Cullens. And i love the ideas behind all the characters, and how they’re all slightly neutral mask so fanfiction writers can just go at it. I love Aro and Marcus and the ideas behind the Volturi. I’m always interested to learn more about them (even though the thing with the witch twins doesn’t make so much sense – good idea, poor explanation). I just really enjoy them all. It’s all so interesting, especially knowing you could probably get an independent  book  o novella out of most of them.

5. Jasper. Is it cheating? I love Jasper. So much. I often joke that New Moon should have ended with Jasper killing Bella in the early chapters (I really don’t like that book). And when they were voting and he just goes “I’m getting tired of wanted to kill you all the time.” Oh Jasper. Aren’t we all? Jasper is the character I can geek out about, and the character that I would skip through the books to find. Because yes.

Yeah. That’s my list.

Best in YA Vol. 2

Hello again, dear readers. It’s supposed to be day 10 of the 30 day challenge, but I don’t really feel like I can go into that one. So instead, I’m going to talk about a couple of books I’m mentioned in previous posts. Enjoy!

Realistic

2114838The Last Exit to Normal by Michael Harmon

It’s true: After 17-year-old Ben’s father announces he’s gay and the family splits apart, Ben does everything he can to tick him off: skip school, smoke pot, skateboard nonstop, get arrested. But he never thinks he’ll end up yanked out of his city life and plunked down into a small Montana town with his dad and Edward, The Boyfriend. As if it’s not painful enough living in a hick town with spiked hair, a skateboard habit, and two dads, he soon realizes something’s not quite right with Billy, the boy next door. He’s hiding a secret about his family, and Ben is determined to uncover it and set things right. In an authentic, unaffected, and mordantly funny voice, Michael Harmon tells the wrenching story of an uprooted and uncomfortable teenaged guy trying to fix the lives around him–while figuring out his own.

I loved this book. I think about it constantly and try not to cry about the fact that I don’t own it. I mean, seriously. What’s up with that? Anyway, for me this actually wasn’t one of those super angsty books. You really see where Ben is coming from. And he’s so funny. There were moments in this book where I had to put it down because I just could not stop laughing. This was couple with the heart wrenching moments between Billy and Ben, as Ben finally found someone to connect with, since both their moms left them and never spoke to them again. Ben’s dad is an asshole. I can see where he’s coming from a lot of the time, but he always plays the ‘you hate me ’cause I’m gay’ card, which even causes Edward to roll his eyes. Edward is just lovely. Ben actually likes Edward more than his dad and refers to Edward as his momdad. Their conversations are also quite funny, as Edward can’t help but point out all the oxymorons. For example, one of my favorite parts in the book is when Ben goes, “I don’t hate fags.” Heh. Then, of course, there’s Edward’s mother. She’s tough. She cares, but you’ll never know. She’s always watching and will lock Ben out of the house if he doesn’t finish the yard work. She’s the best. Anyway, the book is hilarious and heart warming and go read it.

Supernatural

Suck it Up by Brian Meehl2842796

Are you up to your neck in bloodsucking vampire stories?

Tired of those tales about dentally enhanced dark lords?

Before I wrote this book I thought all vampires were night-stalking, fangpopping, bloodsucking fiends. Then I met Morning McCobb. He’s a vegan vampire who drinks a soy-blood substitute called Blood Lite. He believes staking should be a hate crime. And someday he hopes to march in a Vampire Pride Parade. He was also the first vampire to out himself and try to show people of mortality, like you and me, that vampires are just another minority with special needs. Trust me—this is like no other vampire book you’ll ever feed on.

So, as my buddy Morning says, “Pop the lid, and suck it up.”

I like this synopsis. It doesn’t tell you what the book is about, but I like it. Basically, Morning McCobb let’s the world know vampires are thing, some people don’t want it that way, and shit gets crazy. This book is wonderful. I just realized a couple weeks ago that there’s a sequel (Suck it up and Die) and freaked out. This is another book I need to own immediately. What I love about this book is how quirky it is. Morning is a scrawny geek. The comic book references in the book are fantastic (His favorite comic is Watchmen) and Portia, the love interest, is great. She’s a spitfire and like, you know, a person. Like, she doesn’t believe Morning is a vampire for the longest time. Their relationship all comes very naturally. It’s not one of those love at first sight deals, or the ‘I’m going to protect you’ type stuff (If Morning did go that route, Portia’s response would be something like ‘Fuck you, I can protect myself). For me, the greatest part of this is that Morning wants to be a firefighter. A vampire. Firefighter. Please read this.

