Divergent by Veronica Roth

image of book cover of Divergent

The book series called Divergent is an interesting one. It is the first book in a three-part series (Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant). This was a book recommended by a friend who has a similar taste in books. Overall, I enjoyed this book, though some parts were questionable.
Divergent is about a future Chicago where everybody is split into factions. There are 5 factions with different attributes associated with it. There is Abnegation (Selflessness), Amity (Peaceful), Candor (Truthful), Dauntless (Brave), and Erudite (Smart). When you turn 16 you go through a test in which you are given a faction that is mostly likely one that you would be placed in based on what you pick in the test. There is then a ceremony where you must pick where you live, work, and do everything for the rest of your life. There are tests to get into the faction and if you don’t pass you could become factionless. However, there are people called the Divergent. These people can do things like manipulate the tests and be aware that they are in a simulation (whereas normal people can’t).
Beatrice Prior (Now known as Tris) was born and raised in Abnegation where everything they do has to be selfless, whether it means eating the simplest food or letting other people get on the bus before you. When she takes her aptitude test to see which faction she is fit for, the person administering it stops and says she is Divergent. She says this is dangerous, not to tell anyone, and then manually logs the data saying Tris is Abnegation. When the ceremony comes around Tris must make a hard decision. She picks Dauntless, where they are all about being brave. She has a large amount of experiences, losses, and rivalry along the way. She also meets a person named Four (Tobias Eaton). They start to have a romantic relationship but must keep it a secret. They then discover a plot against the Abnegation, started by the Erudite who want power, and powered by the Dauntless because they have skills in combat. They are being controlled by a serum that had been injected unknowingly. Since Tris is Divergent she is not affected. She needs to save her friends and stop the Erudite from killing all the Abnegation.
I overall enjoyed this book a lot. The only parts I didn’t like were when she was talking with Four. The way that it was described and, the way that they communicated seemed inappropriate for 16-year-olds. Besides that, and the fact that some parts are sad. It was a very good book and I would recommend it, especially if you are into books such as The Hunger Games, Percy Jackson, or Harry Potter.
I would rate this book a 9/10.

 

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The Girl Who Could Unite Them All, Part Two

girl in white sweater in front of a purple background

The woman and Vali walked through the pavilion, eventually ending up on a stage with many other twelve-year olds, people Vali’s own age. The woman walked off, scribbling on her clipboard.

“Hi, Vali!” a voice said behind her.

Vali turned around to see one of her schoolmates, Tira. “Hi!”

Tira was dressed in a nice blue tank top matched with a lacy white skirt. “Are you excited for the Awakening?” she squealed.

“Of course!” Vali exclaimed.

“A flame, huh? I could see you as one,” Tira commented.

“And I could see you as an aquatic,” said Vali.

They chatted about their lives and what had been going on since Friday afternoon.

Finally they were shushed by the tapping of a microphone. A tall and beautiful woman, one of the magic ministers, Ylena, was standing in front of all of them. “Greetings, people of Diamond City and Lorian. Today is a very special occasion.”

There was enthusiastic applause from the audience.

Vali beamed, pain shooting through her hands.

“Each one of these children will have their powers Awakened this morning.”

There was more applause.

“Now,” Ylena said, her eyes glinting with pride. “Each of you line up.”

Vali and Tira lined up next to each other, and Vali was pleased to know they were each near the front.

The first person to go was a small boy with large brown eyes. Ylena grabbed his hands and immediately after his hair turned blue. “Samson Hale, aquatic!” Ylena announced.

Next was a red haired, freckled girl. Ylena took her hands and then her hair turned a deeper, darker, cherry color.

“Blair Lize, flame!” Ylena said.

Three other people went after them, and then it was suddenly Tira’s turn. Ylena took Tira’s hands, and then her hair turned blue.

“Tira Preslyn, aquatic!”

Vali politely clapped along with everyone. Her hands burned.

It was now her turn. The moment she’d been waiting for. She stepped up to Ylena.

Ylena took her hands. Her heart pounded.

A second passed, and then gasping erupted from the audience. Vali’s heart pounded. What was wrong?

Ylena stepped back, confusion, terror, and surprise flickering across her face.

“What’s wrong?” Vali asked. “What’s happening?”

“Vali!” Tira shouted from the very end of the line of children. “Your hair is purple.”

The Cruel Prince, by Holly Black

See the source image

The Cruel Prince, written by Holly Black, is a modern fantasy and a first book in the duology. The second book, The Wicked King, was recently released. It follows Jude, who along with her twin sister Taryn and her half-sister Vivienne, was taken to the fairy world by Vivienne’s true father.

