Sunday, March 18, 2012

Divergent and Al Capone

In the week since Spring Break, I've been really busy. With work, homework, orientation for studying abroad, and competing in my first quidditch tournament, I haven't had much free time to do anything else. It's slightly annoying, because I hate not having time to read something for fun. Yeah, I know that sounds weird, but reading is my relaxing activity. However, I have finished two books since Spring Break, one for fun and one for my children's literature class. And now I will talk about them both! :)


I finished Divergent by Veronica Roth towards the end of Spring Break, I just haven't had time to review it yet. Divergent is set in a future dystopian Chicago that is divided into five factions: Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). At the age of 16, each child must choose which faction they will become a part of, the one they grew up in or one entirely different, based on a test they have to take. Beatrice is born in Abnegation, but during her test she is faced with a choice, to stay with her family or to become who she really is. And her choice surprises even her. During her initiation that follows, Beatrice becomes transformed and determine who she can trust and who she can't, all while harboring a secret that could mean her death. When she discovers a conflict that's unraveling her society, she doesn't know what to do. How will she save all the ones she loves?

As a whole, I thought Divergent was a pretty good book. I liked the idea of the factions and how that was what kept them from entering into war again, because the selfless were the ones governing the society. But as the reader, you know that something is going to happen to unravel their world. There's no way a society like that can stay perfect forever. So I knew that was going to be the inevitable conflict. The idea of the society that Roth created, however, was fascinating. I loved the world she created, the fact that we could be separated based on our strongest personality trait. It made me think about where I would be put if I lived in the same world as Beatrice, and I'm not entirely sure where I would fit. I guess I would have to take the test to find out.

There were a few things that made me not absolutely love this book. The main thing was the romance. First, there was a whole mystery aura around the guy Beatrice was interested in, but I guessed who he was right from the get-go. I kinda wish that aspect wouldn't have been as predictable. Second, I felt that the romance didn't really fit with the story. While it was sort of a nice aspect, I felt the story still could have worked if the romance wasn't thrown in there. It wasn't necessary to the story, at least in my opinion. It felt like it was more of a second thought, and I think it could've been done a little better, if it absolutely had to be in the story. The other thing that bothered me was the fact that Beatrice seemed to become really fit, really fast. She was in an initiation that was really physically intensive, but after a few days, she was already noticing her new muscles. That just wouldn't happen, even if you were working out every day. If those things were improved on, I think this could have been a much stronger book.


Now, the other book I read was Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko. This book followed the story of Moose Flanagan, who moves to Alcatraz with his family in the year 1935 when his father gets a job as an electrician there. His mom hopes to send his older autistic sister (Natalie) to a school she could do really well in. When Natalie gets rejected, Moose ends up being the one that looks after Natalie, something he's not very happy with. So the family (mainly the mother) works hard to get Natalie accepted into the school, and the book follows the events that ensue. I think this book was a really good look at families, while being in a historical setting. I loved the fact that, at the end, the Choldenko gave the historical background and facts to the novel. It really gave me a sense of the novels setting, and made me realize that this is something that actually happens. And the look at Natalie, an autistic child at the time where autism hadn't been discovered yet was really interesting. If we didn't know what the disease was, how would react to someone like that? I though Choldenko did a really good job portraying this fact. Definitely a book that I would recommend to any children.

Not that I will probably finish my next book anytime soon, but I will be reading The Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. It's good so far, just really long! So until next time, happy reading! :)

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