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Book Review: The Fault In Our Stars

book review | The Fault In Our StarsJohn Green, ladies and gentlemen. John Green.

The Fault In Our Stars stews together a thick mixture of emotions, providing an easy yet quite a challenging read for those who are particularly emotionally sensitive. In just 318 pages, John Green gives the reader an unforgettable experience unlike any other work of teen fiction known to the world of literature.

Rather than traveling through the expanding world of dystopian fiction, The Fault In Our Stars takes a realistic approach to the life of three teenagers who are forced to endure quite possibly one of the most difficult battles in human history. One survivor and two cancer-battling teens find solace in each other as they struggle to cope with the reality unknown to so many others of their age.

The reader witnesses the growth of 16-year-old terminal cancer patient Hazel Grace Lancaster, who narrates the novel from a unique perspective influenced by her favorite novel, An Imperial Affliction. Her outlook on life takes a slight left turn when 17-year-old Augustus Waters appears in the Literal Heart of Jesus one evening at a support group she attends from time to time. From then on out, Hazel faces a new struggle–developing relationships with others with whom she is fated to part.

Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book. And then there are books like An Imperial Affliction, which you can’t tell people about, books so special and rare and yours that advertising your affection feels like a betrayal (33).

Hazel and Augustus travel a life-altering journey together in more ways than one, taking the reader for a long and intimate ride beside them as they experience life at its fullest. The bond the two form across the pages of The Fault In Our Stars far surpasses that of those formed in countless other teen fiction novels. The strength they build is unbreakable.

Such power swims within their seemingly endless lines of dialogue. I once read that the definition of a good book is one that causes the reader to close the book after reading such a well-written sentence sit in silence, in awe of its beauty. This book is peppered with those little moments, leading the reader to contemplate life as she knows it.

John Green tosses the reader’s emotions like a salad with the twist he so maliciously throws into the mix.

Hazel is also close friends with her mother, who has been there for her through every waking [and sleeping] moment of her life. It is quite refreshing to read a book in which the main character actually gets along with her parents. Some may find it unrealistic, but I can tell you otherwise with great confidence. By no means am I saying that the two do not have their moments; those moments are what add to the reality of this beautiful piece of fiction. We all have our moments (some of us more than others), but if life were easy, we would be bored. All the time. The human race exists to be challenged. It is how we handle those challenges that displays who we truly are.

“That’s the thing about pain,” Augustus said, and then glanced back at me. “It demands to be felt” (63).

 

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely. It’s as if this book was written for those facing unfathomable struggles, and the message can most certainly apply to various not-so-unfathomable situations, as well. I think each one of us can relate to at least one subplot, and possessing the ability to relate to a book is often what makes it so lovable among its fanbase. Read it. Okay?

What’s next? Coraline, by Neil Gaiman, is resting on my bedside table. I found the movie at a local used game store, and being me, I need to read the book before I can pop the disk in the blu-ray player.

I’d also like to explore more of John Green, like Looking For Alaska. Eventually. I have my already-made list that I need to conquer first.

Your turn!

  • Have any of  you seen the movie adaptation of The Fault In Our Stars yet? What are your thoughts? Don’t throw any spoilers at me, though. I do plan to watch it at some point, but I have to get my hands on a copy first. And probably another box of tissues.
  • Have any of you read Looking For Alaska? Would you recommend it?
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Book Review: “Four: A Divergent Collection”

WARNING: POST MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

dystopian fiction

Before introducing us to the 16-year-old mind of Tobias Eaton in Four: A Divergent Collection, author Veronica Roth reveals that she first began writing the Divergent series from Tobias’s point of view. After finishing Allegiant, chronologically the final book in the Divergent series, it’s not unreasonable to wonder why she didn’t give us more from Four.

But instead, Roth chose to pursue her project through the eyes of Tris Prior.

Fortunately, less than a year after the release of the last book in the Divergent series, Veronica Roth gave us Four: A Divergent Collection. This book is comprised of four short stories and three snippets that precede and overlap Tobias’s time with Tris.

The Transformation of Tobias Eaton

Throughout the short stories in Four: A Divergent Collection, the reader witnesses the transformation of Tobias from his last days as a meek member of the Abnegation faction to his time as an instructor for new Dauntless initiates. In just 285 pages, Roth provides highlights spanning the course of two years of Tobias’s life.

