Allegiant by Veronica Roth • Magan Reviews

Allegiant (Divergent #3) by Veronica Roth [twitter • website]
Previously Reviewed Insurgent (Divergent #2)
Publication Date: October 22, 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 526
Target Audience: Young Adult
Keywords: dystopia, trilogy, books to movies
Format Read: Hard cover purchased.

Summary: (borrowed from Goodreads) Dual narration by Tris Prior and her beloved Tobias. Their faction-based dystopian society is broken by violence and power struggles, scarred by loss and betrayal. Beyond the fence is even more alarming. Old discoveries are meaningless. Explosive new truths change those she loves. Again she faces impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

• • •

I’m just gonna say right now this is going to be much less of an ordered, typical review (and it’s completely spoiler-free). I need to get out my feelings so maybe then I can move on. But you know what? Moving on after clinging to a series for SO long really hurts.

Allegiant really was the end of an era for me. Roth really opened the flood gate in this last installment of the Divergent series. Of course I knew something big was happening. (In fact, someone spoiled what was going to happen on Instagram (grrr) so I stayed away. My heart was really struggling with finishing the series because I’m so, so bad at goodbyes. They seem so final and I often don’t have enough closure to move on. And if I didn’t read Allegiant, then everything was fine and peachy, right? Wrong.

That’s probably why I had a major, major book hangover after finishing Allegiant. I can’t say that I was absolutely, 100% pleased as punch with how everything wrapped up, but when you invest THAT much in characters and see them fighting so hard, that final page is never going to be enough. I cried and cried (for probably an hour after closing the book). When my husband came home, I tried shoving the book in his hands and told him I needed him to read it immediately. (He couldn’t — stupid grad school.) I was desperate for someone to talk things through with; I felt so isolated!

And that makes me wonder — without being spoilery at all — how Veronica Roth felt having to make some pretty tough decisions in this book. I’m sure there were parts she didn’t want to write, and remembering back to Allegiant’s release date, there was a lot of uproar and disappointment. Going out on a limb here, I applaud Roth for being bold and writing things that absolutely sucked to read about, but ultimately did feel authentic to the story. It can’t be easy to not give your readers what they’re wanting or expecting.

January was the month I wanted to set aside for finishing all of the series I have abandoned. I’m so thankful I didn’t suffer break-up after break-up after break-up. I don’t think I would have ever climbed out of the cavernous valley of depression from saying repeated goodbyes. But hopefully I’ll get around to more of them throughout the year because sometimes goodbyes are necessary.

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book cover for Reboot by Amy Tintera

Magan: Reboot by Amy Tintera

book cover for Reboot by Amy TinteraReboot by Amy Tintera (Twitter | Website)
Publication Date
: May 7, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 352
Target audience: Young Adult
Keywords: science fiction, dystopia, broken society, survival
Format read: ARC from Edelweiss via Publisher (Thanks!)

Summary: Wren is a Reboot; she died and her body came back to life after being dead for 178 minutes. As a dedicated soldier for five years, she suddenly finds herself questioning her livelihood and well being when she’s given an ultimatum and her best friend, also a Reboot, begins to go crazy.

Wren, or One-seventy-eight as she’s referred to in the Reboot facility, died from three bullet wounds. For 178 minutes she was dead. Then her body rebooted and became a stronger, faster, less emotional version of her human self. She awoke as a Reboot.

For five years, Wren has lived in the Rosa Reboot facility, going on assignments to kill or capture humans, rebels, or other Reboots. She is HARC’s (a government organization) token soldier. When humans die and reboot, they are referred to and categorized by the number of minutes they were dead. Wren is one of the only Reboots to have been dead so long. The longer you take to reboot, the better the soldier you make because you lose your attachment to your human self, your memories, your emotions.

Since she’s one of the very best, Wren is a trainer of new Reboots that enter the facility. Upon meeting one of the newbies, Callum, who asks her to train him, she begins to wonder if it’s possible to train the lower numbers to be better soldiers. Callum is a twenty-two; she’s never trained anyone so low — in fact, it’s rare for someone to reboot so quickly. Intrigued by the challenge to make him into a better soldier, she chooses him as her trainee. Callum is slow and weak, he questions absolutely everything, isn’t shy about his attraction to Wren, and definitely isn’t much of a fighter.

