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review SPOILER ALERT! 2014-01-11 01:59
READ: October 20, 2013; Divergent: Book 3 Allegiant (2013) by Veronica Roth
Allegiant - Veronica Roth

I liked the first two in the Trilogy. I don't know what I hated more about this book. Was it the sloppy explanation of what was beyond the fence? The over complication of Genetically Pure people and Genetically Damaged people? Maybe this complication could have worked had the author thought out the plot, story continuity, and scenario fully. Instead we were given this ridiculous ending to what had been a really good book series. The sex scene between Tris and Four read like a horrible True Romance magazine. Characters like Four's mother suddenly changed her entire character for her son's love. If it had been that simple, why didn't she kidnap him from his abusive father? What is worse, being factionless or being tortured? Then Four's father just leaves even though he has a history of being an aggressive tyrant in his home and love of power in the public? It seemed as if the author was sloppily trying to tie up lose ends. Nothing compares to the end. I could have withstood Tris dying. I expected it from the moment I began to read TWO perspectives in the book. I knew for certain she was dying after her and Four had sex. It just doesn't tend to happen in YA books. For them to allow her to put in one of the worst written romantic love making scenes I've ever had the misfortune to read, I knew the main character Tris was dead. However what stunned me was the undignified manner in which it happened. For crying out loud the sex scene had more poise in its thought and writing. I think at times the author highlighted how the three books took place in a short space of time. It wasn't the lead up for years or even one whole year. At the end of this story we had a 16 year old girl in terrible grief over her parents dying by protecting her (a noble, good and generally right thing for any parent to do for any of their children) and then the loss of her last remaining living family member--her brother through his base treachery (THAT WAS NEVER ADEQUATELY EXPLAINED TO MAKE HIM IN ANY FORM FORGIVABLE OR REDEEMABLE A FIGURE. ALL HE COULD DO WAS OFFER THAT THE LEADER OF ERUDITE WAS CONVINCINGLY MANIPULATIVE. I'm reaching for manipulative because he never explains exactly what on earth that woman could have told him to make him betray his entire family and his values for her cause.) was in a way lost to her as well. In the short space of time the story takes place Tris is always a 16 year old girl. In the armed conflicts in her home she loses nearly everyone she ever cared about. The author of this book tries to make Tris' final act a graceful stroke of self sacrifice like her parents did for her. I'm sorry if I read a young 16 year old rationalizing her suicidal wishes. At the end she was a 16 year old GIRL who was in terrible grief for her tremendous losses. Instead of making her end fit the spirit I loved in Tris in the first two books we see the same scenario she was supposed to 'grown from' play out as she martyrs herself. Nothing about that is okay with me. I think the woman who wrote Divergent and Insurgent could have written a better book to end Tris' story. Tris could have died a number of ways, but why did she die in the one way where it showed her character had zero growth throughout the series? As someone with Bipolar I who has tried to commit suicide and lived to tell the tale (luckily) when I was 19 years old I was offended at first by the fatalism in Tris' character. I was a child when I began to have suicidal ideations. I only got caught when I was very close to successful. I am thankful EVERY SINGLE DAY I was saved. My mother was dying. My father was mentally gone. I understand the grief of adoloscent girls intimately. To honor the ones who passed on you don't do something fatal. You honor their sacrafice by living, and living well with honor. So the rationalization for Tris' death makes sense only if she lied to Four. Only if she lied to him about her love. About living for him. The fact that the author herself lost sight that she was writing the story of a 16 year old girl in a dystopian world is troubling. Tris had gifts but wasn't an adult super soldier. The ending was ridiculous with no real meaning. Tris deserved a death that expressed meaning, growth, the love she had for FOUR. Instead we had her doing the same thing she did in the previous two books. In the end Tris Prior died for nothing. The irony is the corny message from the author to 'mend each other' through our social relationships. She can write this when her own main character didn't have the will power to do that! In my opinion this hypocrisy is what makes her death meaningless. And it is a shame--the first two books were really good in my opinion. I wonder if the author was rushed to publish? Or was she so arrogant that anyone who tried to address these issues were shot down by her hubris? This book is an example of how good editors are crucial to a successful book. If only to be a spare pair of eyes. Something went badly wrong and this book feels like the rough draft that got published without any of the major story issues being ironed out.

“And I don't want to die anymore. I am up to the challenge of bearing the guilt and the grief, up to facing the difficulties that life has put in my path. Some days are harder than others, but I am ready to live each one of the. I can't sacrifice myself, this time.”
- Tris

But we learn that Tris isn't true to her word. Nor is she consistent with ANY growth. It is sad. If Tris would have died in a way where she wasn't PURPOSEFULLY sacrificing her promises, supposed character growth, and loving future with Four along with the friends she could help mend through the grief of many, many characters!!!

