Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Want to Read Wednesday: Between the Sea & Sky

For as long as Esmerine can remember, she has longed to join her older sister, Dosinia, as a siren--the highest calling a mermaid can have. Then Dosinia runs away to the mainland, and Esmerine is sent to retrieve her. Using magic to transform her tail into legs, she makes her way unsteadily to the capital city. There she comes upon a friend she hasn't seen since childhood--a dashing young man named Alandare, who belongs to a winged race of people. As Esmerine and Alandare band together to search for Dosinia, they rekindle a friendship . . . and ignite the emotions for a love so great it cannot be bound by sea, land, or air.

[from Goodreads]

With Want to Read Wednesday, I'll be spotlighting books I want to read, whether they've been out for 10 years or won't be released for another 10 months.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Review of This Lullaby

When it comes to relationships, Remy doesn't mess around. After all, she's learned all there is to know from her mother, who's currently working on husband number five. But there's something about Dexter that seems to defy all of Remy's rules. He certainly doesn't seem like Mr. Right. For some reason, however, Remy just can't seem to shake him. Could it be that Remy's starting to understand what those love songs are all about?
[from Goodreads]
Rating:  3 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:  Teens, clean romance readers
High point:  The multiple romance plotlines and how they tied together
Low point:  Remy is hard to relate to
Reader maturity: 13+

No one writes a YA romance like Sarah Dessen. They're emotional and touching and really, really real. Sometimes the message is tough, but some part of it is always applicable. This Lullaby wasn't my favorite because Remy is so hard and tough that it was difficult to find a piece of myself in her, but as the novel progressed, she showed a new side of herself, allowing me to empathize and enjoy the story.

Remy has a history as a heart-breaker; she doesn't leave loose ends or her heart behind. Dexter is a complete and total mess that starts to make her wonder if she's missing out on something. I fell for Dexter along with Remy (and her friends). He's a mess, a klutz and total challenge-o-path, but he's sweet and funny and adorably quirky as well. For most of the book, I didn't understand why he pursued Remy so vigilantly, but the reason for that is tied up in the end.

As for the rest of the novel, Remy's friends were good fillers--not too attention-grabbing but not pancake-flat characters either--and the different love stories to support the overarching theme were deftly included. However, I totally called the thing with Remy's 5th (6th?) stepdad. It was very predictable, but no less meaningful. If you enjoy Sarah Dessen or you're looking for a sweet, clean YA romance-drama, you should try out This Lullaby.

Title:  This Lullaby
Author:  Sarah Dessen
Genre:  Teen Fiction - Girls & Young Women
Year:   2002
Book Source:  Purchased

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Supernatural Saturday: Review of Crusade

For the past two years, Jenn has lived and trained at Spain’s Sacred Heart Academy Against the Cursed Ones. She is among the few who have pledged to defend humanity or die trying. But the vampires are gaining power, and the battle has only just begun.
Forced to return home after death takes a member of her family, Jenn discovers that San Francisco is now a vampire strong-hold. As a lone hunter apart from her team, Jenn is isolated — and at risk. She craves the company of her fighting partner, Antonio: his protection, his reassurance, his touch. But a relationship with Antonio comes with its own dangers, and the more they share of themselves, the more Jenn stands to lose.
Then Jenn is betrayed by one who was once bound to protect her, causing her to doubt all she had held as true. To survive, Jenn must find the courage to trust herself — and her heart.
[from Goodreads]

Rating:   2 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:  Vampire fans who can't get enough
High point:  It's a decent vampire novel
Low point:  I wasn't impressed or intrigued
Reader maturity: 13+

I think I'm tired of vampire novels. I'm just going to warn you right now that this review may be biased simply because I'm tired of vampires and bored with paranormal posses.

This is the 6th book I've read by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie, so obviously I don't dislike their work or writing style. Other than a newly developed disinterest in this type of novel, I'm having trouble putting a finger on what I didn't like. Crusade never grabbed my attention, and I felt like I had to force myself to finish it, not because there was anything wrong with it, but...I just couldn't get into it.