This book was very highly anticipated, and people either loved it or hated it. I personally liked it. My favorite element was the school that Jude attended with the other fey her age; it gave a unique twist on a fantasy story that made it different from the others. Jude as a character was aggressive and impulsive, but I didn’t mind. I found myself thrilled when she kept fighting the bullying of Prince Cardan and his trio.

A problem many people seem to bring up is the romance between Jude and a certain character. In my opinion, there wasn’t a romance at all. At the end of the book the character confesses how he can’t stop thinking about her and then they kiss but for no reason? There wasn’t any reason for them to and they didn’t seem to enjoy it nor did they talk about it again so that was very strange. From what my friends and I can tell, there is no relationship between them because Jude doesn’t like him still and she betrayed him at the end, losing his trust and likely any romance they might have had.

I liked how the story brought out my emotions. I felt exhilarated while Jude argued with Cardan, sad when Jude complained about being mortal, and angry when betrayals occur. I loved how the mortal world was mixed in and how they would travel between realms, which added to the uniqueness of the novel. I did not like how the fey are as they are in every book: so incredibly perfect and beautiful that mortals can’t begin to compare. I don’t understand why this matters so much when writing about the fey, but it needs to end. This book would have been so much better if the world were expanded. How big is the realm? Is it only as small as the map in the beginning? If so, the author should have no trouble going in depth into all the places. I feel as though this depth would have made the story leave a more lasting effect on me. The writing style was very nice and easy to read, and the imagery was wonderful.

I would rate The Cruel Prince 8/10 dragons, for the unique twist on fey stories and the emotions it brought from me.

Review of “The Keeper of the Lost Cities” series, by Shannon Messenger

Book cover for "Keeper of the Lost Cities." A young woman and a young man are clinging onto either side of the top of a metal tower, which is topped by a lit lamp.

“The Keeper of the Lost Cities” is not a super well known series, at least among the people at my school, but I found all of the seven books (so far) to be very enjoyable.

Sophie has a big secret. She can read minds. Starting when she was five, she could hear everyone’s thoughts.

Also, she is an unusually smart girl. She is in college and sticks out like a sore thumb among her classmates. She also feels like she doesn’t fit in among her family, being a skinny, blonde-haired, brown-eyed girl in a family of overweight, brown-haired, green-eyed people.

In an instant, Sophie is ripped away from the life she knew when a mysterious, handsome elf named Fitz finds her and tells her that she is not a human but an elf, like him. Sophie is forced to leave behind her family and join the world of elves.

(Just so you know, elves in this series are not North Pole elves or “Lord of the Rings” elves. They are pretty much humans, but they can live for thousands of years, and they stop aging at twenty.)

Once Sophie has joined the community of elves, she notices that something strange is going on. One day, she accidentally finds out about something called Project Moonlark, but nobody will tell her what it is.

What is Project Moonlark? Will Sophie ever belong in the elven or human worlds? Find out by reading “The Keeper of the Lost Cities” series.

Rating: 5/5 stars! It is one of the best series I’ve read.

Ages: 11-15

Charming Academy 2 – Review

Finding Prince Charming cover image. A horse standing on a path in the woods. The path is covered in red and orange leaves.

Finding Prince Charming, by Jessica L. Elliot.

This book is the second in the Charming Academy Series, and is about Princess Allegra and her quest to find Adrian, who disappeared during their fourth year at school. Allegra is more than a little worried about being the one going questing, but she will do anything to find Adrian.

(*Spoilers for the first book are included, and foreshadowing for this and following books are included, sorry.*)

Some things that we know about Allegra, just to give some perspective on where we are:

  • Allegra is Lucian’s sister.
  • She is stubborn and determined and fiercely loyal but lets her doubts rule sometimes.
  • Has a close relationship with her parents, grandparents, friends from school, and her brother especially.
  • Was the year behind her prince’s year, and so her last year of schooling is just her and Clarissa at school because her older friends are already on their quests.
  • Has a special necklace from Adrian the night he disappeared.
  • Flew into a rage and didn’t forgive people for a long time after Adrian’s disappearance, she loved him and needed to blame something.
  • Gets some lovely classes to help prepare her to do the searching for Adrian on her quest.
  • Loves Adrian lots and vowed to do anything to find him again.
  • Is deathly terrified of frogs.