Have a nice day.

North of Beautiful

This is really late. But we’re going to pretend it isn’t. Okay? Okay. Good. It’s Day 9 of the 30 Day Challenge: A book I thought I wouldn’t really like bu ended up loving. That book is North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley.

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It’s hard not to notice Terra Cooper. She’s tall, blond, and has an enviable body. But with one turn of her cheek, all people notice is her unmistakable “flawed” face. Terra secretly plans to leave her small, stifling town in the northwest and escape her controlling father. When an unexpected collision puts Terra directly in Jacob’s path, the handsome but quirky Goth boy immediately challenges her assumptions about herself and her life, and she is forced in yet another direction. With her carefully laid plans disrupted, will Terra be able to find her true path?

I picked this book up from the local library on a whim a couple years ago, mostly because the chapter titles were all references to maps, there is a reference to Helen of try in the first paragraph, and the story takes place north of Seattle. Got some mad love for Washington. (Side bar, here in Washington, we don’t call Washington D.C. Washington. It’s D.C. If they didn’t want the confusion they shouldn’t have made us a state). I wasn’t expecting much from this. But, the story is much more interesting than it seems.

Let’s talk about Terra. She’s insecure. She has a perfect body, and she’ll be the first admit it, but she has this  body because she works hard to get it. And she works hard to get it because she had such extreme dysmorphia for her face, she is obsessive about making everything else perfect. What’s wrong with her face? She has a port wine stain. This is when I started getting interested, by the way. Her port wine stain, a birth mark, covers about half of her face. It’s smooth (some stains are not so smooth) but it’s dark. She’s grown up hearing people tell her how pretty she will be if the laser treatments work.  The laser treatments never work, so she still wears a pound of heavy make up every day to cover it. Terra’s boyfriend, not Jacob, is no help. He’s just your average white guy. He’s embarrassed by Terra’s face too, but she’s never met anyone who wasn’t so she assume it’s normal. And she’s embarrassed by her face, so she doesn’t expect him to be okay with it at first. But their relationship doesn’t actually have any substance anyway. Then there’s her father. ‘controlling’ doesn’t even begin to cover it. He’s abusive to her and her mother. I’m pretty sure it’s exclusively emotional abuse, but that’s still terrible. He’s as asshole.

There there are big chunks of the plot the synopsis doesn’t even mention. First, Terra is an artist. She makes collages, and she’s pretty talented. She doesn’t think she is, and doesn’t like to show people her work, but she that’s a huge part of the story and a huge part of who she is. Then there’s China. China is a huge part of the story. Terra’s dad is a cartographer (hence, her name and all other map references in the book). He found a map that suggested the Chinese actually found America first, but it was proved to be a fake and he let it ‘ruin’ his career. So he hates China. There is a map of every part of the world hanging in their house, but he deliberately left out China. And part of the book takes place in China.

Which leads me to Jacob. Jacob is one of my favorite characters in a  book ever. His story line is really interesting, and he’s just a really cool character. That ‘unexpected collision’ is meant quite literally. Terra and her mother are driving home from another unsuccessful laser treatment in Seattle (which they didn’t tell Terra’s dad about). Leavenworth gets quite icy during the winter, so when they go to stop for coffee Terra ends up swerving, almost hitting a guy, and running into a Range Rover. Terrible day so far, but this is where Jacob comes in. Jacob is a boy who was adopted from China when he was very young. Which is super rare. He has a scar on his face (from a clef lip correction surgery, we later find out) and becomes the first person in existence who appears not to notice Terra’s port wine stain. The car belongs to his mom, a really nice blonde lady who is the very image of an independent woman who don’t need no man (which is shocking for women who live in an abusive house).

Anyway, Jacob is the best. He’s someone who’s been stared at his whole life, so he’s come up with this really great philosophy. He knows people are going to stare, she he decides why they’re going to stare. Going to a small town? Dress like a goth. He sees most clothes as costumes. I like that.