One person I liked was Father Juan; he was the perfect mix of mystery and dependability. He had an uncanny but sincere ability to calm his crew and bring out the best in them. Unfortunately, I had a much harder time than Father Juan believing in Jenn, especially when she couldn't believe in herself. Her story, as the "everyman," was supposed to elicit my sympathy, but I couldn't help but want to grab her by the shoulders and shake a spine into her. Due to that reaction, I didn't find the ending plausible.

There was some swearing, but other than that, Crusade is clean, so it's suitable for any YA reader who is interested. If you're still high on the vampire/motley crew bandwagon, Crusade might be a great read for you. It just didn't happen to work for me.

Title:  Crusade
Author:  Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie
Genre:   Fiction - Supernatural
Year:   2010
Book Source:  Won from The Book Vault

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Want to Read Wednesday: Demonglass

Sophie Mercer thought she was a witch.

That was the whole reason she was sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for delinquent Prodigium (aka witches, shapeshifters, and fairies). But that was before she discovered the family secret, and that her hot crush, Archer Cross, is an agent for The Eye, a group bent on wiping Prodigium off the face of the earth.

Turns out, Sophie’s a demon, one of only two in the world—the other being her father. What’s worse, she has powers that threaten the lives of everyone she loves. Which is precisely why Sophie decides she must go to London for the Removal, a dangerous procedure that will destroy her powers.

But once Sophie arrives she makes a shocking discovery. Her new friends? They’re demons too. Meaning someone is raising them in secret with creepy plans to use their powers, and probably not for good. Meanwhile, The Eye is set on hunting Sophie down, and they’re using Archer to do it. But it’s not like she has feelings for him anymore. Does she?

[from Goodreads]

With Want to Read Wednesday, I'll be spotlighting books I want to read, whether they've been out for 10 years or won't be released for another 10 months.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Review of Perfect Chemistry

When Brittany Ellis walks into chemistry class on the first day of senior year, she has no clue that her carefully created “perfect” life is about to unravel before her eyes. She’s forced to be lab partners with Alex Fuentes, a gang member from the other side of town, and he is about to threaten everything she's worked so hard for—her flawless reputation, her relationship with her boyfriend, and the secret that her home life is anything but perfect. Alex is a bad boy and he knows it. So when he makes a bet with his friends to lure Brittany into his life, he thinks nothing of it. But soon Alex realizes Brittany is a real person with real problems, and suddenly the bet he made in arrogance turns into something much more.

In a passionate story about looking beneath the surface, Simone Elkeles breaks through the stereotypes and barriers that threaten to keep Brittany and Alex apart.
[from Goodreads]
Rating:   3.5 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:  Older teens, YA-romance-reading adults
High point:  Brittany, believe it or not...
Low point:  The swearing, the adult content
Reader maturity:  18+

Just a heads up--if you've never read YA by Simone Elkeles, be forewarned that it's on the more adult end of the YA spectrum. Other than that, Perfect Chemistry is a really well-written YA romance, full of mistakes and prejudice and redemption and the high that comes from young love.

Ms. Elkeles does a really convincing job of showing the reader Alex's POV. Alex's side of town is something not often encountered in YA. I'll admit that I found myself wondering if that's really how someone like Alex would act, but no matter, it's a good read either way. If you've been reading my reviews for a while, you know that I don't like male POVs; that's almost an automatic death sentence for a book. But Perfect Chemistry does a great job of balancing Brittany and Alex, and I was just as eager to see Alex's story unfold.

Brittany is a pretty run-of-the-mill blonde cheerleader until the reader gets past her seemingly perfect exterior. She slowly becomes more and more human and shows more strength than anyone thinks she possesses. Her acceptance of Alex is funny, in a cosmic sort of way, and in the end, she's very real.

