How to be Brave (Divergent by Veronica Roth)

A review of 
Divergent by Veronica Roth

Three flying birds... 
One for each member of the family I left behind.

Sixteen-year-old Tris is forced to make a terrible choice. In a divided society where everyone must conform, Tris does not fit. 

So she ventures out alone, determined to discover where she truly belongs. Shocked by her brutal new life, Tris can trust no one. And yet she is drawn to a boy who seems to both threaten and protect her. 

The hardest choice lies ahead. 

Divergent was one of those Young Adult novels I’d heard a lot about, but I was afraid of reading. It seemed like one of those YA dystopian novels about a girl living in a society with weird rules and can be really frustrating because of said rules and sometimes because of the distant voice of our main character. 
And now I feel ashamed for not reading about this book before, because it is amazing. 

And before I continue, can I just say that the summary above is really odd, compared to the book? I didn't even read it before now - I walked into the store and grabbed the first Divergent I saw - and good thing I didn't: I might not have read this because that summary is pretty awful in my opinion.  Ignore it? 

Our main lady is Beatrice Prior, or Tris, who is facing a tough situation making a big choice about the rest of her life that could hurt her family or hurt her. It’s hard to describe Tris because she’s pretty obviously trying to find herself - for most of the book she’s going “Who the hell am I?” But weirdly, even though this is in first person, I didn’t find that annoying. 
What I most love about Tris is the obvious battle she has going on inside her - the battle over who she is, who others want her to be and who does she really want herself to be? And then, even though we see her try to find herself, we get these moments where she just lets go and does what she feels is right. Not that it’s always true, because as much as Tris is smart and resilient, she’s got faults, too. And the book shows all the sides that there are to her and it is pretty awesome getting to see Tris learn how to kick ass. 

I have to mention the main gentleman, as sometimes it feels like we’re getting our hot guys from the same mold when it comes to YA. Well, Four thankfully breaks that mold and he’s also one of the reasons that make Divergent awesome and extremely entertaining. Four comes off a little arrogant and sarcastic, but it doesn’t become a problem because we almost immediately learn that there are more sides to him. That’s what makes him so much interesting and it softens him, me thinks. 
The more we see of him, the more we see that the arrogance could be just a face. Also, I gotta like the guy what with the way he’s protective, smart in battle and is actually pretty good at teaching. 

Also what makes me really like Four is that he’s a good balance to Tris: they both appear to have some sort of battle going on inside their heads and that makes them similar. They’re different yes, because Four is pretty much good at everything - not really, but almost - while Tris has to work for it. That’s a pretty interesting relationship, with Four trying to teach Tris and the two of them clashing a little. And we see a softer side to Four when he tries to protect Tris, which again makes things interesting.

The side characters have their moments: there are some extremely well written ones, that have some excellent details going on that hint more about them, if we just got a longer look. But most of them happen to be “the evil guys” - the friends and loved ones of Tris are less interesting. This could be because Tris loves them so much already, that she sees it as obvious - while it isn’t so obvious to the reader who would need more time to love them. Still, Roth manages to bring out complexities in all of her characters, even in those that we see for three pages and not for much more: she writes situations that really bring out the fact that even good guys to shitty things. 

Now, the plot is simple, yet slightly surprising. It’s simple enough to be guessable, but the way Roth writes it, is captivating enough to notice it too late. The so-called simple plot makes it even more shocking when we get a big surprise and Roth has a few of those in hand. 
There’s a perfect balance of Tris’ thoughts and description - the inner thinkings of our main character don’t slow the story down, but they give it a boost. Without Tris, the story would be far more boring. And the way Roth writes is really, really captivating. There are quiet moments that lead up to fast paced action, then we get a small glimpse of romance and then the we get a punch in the face and so on. It keeps you reading. 

I truly loved how the choice that Tris made was handled. I feel like Divergent is the story about finding how to be brave and then trying to follow that through. Except it’s no where near as easy as that, with people and situations changing rapidly. And also, while the love between Four and Tris had its moments, that wasn’t what the book was about. The book’s about Tris and her journey - the romance has its place and it is awesome, but it doesn’t take over the book. 

Final thoughts: Divergent is captivating and doesn’t let you go - thanks to the talent of Roth’s writing and Tris, who really is the start of the book. I usually hate first person narrative and this is one of those books that made me doubt that. I immediately jumped to the next one. Unfortunately, if you don’t like Tris - or Four - you probably don’t end up liking the book. 