Anyway. The story is wonderful, the execution is great, and i felt slightly bad for doubting it after I read it. But you can’t blame me. The synopsis was terrible.

What about you guys? Have a book you thought you wouldn’t like, but loved?

Best YA Fiction

I’m supposed to be posted for the 30 Day Challenge, but I’ve gone rogue again. A book that makes me laugh? Most of my favorite books have made me laugh. Either from the sheer pleasure of reading them or because I actually find them funny. So instead, I’ve just compiled a list of some of my favorite young adult books. Enjoy!

Realistic

TwistedTwisted by Laurie Halse Anderson

High school senior Tyler Miller used to be the kind of guy who faded into the background—average student, average looks, average dysfunctional family. But since he got busted for doing graffiti on the school, and spent the summer doing outdoor work to pay for it, he stands out like you wouldn’t believe. His new physique attracts the attention of queen bee Bethany Milbury, who just so happens to be his father’s boss’s daughter, the sister of his biggest enemy—and Tyler’s secret crush. And that sets off a string of events and changes that have Tyler questioning his place in the school, in his family, and in the world.

It’s actually been quite some time since I’ve revisited this book. When you read the synopsis, it kind of has a ‘been there, done that’ sort of feel. However, the book tackles actual issues and is written in such a way where Tyler seems like an actual person. He has wants and fears and insecurities and issues. And his issues are pretty real issues that go a bit deeper the normal drama. There is emotional abuse, bullying, a bit of substance abuse and a bit of suicide. The book tackles them as serious issues quite gracefully. And I don’t think I could write this without mentioning Tyler’s best friend, Yoda. There is an actual character in this story called Yoda. Which is reflective of the fact that he and Tyler are total geeks. Somehow, I haven’t read many books that feature actual geeks and paint them as people rather than ‘actual geeks’ (recommendations?). This easily my favorite YA realistic fiction book of all time. (Okay, actually it ties with another book – I’ll be writing a blog about it soon).

Supernatural

Honestly, I don't really like the cover.

Honestly, I don’t really like the cover.

Nevermore by Kelly Creagh

Cheerleader Isobel Lanley is horrified when she is paired with Varen Nethers for an English project, which is due – so unfair – on the day of the rival game. Cold and aloof, sardonic and sharp-tongued, Varen makes it clear he’d rather not have anything to do with her either. But when Isobel discovers strange writing in his journal, she can’t help but give this enigmatic boy with the piercing eyes another look.  Soon, Isobel finds herself making excuses to be with Varen. Steadily pulled away from her friends and her possessive boyfriend, Isobel ventures deeper and deeper into the dream world Varen has created through the pages of his notebook, a realm where the terrifying stories of Edgar Allan Poe come to life.  As her world begins to unravel around her, Isobel discovers that dreams, like words, hold more power than she ever imagined, and that the most frightening realities are those of the mind. Now she must find a way to reach Varen before he is consumed by the shadows of his own nightmares.

Admittedly, I was a bit skeptical about this one. I mean, I put it on my Christmas list because my brain saw Edgar Allan Poe and shut off (also, the second and third paragraphs are extremely intriguing). It was the whole ‘cheerleader and goth boy’ thing that had be worried. Another rich bitch who’s forced to work with the goth kid and then she falls into social oblivion and realized how much of a bitch she was being? Eh. But, thankfully, that’s not at all what happened. Isobel is actually a legitimately nice person and an actual cheerleader (with tumbling and stuff). And she doesn’t dump her football playing boyfriend to run off with Varen, she dumps him because he’s a jackass. She’s actually a really good character who takes reasonable action and makes reasonable mistakes. And the other two main characters, Gwen And Varen, are slightly amazing. Basically, this book works because the story is fantastic, the characters are like actual people, the main characters each bring something different to the table (and I enjoy all three of them) and it’s written well. So yeah. Another favorite.

It’s also worth noting that this is a romance book, but it is not a ‘love at first sight’ story. There’s actual development to their relationship. Starting from crush, going into mutual like and trust and going from there. I love that.

Some Honorable Mentions

I really like all these books too.