Veronica Roth | Divergent SeriesLet’s face it, Tobias has always had people problems. Who wouldn’t, after spending 16 years trapped in the environment in which he was raised? But the reader watches him slowly crack out of his cocoon at the insistence of Amar.

His transfer to Dauntless sparks Tobias’s thirst for a new identity, which he manages to attach to the alias he earns from his instructor, Amar. Those who have read the Divergent series know of Amar and that he and Tobias had grown close during Tobias’s initiation, and in Four: A Divergent Collection we are granted the privilege of witnessing the growth of that friendship.

However, Tobias soon discovers being Dauntless isn’t what he expected and that the faction certainly doesn’t follow its manifesto, and learning his mother’s true fate only adds to his suspicions about the faction system and factionless alike.

Eric The Erudite

As is briefly mentioned in Divergent, Tobias was in the same initiation class as Eric, an Erudite transfer. In this book, readers get to watch firsthand as the tension between the two is born. The interactions between Tobias and Eric were the most enjoyable for me throughout this collection of short stories. I enjoyed the snarky remarks they toss at one another.

Readers discover the reason Tobias turned down the Dauntless leadership position he’d been offered, as well, through his interactions with Max and Eric. Thanks to Eric, readers also learn why Dauntless initiate training becomes more competitive throughout the Divergent series than the years before Dauntless introduced young blood into their leadership ranks.

With few friends and even fewer allies, Tobias is alone in exploring and uncovering the truth behind his suspicions of a corrupt faction system.

 

Would I reread this book? Absolutely. It’s still not enough. Perhaps I’m stingy, but I would like more Four, please. On a slightly related note, I’d also like more on Eric.

Would I recommend this book? Yes. But only to those who have already read the Divergent series. I would highly advise against reading Four: A Divergent Collection before starting Divergent. If you enjoy dystopian teen fiction, you’re sure to enjoy the Divergent series as a whole.

What’s next? I’m currently tackling Quidditch Through the Ages, which is quite a short read, by the ever lovely JK Rowling. Also, have you seen her Twitter account lately? She totally shot down the Westboro Baptist Church. I love her.

(I know, I know. I’m a week late. In my defense, I did write the majority of this last weekend. Just didn’t get the pictures together until today. Thanks for bearing with me!)

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An Update: Making Progress

Just thought I’d toss out a quick update if you’re interested….

  1. Finished The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. Totally not what I had expected, but it was still fantastic even though the ending was fairly predictable. I highly recommend it to those who enjoy classic literature.
  2. My little sister finally returned my copy of The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky that she swore up and down she’d returned to me almost two years ago. I feel like I should have a sign-out sheet for my books. My copy of City of Bones is not on its shelf…I’ll have to check its status with the borrower. She’s heading for Europe next month, and I’d rather not risk my book disappearing among potentially lost luggage.
  3. Currently reading Four: A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth. It’s pretty good, but it’s not holding my attention nearly as tightly as I’d anticipated. It should be a quick read, but it’s taking me much longer than it should. I’m hoping to post a brief review sometime this weekend. Someone really needs to hold me accountable for writing reviews. They have a tendency to slip my mind all too often.

That’s all for now! What are you reading this week?

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Book Review: Allegiant

WARNING: POST MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS.

As you may know from my previous post, my goal toward the end of last week was to read Allegiant, third and final installment of the Divergent series by Veronica Roth, before going to see the film adaptation of Insurgent this coming Sunday. Somehow, I managed to achieve said goal, though I’m not sure I’m satisfied with the results.

Divergent series | dystopian fiction | teen fiction

Redundant

Edith Prior’s video in Insurgent instructs the city to send out its Divergent population to help the outsiders, so Tris, Tobias, and a group of others head out on a mission in Allegiant to not only discover what this entails but to get help for their own city, as it is crumbling in the hands of Evelyn Johnson. When they reach the government compound, however, they discover a problem within its walls.

Individuals who are not Divergent are referred to as “genetically damaged” or “GDs,” and the Bureau of Genetic Welfare is preventing the equality of GDs and GPs (Genetically Pure individuals). It seems quite similar to the original concept of inequality between the factionless and factions, so Allegiant essentially possesses two of the same plots, only in different atmospheres. There may not be as many subplots in life at the compound as there are in the city of factions, though; but the thought of having such similar plot lines annoyed me. The characters leave to find a solution to their original issue only to get stuck in what appears to be a more simplified issue of their own somewhere else.

