FOUR: A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth

“Two years before Beatrice Prior made her choice, the sixteen-year-old son of Abnegation’s faction leader did the same. Tobias’s transfer to Dauntless is a chance to begin again. Here, he will not be called the name his parents gave him. Here, he will not let fear turn him into a cowering child.

Newly christened “Four,” he discovers during initiation that he will succeed in Dauntless. Initiation is only the beginning, though; Four must claim his place in the Dauntless hierarchy. His decisions will affect future initiates as well as uncover secrets that could threaten his own future—and the future of the entire faction system.

Two years later, Four is poised to take action, but the course is still unclear. The first new initiate who jumps into the net might change all that. With her, the way to righting their world might become clear. With her, it might become possible to be Tobias once again.”

This isn’t a review so much as a quick note, as the book is ridiculously short, but it felt like a crime not to mention it after all my raving about the Divergent Trilogy, so here goes. I adored this. I didn’t particularly enjoy the foray into Tobias’ perspective in Allegiant – I mentioned that I found it too similar to Tris’ voice – but this book was brilliant. It’s split into four parts. Each are relatively short, with the whole book totaling something like 300 pages – nowhere near the length of Divergent, which (I think) is the shortest of the trilogy.

The book is made up of The Transfer, The Initiate, The Son, and The Traitor,as well as a couple of short excerpts. They show Tobias’ life with Marcus, his transfer to Dauntless, as well as a bit about how he was offered the position of Dauntless leader. The final snippet is about Tris, and it takes place during the Divergent timeline.

Although I really enjoyed them, it felt almost like a draft of a book – even more so when you think about how Roth originally planned for the trilogy to be from Four’s point of view. I felt like she could have done a lot more with it. Otherwise, though, it’s a must-read for fans of the Divergent Trilogy. I think the snippets are also available as separate eBooks – but it’s really satisfying to see all four books together on your bookshelf!

 

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The Maze Runner by James Dashner

“When the lift cranks open, the only thing Thomas remembers is his first name. But he’s not alone – an army of boys welcomes him to the Glade, an encampment at the centre of a terrible maze. The Gladers have no idea why they’re there, or what’s happening to the world outside. And following the arrival of a girl with a message, they must find a way out – or die.”
First off, this book is fantastic, and as the movie is coming out later this year I recommend reading it as soon as possible. It’s about this boy, Thomas, and he wakes up with no memory – he doesn’t even remember his last name, or how old he is. There are all of these boys trapped in the middle of a maze, and the walls move around every night, repeating themselves every month or so. Every evening, the walls close, and it’s practically suicide to stay out at night – there are terrible creatures called Grievers that roam the Maze after dark.

It began around two years ago, and a new boy would arrive every month – but the day after Thomas arrives, a girl called Teresa turns up, saying she’s triggered the Ending. Supplies stop coming and the sun seems to vanish, and they need to solve the maze or they’ll all die – with no supplies and no sun for crops to grow, there’s no chance of survival anymore.

I read this based off a really enthusiastic recommendation. I wasn’t expecting much – basically, I heard some fans talking to a friend of mine. My friend was saying she was still on the first book after over a month because she found it too slow. I’d seen the book around bookstores, and I didn’t have much to read, so I gave it a try. I found the first half slow, but then the book really picked up and I found myself unable to put it back down. The characters are very human, with flaws and good points, so they were pretty relatable. Chapters were varied in length, all ending on a dramatic point, which was effective – you couldn’t stop reading.

The series is a trilogy. The next two books are The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure, as well as a prequel, The Kill Order. You don’t have to have read The Maze Runner before you read Kill Order,and vice versa, although I think reading Kill Order kind of kills the suspense if you read it first – it gives away a lot. Age…well, I’d say you could read it at the age of eleven but you could also read it at the age of fourteen and you’d enjoy it either way, so the age doesn’t really matter – the book’s completely clean, which is a pleasant contrast to most teenage books you’ll find. Definitely recommend this!

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Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

“When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray arrives in England during the reign of Queen Victoria, something terrifying is waiting for her in London’s Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural fold stalk the gaslit streets. Drawn ever deeper into their world, she finds herself fascinated by – and torn between – two best friends and quickly realizes that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.”