Wren has her work cut out for her. Especially when she’s given an ultimatum by the head of HARC to whip Callum into shape … or else. When her roommate, Ever, suddenly stops sleeping and becomes a vicious version of herself in the night, Wren, the girl who follows all the rules and never questions assignments, suddenly begins to feel trapped. She realizes she has no control over her life, but also realizes that if she fights back, she might be choosing to return to the slums of Austin where bad memories of her childhood haunt her.

Reboot by Amy Tintera is a quick and fast-paced read; she pulls you into the story from the first pages where you meet Wren as she’s out on assignment. As someone who had trouble breaking the rules, I could easily relate to Wren. Everything fit inside a nice, neat box and operated according to plan. Always. Until Callum came along. Maybe you guys were more prone to question than I was, but I specifically remember a class I had in college that made me think differently. I was pushed to discuss things I believed, but didn’t want to argue about. Wren’s connection with Callum felt so much like my college class. Why did she trust HARC? Why was she okay with killing people? Was there a better life for her out there?

And, of course, the Callum love doesn’t stop at his ability to open Wren’s eyes. This may sound odd, but before Callum, Wren is basically an asexual being. She has no interest in being kissed or having sex or doing anything with anyone. Her gunshot wound scars are her biggest insecurity and she’s not sure why anyone would want her. When Callum waltzes into her life, she’s not quite sure what to think of all her feelings and attraction to him. It definitely makes for some great inner dialogue and delicious sexual tension between the two.

Reboot is Amy’s debut novel. And friends, it’s so worth the read. It’s a great new take on a broken down society with a fantastic female character that will make you want to be a little more bad ass, a boy who will make you laugh at all the ways he just doesn’t fit in, and heart pounding build-up that won’t allow you to put the book down without finishing.

And hey, guess what? Reboot hit bookstores yesterday, so swing by your local bookstore on your way home this evening!

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book reviews of Destroy Me and Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

Double Review: Destroy Me and Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

Beware of spoilers below for Shatter Me!

book reviews of Destroy Me and Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

Destroy Me and Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi
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Publication Date
: October 2, 2012 / February 5, 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 103 / 465
Target audience: Young Adult
Keywords: dystopia, powers and abilities, broken government
Format read: ARC from HarperCollins (Thank you!)

Summaries: Told from Warner’s perspective, Destroy Me begins after Juliette, Adam, and Kenji make their escape from Warner; he finds Juliette’s journal and we’re given more information about who he is and what his true motives are. In Unravel Me, we reconnect with Juliette after her arrival at Omega Point where she learns that war against The Reestablishment is imminent.

» » » Destroy Me » » »

Guys. Remember back when I had cute bangs and brown hair and I called Warner detestable in my vlog review of Shatter Me? I was super hesitant to read Destroy Me because, really, why would I want to know about a character that I disliked so much? There had never been a villain that made my stomach churn as much as Warner. But I did it. I read it anyway.

Here’s what I wrote in my notes:

– Want to dislike Warner.
– Don’t want him to end up with Juliette.
– He’s twisted as a result of how he grew up. (But yes, I do see he has a heart underneath all the evil.)

So there I was … realizing that Warner had a messed up childhood and not wanting him to say all the lovely things he did about Juliette or understand how he connected to her as he read her journal that she wrote while she was locked away in the asylum. I was perplexed, but still very Team Adam. I wanted to fight for the Good Boy (and I am not very good at being wrong) so I very diligently tweeted about how I would see this journey through with Adam.

Aside from the confusing realizations I came to about Warner, I felt like I got to know even more about Juliette through her journal entries. It was great to connect with her even though she wasn’t an active character in Destroy Me. My biggest piece of advice to you as readers is to read Destroy Me before you move on to Unravel Me. It helped me get back into Tahereh’s writing style with so much ease and while reading Unravel Me, helped me understand all the Warner complexities that arose. This is a short novella, so remember that while you’re reading — you’re not going to receive a huge plot reveal, but you’re reading for character development.