Some basic knowledge of Adrian:

  • Is Lucian’s best friend.
  • Has a rocky family relationship that is resolved before he disappears.
  • Never broke any rules, was cursed for sticking out his tongue at friends by Lucretia, one of the school witches.
  • Doesn’t like swimming.
  • Is incredibly loyal and kind.
  • Starts to shrink, loose hair, go into hibernation in cold weather, and so forth as he turns into a frog slowly.
  • Goes and makes a deal with the witches the night before the winter meeting with the princesses in his fourth year so that he can look normal.
  • Gave Allegra her special necklace to remember him by.
  • His last words to Allegra an instant before he disappeared were that he loves her.
  • Is transported to Lucian and Allegra’s family’s castle by the sea as a frog to wait for Allegra to come find him.
  • Is heartbroken when Allegra sees him and runs away because he is a frog.
  • Gets to wait around as a frog, of all things, for Allegra to come save him.

In this book, Allegra gets to go questing for Adrian, the opposite of what she’d always believed would happen. She takes new classes her last two years of school to prepare her for the dangers of searching, along with learning the finer points of becoming a lady. Adrian gets to face the dangers of life as a frog, which can become incredibly difficult, especially in a fairytale quest where someone may be out to ruin said frog’s happily ever after.

I enjoyed this book a lot. It addressed the fact that the girls can do the questing and face just as many trials while waiting, which Adrian showed well. This was a fun and lighthearted twist on the Princess and the Frog that was action packed and serious enough to make it a good read for middle school kids. I also enjoyed the number of outside forces that affect this couple’s fairytale, but no dragons. This was kind of nice, to show that there are more dangers in the world than those that are just the biggest and most threatening at a glance.

I am Annalia: Part Nine

Related image“Liku, what in  Azudacluke are you talking about?”

They both glanced back and forth from me to each other. Even though it apparently wasn’t my fault, they sure weren’t making it seem like that.

Liku turned around and pulled out a key from his pocket. He inserted it into the door handle and locked the door. Tessa was terrified. “Liku, what are you-”

“Please, Tessa, just let me explain,” Liku grabbed a chair from a table in the corner and pulled it up next to Tessa’s chair.

“Okay then. Start talking.”

“Okay, just, please don’t be mad at me,”

“I’ll try,” Tessa muttered.

“Okay, here it goes…uh…you know how…you haven’t been coming to the meetings lately?”

“Uh huh,” Tessa answered.

“And how I’ve been filling you in on the information,”

“Yes…”

“Well…” Liku squinted his eyes. “I lied,” he blurted.

“What?”

“About everything,”

“Liku!”

“All the information I told you was false,”

“Liku! How could you do this? Why did you do this?” Liku opened his eyes and held up his hands defensively towards Tessa.

“Okay, okay, please don’t get mad. I’ll explain, even though it sounds pretty stupid. Basically, the last meeting you went to was when we narrowed our heroes down to R.J.,” Liku motioned towards me. “Your classmate. And you, Annalia.”

I already knew that, but I nodded to be respectful. It seemed like this guy was already having enough trouble today. I wouldn’t want to put any of my secrets and facts on top of that.

Liku looked back at Tessa. “Some of the council thought you might be biased since you made friends with Annalia,”

“Seriously?” Tessa scoffed.

“Hey, I wasn’t for that. Anyway, they excluded you from the meetings, and I was ordered to relay information to you and not collect your opinion. As the meetings went on, we were still pretty torn between who would be chosen-”

“Hold on, wait,” I interrupted. “Can I stop you for a second?”

“Uh, sure?”

“I was wondering, why did you guys narrow it down to me and R.J. to save your dimension? We’re just kids!”

“Well . . . according to a prophecy that the head of the Normwhaugs said to Viallanne in a night vision–”

“A dream?” I asked.

“Yeah, whatever. Moving on, the Normwhaug said to her that only a fear greater than fear itself or a bravery that can bring down the strongest walls of this world can stop them. So, after Tessa performed a lot of research on kids and adults in your . . . county?”

“Yes,” Tessa said.

“County, she somehow managed to narrow it down to you two. No offense, but you’re not the bravest kids, but when necessary, you can be pretty tough. We would have brought both of you, but there was one problem: you two are arch rivals,”

“Oops,” I muttered.

“I hope that answers your question. Getting back on track, uh . . . right! We were debating on who to choose, and the council was leaning more towards R.J. Don’t ask why even I don’t understand. He’s just an immature brat.”

I couldn’t help but laugh in agreement. “Finally, the truth is spoken,” I added.

Liku gave me a half-smile and continued speaking.