This is the first in Clare’s Infernal Devices trilogy, which are basically prequels to Mortal Instruments. Tessa arrives in London from New York to stay with her brother, Nate, after her aunt – her only guardian – passes away. When she arrives, however, she meets the sinister Dark Sisters who insist they have been sent by her brother; eventually, it turns out that they have some other ideas. They keep her prisoner and she learns that she has the ability to turn into anyone and access their memories as soon as she touches something that belongs to them – and this ability makes her one of the most hunted people in Downworld London, a place where vampires, warlocks and other creatures roam – as well as Shadowhunters, whom she eventually seeks refuge with.

 I didn’t enjoy this nearly as much as I enjoyed City of Bones, sadly, because it was far too similar to Mortal Instruments – and I know people who dislike Mortal Instruments because of the similarity to Infernal Devices, depending on which series they read first. The Shadowhunters, Will and Jem, seemed irritatingly familiar throughout the book – although I adored Will. Essentially, this is because Will is a Jace who looks like Alec and Jem is an Alec who looks like Jace. (Alec and Jace being characters from Mortal Instruments.) There’s also another love triangle, as in Clare’s previous books – so essentially, the book failed to get me hooked. Clare’s writing is pretty good, but the lack of new ideas meant I didn’t really enjoy the book.

That said, though, I probably would’ve enjoyed the books more if I hadn’t read Mortal Instruments first. Overall, though, I recommend reading Mortal Instruments over these – I enjoyed those more.

The book’s aimed at teens – probably twelve-ish and above, really. It doesn’t matter much with these books. They aren’t bad, but they aren’t fantastic, either.

 

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The Mortal Instruments: City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare

Warning: contains spoilers

“Darkness returns to the Shadowhunter world. As their society falls apart around them, Clary, Jace, Simon and their friends must band together to fight the greatest evil the Nephilim have ever faced: Clary’s own brother. Nothing in the world can defeat him — must they journey to another world to find the chance? Lives will be lost, love sacrificed, and the whole world changed in the sixth and last installment of the Mortal Instruments series.”

Heavenly Fire is the sixth and final installment in Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series. I didn’t particularly enjoy the series – I liked them, sure, but they weren’t fantastic. If you’ve seen a copy of Heavenly Fire, you’ll know the book resembles a brick in terms of thickness – it’s really long.

In Heavenly Fire, Clary, Jace and the others are trying to stop Clary’s brother, Sebastian, from taking over the world and destroying Shadowhunters. The Heavenly Fire in Jace’s veins seems to be the only way to stop Sebastian, but Jace doesn’t know how to use it. Things are getting dark – Sebastian is attacking institutes and Turning Shadowhunters. Sebastian and the Seelie Queen are working together. So Clary, Jace, Simon, Alec and Isabelle go to the demon realm to rescue Jocelyn, Luke, Raphael, and Magnus and defeat Sebastian. Do they succeed? Well, pretty much, yes.

The book starts off introducing the characters of Clare’s next series, The Dark Artifices, and quite a lot of the book was spent setting the stage for those books. I found those parts particularly boring, as I doubt I’ll read TDA when they come out, and I found myself skimming those parts to get to the good bits. There was also quite a lot of reference to the prequel series, The Infernal Devices, and as I hadn’t read those yet I found myself wondering who on earth Tessa Gray was and how Brother Zachariah was connected to her – and why this whole idea was being introduced so late. I’ve now read the first of The Infernal Devices, which is called Clockwork Angel, and I think I’ve got an idea of what was going on, but I think for people who haven’t read TID it will be quite confusing. It was for me, anyway.

As for the bits about the TMI characters we all know pretty well – they were enjoyable. Mostly. There were slow bits, as in every book, and there were the nice bits. Starting the book, I think everyone knew everything was going to turn out okay – evil would be defeated, some people would die, but everything would be fine.

I have to say I loved the way Sebastian died. It was lovely how the Heavenly Fire wiped out the demon in him and for a little while, he was the brother Clary could’ve had if Valentine hadn’t done what he did. His death was wonderfully sad. The other part I really liked was when Simon had his memory wiped. (I adore sad endings.) I do think, though, that it felt too neat to bring Simon back – I feel like Clary was coping and that it was a little bit too forced, like Clare sat down and thought, “right, how can I bring Simon back?” rather than just leaving it how it was. I felt like it was a war, so realistically at least one of the group of main characters should’ve died: one from Clary, Jace, Alec, Isabelle, Magnus, Luke, Jocelyn. I know Jordan did die, but it felt too rushed for me.

