Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth and Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

First off I'm going to apologise if these reviews are terrible nonsense. I had an 8 1/2 hour shift at work today (which meant getting up at the ungodly hour of 5.45am) and apparently I'm still awake enough to type. So here goes... I've had a super productive couple of reading days, and have managed to power through both of these books. They're both very light hearted, easy reads, aimed at a YA audience, but they are both VERY different.

Divergent by Veronica Roth is your classic dystopian novel. Set in the future, when humanity is trying to fix its flaws, humans have been dived into different factions based on which character traits they value the most (ie, honesty, self-less-ness, knowledge, bravery etc). In your sixteenth year, you get to decide which faction you are going to join - whether you stay with the faction you've grown up with or whether you leave behind everything and everyone you've known and start life in a new faction. This is the point at which we meet Beatrice, our main character. Beatrice feels like she isn't enough for her faction, but also doesn't know which faction she would fit into. Beatrice has one of the hardest decisions of her life to confront, whilst at the same time being aware of the stirrings of trouble in the stricture of humanity.

This sounds like a heavy topic, but at it's heart this story is a YA read. Whilst it does deal with some tough themes (most importantly, especially in YA, the idea of growing up and becoming your own person and being comfortable in your own skin), it's also got romance and (I hate to say it) a bit of cliche thrown it to make it a really easy read.

I really enjoyed this book, it was faced paced, with just the right amount of world setting and I can 't wait to read the sequel and watch the film. However, I am a little disappointed about the way the romance was done in the book. Without spoiling things, it becomes obvious to the reader (although of course Beatrice is oblivious) that there are two guys who like her, and when she finally realises, she has to reject one etc etc. Now, I don't mind a love triangle situation, but it kind of felt like there was a love triangle for love triangles sake.

That being said, I do think the eventual romance is important to the story, although the family ties/ personal growth should have been more of a driving force through the novel, rather than just the beginning. I gave it 4/5 though, and powered through it in a couple of days despite it being nearly 500 pages long (the quickest I've read a book of that length since Potter I think - high praise indeed)

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell - as I said in my TBR, I picked this up in lieu of there not being Eleanor and Park, and when I started reading it I was a bit disappointed. However, the tables quickly turned, and I soon found it hard to put down.

Again this was a super light and easy read, lighter than Divergent even though it is aimed at the slightly older spectrum of YA. I say this because the usual YA trope is to have the 16/17/18/19 year old character who has to learn something important about themselves, whereas this book featured adults as the main characters, with jobs and established identities. It's 1999, the internet is just becoming established and we're following Lincoln: a 29 year old IT technician who still lives with his mum and works the night shifts at a newspaper company, monitoring the new in-company email system. It's his job to send warnings to any users who are sending non-work related emails. Beth and Jennifer's emails appear in his filter a lot. But he never sends them a warning and instead becomes engrossed in their lives.

This is a lovely little love story. Funny and romantic, the female characters are believable (ie. they don't just talk about men, although men do get spoken about) and Lincoln in endearing. The fact that this story is about adults is really what elevates it from the traditional YA love story - it somehow feels more real when the people falling head over heals have had long term serious relationships beforehand.

I gave this 3/5 on goodreads, but to be honest it's more of a 3.5/5. I can't wait to pick up Eleanor and Park now, and I'd really like to see how Rowell's writing will have progressed, and if she can capture the same sense of believability with younger characters.

Writing all of that has actually made me sleepy (result!), so,

Goodnight and TTFN


Currently Reading: Vagina: a new biography by Naomi Wolf

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