I read The Rules of Attraction before I read Perfect Chemistry, and now the sequel makes more sense. And since I knew a little about what was going to happen, that made Perfect Chemistry more entertaining. If you're looking for a sweet but not too fluffy YA romance, Perfect Chemistry is worth your while. Just be aware of the adult content.

Title:  Perfect Chemistry
Author:  Simone Elkeles
Genre:  Teen Fiction -- Romance & Friendship
Year:   2008
Book Source:  Won from Confessions of a Bookaholic

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Supernatural Saturday: Review of Kiss Me Deadly

If you can possibly thirst for more mysterious metaphysical accounts of love, Trisha Telep has organized some of the greatest and most thrilling tales of paranormal paramours since The Eternal Kiss. She presents the acclaimed literary talent of thirteen unique authors, creating a collection of stories that will undoubtedly capture the imagination of every soul who dares to read them. Werewolves, ghosts, zombies, vampires, and fallen angels drive the plot of these riveting romances. Kiss Me Deadly includes the exceptional writings of several authors, including: - Sarah Rees Brennan (faeries) - Becca Fitzpatrick (angels) - Caitlin Kittredge (witches) - Karen Mahoney (vampires: sequel to story from The Eternal Kiss) - Daniel Marks (ghost kids) - Justine Musk (sorcerers) - Diana Peterfreund (unicorns) - Michelle Rowen (demons) - Carrie Ryan (zombies) - Maggie Stiefvater (werewolves) - Rachel Vincent (banshees) - Daniel Waters (zombies) - Michelle Zink (gothic ghosts)
[from Goodreads]
Rating:   2 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:  Paranormal fans who can't get enough
High point:  The extra information
Low point:  Confusing if you're not familiar with all of the authors' works
Reader maturity: 13+

Usually, I love a good short story. Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Kate Chopin, Edgar Allan Poe--I love a good short story.

Kiss Me Deadly, however, isn't so much an anthology of short stories by YA authors, as it is a compilation of deleted scenes from those author's novels. Though I'm a big fan of paranormal YA, I was only familiar with the work of Becca Fitzpatrick and Carrie Ryan, so I was rather confused by the other tales. Because the two stories I could understand, Dungeons of Langeais and Hare Moon, provided insight into the worlds of Hush, Hush and The Forest of Hands and Teeth, respectively, I imagine that the other stories would do the same for their fictional worlds as well.

That's not to say I didn't enjoy Kiss Me Deadly, but I spent a great deal of time scrambling around, trying to figure out what was going on, what the rules of the universe were and what the importance of the characters was. So, if you like short stories and you're familiar with the work of the featured authors, you'll probably really enjoy this. If you're like me, you may be a little confused until you finally get a chance to pick up the authors' work.

Title:  Kiss Me Deadly
Author:  Misc.
Genre:   Fiction - Supernatural
Year:   2010
Book Source:  Won from Anna's Book Blog

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Amaranthine Review: Ender's Shadow

Ender's Shadow is being dubbed as a parallel novel to Orson Scott Card's Hugo and Nebula Award-winning Ender's Game. By "parallel," Card means that Shadow begins and ends at roughly the same time as Game, and it chronicles many of the same events. In fact, the two books tell an almost identical story of brilliant children being trained in the orbiting Battle School to lead humanity's fleets in the final war against alien invaders known as the Buggers. The most brilliant of these young recruits is Ender Wiggin, an unparalleled commander and tactician who can surely defeat the Buggers if only he can overcome his own inner turmoil. Second among the children is Bean, who becomes Ender's lieutenant despite the fact that he is the smallest and youngest of the Battle School students. Bean is the central character of Shadow, and we pick up his story when he is just a 2-year-old starving on the streets of a future Rotterdam that has become a hell on earth. Bean is unnaturally intelligent for his age, which is the only thing that allows him to escape--though not unscathed--the streets and eventually end up in Battle School. Despite his brilliance, however, Bean is doomed to live his life as an also-ran to the more famous and in many ways more brilliant Ender. Nonetheless, Bean learns things that Ender cannot or will not understand, and it falls to this once pathetic street urchin to carry the weight of a terrible burden that Ender must not be allowed to know.
[from Goodreads]
Rating:   3 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:  Sci-fi fans, especially those new to or unsure about the genre
High point:  Learning more about Ender's story
Low point:  I didn't find Bean a very sympathetic MC
Reader maturity:  10+