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And a couple of good series (I know Hex Hall is a series but I haven’t read the other books yet)2800905

My other favorites, which I’ve already blogged about, are The Fault in Our Stars (blog linked above) and the Chaos Walking trilogy.

What are some of your favorite YA books?

It Makes Me Happy

This is day five of the 30 Day Challenge. As you may have noticed, there is no day four. Well, day four asked me to choose my favorite book out of my favorites series and I couldn’t do that so I passive aggressively skipped it. Moving on. A book that makes me happy.

So many books make me extremely happy. So I thought I might choose a book that most people probably haven’t read. I could have gone with The Last Exit to Normal or Going Bovine or Suck it up. But I don’t have any of those books on hand to rediscover their wonder (But I just realized there’s a sequel to Suck it Up and I’m freaking out just a little bit). Anyway. So my final decision came to a book that made me happy before I even opened it: The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff.

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This is one of my favorite books, and probably my favorite book cover of all time. I mean, just look at it. That’s why I picked the book up. There are sharp objects hanging over an old style stroller. What’s going on there? And the back cover is just as interesting.

In the story, Emma’s four years old. She gets out of bed and pads across the floor in her footie pajamas. When she reaches her hand between the bars, the thing in the crib moves closer. It tries to bite her and she takes her hand out again but doesn’t back away. They spend all night looking at each other in the dark. In the morning, the thing is still crouched on the lamb-and-duckling mattress pad, staring at her. It isn’t her brother. It’s me.

So I was officially intrigued. So I bought the book and thoroughly loved it in the comfort of my own home.

Are you familiar with the stories of the changeling? Here’s a small run-down. A changeling is a sickly fairy baby who is left in the crib when the fairies take the healthy human baby. Because they need healthy children and they are jealous, so they take the human baby and leave their own behind. The changeling never lives long.

This is a story in the point of view of the changeling.

There are a few changes to the lore here and there. It kind of combines a lot of stuff. Basically, the changeling – the replacement, in this story – never survives because the family knows it’s not theirs and, assuming they don’t kill it, they can’t love it. And it’s because it is unloved that it dies. BUT, when it dies it always returns to the tunnels under the city to live with it’s people again. So the fairies (who don’t really have a name in this story) never really lose anything. And they take the healthy human baby (or child) not because they are jealous and need a baby, but because one of the older ones is nuts off her ass and – well, I don’t want to give everything away.

Creeped out yet? Oh, I love it.

Now, the town of Gentry is a small town in the middle of nowhere that is heavily superstitious. Which is one of the reasons why the changeling never survives. In this town, everyone hangs iron off their homes because their superstitions tell them the fairies are allergic to iron. And they’re right. But somehow, this doesn’t always stop the children from being taken.

In this case of our protagonist and the main family, it almost did stop them. The family includes the dad, who is the town preacher, the mom, who had been taken as a child and survived, and Emma, the sister. Then of course Mackie, the replacement. Because of the backgrounds of the parents, the fairies fully expected Mackie to die and return to them. They did not, however, count on his sister. Emma was only four years old when her ‘real’ brother got taken, and when he got taken it was her fault. But she doesn’t remember him. She remembers the creepy wrinkly thing they put in his crib, and this is the brother she proceeded to love. It was sort of her fault, because her mother had hung a bunch of iron over his crib. That iron included scissors and knives and all that good stuff. Emma didn’t want them to fall and hurt the baby, so she took them down. Not five seconds later, a man pops in the window and takes the baby and leaves the replacement behind. The parents wouldn’t kill it but they certainly didn’t love it. But then he wouldn’t die and he grew on them. And everything was nice in the Doyle family.

Aside from everything, two things i really love about this book are the lore and the protagonist.

I’ll go into the lore a little bit first. In addition to the stuff above, the fairies can’t go into the church. It’s either because it’s hallowed ground and the town believes quite fervently that it will keep them away, so it actually does. OR the church was built on iron foundations. Either way, they can’t go into the church. Which includes Mackie. Which is kind of awkward because his dad is the town preacher. So he shows up every week, but he kind of hangs out outside. Then of course there’s the music. The creatures in this story have an affinity for music. Perfect pitch, talented musicians, stuff like that. The music they make is actually mesmerizing, like a spell or something of the sort. It’s wonderful.

