If you’re a sucker for dystopias, like I am, you’re definitely going to want to check out this trilogy — especially since the third book just came out and you won’t get stuck waiting for more books to be published! In this world, most people are born with the power of an Element — earth, water, wind, or fire. They can both sense and control their Element. Someone who was a wind elemental, for example, could sense exactly how quickly a storm was blowing in and/or use the wind to fight off an enemy. This book reminded me of Avatar the Last Airbender, which means I’ll need to pass it along to my son when he gets just a little bit older!
I think I’ve mentioned on my blog that I no longer review all of the subsequent books in trilogies and series that I read because it’s often hard to summarize without spoiling the earlier books in the trilogy/series for people who haven’t read them yet. (If not, I have now!) Plus — let’s be honest — it also helps me not to fall behind so badly on my reviews if I don’t include every book I read on this blog. But, I just can’t let this book go without comment! Neal Shusterman has completely BLOWN. MY. MIND! If his story is not enough, in and of itself, to show you the insane path that humanity is blazing into the future, the included hyperlinks for stories which make the case for a future in which “unwinding” actually happens will scare the hell out of you. The thing I am most grateful about with UnDivided, nonetheless, is that the story is actually done. I have spent far too long wondering what happened to Connor, Risa, Lev, and the rest of the gang, so THANK YOU Neal for finally giving me closure!
I find it kinda funny that I was *so* sure I would love the Divergent series that I waited for the third book to be released and then read the books back-to-back-to-back. And after that, I *had* to read this collection of short stories as soon as it came out… Yet I still haven’t seen the Divergent movie, and I even forgot about actually posting a review for this book for three months! I guess life just gets away from me sometimes, and taking a trip to the movies with a girlfriend isn’t always at the top of my list of priorities. Still, I should probably plan a girls’ night in to watch Divergent pretty soon, right? ;-)
I am pretty sure the only Ann Brashares books I had read before this ARC were from the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series. It looks like I never reviewed them on this blog, though, so I can’t simply link to what I thought of them. Instead, I will quickly summarize by saying that they are basic contemporary “chick lit” books. They primarily dealt with friendship, dating, and body image — and they were both realistic and well written enough that I’m not surprised to see that they’re still popular. While this book was also well written and has a romantic element to it, it was VERY different in that it has a science fiction angle.
Prenna James is an immigrant, but she didn’t come from another country — she came from another time. She, along with the rest of the people in her tight-knit community, traveled back in time from a future in which global warming had destroyed the world. Warmer temperatures melted the polar ice caps, caused massive floods, and also allowed mosquitoes to thrive. Even though cancer had been cured, human existence was threatened by a blood-borne plague reminiscent of AIDS. Prenna’s time-traveling community has many rules, but the most important rules are to blend in, to avoid making any changes to “the past,” and to avoid intimacy with outsiders. Despite worries about getting in trouble, Prenna has a hard time following the rules. She just can’t understand how they can just sit by and watch people destroy the world instead of trying to make a difference. Plus, of course, there’s the fact that she’s falling for an outsider named Ethan…
This was one of those audiobooks where I didn’t really feel like I completely “got it” but I kept on listening anyway. It won a 2014 Printz Honor, so I figured it must have literary merit even if I wasn’t feeling it, right? Either way, I now have the ability to “booktalk” it to any library patrons who might ask what it’s about, and that is always key.
Standish Treadwell lives in an alternate reality in which “the Motherland” [England?] is in a race to the moon and operates much like WWII Germany — with ghettos of people segregated from the rest of the population and forced to work in labor camps for mere scraps of food. (Especially since I had just listened to Rose Under Fire, the constant deprivation and brutality definitely reminded me of the Holocaust.) He lives in Zone 7 (one of the poorest areas) with only his grandfather, since his parents ran away in an attempt to escape the totalitarian regime. Standish attends an all-boys school in which teachers openly favor kids from well-to-do families and those who come from families of government informants. It’s not uncommon for kids to pick on or beat up on one another, and teachers often discipline via corporal punishments like caning. Though he seems to be concerned that he has a learning disability of some sort [dyslexia?], Standish is quite clever and determined to figure out a plan to stand up to his government for the good of all mankind.
People have been telling me to read this series since the first book came out. And, although I trust the opinions of the people who kept recommending it, I kept thinking about how often I get frustrated waiting for the next books to come out in all the series I read. I get so caught up in the characters that waiting for the next book in a series is like waiting to reunite with a friend who just moved away and won’t be home to visit for at least another year. I don’t get desperate, per se, but it’s not fun to have to keep on waiting all the time! So, I purposely waited to even get started. For real. I just refused to start this series until I knew the third book was almost out. And, boy, am I glad I decided to wait!
Beatrice Prior was born into a society divided into five factions — Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave), and Erudite (the intelligent). Although she was born into Abnegation, her society came up with a selection process by which teens could choose to stay in their given faction or to move to a different faction. In preparation for making her choice, Beatrice went through a simulation that was supposed to narrow down which faction would be the best fit. Something went wrong, though, and Beatrice’s test proctor informed her that her test results were anything but definitive; Beatrice was Divergent. She didn’t know what it meant, but the proctor made it quite clear that being Divergent was dangerous and that Beatrice should not tell anyone about her results. I don’t know that I can summarize the rest of the series without getting into spoilers, so I will just wrap things up by saying that fans of other dystopias like The Hunger Games and Delirium will not be disappointed.
I use Grammarly’s plagiarism checker because I’m afraid the Armstrong Fancy Gifts Corporation is hacking my brain to hijack my book reviews! ;-) Seriously, though… Listening to this story made me wonder how close we are, technologically, to having nanobots capable of invading people’s brains to control the things they do and say. A lot of this story was pretty gross — with graphic descriptions of nanobots “down in the meat” — but it was so intriguing that I just couldn’t stop listening!
The basic premise is that there’s a nano-war being fought — with Charles and Benjamin Armstrong [conjoined twins and owners of the Armstrong Fancy Gift Corporation] on one side and a bunch rogue teens who call themselves BZRK on the other. The Armstrongs are fighting for a better world, if you believe what they say — but their plan involves mind control and the removal of free will. BZRK is fighting for people to remain free from mind control, even if it means that some people will make bad decisions that lead to war and general unhappiness. Nothing is ever black and white… especially when it comes to gray matter.