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» » » Unravel Me » » »

I’ve discovered that I have Aversion to Middle Book Syndrome. I get really antsy, anxious, and nervous for the sequels to be released, but then I just. can’t. do it. It takes tons and tons of willpower for me to pick up the book and carry on. With Unravel Me, I just knew there was going to be something that made my heart stop which would then transform into anger at having to wait so long for another book.

What I didn’t expect was that this Huge, Big Thing was going to be abandoning Adam in the midst of tons of grief and running to Warner with wide open arms. (Yes, I know. That makes me sound like a terrible person.)

Before jumping into the million reasons why I cannot stop thinking about and love Warner, let’s reflect on Juliette. I found her character to be so unique and refreshing in Shatter Me, but this time around I was a bit thrown off by her. Mafi does an incredible job molding her into a girl that I completely understand – I get why she doesn’t trust people , why she feels so isolated, and why things never seem to go easily for her. But I reached a point where I just wanted to say, “ENOUGH! Accept this and move on.” I wanted her to fight for herself and to not be the small, fragile girl she had been molded into. Thankfully, Kenji was around to balance out my frustrations, put Juliette in her place, and provide humor by referring to himself as sexy all the time.

Omega Point is where Juliette should have been learning more about her ability and meshing with people who have powers like hers. Time passes by quickly as Juliette is struggling to gain control of her life and make friends there, but despite the good things she has going for her, she remains isolated. I felt a bit like Juliette was a psychological study – lock a girl in isolation and see how she deals in the world when she’s released (and furthermore – immerse her in a world that’s underground and see how she handles it).

Part of the complication is Adam. He and Juliette hit a crossroad. It’s one of those things where you throw your hands in the air and wonder why. There are so many revelations (with Adam and Warner, specifically) that will have you icing your jaw because it’s dropped so many times.

Speaking of the whole Adam v. Warner debate… let this be my two cents: For all that I am supposed to love Adam, I feel I am not fully convinced Warner isn’t better. I no longer feel like I know Adam’s character – I didn’t see enough of him and there are just so many complications. I was constantly frustrated with the tension and how on-edge Juliette always was. I hope so badly that I am not wrong about Warner. I feel like I’m being lured in to love him and quite possibly, something will happen to him or he’s going to prove me wrong and leave me weeping in a dark corner.

This fear of Warner proving me wrong? The not being able to know what happens for a whole year? That, friends, is why I have Aversion to Middle Book Syndrome.

(Goodreads | Amazon)

Just in case you want to see how hard I’ve fallen for Warner, check out this twitter-convo with Makeshift Bookmark’s Jen and Tahereh Mafi and for your amusement, I’m including a few spoiler-free texts between Elena (of Novel Sounds — which is also where you should listen to her Unravel Me soundtrack) and myself while I was reading:

falling in love with warner in unravel me by tahereh magi

(The next two images are my texts to her and then her reply to me.)

unravel me by tahereh mafi review

(And yes, I did intentionally cut off the screenshot so you couldn’t tell what chapter we were referring to — I couldn’t ruin that delicious surprise for you. ;))

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Book Cover for Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi

Magan: Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi

Book Cover for Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi

Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi
Publication Date:
January 8, 2013
Publisher:
HarperCollins
Pages:
352
Target audience:
Young adult
Keywords:
dystopian, contrasting worlds, trilogy, Aether storms
Format read:
Borrowed from Anna (Thanks, lady!)

Summary: Aria is reunited with Perry (who is now a Blood Lord) and introduced to the Tides. The only friend she has is Roar and the Tides aren’t likely to accept her since she’s a Dweller. She’s on a mission to save the Dwellers (and hopefully the Tides, too) from the increasingly terrible Aether storms by seeking out the Still Blue.

In the vast sea of trilogies and series, it’s often hard to find a series that stands out from the crowd. Under the Never Sky was a great 2012 read, but I was anxious for more answers – I needed to understand the Aether better and I didn’t grasp why there was so much dissension between the Dwellers and the Outsiders. What had stripped these people apart from living as one society?

