Books 2-3

Title: Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth

The Future is a bleak. Humans have nearly destroyed the planet with wars, greed, famine and plagues. To save the human race from itself, a new world system was developed. Its goal was to draw the best qualities of man and divide each person into factions where they would devote their entire lives to that quality or attribute. There is Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless and Erudite. Abnegation is the faction that devotes selflessness above all else. Amity are the peace makers. Candor values truth and honesty. Dauntless are the fearless and Erudite value knowledge.

Beatrice Prior was born into the Abnegation faction, but on her 16th birthday she will get to choose to either stay in the faction of her birth or choose another based upon an assessment each person of age must take. On the day of her assessment Beatrice learns that she is a Divergent-- a dangerous secret she must keep. Determined to be an individual despite the pain it would cause her parents, Beatrice leaves her faction and adopts the name "Tris." During her training and initiation Tris meets a boy named Tobias and together they discover a secret about Divergent's that could change everything.

Veronica Roth's Divergent is an interesting take on the dystopian fad that seems to be prevalent in YA literature. For the most part I enjoyed the story, but there were a few details that irked me. I liked the characterization of all the factions except Dauntless. In her world, Dauntless represent the faction of people that are fearless, but what I got out of it were a bunch of goth, gun toting, tattoo having, danger seekers. I really didn't see any of the Dauntless actions as being fearless. I saw it more as a group of people who take stupid risks that could kill them. The Dauntless seemed to glorify violence over bravery.

I understand Roth was pointing out the flaws of each faction, but I also think that in her effort to create a unique world, she missed the mark on this faction. However, it was still a fun read and I will be finishing the series. Was it The Hunger Games? Not by a long shot, but I'd give it four stars.

Title: 11/22/63
Author: Stephen King

Jake Epping is a mild mannered English teacher in a small town in Maine. His life was unassuming and simple. There would be no watershed moments for Jake Epping. Everyday he taught his high school english class and at night he graded papers for his GED night school class. Occasionally he ate dinner at Al's Famous Fat Burger and thought about his alcoholic ex-wife. On the last day of school while grading term papers, Jake receives a peculiar call from Al asking him to meet him at the Diner.

When he arrives at the restaurant, Al has aged at least four years and is suddenly dying of cancer. The cook shows him a portal located in the back of his pantry that can take him to the year 1958 at the same time on the same day each trip and upon return only two minutes will pass. He then tells Jake that for the past four years he had been living in Texas on a mission to change history. He was going to Save John F. Kennedy from being murdered by Lee Harvey Oswald. However, Al's trip was cut short when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He came back to the present to enlist Jake's help.

At first, Jake doesn't believe Al until he takes a brief trip of his own. When he gets back he agrees to follow through on Al's plan. Jake travels back to the year 1958 as George Amberson a real estate man and later a substitute teacher with a bachelor's degree from a degree mill in Oklahoma. While in the past jake learns the past doesn't want to be changed and every action has a consequence that creates chinks in time.

While in Texas, Jake stalks and watches Oswald's every move and waits for the perfect time to take out the man who would murder the President of the United States.

A lot of people have panned this latest from King as more of a love story then a science fiction novel. I think it was a little of both. During his time traveling adventures, Jake does meet a woman and a lot of his actions are motivated by his love for this woman, but It is still one of King's finest. The story was interesting, well paced, and I enjoyed the stance that King took surrounding the legend of 11/22/63. There are literally hundreds of books written about the "conspiracy" behind JFK's death. Oswald himself had claimed he was just a patsy. Unfortunately, Oswald was killed before that statement could be validated. There are some people who believe that he was in fact just a fall guy, other's believe there was more than one shooter that day, and of course the theories surrounding the mob or it being an inside government job.

For the story to work King had to a clear cut stance on the issue. In this world Oswald was the killer and Jake was the one who had to stop him. There were plenty of twist and turns along the way and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Book # 1: The Host by Stephenie Meyer (2013-2014 Challenge)

Title: The Host
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Pages: 606 (Nook Book)
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In a not so distant future the human population has all but become extinct. Unknown to humans a group of parasite-like aliens stealthily invade earth and take over the human race by implanting themselves in the human hosts and erasing their minds. By the time the humans catch wind of this invasion, it is too late-- nearly every living person has become a “Soul.”

The Souls travel throughout the universe from planet to planet, implanting themselves into the bodies of their host and take over every aspect of the planet, reshaping it and “improving” it with their technology and way of life. Earth is their 9th conquest. The Souls have changed Earth, it is now a place of peace. There are no more random killings, no war, no jealousy, hate, greed or death. Everyone is happy. Everything is perfect. Almost.

In the desert lands of Arizona there are a few survivors, the last fringes of human society, scavenging the land for food and supplies. Among these survivors is a young woman named Melanie, her little brother Jamie, and her boyfriend Jared. On a botched attempt to rescue her cousin Sharon from the heavily populated city of Chicago, Melanie is caught and captured by a group of souls. Willing to die rather than to give up her body and her family to these creatures, Melanie jumps down an empty elevator shaft only to survive.

When she wakes up she is now “Wanderer,” a docile Soul who has lived on every inhabited planet the Souls have acquired. They have chosen Wanderer for Melanie because she has been around since the Origin of their civilization and she is believed to be strong enough to lead the Souls to the remaining outpost of the human survivors. They assign her another Soul called a Seeker who acts as an investigator for the aliens. These Seekers gather information from the memories of the lost humans and use that to information to track and find any human survivors.