Though I'm not usually a sci-fi fan, I raved over Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. I thought the writing and the plot and the characters were all incredible. Ender's Shadow? Not so much. Oh, it was still good. Orson Scott Card is immensely talented, and I was in awe over the details that meshed between the two novels. (They take place over approximately the same time frame, but they're from the perspectives of different characters.) What I didn't like is Bean. Ender's Shadow follows Bean, who is himself following in Ender's shadow.

Bean lacks Ender's humility and humanity. While he's smarter than anyone else, including Ender, he was missing the key component that makes a good commander--and an interesting main character, at least in my opinion.  Bean was so cold and calculating, I just couldn't root for him. Bean is brilliant and talented, but I'm Team Ender all the way! Ender is apparently what made Ender's Game for me so without him Ender's Shadow felt like a more normal sci-fi novel (that's an assumption since I've never finished a "real" sci-fi novel).

On the plus side, I was really interested in Bean's backstory, and it was cool to get to see Ender's classmates in their final battles, as well as the thoughts of some of them that we never got to see from Ender's point of view. The author did a great job of weaving Bean's side of the story into the existing web of Ender's life and explaining how a lot of the events came to be.

If you really enjoyed Ender's Game, Ender's Shadow is worth a read, especially if you're already predisposed to liking sci-fi. Even though I didn't like it as much as Ender's Game, it's still well thought out, well plotted and well written. Just as a side note, I've been told by several people that they enjoy this line of sequels (starting with Ender's Shadow) more than Ender's line of sequels (Speaker for the Dead, etc.).

Title:  Ender's Shadow
Author:  Orson Scott Card
Genre:   Science Fiction
Year:   1999
Book Source:  Received as personal gift

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Want to Read Wednesday: The Lost Saint

A family destroyed. A love threatened. An enemy returns.

Grace Divine made the ultimate sacrifice to cure Daniel Kalbi. She was infected with he werewolf curse while trying to save him, and lost her beloved brother in the process.

Desperate to find Jude, Grace befriends Talbot, a newcomer to town. But as the two grow closer, Grace's relationship with Daniel is put in danger -- in more ways than one.

Unaware of the dark path she is walking, Grace begins to give into the wolf inside of her -- not realizing that an enemy has returned and a deadly trap is about to be sprung.

[from Goodreads]

With Want to Read Wednesday, I'll be spotlighting books I want to read, whether they've been out for 10 years or won't be released for another 10 months.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Want to Read Wednesday

Can there truly be love after death?
Drifting in the dark waters of a mysterious river, the only thing Amelia knows for sure is that she's dead. With no recollection of her past life—or her actual death—she's trapped alone in a nightmarish existence. All of this changes when she tries to rescue a boy, Joshua, from drowning in her river. As a ghost, she can do nothing but will him to live. Yet in an unforgettable moment of connection, she helps him survive.
Amelia and Joshua grow ever closer as they begin to uncover the strange circumstances of her death and the secrets of the dark river that held her captive for so long. But even while they struggle to keep their bond hidden from the living world, a frightening spirit named Eli is doing everything in his power to destroy their newfound happiness and drag Amelia back into the ghost world . . . forever.
Thrilling and evocative, with moments of pure pleasure, Hereafter is a sensation you won't want to miss.