However, the way the characters handle the issue at the Bureau of Genetic Welfare differs from the way in which they tackle the city issue.

Predictable, Yet Unbelievable

When I read a book, being the analytical person I am, I occasionally come up with potential ways to solve the main problem. And I’m always wrong. To be honest, after reading the first failed attempt, it isn’t difficult to guess how the situation at the Bureau needs to be handled, which I found quite disappointing.

However, though I was able to pinpoint the solution early on, the twist that Roth throws at the reader is baffling. I’m furious with the ending and I’m not sure it’s the greatest way to deal with that situation (hence my three-star rating on Goodreads.com), yet at the same time I’m incredibly impressed that Roth does what she does with certain characters.

Also, the history of Tris’s mother…wow.

Perspective Shifts

Normally, perspective shifts within books are huge turnoffs for me, and when I first noticed that pattern in Allegiant, I admit I was a bit skeptical about proceeding. Still, as the last in a series, I couldn’t not read the book. As it turns out, the shifting is very well done. Of course, it’s only natural for readers to be curious of what’s occurring with another character in addition to the protagonist, but the plot line of Allegiant makes these shifts absolutely necessary. I was grateful for Roth’s shifts, because I caught myself a few times imagining how frustrated I would have been not knowing how events unfold for Tobias during crucial moments he is not with Tris.

Character Development

The character development in Allegiant is very well done. Roth does a fantastic job developing her characters by using their friends and their factions (or lack thereof).

Tris Prior

Thank you, Veronica Roth, for putting a stop to Tris’s whiny internal monologues constantly doused in self-pity. This makes Allegiant a bit easier to handle. In Allegiant, Tris and Tobias make a pact to no longer keep secrets from one another so they can rebuild their relationship with honesty rather than destroying it with lie after lie as they did throughout Insurgent.

“But I think that no matter how smart, people usually see what they’re already looking for, that’s all.”
-Tris (Allegiant 256).

Throughout Allegiant, Tris struggles with the concept of forgiveness, something that many of us face and will face in the aftermath of countless situations throughout our lives. Is it possible to forgive someone–your own brother–who practically delivered you to your death bed? After all, they are taught “faction before blood” at such a young age. In the beginning of this book, Tris finds it impossible to even look at her brother, let alone speak to him; but their relationship also progresses as the plot moves forward.

Tobias Eaton

Roth works wonders with Tobias Eaton, son of former Abnegation leader, Marcus. The reader watches him struggle in the first two books through his four fear landscapes, the insecurity and defiance toward his father, and the alliance with his mother; but the character of Tobias fully blossoms in Allegiant.

Tobias is a wonderfully flawed character. Upon finishing the book, I thought it somewhat foolish that it takes two young girls to help form him into who he is meant to be, but then I realized that we don’t become our own person by hardening ourselves against others or living in seclusion; we become our own person by experiencing life with those around us. It is impossible to learn how to lead lives of love if we live in solitude or surround ourselves with wrongdoers. The impact a single person can have in our lives is incredible, and I think Roth captures that perfectly in the development of Tobias Eaton. I’m quite interested to see what else she gives readers in Four: A Divergent Collection.

Rating

Perhaps I’m too generous, but I gave Allegiant a three-star rating on Goodreads.com. I’ve always found “rating” things to be rather complicated, and maybe I should have given it two stars. Certainly not one, though. One-star ratings are reserved for books like Gone Girl (can you even rate a book you couldn’t finish?) and Fahrenheit 451.

One Final Note: Acknowledgements

I’m one of those people who read every single page of a book, including the acknowledgements. Until tonight, I had never found any worthy of a comment. Roth’s acknowledgements are quite possibly the best I’ve ever read. I love how she incorporates her writing style rather than just listing name after name after name. Truly unique.

Would I read this book over? Based on my reaction right after reading the very last page, no; after taking close to four hours to write this review, yes.
Would I go see the two-part film adaptation? Probably not. If anything, I’d wait until I could get it used on Amazon, my go-to online shopping center for books and movies (and printer ink).

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