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review 2012-07-21 10:48
A rant about literature
Fly Away Peter - David Malouf

To be honest with you I thought this novel was little more than a load of existentialist rubbish. I have only read two of Malouf's novels, this one and the one about Ovid being exiled to the edge of the Roman Empire. It seems as if there is something in common with these two novels. Ovid is exiled from the centre to the fringe while here, in this novel, the main characters go from the fringe (being Queensland in Australia) to the centre (being the trenches in France during World War I). However I have no real intention of making any big deals about that because I really do not want to make a big deal about this book. Maybe it had something to do with my English teacher praising this novel as one of the greatest pieces of Australian literature ever written, and me just thinking that his tastes and my tastes differed so sharply that when he would begin praising a novel, I would begin hating it.

 

Look, I might be being a bit too harsh on Malouf, but after having to sit through A Street Car Named Desire, A Glass Menagerie, and Henrik Ibsen in year 12 English I had come to a point that I would pretty much hate anything that my English teacher loved, and this book was one of them (as was Gallipoli, which he was using as a contrast to this book since both of them involve the main characters getting slaughtered in the trenches of World War One). I do remember making a comment about how at the end of the book the main character, after being blown apart (I think) and going into a afterlife where he is forever digging into the ground in an attempt to return to Australia, was in hell, my teacher objected and asked 'how is he in hell? What did he do wrong?'. Well, if forever digging in the ground attempting to get to a place you will never reach is not hell, then what is? Seriously dude, there is a Greek myth in which some guy is forever pushing a boulder up a hill only to have it roll back down again before it reached the top. That guy (I can't remember his name off hand) was in hell, and if he was in hell, so is Malouf's main character, even if Malouf never intended it to be that way.

 

I think the problem with modern literature is that people either write books purely for entertainment, or they write it in a vain attempt to win some wonderful prize (of have Oprah recommend the book on her show ala Deep End of the Ocean) and become some wonderful literary author that everybody wants to imitate. Sorry to burst your bubble, but so are all the other million of wanna be authors out there. I think Jim Butcher had it right when he said that writing was bloody hard work and if you want to succeed then you have to be bloody persistent. You either write because you love to write (as I do) or you go and do something real with your life. Seriously, writing is like acting, millions think that it is an easy way to make heaps of money but guess what, it isn't. Hey, at least writing gives you more transferable skills than acting (or playing football).

 

As for writing literature, you don't set out to do it, it just happens. I doubt Fyodor Dostoyevsky or Anton Chekhov, or even Shakespeare, ever set out to write a classic. No, they wrote because they either loved writing or had something that they wanted to say, and it just happened that history judged their works to be worthy of being called a classic. As far as I am concerned, your book or story is not a classic unless it survives a hundred years, and is still imprint, or, even better, manages to survive a dark age (such as The Odyssey). I once read about a writer who had finished writing a book and screamed out that he had just written a work of literature, and proceeded to throw it into the fire (writers can be a very strange lot, especially the good ones; Emily Dickinson locked herself in her room and had no contact whatsoever with the outside world).

 

As for writing a book with meaning, look, either say it (as Dostoyevsky did) or don't - don't try to cloud it with imagery when it is not necessary to do so. Don't get me wrong, I love allegory, but the reason that Jonathon Swift wrote in allegory was because if he didn't he was likely to be dragged out of his house by British soldiers, tied to a stake, and executed for sedition (okay, I am probably going overboard a bit, but you can probably understand what I am getting at). George Orwell wrote allegory, and his allegory worked really well, namely because it would have multiple layers of meaning. Animal Farm for instance appears to be about Soviet Russia when in reality it could really be about dear old England (similar in that 1984 could actually be about what it was like in 1948, the year the novel was publish). As for C.S. Lewis, he wanted to portray the Christian message to an audience (children) who probably could not grasp what is essentially an adult concept (not that children do not understand Bible stories, but I remember as a kid in Sunday School that I never understood the nature of Christ's sacrificial death). Finally I want to mention Tolkien. He wrote a fantasy novel, and a pretty damn good one as well. However, when people started carrying on about how it is an analogy of how industrialisation is destroying the world his response was 'what? I hate allegory. Lord of the Rings is not allegory, it is a fantasy novel.'

 

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/373535408
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review 2002-01-01 00:00
The Girl Who Hated Books - Manjusha Pawagi, Leanne Franson (Illustrator) Cute story about a little girl who hates books because her house is overfilled with them. One day the towering stacks topple over, spilling the characters out into the house, and she must figure out how to put them back.
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