[from Goodreads]

With Want to Read Wednesday, I'll be spotlighting books I want to read, whether they've been out for 10 years or won't be released for another 10 months.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Supernatural Saturday: The Amber Spyglass

Along with the return of Lyra, Will, Mrs. Coulter, Lord Asriel, Dr. Mary Malone, and Iorek Byrnison the armored bear, come a host of new characters: the Mulefa, mysterious wheeled creatures with the power to see Dust; Gallivespian Lord Roke, a hand-high spymaster to Lord Asriel; and Metatron, a fierce and mighty angel. So, too, come startling revelations: the painful price Lyra must pay to walk through the land of the dead, the haunting power of Dr. Malone's amber spyglass, and the names of who will live—and who will die—for love. And all the while, war rages with the Kingdom of Heaven, a brutal battle that—in its shocking outcome—will uncover the secret of Dust. Philip Pullman deftly brings the cliff-hangers and mysteries of His Dark Materials to an earthshattering conclusion—and confirms his fantasy trilogy as an undoubted and enduring classic.[Excerpted from Goodreads]
Rating: 1 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience: Harry Potter fans, LOTR fans, anyone who wants a fantasy tale in diet form
High point: The world
Low point: Lyra
Reader maturity: 13+

I wrote fairly highly of the first two novels in this series, The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife, and had high hopes for the final chapter. Unfortunately, I was disappointed.

The story I found most interesting was Mary Malone's. Had the novel included more about the mulefa and less about Lord Asriel and Metatron, I would've enjoyed it more. In The Subtle Knife, I thought Lyra was growing up and had potential as a character (though I preferred Will), but in The Amber Spyglass, she is shaken out of her former arrogance but retains her propensity for lying, becoming what I considered a drain to Will. Before being joined by Lyra, Will's story and character made for a good story, but several things about Lyra + Will didn't work for me, particularly the bit about them saving the world. And because I found them interesting before, I wish there had been more of Iorek Byrnison and the armored bears.

I don't know what about this novel didn't work me, if it was because I didn't like the unfolding of the plot or merely the characterization, but The Amber Spyglass was not the finale I was hoping for.

Title:  The Amber Spyglass
Author:  Philip Pullman
Genre:  Fantasy Fiction
Year:  2000
Book Source:  Purchased

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Want to Read Wednesday: Drought

Ruby Prosser dreams of escaping the Congregation and the early-nineteenth century lifestyle that’s been practiced since the community was first enslaved.

She plots to escape the vicious Darwin West, his cruel Overseers, and the daily struggle to gather the life-prolonging Water that keeps the Congregants alive and gives Darwin his wealth and power. But if Ruby leaves, the Congregation will die without the secret ingredient that makes the Water special: her blood.

So she stays.

But when Ruby meets Ford, the new Overseer who seems barely older than herself, her desire for freedom is too strong. He’s sympathetic, irresistible, forbidden—and her only access to the modern world. Escape with Ford would be so simple, but can Ruby risk the terrible price, dooming the only world she’s ever known.

[from Goodreads]

With Want to Read Wednesday, I'll be spotlighting books I want to read, whether they've been out for 10 years or won't be released for another 10 months.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Review of Grace

Grace was raised to be an Angel, a herald of death by suicide bomb. But she refuses to die for the cause, and now Grace is on the run, daring to dream of freedom. In search of a border she may never reach, she travels among malevolent soldiers on a decrepit train crawling through the desert. Accompanied by the mysterious Kerr, Grace struggles to be invisible, but the fear of discovery looms large as she recalls the history and events that delivered her uncertain fate.

Told in spare, powerful prose by acclaimed author Elizabeth Scott, this tale of a dystopian near future will haunt readers long after they've reached the final page.
[from Goodreads]

Rating:  4 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:  YA readers in search of serious literature
High point:  The prose
Low point:  The difficulty of the message
Reader maturity: 13+

If I had to sum up Grace in one word, it would be "poignant."

Grace was phenomenal! Due to time contraints, it took me two evenings to finish it, but I easily could've savored it in one sitting. Grace's life is presented in small vignettes, both in past and present, and the full picture come together like a puzzle, skillfully assembled. Nothing is revealed too early or too late; there's a perfect amount of action balanced against introspection and reflection. Though the title may seem overt, the theme of grace is subtly executed, and I am in awe of Elizabeth Scott's storytelling and writing abilities.

