Thursday, November 14, 2013

House of Hades review

This book is definitely as good as any of Riordan's other works. He very skillfully gives each of the seven characters their own portion(s) of the story told in their point of view without losing the forward momentum of the plot. Each of them has some task to accomplish in order for their common goal to be met, and I honestly felt interested in what was happening to all of them.

There is also some great character development and darker moments. I particularly like the growth that Leo undergoes and the attention he gets since his is a character that could merely provide comic relief and mechanical skill, but his growth is more realistic, though in a conventional way. The revelations about Nico's struggles were annoying at first, because I usually feel (view spoiler at Goodreads) I don't know if Riordan always intended for Nico's storyline to go in that direction, but the treatment seems incredibly authentic to the feelings and reaction a boy in his situation might have, so kudos to Riordan for managing to engage my sympathy despite my initial reaction. Frank's growth, pardon the pun, is fairly predictable, but I enjoyed Hazel coming into more of her own and I look forward to her mastering her abilities even more in the next book.

As for Percy and Annabeth, I agree with some of the criticism I've read that, as awful as Tartarus is portrayed, the lighter/humorous moments are maybe not realistic, but it is a MG series so they are still appropriate. Seeing these two stretched to their limits and examining the morality of their past actions during other quests deepens this story beyond just an action/adventure fantasy. I really like how Percy is forced to reflect on his treatment of Bob. We already know Percy is not perfect, but this kind of reflection and growth adds another layer of depth that makes him more admirable.

Very satisfying read, highly recommended!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Allegiant review: great controversial ending!

Any book that leaves me still feeling an emotional connection more than a day after I finish reading it is one I have to recommend. If you want to read the spoilers, click here to see the full review on Goodreads.

I admire Veronica Roth for coming up with an unexpected conclusion to her trilogy. There were things I didn't like about the previous books, mostly the illogic of her premise that people of the future could somehow become separated into factions based on their dominant personality. This book has a reasonable, albeit delayed, explanation for that.

Tobias's mother, Evelyn, and her group of the factionless have replaced the former Erudite leader with another dictatorship, causing Tris, Tobias, and a few of their friends to join the Allegiant, those loyal to the faction system and the call to help those outside the fence. Tris and Tobias are chosen to be among those who leave the city to see what's outside, while others, later including Tobias's father, Marcus, continue to resist from inside the city.

What impresses me most about this book is the characterization of both Tris and Tobias, particularly Tobias. She continues to be a complex character, though we never really get an explanation for why she seems exceptional among the Divergent, [who turn out to be people with undamaged genes, and therefore possess a normal mixture of qualities from the factions.  Tobias turns out to be more interesting in this book because we see from his own point of view his flaws and weaknesses. Among the biggest conflicts of the book are those between family members, as Tris struggles to forgive her brother's betrayal and Tobias continues to feel anger toward both his parents. The most poignant scene, I think, is the confrontation between Tobias and Evelyn.

The ending is foreshadowed subtly in certain scenes, such as [spoiler]. For those who manage not to read the spoilers that give away the ending, I think there will be some dissatisfaction, but I do think Ms. Roth made a brillant decision that adds an incredible impact to this conclusion. [Spoiler] How Tobias chooses to handle his feelings, both regarding Evelyn and Tris in the end are handled realistically, using sound ethics. Some minor criticisms: the epilogue seems weak [spoiler] Also, the mention of several very minor characters as being gay seems fairly gratuitous as it has no bearing on the plot and the characters are so marginal.

Overall, I liked this book much better than the previous installments, probably because of the characterization and the depth of the themes. My Goodreads review gives it 4 stars, but truly I'd give it 4.5 out of 5!