Combined book review #6

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I’ve been doing some reading again and thought it about time to review those books again. I read the Divergent series by Veronica Roth, a detective novel, a modern classic and a book that wasn’t worth my time. Curious to see what I read and what I thought of these books? Then stay tuned as I give a short summary of each book and then give my opinion on them. Enjoy your Sunday!

The list. I am playing a bit of catch up here. I read most of these books at the end of 2014, but due to falling ill with a nasty flu and a busy time at work, reading wasn’t at the top of my priority list. I picked up again with Gone Girl and One Flew… I am currently trying to decide what book to read next. So please leave a comment down below if you have any suggestions.

Veronica Roth – Divergent

Tris grows up in the Abnegation faction. At the age of 16 her test is inconclusive, which means she’s Divergent. She makes the choice to join Dauntless instead: leaving her parents and life as she knows it behind. She starts training to be Dauntless, falls in love with her trainer Four, and in the mean time she figures out what it truly means to be Divergent.

This first book holds an interesting concept, though I constantly felt it had been done before. I can only deal with so much ‘dystopian, but supposedly utopian’ young adult books. It is too obvious who Four is right from the start and the different factions sound interesting but are in no way worked out enough to be believable. However, it taps into ideas of ‘who are you’ and ‘who do you want to be’. Is that a choice you make or are you born that way? And what if your personality is so different that you could break the system? The story is entertaining and easy to read though and it sucked me right in.

Veronica Roth – Insurgent

With Tris’ world having fallen apart in book 1, she travels to Amity only to be betrayed again. And again, and again, and again. Even by people close to her. Only to be rewarded with complete and utter confusion about her ancestors and what is behind the fence.

The second book started off at a lull in the beginning, but became as entertaining and addictive as the first one. In this one Tris keeps on playing with her life. Her relationship with Four becomes more complicated. This book focuses on following your heart, forgiveness and similar themes to the first book. Too many sudden plot changes make this book a tad unbelievable though: people supposedly dead suddenly aren’t dead or are in fact on another side they said they were on. But again a very enjoyable read that is a quick and easy no brainer.

Veronica Roth – Allegiant

In which Tris goes outside the fence and finds out that no matter where you go, the world is a mess. She finds out the truth about her mother, is sucked into leading another rebellion and the love of her life, Four, loses his sense of self which could cost him or Tris (or both?) their lives.

The third book in the series is a complete changeover from the first two. Where I enjoyed 1 & 2, book three, just doesn’t cut it for me. First there is the Matrix type double dystopian world theme. Was that really necessary? And the double pov is confusing at best. Secondly, there’s the fact that suddenly Four is no more than a little boy in a young adult’s body? Most of the storyline is predictable as there are little hints that are given in books 1 & 2 as to what might be the deal in book 3. Yet again, this book contains a few plot changes that are too bizarre to do the story any good. I do think that the ending is quite interesting. The main problem with this book: if people knew what is outside the fence, then why isn’t anyone inside the fence taught about it?

The series as a whole left me confused in the end. Divergent & Insurgent are quick and fun, entertaining reads. The story world is meagerly worked out and only a few characters are thoroughly thought through and backed up. However, these shortages are used in the story lines to create unexpected plot twists that keep you coming back for more. Allegiant needs to rethink what it wants to be and make up its mind. It is a boring and slow read with small dispersed pockets of actions with a terribly predictable ending and characters that you have grown to love, suddenly give you a change of heart.

Robert Galbraith – The Silkworm

The second novel by JK Rowling under her new penname. This time detective Cormoran Strike investigates the suspicious disappearance of an author past his heyday. Of course, he isn’t just missing as his wife suspects, but is lying dead in an abandoned house. And the most mysterious thing is that his death looks just like the ending of his latest, still unpublished novel. Will Strike be smarter than the Met again? And how can Robin play a role in all this?

Just like the first one, this books takes a while to get going. But, just like the first one, you want to keep on reading to find out whodunnit. The clever thing about this book (and its predecessor) is that once you finish it, you want to read it again, to see if you can pick up on more clues. It’s a thrilling tale that for the first half focuses more on Strike and his life, the case gets woven into it more and more the further Strike finds out clues. Robin, his secretary, and wannabe detective, plays a bigger role in this book than in the first one. All in all, an enjoyable read. I can’t wait for the next Galbraith.

Gillian Flynn – Gone Girl

Nick & Amy are happily married. On their 5th wedding anniversary Amy disappears and all the clues point in Nick’s direction. But something strange is happening: the annual treasure hunt Amy has set up for Nick to find his present may or may not have a hidden layer to it. And what about the diary that Amy did or did not keep? So many questions…

I picked this up because I heard a lot of buzz about it. This is one of those books I desperately want to like: the story is original and well thought through. But there are a few major problems with it. One, it takes more than half the book to get to the point. Two, the whodunnit aspect of it that is upplayed heavily in the first half of the book, is too transparent. Three, the ending is unsatisfying and strange. I mean, how does anyone possibly go from ‘I want to kill you’ to ‘I will play nice’ within the course of a year? And the language is sometimes… just… no…

Ken Kesey – One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

The Chief has been in a ward for the mentally ill at an Oregan hospital for 20 years. The ward is run by Nurse Ratched. She runs it with an iron fist. All the men fear her and the repercussions she has in store of them when they act up. Enter McMurphy: troublemaker, loudmouthed and everything the Big Nurse despises. McMurphy makes it his purpose to try and undermine the nurse at all cost. In the end it is McMurphy’s prowess that puts some life back into the men, but will he succeed to twart the Big Nurse once and for all?

This seemingly simple cat & mouse game is anything but. McMurphy is clever but manages a few times to hit the wrong nerve with the Nurse putting him back at square one. Nevertheless, this book takes you on a journey to explore what it means and takes to be insane. Told from the Chief who forgot about his own strength through years of admission in the hospital, makes for an interesting twist. At certain points I even wondered whether McMurphy was even real or just a figment of his imagination fighting The Combine and status quo The Chief fears so much. I thoroughly enjoyed it, be it sometimes longwinded, but the long conversing writing style surely served its purpose in the scope of the narrative.

What have you read recently?

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