Kate Reviews Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann

Every once in a while, you come upon a story that reminds you that we, as humans, are often connected in more ways than one would think, and we’re all on this crazy journey together. Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann not only depicts this connection literally, but it also shows the human side of each of its characters, highlighting that we all have individual experiences and life events that affect who we are and where we go. The book is centered around the tightrope-walking event that took place between the Twin Towers in 1974. However, I felt the tightrope walker was used more as a metaphor to look up and look at each other instead of staying in our individually protected privacy bubbles. The tightrope walk of Phillippe Petit in 1974 was a real-life event that occurred in the morning of a seemingly normal New York day and I’ve heard the documentary Man On Wire is a fascinating look at this event and the person behind it.

The book is written in the same style as Babel and Crash which may be why I loved it so much. McCann’s style of writing feels real. It feels like you’re actually experiencing NYC in the 1970s when the Bronx was burning, the “system” was broken, Vietnam had recently ended, and yet, if you look closely, you can still find kindness and compassion. Although the setting is the 1970s, I felt you could superimpose this to today just as easily. Maybe I feel a personal connection because I spend my weekdays working with people that have often been overlooked or unfairly judged as “damaged goods” and tossed aside when, in reality, we are no better than each other and if we just stop and listen I bet we could all learn a thing or two. I’ll step off my soapbox now because this review shouldn’t be about aspects of my own moral compass.

I highly recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys reading fiction about the human experience and the connections we may have to one another. A unique aspect of this book may be that everyone takes something different out of it and catches things that other readers may have overlooked. Perhaps that was McCann’s point after all.

Download a sample or purchase Let the Great World Spin by clicking here.

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.