Kate Little Reviews Divergent

Welcome our newest member of the team, Kate Little!

I have to admit, I had a difficult time trying not to compare this book to The Hunger Games (and while I read the Hunger Games I had a difficult time with not comparing it to Battle Royale but anyway…). I wanted to give this book a fair chance so I tried to block that judgmental part of my brain out and just focus on this book as an independent being, which it is. My overall impression of Divergent was that it is an interesting take on a dystopian society with a somewhat interesting lead character. It was refreshing to read an action sci-fi book with a strong female lead. Those seem to be few and far between but I have hope that this is changing.

I found the setting of the book to be rather fascinating. Although there were some familiar aspects, the organization of the society and the structure of government were unique and interesting. I enjoyed not knowing how each faction would interrelate into the story and I felt that Divergent did a decent job with representing three of those factions. I think discovering what differentiates Abnegation, Dauntless, and Erudite from each other was one of the most interesting parts for me. However, I didn’t feel Divergent fully explained the two remaining factions. My guess is that this is covered in the next two books so I’m not jumping to any conclusions about that yet…

I really enjoyed the overall theme of the book. I’m a sucker for dystopian stories that feature throwing young adults into situations radically different from their norms, and following them as they adapt to their new environments and are forced to handle situations that should be well above their heads. The whole loss of innocence thing and developing a sense of self, yada yada, I’ll stop now. I felt Divergent was heading in this direction with a solid story and for the most part succeeded but I feel as if the end was rushed. It felt like the majority of the story focused on the lead character and slowly moved towards something bigger. However, before I knew it, all chaos seemed to break loose and I didn’t feel as if I had time to prepare for this or take it all in. It was like the reader was just rushed forward without warning into warp speed. Now, I’m not saying I don’t think there should ever be surprising plot twists, I’m just saying I felt like there could have been a bit more transition and plot development before this happened.

In terms of the characters, I mostly liked how Veronica Roth created the lead character and was not afraid to have her get hurt or bruised. That said, I felt as if there was still a bit too much hand holding from a strong male character. It seemed like on the one hand, she was this strong and tough character however, in the next scene, she could only make it through with the help of a big strong guy. It felt inconsistent and reinforced the idea that female characters always need a knight in shining armor no matter how tough they are.

Overall, I felt Divergent was a fun read. I don’t think it’s the best book ever written, but if you’re looking for a fast sci-fi action book with a female lead character this would be a decent choice. I’m interested in seeing how they capture this on the big screen.

Anyone else have thoughts on the book?

Cheers,

Kate

You can download a sample or purchase Divergent by clicking here.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

I finished American Gods about a week ago. Normally, I won’t write a review of a book I’ve been done with more than a day or so because my impressions of it would usually have faded. Anyone who has read my reviews knows that I like to share how a story made me feel and respond, not so much of an expanded plot summary. But with American Gods, my impressions are still fresh.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I didn’t actually read this book. I had intended to, as it was a selection for a book group I belong to, but it was very long and I was already over committed and didn’t think I’d get to it. Instead, I signed up for  Audible.com. I haven’t had very good luck with audio books before but had heard that the 10th Anniversary edition was fantastic and it was. The full cast production made the characters very real to me. My only disappointment with the audio book – any audio book, really – is that I didn’t know how to spell the names of the gods. There were several that I wanted to look up after hearing about them.

So let’s get on with it, shall we? American Gods starts out by introducing us to Shadow, a soon to be released convict who seems like a nice enough guy. A few days before he’s due to get out, he gets called to the warden’s office and is told that his wife was killed. Sprung a little early, he heads back home to attend the funeral and figure out what to do with the rest of his life and that’s when he meets Mr. Wednesday and his life changes forever. What ensues is a trip around the country, but centered pretty much in the mid-west, gathering information and allies.

To say that American Gods is about Shadow isn’t really accurate. Yes, he’s our main protagonist, but there are many stories in this book, Shadow is really our base. He’s us, the reader, trying to figure out what’s going on and how it all ties together. As several characters in the book point out, there’s a storm a’ comin’ and it takes awhile to figure out just where it’s coming from and why.

Intermixed with the impending war between the ancient gods and the modern gods, there are tales of the early years of America, and several taking place many hundreds and thousands of years before that. This was my first experience with Gaiman’s work. Yeah, I know, where the hell have I been, right? Well, I can guarantee you that this will not be the last. He is a wonderful storyteller and I can’t wait to fall under his spell again.

American Gods: The Tenth Anniversary Edition