by Veronica Roth

Cover Beauty Score: 6 out of 10
Goodreads Score: 4 out of 5

Plot Blurb: In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue--Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). When they turn 16, every member must choose which faction they wish to live in based on a personality test that tells them which way they lean. Beatrice makes a crazy choice and chooses Dauntless - leaving her family behind in Abnegation.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows in the toughest faction, Beatrice renames herself Tris has to undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. She also meets Four, the brooding instructor of her initiate class that gets pretty cozy with her by the end. But Tris also has a secret - her test results didn't show just one personality trait, classifying her as divergent. With Four's help, Tris learns that there are some in their society seeking out the divergent - and that things could be a lot more complicated than they appear.

My Reaction: I really didn't mind this book. The writing wasn't horrible - but it wasn't great, either. It didn't blow me away, but I didn't want to kill myself by the time I got through one page of it. It's a pretty easy read, with a unique concept. I've heard some people compare this book to Hunger Games, and it's really not. The only similar quality is that it's dystopian, but that's where the similarities end.

Tris' character is unique - she seems very real and has flaws, but is also pretty likable (unlike Katniss, who I felt was a grade A bitch). Tris makes a decision to leave everything she's ever known to seek out who she believes she is. We see her start as a pretty weak person, both physically and emotionally, and the initiation in Dauntless helps make her a stronger person. It's like it unlocks who she was meant to be.

There are some pretty great scenes with Four - he's a character that is a great contrast to Tris. And I'll say again how freaking relieved I am to have a book that isn't centered around a love triangle! Roth was really able to focus on Tris and her own maturation as a character instead of constantly freaking out about which boy to kiss. Because if we're being real, Four is pretty much the only dude I'd want to be kissing anyways. He's strong beside Tris, not behind or in front of her. It was a lovely little romance thrown in there.

By the time the revolution bits start happening and then up until the end of the book, I was a little disappointed. I felt like there could have been much more. And the climax was a bit rushed. But I suppose that is because Roth has a whole series arch in mind (which honestly can hurt a book more than it helps, imho). But overall it's a good read - not incredibly stellar, though.

But what about the movie? you ask! Honestly, I love the movie so much more than the book. Roth's bland writing style turned me off from really connecting to the characters. Everybody who knows me knows I have an insane girl crush on Shailene Woodley. The girl is so real and down to earth, not to mention a kick butt actress! She really made me connect with Tris in a way that the books failed to do. Going back to read the book after seeing the movie makes me like it about 1000 times more. And I really think they did an elegant job of translating it to screen. The part with her mom - man that got me to cry in the theatre.

So - final consensus? You should probably read this one - but it might help to watch the movie first.
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by Lauren Kate

Cover Beauty Score: 5 out of 10
Goodreads Score: 2 out of 5

Plot Blurb: We follow the cryptic story of a teenage girl named Lucinda, who gets sent to a reform boarding school after she is involved in an awful accident in her old prep school. When she gets to her new prison, er, I mean, school, she meets a boy named Daniel whom she is inexplicably drawn to. Unfortunately, he wants nothing to do with her whatsoever. Lucinda has to figure out who Daniel is, and why he knows so much about her - not to mention the weird vibe that the rest of the students give her at Sword & Cross...

My Reaction: I expected to like this one, but alas... it seems more often than not I'm disappointed in the world of YA Literature. At least when I choose a book from the best seller list. I heard this one is being made into a movie, and it seems to pop up in my face everywhere I look these days, so I wanted to give it a shot. Ultimately, I'm depressed that I stuck through to finish the whole thing, hoping (beyond hope, it seems) that it would pick up somewhere in the middle. And then by the time you get 3/4 of the way through, you might as well finish it.

This book felt very much like 50 Shades of Gray to me. Deplorable writing fit for an elementary school reading level and a plot that wheezes out by about page 10 or so. And there was such potential for a good story, here! 5th grade writing aside, there was literally nowhere for the plot to go. I feel like Kate was so focused on creating a story to arch across multiple books that she neglected this one. We literally learn nothing by the end of this book that we didn't know by reading the back cover. Like. Don't insult your reader, please.

Why would I read a book in which nothing happens? Apparently I did anyways.

None of the characters experience any growth, as a matter of fact, we don't even really get to meet the characters at all. I felt like the climax of this story should have been the opening hook... instead we get a long drawn out fiasco of epic proportions and cryptic snakes and weird visions and lots of teenage boys dying. It's no fun if I literally know what the big secret is - if I know what the climax will bring - just by reading the back of the book. Plotting 101 - keep your reader guessing.

And let's not even get started on Daniel... so he's good looking, but that just doesn't make the reader want to swoon over him. He's a grade A asshole, selfish weirdo. So your gf dies when you kiss her. Here's a tip... put it back in your pants and just let her live without jumping her bones! There was no chemistry between them whatsoever.

And that painfully awful scene where they swim to the rock? I was having horrible flashbacks of those stupid Lux books running through my head.

In summary, this book stinks. If you like it, please consider reevaluating your priorities in life, and go take a class on plot/character development.

Here's one that we can only hope will be slaughtered by the movie execs to make a decent motion picture. Because that's the only way it will ever make it in Hollywood.
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