Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Review: Four: A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth

It was a long wait for Veronica Roth's Four but I feel like it was worth it. This collection of short stories gives you a little more insight into Four's character, the Dauntless compound, and other characters such as Tori and Eric.

Summary: Two years before Beatrice Prior made her choice, the sixteen-year-old son of Abnegation’s faction leader did the same. Tobias’s transfer to Dauntless is a chance to begin again. Here, he will not be called the name his parents gave him. Here, he will not let fear turn him into a cowering child. 

Newly christened “Four,” he discovers during initiation that he will succeed in Dauntless. Initiation is only the beginning, though...

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth comes a companion volume to the worldwide bestselling divergent series, told from the per-spective of the immensely popular character Tobias. The four pieces included here—The Transfer, The Initiate, The Son, and The Traitor—plus three additional exclusive scenes, give readers an electrifying glimpse into the history and heart of Tobias, and set the stage for the epic saga of the Divergent trilogy.

Simply put, if you enjoyed Divergent, you will enjoy Four. It gives you some background into Tobias' life before Tris and allows you to appreciate and understand his character a little more. My personal favourite of the short stories is the one where Tobias rescues Tris from being thrown into the chasm. I enjoyed reading about their relationship from his point-of-view.

Like the rest of the series, it is a book for teen readers. It contains references to drinking, tattoos, danger-seeking thrills, violence, and romantic relationships. However, there is nothing graphic or disturbing and Roth handles mature content in a way that is appropriate and purposeful for her YA audience.

This isn't a book that needs a lot of publicity. If you like the series, you'll automatically want to read this one. I was excited to read it and for what it was, my expectations are satisfied. It's thrilling simply because Veronica Roth gives you more, but it was nothing special in considerations of writing style, plot, or characters. All in all, a decent read!

3 Stars

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Review: The Explanation for Everything by Lauren Grodstein

Lauren Grodstein's The Explanation for Everything is a beautifully-written story, intertwining the opposing ends of the belief spectrum: science and religion. Through its colourful characters and its exploration of the astounding power of belief to empower or even undo us, Grodstein has crafted a fantastic tale of love, loss, and above all, life. 

Summary: College professor Andy Waite is picking up the pieces of a shattered life. Between his research in evolutionary biology and caring for his young daughters, his days are reassuringly safe, if a bit lonely. But when Melissa Potter—charismatic, unpredictable, and devout—asks him to advise her study of intelligent design, he agrees. Suddenly, the world that Andy has fought to rebuild is rocked to its foundations.

Three characters stray from their own frustratingly certain beliefs, finding either science or God leaking through their reason. I enjoyed seeing how the unknown crept up between science and religion, further spurring the endless debate between evolution and creationism. Simply put, there is no explanation for everything. The world isn't black and white. And perhaps for the time being, that this is the explanation for everything. Maybe the best way is to accept both, or at least, keep an open mind when it comes to the unknown. 

This is a very moving story of human values and belief. Andy is a troubled character who engages in an affair with one of his students, who is haunted by his wife's loss, who struggles with his own beliefs. This is a story of finding and losing god, but more importantly, of finding and losing yourself.

Despite the heavy subject matter of science vs. a creator, the book doesn't preach either side, but rather exposes the readers to both as Andy slowly accepts God into his strictly-science world. The Explanation for Everything is an intelligent, charming, and memorable novel for adults. Regardless of your own beliefs, this is a fantastic novel from Algonquin books.

4 Stars

I received a copy of The Explanation for Everything from LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program. Thank you to LibraryThing and to Algonquin Books for this exquisite read!

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

If I Stay by Gayle Forman will easily be the next great YA page-to-screen adaption. It will have you reaching for the tissues and will have you desperate to talk to others about this book. It is a beautiful story about life and death, about family, love, and about making a seemingly impossible choice. 

Summary: In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeen ­year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterwards, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Little by little she struggles to put together the pieces- to figure out what she has lost, what she has left, and the very difficult choice she must make. Heartwrenchingly beautiful, this will change the way you look at life, love, and family. Now a major motion picture starring Chloe Grace Moretz, Mia's story will stay with you for a long, long time.

I’m giving this novel 5 stars. I loved it, and I have nothing bad to say about If I Stay. Gayle Forman is incredibly talented writer, crafting a story that is both moving and memorable. It is impossible not to think about the burden of Mia’s choice, and to consider whether or not you would be strong enough to choose. It is a terrible tragedy to think about, but as Forman points out, there is always hope and happiness to be found in life. You just have to be brave enough to want it. Dying is easy—life is hard. 

The story is told in alternating flashbacks in Mia’s life with her family, friends, and her boyfriend. It’s impossible not to lose yourself in the ups and downs of life and to recognize your own problems and worries in Mia’s life before the crash. For a novel that is about choosing to live or die, If I Stay is a surprisingly balanced read. This is an emotional read, but you don’t spend the novel fighting back tears. It’s about far more than the tragedy of the choice. 

Aimed at readers 14 & up, If I Stay is officially one of my favourite YA novels. Unfortunately, it is difficult to put down, which may result in reading this book in public places—which means awkwardly crying on public transit through the final pages of the book. Luckily I had sunglasses on me. Add If I Stay by Gayle Forman to the top of your to-read pile. The movie will be out August 22nd, and you can watch the trailer below! 

5 Stars