Review: The End and Other Beginnings by Veronica Roth

The End and Other Beginnings by Veronica Roth

Published: October 1, 2019 by Katherine Tegen Books

Buy this book at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Rating:

Synopsis: Bestselling Divergent and Carve the Mark author Veronica Roth delivers a stunning collection of novella-length stories set in the future, illustrated with startling black-and-white artwork.

No world is like the other. Within this masterful collection, each setting is more strange and wonderful than the last, brimming with new technologies and beings. And yet, for all the advances in these futuristic lands, the people still must confront deeply human problems.

In these six stories, Veronica Roth reaches into the unknown and draws forth something startlingly familiar and profoundly beautiful.

With tales of friendship and revenge, plus two new stories from the Carve the Mark universe, this collection has something for new and old fans alike. Each story begins with a hope for a better end, but always end with a better understanding of the beginning.

With beautifully intricate black-and-white interior illustrations and a uniquely designed package, this is the perfect gift for book lovers. 

Review: Collections of short stories are a bit scary for me, as a reader. They are inevitably a mixed bag. I have never read a single one where I loved every story presented. Ultimately, all I can hope is that I enjoy a majority of them. This collection was so good! I would venture to say it is among the best short story collections I have ever read. Let’s break this down by story:

Inertia: I was thoroughly surprised by this story. I started out not liking it much and by the end I was sobbing. It was told in such a beautiful way and it was emotionally compelling. The basic premise is that in the future there is a technology to allow you to mentally relive memories with someone who is not likely to survive long and individually come to terms with the reality of their impending death. The main character is summoned to a visitation with her former best friend and their journey together is one of the most emotional things I have ever read. The story has stayed with me, even days later.

The Spinners: This story was not quite as good as the first. It was about a set of sisters, shortly after their mother was killed by an alien parasite. They have become distant as one has set upon a quest to exterminate all alien parasites and the other moves on and goes to college. But they are forced back together to take their mother’s ashes to the ocean, as she requested. It was an exciting story in parts and emotional in others.

Hearken: This story is the single best short story I have ever read. In such a short amount of time Roth manages to construct a world with so much beauty and depth. I perfectly understood how this world worked. It was such a great story that it left me breathless and speechless. I am still unable to accurately describe how much I loved this story and how how many emotions it made me feel. This is a world where bio-terror attacks are commonplace, most people don’t live past 50. But there is a music discovered in life and death. Every person has a unique life song and a unique death song. Hearkeners are trained to record and play these songs at someone’s birth and their death to commemorate their life. It was such a fascinating concept. It seems redundant at this point but it broke my heart and made me sob until I couldn’t breathe.

Vim and Vigor: This story was just okay. It had a very different tone from the first three, which is good because I had spent a good three hours sobbing through this book so far. It’s the story of a group of friends who have grown apart and are drawn back together by the love of a comic they all bonded over. It was okay but nothing to write home about. It was about someone writing a fan fiction, but it rather felt like one.

Armored Ones: Maybe it’s because I haven’t read Carve the Mark series (which this story is set in) but I spent a lot of the story confused. When I finally caught up to what was going on it was really interesting but I struggled to keep up.

The Transformationist: Apparently this is also set in the Carve the Mark series but a very different part of the universe. I liked the story. I found Otho compelling and I desperately wanted to see him get himself out of the bind he was in. But I felt the ending was a cop out, and it disappointed me.

Overall, it was truly wonderful, and I think I will go read the Carve the Mark series and then come back to these last two stories. Maybe then I will find them amazing.

Review: Allegiant by Veronica Roth

allegiant Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Published October 22nd, 2013 by Katherine Tegen Books

Buy this book at: Amazon / B&N / Books a Million / Book Depository

 

Synopsis:

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

 

Rating: 3 star

 

Review:

SPOILER WARNING!!

I am not entirely sure what to think about this book. I didn’t dislike it but I didn’t think it was great either, it was……decent. That’s the best description I’ve come up with for how I feel about this book.

I was rather dismayed at the dual narration for a few reasons. First because both Tris and Tobias’ voices were nearly indistinguishable. A few times I found myself going back to the beginning of a chapter to figure out who was talking because I honestly couldn’t remember. That annoyed me because I’ve never thought their voices were so similar before, it seems like the author stopped trying to make them different. Second, because I knew what the dual narration meant for the larger story. Tris was the main narrator and replacing part of her story could only mean that she didn’t see the end of the story.