Grace is written in prose, which, when I dissected it, seems choppy and disconnected, but reads smoothly, like one long train of thought. It's beautiful in its sparse descriptions and limited explanations. I spent a great deal of time trying to decipher Grace's background from the bits of detail provided, but it never once took away from the story. Grace is meant to make the reader think, and it did so, brilliantly.

If you have a chance to read it, I highly recommend Grace. It's not a feel-good tale or an exciting adventure, but it's thoughtful, extraordinarily crafted and well worth your time.

Title:  Grace
Author:  Elizabeth Scott
Genre:   Teen Fiction - Dystopian
Year:   2010
Book Source:  Won from Frenetic Reader

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Supernatural Saturday: Review of Torment

Hell on earth. That's what it's like for Luce to be apart from her fallen angel boyfriend, Daniel. It took them an eternity to find one another, but now he has told her he must go away. Just long enough to hunt down the Outcasts - immortals who want to kill Luce. Daniel hides Luce at Shoreline, a school on the rocky California coast with unusually gifted students -Nephilim, the offspring of fallen angels and humans.

At Shoreline, Luce learns what the Shadows are, and how she can use them as windows to her previous lives. Yet the more Luce learns, the more she suspects that Daniel hasn't told her everything. He's hiding something - something dangerous. What if Daniel's version of the past isn't actually true? What if Luce is really meant to be with someone else? The second novel in the addictive FALLEN series . . . where love never dies.
[from Goodreads]
Rating:   4 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:  Teen girls, 20-somethings, anyone with a hankering for clean paranormal romance
High point:  Luce's development as a person
Low point:  Daniel
Reader maturity:  13+

Let's start with the cover, shall we? Gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous! (The only thing I don't like is Luce's shirt, which makes me think of a reptilian tattoo every time I look at it. But still gorgeous!) I want that dress.

I fell into the camp that truly enjoyed Fallen, so I had a pretty good feeling going into Torment. Torment was a very different novel in terms of the type of content. Instead of being driven by the pending battle and Daniel and Luce's eternal romance, Torment tackled something that I think a lot of readers wondered about in Fallen. Luce realizes that maybe she's tying all her hopes and dreams on someone else's version of her past. She goes a little crazy trying to figure things out, but it all plays out so beautifully. Luce is confused without being angsty, rebellious without being stupid and angry without being hypocritical.

Torment was so different from what I was expecting--a knock-down, drag-out, action-filled YA romance and filled a lot of the emotional gaps that Luce didn't have time for in the first book. Luce grows as a character, becoming deeper, richer and more independent. Her new friends are as well developed as those in the first novel, if not better because there are fewer of them to keep straight. I have to admit, I'm rooting for a certain someone else...

The two teachers at Shoreline are appropriately creepy (surely I am not the only one that found both of them scarily invested...) and provide a terrific, if obvious, parallel to Daniel and Luce. Torment was absolutely wonderful, and if you enjoyed Fallen, Torment will be right up your alley.

Title:  Torment
Author:  Lauren Kate
Genre:  Teen Fiction--Horror & Suspense
Year:   2010
Book Source:  Purchased

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Want to Read Wednesday: Ten Miles Past Normal

Janie Gorman wants to be normal. The problem with that: she’s not. She’s smart and creative and a little bit funky. She’s also an unwilling player in her parents’ modern-hippy, let’s-live-on-a-goat-farm experiment (regretfully, instigated by a younger, much more enthusiastic Janie). This, to put it simply, is not helping Janie reach that “normal target.” She has to milk goats every day…and endure her mother’s pseudo celebrity in the homemade-life, crunchy mom blogosphere. Goodbye the days of frozen lasagna and suburban living, hello crazy long bus ride to high school and total isolation--and hovering embarrassments of all kinds. The fresh baked bread is good…the threat of homemade jeans, not so much. It would be nice to go back to that old suburban life…or some grown up, high school version of it, complete with nice, normal boyfriends who wear crew neck sweaters and like social studies. So, what’s wrong with normal? Well, kind of everything. She knows that, of course, why else would she learn bass and join Jam Band, how else would she know to idolize infamous wild-child and high school senior Emma (her best friend Sarah’s older sister), why else would she get arrested while doing a school project on a local freedom school (jail was not part of the assignment). And, why else would she kind of be falling in "like" with a boy named Monster—yes, that is his real name. Janie was going for normal, but she missed her mark by about ten miles…and we mean that as a compliment. Frances O’Roark Dowell’s fierce humor and keen eye make her YA debut literary and wise. In the spirit of John Green and E. Lockhart, Dowell’s relatable, quirky characters and clever, fluid writing prove that growing up gets complicated…and normal is WAY overrated.