This is True (Lover Revealed by J.R. Ward)

A review of
Lover Revealed by J.R. Ward

In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York,
there's a war raging between vampires and their
slayers. There exists a secret band of brothers
like no other - six vampire warriors, defenders of their
race. But now an ally of the Brotherhood
is about to encounter his own dark desires...

Butch O'Neal is a fighter by nature. A hard-living ex-homicide cop, he's the only human ever to be allowed in the inner circle of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. And he wants to go even deeper into the vampire world  - to engage in the turf war with the lessers. He's got nothing to lose. His heart belongs to a female vampire, Marissa, an aristocratic beauty who's way out of his league. And if he can't have her, then at least he can fight side by side with the Brothers...

Fate curses him with the very thing he wants. When Butch sacrifices himself to save a civilian vampire from the slayers, he falls prey to the darkest force in the war. Left for dead, he's found by a miracle, and the Brotherhood calls on Marissa to bring him back. But even her love may not be enough to save him...

The fourth book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series is perhaps one of my favorites. It’s rather plot-heavy versus romance - I really feel like these two are fighting for page-time in this book and there are unfortunate moments that it’s very distracting. I do have to admit that the plot of this book, the growing and journey that both Marissa and Butch go through is one of the reasons that this is one of my favorites. The two of them have to go independently before they can be good together. 

What I do think Butch likes about Marissa is of course, some of that innocence that she has, mainly because he’s never had that quality or that he’s really never witnessed it - it’s like a mirage to him. But then as he gets to know Marissa, we see that there’s more to her. She’s got this desire to be independent, but I don’t think Marissa really knows how to be that. She’s never really lived like she’s wanted to and that endearing about her: to see how she gets on her feet, truly. Marissa’s also one of the heroines who actually has some serious self doubts. Here’s a female, who’s basically been shushed her whole life and Marissa is in the end a person who wants to live in peace with everyone, so she wouldn’t have put up a vocal fight like Beth or Mary might have. But instead of letting her doubts get to her, Marissa builds herself a new life from nothing and wow, that’s pretty damn amazing. 

She’s also rather protective, she wants to keep everyone safe and that’s something that almost stops her from truly loving Butch, I think, because Butch lives on the edge, he doesn’t really care for himself. And Marissa’s someone who just wants people to be safe from harm. 

Like I said, Butch is pretty much the opposite of Marissa, living on the edge and not giving a shit about whatever happens to himself. We see him as the funny guy and who wants to do some good. But Butch is, ultimately, selfish and there’s darkness to him. He doesn’t always think about where Marissa is coming from - neither does she always where he’s coming from - and that’s a big reason for most of their disagreements. I think Butch’s pretty focused on just moving forward and he forgets that happiness could be an option too and that he doesn’t have to sacrifice himself to be good. And that’s probably a part of what pulls him towards Marissa, because he can relax and let go. But then again, he’s a fighter and will always be. Butch wouldn’t be happy if he wasn’t out there, fighting the fight he is and giving it his 100 %  - we see this when the Brotherhood uses his police-y deduction skills and really, it was time someone thought about things the way Butch did. 

Both of our main characters go through some serious growing up in this book. They both have shit to sort through. Butch has lived only for himself before, mainly surviving and he’s really in no place to be in a relationship. Marissa on the other hand has to learn to live for herself and Butch is in the way of that. Their lovestory really began all the way back in Dark Lover, but I somehow just love the whole thing that these two keep coming back together only to be thwarted by life: they both have feelings for each other but neither are in a good place to have a relationship. So they keep going back and forward, until both come to a place where they can be happy together. That’s one of the reasons I love them, but the back-and-forward is also at times, rather tedious. 

What’s also really nice about these two, is that despite all their differences - Butch coming from a really violent place and Marissa being an aristocrat, they have a lot of similarities. There’s an underlaying darkness to both of them and the need to protect what they love at whatever cost. We see Marissa’s “darker side”, methinks, when she goes and burns her clothes. Butch thinks that to protect he needs to destroy his enemies, Marissa thinks she needs to protect the innocent from harm. I think it’s really interesting how they’re so different and then so similar in some ways. There’s also their desires for a simple, happy life.

And then, of course we have the biggest bromance of the book series, Vishous and Butch. And these two, I think, define the word bromance, because neither has had close friends before and then they meet each other. If you say these two don’t love each other, I’m not quite sure if we read the same book or series. It’s really well done, because the guys are at times a little baffled by their trust in each other, but when it comes down to it, they just instinctually trust each other. And that’s definitely one of the best parts in the series. 