In Through the Ever Night, Rossi delivers answers in a perfectly timed and beautifully paced story. The world felt so much more complete and whole — quite possibly because of the sheer amount of exploration and travel Aria has to do. In UtNS, I understood Aria’s life as a Dweller within the compound walls, but this time, I began to understand how the Outsiders lived a bit more. (I will add here that I recommend you do a re-read of at least the last 25% of UtNS so you can jump into this book without hesitation. Jamie and Anna recommended I do this and this refresher made the transition to book two seamless.) The Aether storms were more vivid and the Tides compound was easy to picture, from the critical need for more food and supplies to the chilling glances they sent Aria’s way.

Aria and Perry’s relationship (swoon!) felt very or organic and natural. Things weren’t always perfectly easy for them, but Rossi didn’t throw in unnecessary challenges that over-complicated things for them either. Aria and Perry were sometimes forced to make decisions based on what they genuinely thought would be in the best interest of the other person, even if that meant their relationship might suffer through a hiccup. Perry wasn’t always in the easiest position; often he was caught between loving Aria and his duty to the Tides, causing tension and resistance. Many times, I couldn’t help but question how they would make it as a couple when the Tides accepting Aria seemed so impossible.

Thankfully Roar’s character provided some much-needed comedic relief to break up the stressful situations. He stood out in UtNS, being the humorous and dedicated friend to Perry that he is, but now, his role is amplified and we get to see a whole lot more of him. He’s still the silly sidekick, but he and Aria have a friendship built on a few months of being together after Perry leaves to rule the Tides. Roar helped me to understand Aria’s talents more, and I loved the easy way these two communicated with one another. (Never fear – theirs is not a love-relationship; purely friendship. No love triangle here.) Roar’s character allowed us to experience such a gamut of emotions, sometimes not always the cheerful ones expected of him.

There’s so much to love about Through the Ever Night – amazing character development, world building, and a storyline very different than others currently classified as dystopian. I absolutely loved everything about it (except now having to wait for Into the Still Blue). This is a very solid sequel by Rossi that I highly recommend you pick up as soon as possible!

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Magan: The Forsaken by Lisa M. Stasse

The Forsaken by Lisa M. Stasse
Publication Date: July 10, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Pages: 375
Target audience: Young Adult
Keywords: dystopia, sci-fi, exile island, corrupt government, orphan
Format read: ARC from Simon & Schuster at ALA.

Summary: Alenna undergoes a government test to analyze her compliance and is sent to The Wheel, an island where other teenagers are sent upon receiving negative test results, where she must fight to survive.

 

From the first chapter, I like to be drawn into the world – I want to feel so connected that it seems impossible to put the book down. When a book makes my heart pound and my pulse race, that can only mean I’m feeling intensely invested.

The Forsaken immediately caught my attention and I was full of anticipation for what was to come.

Alenna lost her parents to a government invasion of her home when she was ten years old, leaving her orphaned. At sixteen, she undergoes a government mandated test to make sure she’s compliant and won’t cause any trouble. Anyone found troublesome is sent to The Wheel — an island where the average life span is 18 years old. Alenna is put under for the test, and the next thing she knows, she’s waking up on The Wheel.

She finds herself with one other person, David, and they’re quickly surrounded by the drones. The Wheel is divided into sectors ruled by the drones (scary teens who wear capes, paint their faces, and blindly follow a masked man called the Monk) and the villagers (a “normal-ish” group who tries to make the best of their bad situation). Alenna is rescued by a villager while David is overtaken by drones. This is as far as I’m going to get into the story because I don’t want to risk spoiling any of the surprises.

Alenna, as a character, was initially very weak. Pre-exile, she tried to fly under-the-radar, hoping to avoid standing out. She never quite felt like she belonged anywhere and was kind of a loner. The island is the first place where she connects with other people her age. Coincidentally, people who also felt the very same thing. As she learns to navigate the island, she forms friendships with a few characters that give her more reason than her survival to fight for a way off the island. And she maybe (just maybe…) falls in love for the first time.

One of the most fascinating aspects of The Forsaken was the comparison between the drones and the villagers. It was like a comparative study on the effects of what can happen when you’re thrown into a life or death situation. Do you seek survival and civilization or do you become corrupt and lose all sense or normalcy since you’re going to die anyway? The drones cling to the hope of the Monk and the villagers attempt to build an equal(ish) community where everyone has their role.

