Thursday, January 11, 2018

REVIEW: DIVERGENT SERIES 2 - INSURGENT ~ VERONICA ROTH


Veronica Roth’s Insurgent is the second book in the Divergent series and picks up where it’s predecessor, Divergent, left off; Tris, Tobias, Caleb, Marcus and Peter fleeing the aftermath of the Abnegation attack, on the train, out of the city.  Along their journey they attempt to rejoin the remaining loyal Dauntless and seek safe haven with other factions, but with Erudite and the rebel Dauntless out for blood, allies are few and far between. 
 
 
Tris’ guilt over her parents’ deaths and killing Will is pulling her into a darkness she has not known before and Tris finds herself having a bit of a death wish, placing extreme pressure on her relationship with Tobias.  
 
Shailene Woodley nails this heartbreaking scene in the film
 
With major secrets and tension between them, and Tris and Tobias find their still fragile relationship on very shaky ground.  While navigating troubles of their own, they must unravel the more important mystery of why Abnegation was attacked in the first place and why Jeanine Mason is dead-set on identifying all the divergents.  Danger and mystery abound, friend and foe is indistinguishable.  A surprise return, a shocking betrayal and an unexpected ally are just some of the things keeping the reader off balance, and the unpredictable journey Tris takes the reader on makes Insurgent a very satisfying continuation of the series. 



Shortly after finishing Divergent, I innocently and accidentally came across a major Allegiant spoiler on Pinterest, which unfortunately doused my interest in continuing the series.  My delay in continuing the series therefore had nothing to do with my enjoyment thereof, or the quality of Roth’s work.  Time and distance has reawakened my curiosity and I am finally ready to see how Tris’ journey reaches its inevitable conclusion.  I very much enjoyed the action and adventure Insurgent provides, and I think the series is playing out very cleverly.  While in Divergent I admired Tris’ bravery, I found myself frustrated with her in Insurgent.  I had a hard time understanding why she made some of the decisions she did.  I absolutely respect the fact that she has lost both her parents and that the uncertainty of her current situation must be overwhelming, yet I found Tris making (in my opinion) very stupid choices in this book. 
 
Tris cuts her hair in mourning
 
I believe Roth wanted to illustrate Tris’ death wish, in which she succeeded, but the problem is that Tris’ rash behaviour placed not only herself in danger, but those around her as well, and this disregard for the safety of others is very unlike Tris.  Lying, keeping secrets and breaking promises also come much too easy.  More than once I also felt that Tris had zero regard for her relationship with Tobias, and she continued to make choices she knew would hurt both Tobias and their relationship, without attempting to have a mature conversation with him first. 
 
 
The thing I liked least about Insurgent is that I struggled to identify with Tris this time around.  It was easy in Divergent, but I did not connect with Tris all that well in Insurgent.   I do, however, commend Roth for her bravery in taking Tris on this emotional rollercoaster and not shying away from the darkness inside of Tris; it makes Tris’ ultimate epiphany that much more tangible and satisfying. 
 
Tobias with the Factionless
 
We do discover why Abnegation was targeted, what Tris’ parents were willing to die for (besides Tris and Caleb), and a whole new world is opened to us, ready to be discovered in Allegiant.  All in all Insurgent makes for a very satisfying read.
 
 
Product Information:
Title: Insurgent
Series: Divergent (not standalone)
Author: Veronica Roth
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books
Year: 2012
Pages: 545
ISBN-10: 0062024051
ISBN-13: 978-0062024053
ASIN: B0070R41G0

 
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Monday, January 1, 2018

REVIEW: CHESAPEAKE VALOR 2: STILL LIFE ~ DANI PETTREY

Still Life by Dani Pettrey is the second book in the Chesapeake Valor series.  Each book in the series will be loosely connected to the others in that it will feature the same group of characters and an independent, but will function well as standalone stories in that each book will have different main characters.  While it is not necessary to read all of the books or to read them in order, enjoyment of the series will obviously be enhanced by reading all of the books in order.
 


Still Life takes place a few months after the conclusion of Cold Shot.  Parker Mitchell’s assistant, Avery Tate, has resigned her position with him as she has accepted both the fact that she loves him, and that he still loves Jenna, his deceased first love, and she finds being close to him every day, bearing the burden of her supposed unrequited love too difficult to bear.  When Avery’s childhood friend, Skylar, goes missing and Avery suspects foul play, she however has no option but to turn to the best crime scene analyst she knows and Avery and Parker’s paths cross again.  With Avery back in his daily life and the void she had left behind once again filled, Parker can no longer deny his feelings for her; but where does that leave his devotion to Jenna?  Can he still honour her memory if he allows himself to love another?

To Avery’s horror her hunch soon proves correct and Skylar turns up dead.  In order to find answers, Avery must navigate the life she had left behind, exposing her dreaded past to the man she most wants to impress.  Facing the ugly truths and painful memories of her past forces Avery to confront her demons once and for all, and she must expose her deepest hurts and greatest regrets to Parker if she hopes to have a future with him.  As the team begins to investigate Skylar’s murder, Avery and Parker’s mutual attraction becomes the least of their worries when it seems Skylar’s killer has set his sights on Avery.
 
 
My review of Cold Shot made it clear that I found Parker and Avery to be a much more interesting pair than Griffin and Finley, and Still Life did not disappoint.  Where Cold Shot made Finley a sidekick, Avery is very much an integral part of the investigative team.  As opposed to Finley and Griffin in the first book, Avery and Parker spend the majority of the book together as they face all obstacles as a team. 

With the murder investigation on the forefront, the book also takes the time to delve into Avery’s insecurities stemming from a past she is struggling to make peace with, as well as Parker’s struggle to move on from loving and losing Jenna.  Both issues are beautifully explored and the character development for both Avery and Parker is realistic and satisfying.   

As with Cold Shot, the religious elements in Still Life add to the story without being overwhelming, sure to satisfy believers, yet not exasperate non-believers. 

I very much enjoyed Still Life, and will certainly continue the series with both Blind Spot (Declan and Tanner’s story), and Dead Drift (Luke and Kate’s story).  Declan and Tanner uncovered a terrorist plot in Still Life, and I believe this story will develop even further in Blind Spot, and perhaps even in Dead Drift as the long lost Luke finally proves to be alive as Kate has always believed, and comes home to face the ones he left behind.  When Kate learns he disappeared and left her behind voluntarily to become a secret operative, will she finally let him go, or will he give her a reason to hold on? 



Product Information:

Title: Still Life

Series: Chesapeake Valor (Standalone)

Author: Dani Pettrey

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Year: 2017

Pages: 352

ISBN-10: 0764212958

ISBN-13: 978-0764212956

ASIN: B01M6W47W7

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