Then there’s Mackie. Mackie is kind of awkward, really strange, and just generally wonderful. He really wants to fit in, even though he doesn’t feel like a real person half the time. But it’s a bit difficult since he’s really obviously different and he’s kind of been slowly dying due to all the iron around. And his allergy is so severe he’ll have a reaction if someone gets a paper cut. Due to the iron in the blood. But he’s also a sweet heart and generally just sort of confused about everything, being that he is a teenager.  I love him so much.

I think I’ve sufficiently gotten across how happy this book makes me. If you’re still with me through all the creepy: Here, have an actual synopsis. That I’m editing. Because I don’t like the one on the book so much.

Mackie is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls rules by a little tattooed princess. He is a replacement – left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is slowly dying in the human world. Mackie would give anything to live among us. But they want him back. There is an oddly intriguing girl named Tate, and when her baby sister goes missing Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry: Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the slag heaps and find his place in our world, or theirs.

Recently, I said that I had never been able to read a book more than once. As of 1 am on October 16, 2013, this is the first book I’ve read twice. I think it’s because how utterly unremarkable it is. The story gets a 4.5, the characters (mostly Mackie) get a 4. Execution and general development get a possibly generous 3. But because of ratings one and two, this book makes me quite happy. In the quiet sort of way where I’m not distracted by how amazing it is to feel, but just enough where I’m inclined to keep going. It’s really quite nice.

Chaos Walking

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For those of you who aren’t hip to the 30 Day Challenge, this is Day 3. And this is my favorite books series. Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness. It’s a really interesting take on science fiction, in that it doesn’t really seem like it’s a science fiction. At the start, it seems a lot like a coming of age story about a boy and his dog. But, like most books I love, it’s so much more than that. Here’s the premise of the first book, The Knife of Never Letting Go:

Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, Todd can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks. Todd is just a month away from becoming a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him — something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl. Who is she? Why wasn’t she killed by the germ like all the females on New World? Propelled by Todd’s gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he truly is.

The whole story takes place on a planet called New World, a planet 80 years from ‘Old World’ with years that are 13 months long. And the story begins in a small town called ‘Prentisstown’. Possibly the last human settlement left on New World after the war with the Spackle (the indigenous reigning species of the planet) which unleashed the Noise on all the men and killed all of the women. So it’s a dying colony. As the story goes on, we get to explore New World as layers of conspiracy are peeled back and a new great war is starting.

I cannot stress enough how great this trilogy is.

Aside from everything, one thing I really love about this series is the continuity. The title of everyone book has meaning. The title of the series has meaning. The title of the series is referenced early on in the first book. The title of the first book is heavily alluded to in the first book, but comes back full circle in the third book. The title of the second book is revealed in the second book. The title of the third book is originally discussed in the first book. Stuff that happens in the first book comes back and proves to be vitally important for the rest of the series. It’s amazing.

Another talking point is the relationship Todd has with the girl he finds. Viola. It’s a bit strained at first, in that they are both on the run, he’s never seen a girl in real life so he’s understandably put off, and she won’t say anything. They don’t know what’s going in and things are just weird. But as they story evolves and time goes by they form this really great bond of friendship that’s kind of more than friendship and it’s a lot a bit beautiful.

The characters are so real it literally hurts. This includes Manchee, Todd’s dog. And the Spackle when they really become prominent in the story. And Todd’s dads, Cillian and Ben. Especially Ben. And Davey. Oh, ouch, there my thoughts go again. Even the freaking bad guy is real and almost sympathetic in how absolutely and unforgivably insane he is. I mean, two of the books take plays in the middle of this cluster-fuck war. The whole thing is just painful. Just, wow. Right in the feels.

But it’s also wonderful. So wonderful that everyone should go read it immediately. The Knife of Never Letting Go  is a wonderful opening. It establishes the characters, the major conflict, and some prominent themes and motifs and stuff. The Ask and the Answer adds more stress to the conflict as people are broken and loyalties are really put to the test. Monsters of Men is the epic conclusion which is perhaps more heart wrenching and more heart warming than anything else ever.

You’d being doing yourself a favor to put it on your reading list.