Most of the plot points were done fairly decently. But I didn’t really like the whole idea of striving for genetically pure people. i got sooooo many shades of the civil rights movement there. And it just seemed kind of dumb, an entire society that is supposedly so much more advanced than ours coming to the erroneous decision that our genetics create our personality and actions. Um, I took high school biology (at a public school!) and I know better than that, but these super scientists of the future who can create serums to wipe your memories or make your fears a reality couldn’t figure that one out? I didn’t buy that and it annoyed me.

I really did feel like we saw a lot of character development in this book, and I loved that part. I felt like both the plot and the characters completely stalled in Insurgent so I was pleased to see them get back on track.

The world building was alright, but still lacking a bit for my tastes. I felt like the world outside the city was much too similar to the world inside the city, so what was the point of any of it?

The bad guy was about par for the course. Not as great as Jeanine or Evelyn but a worthy adversary. Although I felt like the larger enemy was the world at large, which is too big of a target for a single book.

The biggest point that I questioned in this book was the ending. Making the choice between two bad options and I am not sure they picked the right one. Who made them the decision makers? Why did they get to choose who to save and who to sacrifice? That didn’t make it right. There were so many other options for how to fix things and none of them were even considered. I don’t really understand why that decision was made either.

I was not thrilled with this conclusion to the series, but it was okay. I enjoyed it, I shed a few tears, and I didn’t feel like I wasted my time. At the end of the day that is a pretty good way to say goodbye to this series. If it was my story I would have done it differently, but it’s not so I must just say that it satisfied me.

 

Review: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Insurgent by Veronica Roth (book 2 of the Divergent Trilogy)

Published May 1st, 2012 by Harper Collins

Picture and Synopsis from Goodreads

Purchase this book at: B&N and Amazon

Synopsis:

One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

Rating (out of 5):

Review:

Don’t let a 3 star rating fool you, I really liked this book!  There was nothing essentially wrong with it, but it certainly was not a home run like Divergent was.  I enjoyed the plot overall but also didn’t feel that a whole lot happened.  We begin the book moments after the first book began, so we should be filled with action from the very first chapter.  And it wasn’t, not really.  The surviving group is headed for Amity, hoping that the faction will provide them shelter while they decide what to do next.  I liked this, it was a logical step in the plot.  Let’s go through this point by point….

Too much teenage angst and drama!  The first book was so enthralling from the very start, Tris is a strong female lead character, and there was minimal teenage angst.  Since it is YA, the angst is to be expected to an extent so I was so pleased when there was not much of it the first time around.  This time we couldn’t seem to get away from it.  Tris and Tobias (Four) are bickering at every turn it seemed and spent most of the book not really talking to each other.  NO!  This is not where we left that relationship!  It was just starting to bloom and form and it was awesome, a love forged in fire and war!  But they are at each other’s throats ALL THE TIME and it bugged me.  So as a consequence we spend a lot of time in Tris’ head as she goes over the drama and how to avoid it or fix it.

The plot just moved too slow and waited too long to get good.  Most of the time was spent plotting what to do instead of actually doing it.  However, once things actually got moving it was fantastic!  I loved the different side to Amity that we haven’t seen before and we gained a lot more insight into their faction and other factions as a result.  Then we have the teaser from Marcus, of information that Jeanine wants to keep secret when everyone else should know.  That was interesting since we don’t know what it is, just that it seems really important.  During this time we also get more views into Tobias’ relationships with his parents.  This gives us a view of his character that was very needed and I lapped it up.   Overall I would say that I enjoyed the progression of all the plot points and characters in the book, except Tris.  I dunno what happened to her, she went from smart, witty, inventive, and strong to being stupidly self-sacrificing for no reason other than guilt.  I can understand where it came from, but it started to get annoying with her constantly running off to get herself killed and forcing the others to focus on saving her from herself.

I loved the glimpses and progression we saw of Jeanine.  She was such a great villain.  You wanted to hate her so much and with such good reason, that other insidious (though less blatantly so) characters flew beneath your notice.  I pride myself on seeing things coming, Jeanine clouded my view of the plot and I was blindsided by several things.  Jeanine holding Tris captive to experiment on her was really interesting and I couldn’t put the book down during that part at all.  The mission to raid Erudite headquarters and get the information was also fantastic.

The ending of this book left me slack-jawed and thinking “What the hell just happened?”.  I also liked the fact that it wasn’t really even a cliffhanger.  If this were the end of the series, I would be content with how it ended.  But knowing that there is another book coming makes me anxious to find out what’s next RIGHT NOW.  I look forward to reading the last book, hopefully with less angsty moments.