I mentioned it before, but this is a plot-heavy book. By now a lot of details have started to fall in about the world the series is centered on. The plot is having a battle with the romance in this one and I’m afraid to say it doesn’t get any better in the next few books. It’s only going to get rougher from here on, because there are going to be a lot more plot points and twists that Ward throws in. But that said, I love the whole arch that Butch goes through and I think it both resolves a lot of stuff and leaves us with more questions. 

Final thoughts: As far as characters go, Marissa and Butch will always be some of my favorites to read about, they’re both so multifaceted people, who have problems and hang ups and don’t just miraculously get over them. Story-wise it’s also an excellent one as you have no idea what’s going to happen - even when things seems solved, they might not be. Lover Revealed has Ward at her best, story-wise and with her writing. 


If You're Chained (Ash by Malinda Lo)

Review of 
Ash by Malinda Lo 

In the wake of her father’s death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.
The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King’s Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash’s capacity for love—and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.

Entrancing, empowering, and romantic, Ash is about the connection between life and love, and solitude and death, where transformation can come from even the deepest grief.

Reading Ash I was reminded of the fairytales I used to read as a child and I just loved that feeling of fairytaleness that the book has. There's a dreamy feeling to it and a small detachedness. It's not a bad thing, you know, like in books where the narrator is very dull? It's not like that, but that feeling at least for me came from the fact that the girl seems very caught up in her own world and far away from the reality that everyone else is living in. That was heartbreaking for me and honestly, the way her life goes made me just want to hug her, because she sure deserves it. And that “detachedness” just made me fall in to the book more - I read it in one sitting. 

I liked Ash, the moment I began to read the book. She seems like a dreamer that’s had to fight for her right to dream. And well, then there’s the Cinderella-aspect, which I think was done well, in the sense that you know, she has to work and it’s really not a good fate, but Ash doesn’t whine about it. Of course, her stepmother brainwashes her a little, but Ash is loyal and honest and so, she does the work. 
I liked that not all the characters in the book thought she was worse than dirt. I loved how one of the stepsisters, Clara, treated Ash nicely enough, though she really had no obvious reason to do so. 

The King’s Huntress, Kaisa - let me tell you, it still shocks me everytime I read that name and I love it. Kaisa’s down to earth and I think she’s in the beginning a little more taken with Ash, which is adorable. That was the feeling that I got. I think to Kaisa Ash is this mysterious being that just pops up to amaze her. And I do like the fact that she’s almost a background character to Ash’s story and that she doesn’t really mind it - even if she does want to help, it’s Ash’s life. 

Also, I did like the way Ash and the huntress' relationship was played. It wasn't big and dramatic, but there was a lot of feeling. It really was like it is in fairytales, that the smallest thing has the biggest meaning. I personally felt that the huntress at first vowed Ash, because she was like something that had stepped out of a fairytale book, as captivating as the fairy prince. But then, Kaisa sort of shows that she's down to earth, simple in her ways and I think that Ash realizes she likes that more than the extravaganza danger of the fairies. She just wanted out of a shitty life and the huntress proves that it doesn't have to be something chosen for you but something that you choose. And that you can choose. I'm not sure if I'm putting this in to words well enough - I feel like words simply fail me with this book, it's somehow just out of my reach. But what I most feel like is that the huntress is the anchor that brings the girl to the real world and shows her it doesn't have to be all pain and that you have the choice, that you can make it as brilliant as you want. 

The worldbuilding is exquisite. Though we may see very little of it, we do see that there’s a big, big world out there. We’re shown just small pieces, these lovely little details that make me want to explore it more. And I loved how the fairies were incorporated in to the world, how they were seen as these fairytales or legends and myths, where you could guess that they were sort of glorious and deadly, but you really were just guessing because fairies. I’ve read very few fairy-themed books that I really felt like I could truly get in to - just my fault, I’ve read amazing fairy stories, but it’s just me  - and I really loved how it was done here. It’s very mysterious and there’s a lot of extravaganza, but then again, it feels very simple, that it’s like everyday for the fairies. 

Lo’s writing is most excellent. It’s detailed, but the details don’t slow the book down, they just add these tiny details that we pass by. And they make it just bigger and oh so much better. And the little details make the book’s time-jumps that much more easier to follow. In the end, the details and the basic flow of the writing is just to die for. 

Final thoughts: You like fairytales? If you do, I suggest you read this, it reads almost like a fairytale. And Lo’s writing is so detailed and glorious and the characters are amazing and there’s magic. Truly, this books stands out for me from all the fairy books and all the fairytale-ish books just because of the way Lo writes. She’s definitely been added to my favorite authors list.