At first Wanderer willing gives up these precious secrets to her Seeker who seems to be antagonistic and prone to aggression unlike the other Souls. However, over time it becomes harder for Wanderer to betray the human consciousness that she shares. Because unlike most humans, Melanie didn’t just disappear. Everyday she fights to keep a strong hold on her body and mind, forcing her memories and human emotions on Wanderer until the Soul feels compelled to help her find Jamie and Jared and the rest of her family.

Where do I start? Going into the novel I kept my expectations really low because, let’s be honest, it was written by the same author who penned the Twilight Series. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. By far this is no great american novel or even the best Sci-fi novel that I have ever read, but it was enjoyable. If you’ve seen the movie “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” then you pretty much get the gist of this novel. However, despite some of the similarities (there weren’t that many), the 600 page novel was a quick and mostly enjoyable read.

I’ll start with the good. Surprisingly, there was a lot of good here. I particularly liked how this story (unlike the Twilight Series) had many themes to explore. The biggest theme was family. Because of the love she had for her family, Melanie was willing to sacrifice her life to protect them from being found and turned into these alien zombies. Her love for her brother Jamie also gave her the will to live and to fight being erased. Melanie was strong, she was selfish and mean and flawed. She wasn’t some Mary Sue- little cry-Bella. She was willing to live and fight for her life and her family.

Family also played an important role for Wanderers journey as well. Before coming to earth, this soul never truly felt connected to any host planet that she had taken over until Melanie. Eventually Melanie became her family, the people Melanie loved became her family, and the survivors she encountered and befriend while on the run also became her family. There was also a strong theme of friendship, survival, sacrifice, right and wrong, what it means to be human and love (both familial and romantic).

Now I’ll get to the bad. There were some pretty eye roll inducing moments in the novel. One of my smaller gripes was the pacing. There were some parts that dragged on unnecessarily. For instance, when Wanderer/Melanie finds her uncle Jeb’s hide out in the desert caves I think it takes about four long chapters for her to finally reveal her big secret that Melanie was still alive inside her. I could have done without all the exposition there. There also wasn’t much action. Perhaps it was due in part to the time frame of the story. When Wanderer and the Souls are introduced the invasion had already happened and was a success.There weren’t any huge fight scenes or car chases (unlike the movie trailers). Even the antagonist of the story, Seeker was pretty lack luster as far as villains go.

I noticed that Meyer doesn’t really have a talent for action writing. She focuses a lot on angst and love and uses that as a crutch in her novels. We’ve seen this before in Twilight. Even the “bad” vampires weren’t that scary or even threatening. The same goes for Seeker. By the time the Seeker issue is resolved, every thing is wrapped up in a pretty little bow which is in direct contrast to the themes she was trying to explore here. Life is hard. Life on the run is hard. People die. And yet, pretty little bow for little-miss-seeker.

Now, for my biggest gripes. I really don’t know why this author has a hard-on for these child brides. There is a scene in this story when Wanderer is experiencing one of Melanie’s memories that is forced on her. We learn through this memory that when Mel and Jared first meet, she is still just a teenager and he is about 10 years her senior. But Jared is an honorable man (He is! Because Meyer tells us in that many words. In exactly those words). It is implied that he waits until she is legal before they do the dirty. I envisioned Mel on her 18th birthday all too eager to unwrap her gift. We all know what came in that gift wrapped box. Heh.

Maybe I could forgive the age difference thing. But here is my problem: the book is stylized (or supposed to be) as contemporary adult literature. Yes, if you go to any book retailer, the book is in the adult section. I honestly don’t see the point of an adult novel having love interests between children and grown men. It happens more than once in the book, first with Jared and Mel and again between Wanderer and Ian (I’ll get to that in a bit). I’m starting to think this might be Meyer’s special little kink or maybe it’s a Mormon thing. Who knows?

My biggest gripe is the complicated love--quadrilateral-- parallelogram-- box?--story line between Mel/Wanderer Jared and Ian. First, I hate love triangles. I hate them with a firey passion. They are mindless little plot devices that most tween writers use to sell their books rapidly. Love-- squares-- rectangles--rhombuses-- trapezoids (eh, whatever) are even worse. The fact that Mel/Wanderer shared the same consciousness was complicated enough. Then you throw all those emotions in the mix. If Mel loved Jamie, then so did Wanderer. If Mel loved Jared, so did Wanderer. I get that. But toward the middle of the book, one of the characters, Ian, has a complete about face and starts developing a crush on Wanderer.

I guess this was to drive the point that it’s what’s on the inside that counts (even if what’s on the inside is a glowing blue centipede like creature you could hold in the palm of your hand). But, come on! And to make things even more complicated, Wanderer starts falling for Ian, too, although she is still in love with Jared. Like I said, pretty big sigh inducing moments. I just sighed thinking about it. I also sighed thinking about how all that was wrapped up in the end. It wasn’t nearly as bad as the whole Jacob-imprinted-on-a-baby-thing, but it was just-- sigh. Gotta love those child brides. okay, maybe I’m being a bit facetious. If you want to know how it ends, go read it. Despite my gripes, honestly, it was nothing but entertaining.
Kanye Shrug

The World Is Mine...

Well, the world of fiction is mine. It's been waaaaay too long since I have flexed my creativity. I'm going to dust the cobwebs off this place and start writing. My muse happens to be a fickle little bitch and right now she is being most cooperative, so why waste it? Real life isn't so fun for me anymore and fandom is my special brand of escapism. Long story short, I'm back.

New Fandoms:

Doctor Who

Being Human (BBC)