[from Goodreads]

With Want to Read Wednesday, I'll be spotlighting books I want to read, whether they've been out for 10 years or won't be released for another 10 months.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Review of Divergent

One choice
One choice decides your friends, defines your beliefs, and determines your loyalties . . . forever.
Or, one choice can transform you.
In Veronica Roth's debut novel, Divergent, a perfect society unfolds into a dystopian world of electrifying decisions, stunning consequences, heartbreaking betrayals, and unexpected romance.
[from Goodreads]
Rating:   5 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:  Pretty much anyone!
High point:  What wasn't a high point?!
Low point:  The sequel isn't even written yet!!
Reader maturity:  13+

This is one of the best YA novels I've ever read.

Whether you're a fan of science fiction, dystopian, contemporary or romance, Divergent deserves a place on your bookshelf. It's a stunning debut with perfect pacing and plot that will keep you turning pages long into the night.

When I review books I receive from publishers or authors, I'm extra critical. I want to make sure to remove any bias in favor of the book due to getting a shiny new copy. So look up there at how many boxes/stars/whatever-you-want-to-call-thems I gave Divergent. Uh, yeah, it was THAT good.

Divergent follows Beatrice through the last days of her life before the Choosing ceremony, where she picks the faction she will spend the rest of her days with. As she trains as a new initiate with a ruthless and dwindling group, she discovers secrets--secrets that will change the world--not only about herself, but about the factions, about her family and about the future.

Divergent is the kind of book that I would write. I don't mean to insinuate that I have the talent of Veronica Roth (fortunately for all of us, she possesses a good deal more) but that it's the kind of story I would've made up. The choices, the characters, the setting--they were all perfect and organic. With every chapter, the book got better and better, and I couldn't believe how much I was enjoying it.

The main character, Tris, is the everyman character. She's got a justifiable dose of doubts and fears, but she's also a little bit surprisingly bold and selfless. She's a little offbeat compared to her friends, and she's definitely someone you'd want on your side in a fight. A lot of times in action-centric novels, I spend a lot of time wondering why everyone suddenly kowtows to the heroine. Any respect Tris gets, Tris earned, and every step forward she makes emotionally, she fought for. The experience of getting there with her is as wonderful as the end result. Her friends and love interest are amazing too. They're all three-dimensional characters with pasts and stories, and they seemed to pop out of the book while I was reading about them. The bad guys are perfectly evil and not too over-the-top, while the good guys are perfectly good and not too angelic, and a lot of the people kept me guessing beyond the last page.

Background information about the different factions and the mystery of the city is revealed slowly, creeping up and enveloping the reader in a cloud of intrigue. Everything from family secrets to the Dauntless initiation surprised me, terrified me and enthralled me. There are several dreamlike sequences in Divergent, and they're written so well that it was like seeing through Tris' eyes firsthand. The writing and descriptions are all-encompassing, and the picture in my head was so clear; I had a front row seat to all the action!

My only...disappointment, as it were, is that Divergent isn't out in hardback yet so I can buy myself a permanent copy!

Title:  Divergent
Author:  Veronica Roth
Genre:  Teen Fiction -- Dystopian
Year:   2011
Book Source:  Received an ARC for review from HarperTeen