Insurgent, Allegiant, Legend, Prodigy, One Light Still Shines, Children of Men, and For Darkness Shows the Stars

What do you think about the proclivity of YA authors lately for choosing one-word titles? Did it start with or predate the Twilight craze? I think it’s kind of fun, but will probably have a fairly short shelf life (sort of like how clever one-word URL’s are pretty much unobtainable nowadays).

Insurgent (Divergent, #2)Insurgent by Veronica Roth
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book even more than Divergent, I think. It was a little action-packed for me, but there were some introspective moments too. Roth portrayed the effects of trauma on Tris very well. Although the idea that imprisonment, torture, and serving as the subject of experiments with hallucination-inducing drugs was effective therapy for said trauma is a little strange.

The relationship between Tris and Tobias was a fairly mature and well-portrayed teenage romance. The two of them are very endearing, in spite of their issues and baggage. Or maybe because of them. When I read YA fiction, I often picture my daughter reading it in a few years, and I think she could learn something positive about relationships from this book.

For the middle book in a series, I think this one was pretty good.

Allegiant (Divergent, #3)Allegiant by Veronica Roth
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I ended up enjoying this series more than I thought I would. And I got kind of ridiculously attached to Tris and her little band of rebels. I cried all the way home listening to the ending of this book.

Sure, the premise of the whole thing ends up being not especially believable. But I was pretty impressed that Roth kept us in suspense for two whole books before finally revealing the underpinnings of it all. The plot twists were quite unpredictable. I was really not a fan of the dual viewpoint, though. I enjoyed reading the series much more when it was only from the point of view of Tris.

All-in-all, though, there was more great relationship exploration and moral rumination, so I think it was a good ending to the series.

Legend (Legend, #1)Legend by Marie Lu
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another of the dystopian future YA genre. Fun read, although I am still not sold on the dual-main-character-alternating-viewpoint thing (see: Allegiant). Especially when its main function seems to be to portray a love scene from both points of view. Over and over. But I digress.

I actually kind of liked her visualization of a North Korea-esque future United States. And the whole plague thing managed to function as just a plot element, without descending into the macabre or chaotic.

One unreservedly good thing I have to say about this book is that both its female and male characters were exceptionally well-developed. Lu does not stoop to gender stereotypes, which was refreshing.

Prodigy (Legend, #2)Prodigy by Marie Lu
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

According to Goodreads, I finished this book all of two weeks ago, and yet I cannot really remember the plot. So that kind of bodes ill. Also when the main character ***SPOILER***

was diagnosed with cancer and given weeks to live ***SPOILER***, I felt really calloused because I hadn’t even become attached to him enough to care.

I went on and read the last book in the series, though, and I thought it was way better than this one. So there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

One Light Still Shines: My Life Beyond the Shadow of the Amish Schoolhouse ShootingOne Light Still Shines: My Life Beyond the Shadow of the Amish Schoolhouse Shooting by Marie Monville
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was one of those rare “inspirational” books that actually is inspiring. Authored by Marie Monville, the wife of the Amish schoolhouse shooter, it is the story not only of her extraordinary resilience and hope, but also of the community that supported and loved her through what must be one of the worst nightmares that could happen to someone.

I expected this book to be part traumatized memoir, part preachy self-help book. But something about the author’s sincerity and matter-of-factness about something so shattering and life-changing allows her to say things that would on other lips sound preachy and condescending.

My language of belief and style of worship are very different from Monville’s, but her expressions of faith and her lived experience with God rang true to me. It was also beautiful to read her intimately personal account of how the Amish community her husband had so grievously harmed reached out its arms to her and held her and her children through the tragedy.

Monville writes convincingly not only of the workings of God in her life, but of the love of God manifest in many small acts of kindness by ordinary people. Experiencing this book is an exercise in grace.

The Children of MenThe Children of Men by P.D. James
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Classic science fiction that is, unfortunately, dated. While the premise is somewhat interesting, I couldn’t really muster any sort of sympathy for the characters. Nor did I find the plot particularly compelling. Still, the premise was interesting, and I thought James did a pretty good job of playing out the possible psychological and social consequences of sudden and universal infertility. So that deserves a couple of stars.

For Darkness Shows the Stars (For Darkness Shows the Stars, #1)For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I’m always up for a fantasy/sci fi Jane Austen retelling (although I admit I skipped the Zombie versions). They always seem to end up mediocre, though. According to T.S. Eliot, “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.” So maybe I should stop reading books by people who admit they are imitating.

This book was O.K., except that I couldn’t really work up any sort of feeling for any of the characters. And maybe also because the whole time I was thinking about how much more subtle and polished and devastatingly prescient Persuasion is. Which is ridiculous, because of course Jane Austen is better than some random YA author attempting to imitate her.

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One thought on “Insurgent, Allegiant, Legend, Prodigy, One Light Still Shines, Children of Men, and For Darkness Shows the Stars

  • February 4, 2014 at 11:07 pm

    Love reading your book reviews. FYI, when I read in Feedly, there is a huge spammy paragraph with Levitra and Cialis links before your first review.


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