“After a few more meetings, the council . . . the-the council,” The color quickly drained from his face. Liku looked at me, and then Tessa. “Annalia,” He looked at me. “You’re not supposed to be here,”

“Wh-what?” I asked softly.

“They chose R.J.”

“They did?” Tessa asked. He nodded. “But . . . Liku, then how-”

“They assigned us to retrieve R.J. like how we did with Annalia. But-” Liku turned his attention towards me again. “Do you remember those people that came to your school one day with all the snakes and reptiles?”

“Uh-huh,” I replied.

“I was the guy that brought out all the animals for the lady to talk about and show you.”

“Really?”

“Yup. And, I don’t know what it was, but when I first saw you . . . you had this . . . glow. Not literally, but you seemed to just, light up the room with your presence. I knew you were special. And in that moment, I knew that I would fight for you to be chosen. I tried everything for you to be chosen, Annalia, but it was no use,” Liku looked down in shame.

“So, Tessa,” he looked up at her. “I . . . I lied to you. I said that we were assigned to retrieve Annalia since she was the chosen one.”

Tessa shot up from her seat. “Liku! How could you!”

“I’m sorry, Tess-”

“Not only did you betray the queen, but you got us both in serious trouble!” Tessa glanced at me. “No, you got the three of us in serious trouble. Especially her,” I was speechless.

“Can’t Viallanne just have the pixies-”

“It’s not going to work that way, Liku.” Tessa walked past Liku and put her hand on the door handle. “Not only are R.J. and Annalia special, but they’re very stubborn. So trying to convince Annalia to do that is probably not going to work very well,”

“Convince me to do what-”

“You’ll find out later,” Tessa cut me off. I watched as Tessa grabbed a key from her pocket and inserted it into the door handle. She unlocked it and turned around to face us. Her face was fiery red with rage, but her eyes had the slightest gleam of worry.

“Come on guys.” Tessa grabbed the last white chair from the table in the corner. She walked with it back to the door and opened it. “There’s no way I’m going in alone to fix this mess.”

Geekerella, by Ashley Poston

A girl in a blue dress standing beside an orange Magic Pumpkin food truck

Geekerella, written by Ashley Poston, was a cute contemporary read I never expected to like. In fact, I’d even say I loved this book and I couldn’t recommend it enough. Generally, I tend to read more dramatic and intense fantasy books, so when I picked up this novel it came as a pleasant surprise. Geekerella is about a girl named Danielle Wittimer, also known as Elle, who loves a show she holds close to her heart called Starfield and the new reboot starring teen actor and heartthrob Darien Freeman. This book features points of view from both Darien and Elle, switching each chapter. The book is also a twist on the fairy tale Cinderella, with cute similarities found throughout. For instance, instead of a prince, there’s a celebrity, and Elle works at a food truck called the Magic Pumpkin, which are a few examples among many.

The character Elle is a relatable 17-year-old with an unfortunate string of bad luck that has followed her since her dad’s death. Elle is relatable to me because of her love and dedication to her fandom, which I can relate to with many books and movies. The other character Darien is less relatable because he is famous, but his feelings are genuine and believable which make him a well-liked character. Elle’s stepsisters Chloe and Calliope (Cal), are extremely bratty throughout the book, although one of them does show some unexpected development hinted at slightly towards the first half of the book. Elle develops an unlikely friendship with Sage, her coworker. Sage is a nice character who gives Elle the support she needs while she goes through the hurdles to get to Excelsicon for a cosplay contest.

The two main characters, Elle and Darien, meet through a wrong number text, and their relationship grows through their love for Starfield. The path to their encounter is cute and paced well, with enough time for feelings to grow between the pair. I do feel like them saying that they were in love (not to each other but to friends, before they had met) seemed quite soon and not as believable because they didn’t even know what each other looked like or anything other than their obsession with Starfield. That would be my only critique.

Poston does a good job of including a mix of races and sexualities despite only having a few characters. Darien is British-Indian and Sage (Elle’s coworker and later friend), is a lesbian, along with someone else I won’t mention because I don’t want to spoil too much. A lot of other books I’ve read with a lot more characters either have the same amount of diversity or less, which is unimpressive.

I started this 320-page book one night and finished it the next day. It’s a fast-paced read with an excellent storyline that keeps the reader intrigued. The writing style is great and the references to other famous movies and/or books make the read especially relatable despite Starfield not being a real show. The detail Poston put into the Starfield show and its intricacies make the book much better because the more references and knowledge the characters use the more understandable the obsession is.

Overall, I would rate Geekerella a 10/10 because of the fantastic one-liners, relatable/believable characters, and representation of nerd culture.