The Forsaken was a surprising mix of a lot of my favorite things — sci-fi, a dystopian setting, and elements that made me reminisce other favorite books (The Host by Stephanie Meyer and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins). Please don’t misinterpret my comparison to insinuate that Stasse’s book is a replication of either of those books; it stands on its own and her ideas constantly caught me off guard. I do believe that if you are fans of The Host or The Hunger Games you should definitely pick up The Forsaken.

Stasse’s writing is gripping from the very beginning. There’s always, always a task or a next phase. Always something to learn. The story is constantly progressing, always moving forward. Stasse’s writing was strong and intelligent, and the dialogue always very intentional. Definitely, definitely check out The Forsaken as soon as you can. I shall patiently wait for the story to continue.

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Magan: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Warning: There will be Divergent spoilers in this review, so please DO NOT proceed if you haven’t read this book yet!

book cover for insurgent by veronica roth

Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Publication Date: May 1, 2012
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 525
Target Audience: Young Adult
Format read: ARC received from TLA
Why I read it: It’s the sequel to one of my favorite books (ever).

Summary: Insurgent picks up where Divergent left off – after the Dauntless have been taken over by a simulation serum. Abnegation was attacked. Tris’s parents risked their lives, selflessly, to help save hers; she lost friends. Tris grapples with figuring out where she belongs and how she can stop future attacks that are sure to rip the factions apart.

I feel as if my hands are hovering over the keyboard, not quite sure where to start and what to say other than WOW.

I read Divergent days after its release date last year, so I knew I’d need to refresh because Veronica’s world is so dense and structured. I couldn’t have been happier that I decided to re-read it; there were so many details that I would have been questioning in Insurgent. Veronica springs right into action and doesn’t provide a lot of back story. I think it’s expected of her readers to be well-versed in the characters and story. (This is probably my biggest piece of advice. Re-read Divergent, your notes, a blog… something that provides the ins and outs of all the chaos that goes down before you begin Insurgent.)

Insurgent is full (FULL) of twists and turns. Tris makes a lot of decisions that I didn’t always relate to or understand, but I don’t think she always knew why she was making them either. She’s searching, relentlessly, to find out who she is. Is she factionless? Is she Dauntless? She’s never been very selfless, but maybe she should have stayed in Abnegation. Because of all these uncertainties, there was a lot of friction between Tris and Four.

I know. Friction?!

I wish I could say to expect only the hottest, steamiest goodness from these two, but they’re both packing a lot of baggage. As they each have their own issues, more depth and complexity introduced itself. Sometimes it was hard for me to decide if Tris or Four was right. They both presented persuasive arguments for why they felt one way or another. My heart felt so torn. Maybe shredded is more appropriate. Tris and Four had so much trouble connecting – they were very hit or miss. I must admit that this part was hard for me to read through; sure, it’s only logical that when faced with so much turmoil, the romantical parts of life might be less… romantical, but somehow in Divergent, they always found a way to have sweet, tender moments. (And yes, I hereby instate romantical as a useable word. Go forth and prosper.)

The ride Roth takes us on in Insurgent is intense. I felt as if I were making the decisions right along with Tris. Her strong, rigid exterior was completely broken after the simulation attacks. She emotes so much more vulnerability and mourns the loss of Will and her parents. She takes on what I’d like to call a “savior complex” and feels like she needs to sacrifice herself to honor those who died. There were times when I felt like I, as a reader, was intentionally kept in the dark, though. I’d have questions about the whereabouts of people or how certain things happened, only to have Roth brilliantly explain them later.

There are people, solutions, and questions along the way that constantly left me guessing. Who is to be trusted? Is X person manipulating Y person? What side is that faction really on? The debates are endless.

There’s no doubt that this was my most anticipated book for 2012. I tried to slowly read through it so I could cling to every ounce of goodness, but yet again, I feel as if I should re-read this soon because I couldn’t contain myself. Somehow Roth always stumps me with her impeccable writing and I’m left thinking, “WHAT THE HECK JUST HAPPENED THERE?” or feeling like I missed something big because surely that’s not the way that just went down. The ending, to be sure, left me flipping back through the final pages several times as I was quite flabbergasted.

I hope you love(d) Insurgent by Veronica Roth as much as I did. Please, please link up your review in the comments below because I need to FEEL and empathize with other readers.

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