Spring Break Reads by Kelly N.

Here’s our first post from a book club teen! Thanks, Kelly!

Over spring break I have read many books. And here are some of them and my thoughts on them. (So sorry about the terrible intro).

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I recently picked up the sequel to Divergent by Veronica Roth, which is Insurgent. I had read Divergent before and it did not make a great impression on me. I liked the basis for the story.

I loved Tris and the idea that she was this tiny girl and was learning how to be brave and strong. I understood why she could never fit herself into one faction, not due to her divergence, because she had more than one overwhelming trait. And her love interest, Four, was interesting. He was this strong sense of quiet, “still waters run deep,” and seemed to be a more rich character than Tris herself. But, I felt like the dystopia part of the book, the part where Tris is strong and brave, got lost in the whole Four-love interest. The romance overwhelmed the book for me. (And also made no sense, since they only knew each other for two, maybe three, weeks). By the end of the book, Tris was not as brave and strong as she started out to be.

Overall Divergent was good. Insurgent was ten times better.

tumblr_m6cxgniGw51rwbuqko1_250The ending of the first book left Tris’s world in turmoil due to the destruction of the Abnegation. Tris, Four, and the remaining Abnegation citizens escaped to Amity for safety.

First, everything seemed more real. The characters’ thoughts and actions made more sense. Like Tris having emotional issues with handling a gun after the attack on Abnegation.

It seems that in most books, after the protagonist saves the world or kills a demon or insert big event from book that is life changing and whatnot here, the protagonist is left with no scars or mark from the event. Oh, I just had this great epic battle, time to have pizza and move on to the next impending doom in the second book. No problem. In Insurgent, Tris dealt with her emotional problems from what happened the night Abnegation attack.

Also her relationships with other characters improved, as in they got more substantial and there was more ‘stuff’. I don’t know how to explain this. The relationships weren’t flat, there was a lot more interaction going on. Like with Christina and Peter (yeah, Peter. He is has become one of my favorite characters since reading the second book).

Second books in trilogies are almost always better than the first because you get to dive into the world that the character lives in. Such as the way the Amity compound functioned in government. And how Candor solved their issues and what Erudite looked like.

Insurgent just ended up having a lot more meat in it and more things to entertain you and pull you into Tris’s world. There was more for me to think about and process as a reader. Things were written better. The characters get more interesting and complicated.

And the ending, oh, you’re going to love the way Veronica Roth leaves you hanging. I hope the third book is just as good.

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I also got myself into a new series, Shades of London by Maureen Johnson. And OMG! I loved it. The book starts of with Rory, a teen from Louisiana, going to a boarding school in London. After almost dying from choking at beef at dinner one night, she develops the ability to see ghosts as Jack the Ripper-esque murders start happening around her school’s campus. She then gets involved in the murder investigation and gets into all kind of shenanigans. I don’t want to say too much because I don’t want to give it all away.

I know, I know, it sounds sort of stupid with the boarding school thing and choking on beef. But I promise you that it’s not. The way Maureen Johnson writes the murders and the following investigations will give you shivers. It’s really well written and nothing comes off as stupid (except for the beef). There is no cheesy love triangle. Or ‘you are meant to save us all’ or ‘doomed lovers’ as you often find in supernatural ghost books (sorry if I sound judgmental). There is also a secret government agency and one stud-ly character.

Rory proves to be a stubborn and believable character with an eccentric background (well her family is eccentric) and each of the supporting characters are well written with depth. They all seem to have a rich off-the-page life for me. I can imagine what Alistair and Jerome are doing. I can see what Charlotte and Stephen are doing. It works.

You will get swept up in this series and go one a grand quest for the sequel in bookstores near you. At least that is what happened to me.

The sequel has her dealing with the emotional trauma from a near death experience at the end of the book. She handles it all surprisingly well and does not spend fifty pages moping. Once again Maureen Johnson sends shivers down my spine as Rory runs into a mysterious therapist from the 70s. Once again, I don’t want to give anything away. The end of the book though will want you to throw it against the wall. tumblr_m83ceiFZ5K1rx2bzdo1_400

( <- Me after reading the second book)

And I am so ready for the third.

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3To lighten things up I read The Castle of Otranto, which is an amazing book from the late 1700s and is ridiculously easy to understand and fall in love with. Basically the Prince of Otranto, Manfred, has a sickly son named Conrad. He is eager to get his son to be married so decides to have his wedding on his birthday.

Everything is ready at the chapel when the bridegroom, Conrad, does not show up. Apparently a gigantic helmet fell from the sky and crushed him in the courtyard. Yes, yes, that really did just happen in the book.

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The story goes on to be filled with chivalry from the wonderful Theodore, religious piety, romance, and tragedy. Also insanity because Manfred, is, well insane. It’s a nice, quick, light hearted read. And I highly recommend it.

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Then I decided to brace myself and read the final book in The Infernal Devices trilogy (where The Castle of Otranto is mentioned coincidentally!). The Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare is beautiful.

And I am still sobbing.

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5Someone recommended, The Chemical Garden trilogy to me some time ago, and I initially brushed off the books as stupid. I don’t know why, but I suspect that the person I got the recommendation from and the covers contributed to this. With nothing else to read and not in the mood to have authors rip out my heart, I gave the books a second chance.

And I am not sorry.

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What would you do if you knew when you would die? That you would die at twenty and nothing could stop it?

The premise of the book is that the human race successfully cured all these diseases by genetically engineered/enhanced embryos. Everything is fine and dandy, the first generation live long and healthy. And then they have children, the second generation. The girls die at twenty, the boys at twenty-five, from a mysterious virus. And there is no cure.

With most sci-fi/dystopias, I can wave them away seeing how these things won’t happen at all or until I’m dead. But with this one…, I can actually see it happening. And that is scary.

Since they need to increase the population, Gatherers (kidnappers and pimps basically) kidnap girls and sell them to be brides, prostitutes, or kill them if they can’t make any profit from the girl. It’s a dangerous world.

And Rhine, the main character, gets kidnapped and sold to be a House Governor’s wife, along with two other girls.

I quickly got sucked into the books and vowed not to judge a book by its cover or someone else’s book tastes again. tumblr_m5xg3jkooC1r7hf38

She becomes prisoner in the House Governor’s house and longs to escape and go home to her twin brother. She makes friends with one of the servants, Gabriel, and love happens (“we found love in a hopeless place” anyone? J). Her husband Linden is kind and loves her while mourning his first love, Rose. I can’t help but root for them both. I won’t say anything more, lest I give it all away.

When you have only twenty or twenty-five years to live, what would your life look like? In the books, not many are happy since many are orphans and there are the Gatherers. But education becomes useless since everyone is dying so fast. What would you do with only twenty years?

This trilogy brings up a lot of questions and I highly recommend it (sorry for the lame ending).

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