Overall, it had it’s moments, but I felt too much time was spent on Infernal Devices and Dark Artifices – it relied heavily on them instead of spending time on the Mortal Instruments characters, which meant the book moved sluggishly. A good book overall, though. It’s aimed at teenagers, probably around twelve or thirteen.

 

 

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The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

“Clary Fray is seeing things: vampires in Brooklyn and werewolves in Manhattan. Irresistibly drawn to the Shadowhunters, a secret group of warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons, Clary encounters the dark side of New York City – and the dangers of forbidden love.”

I first saw the blurb and immediately wrote this off as another Twilight-type thing – werewolves, vampires, forbidden love, blah, blah. It sounded ridiculously boring and since I didn’t particularly like Twilight, I put reading this off for a very long time. But I read it anyway, and it was better than I expected.

The main character is called Clary Fray, and to be honest, she was what I liked the least about this book – well, the entire series, actually. She’s pretty dull and doesn’t have much of a personality, but if you overlook that, it’s a pretty good book. The book starts when Clary and her best friend, Simon, are at a club where Clary witnesses the murder of a demon – and that’s where you meet the Shadowhunters: Jace, Alec, and Isabelle. The body vanishes seconds later, and it’s pretty difficult to call the police when there’s no body to show and it turns out that Clary is the only one who can see the murderers at all. This is Clary’s first introduction to the world of Shadowhunters: warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons. Covered in bizarre tattoos and holding strange weapons, it becomes clear pretty fast that they aren’t entirely normal. Within 24 hours, it’s evident that Clary is part of this world – otherwise, what would demons want with Clary’s mother, Jocelyn? Turns out Jocelyn was also a Shadowhunter and has passed the ability down to Clary.

It’s gripping, not particularly fantastic but one of those books you can’t seem to stop reading.

Jace keeps popping up in the subsequent chapters and it becomes pretty obvious that he’s going to be Clary’s love interest in the series. In this book, I quite liked him: he was snarky and sarcastic and generally an awesome character, looking like an angel and acting like a jerk. We don’t learn much about Alec until later books, except that he seems to despise Clary with a passion. And then there’s Isabelle: she’s pretty, wears dresses and heels at ridiculously inappropriate times, is an amazing fighter, and is horribly shallow, which is what put me off. In general, though, the book is pretty good, with some interesting characters to balance out the bland ones – I’d say it was for roughly 13/14 year olds, but I think you could read it at an older age and still enjoy it, even though it’s quite an easy read.

As you probably know, there’s a movie for City of Bones – it’s not particularly good. I found it quite dull – I mean, it had its moments, but I spent most of the film readingCity of Ashes (the next one) and looking up every ten minutes or so to see what was going on. The casting wasn’t particularly fantastic and it wasn’t exactly what you would call captivating, though I know a lot of people who loved it – but even more who were put off reading the rest of the books due to the film’s general dullness. The book was better by far and I’d definitely recommend it.

 

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The Host by Stephenie Meyer

It’s a sci-fi/romance novel. The earth has been invaded by a race of aliens who call themselves ‘souls’…they take over the minds of their human ‘hosts’ and are able to access their memories. Most of humanity has succumbed- but there are still groups of humans scattered around the world. Melanie Stryder, her brother Jamie and her boyfriend, for want of a better word, Jared. Melanie has been captured and the soul ‘Wanderer’ has been placed inside her. But Melanie refuses to fade away, as most other humans have; she is still present in Wanderer’s head as a little voice that refuses to go away. Melanie throws vivid memories at Wanderer to avoid her finding the memories she’s searching for- because Wanderer is supposed to be looking for information about the other humans. Wanderer can’t stop Melanie’s concern for Jamie and Jared from affecting her, and the two set off through the desert to look for them at her Uncle Jeb’s- they’re nearly dead from dehydration when finally, they’re found.

I’ll be honest: Twilight isn’t my favorite series in the world. So I was a little apprehensive before I picked this one up. It’s fantastic for fans of Twilight- it’s pretty much the same! Because if you look a tiny bit closer, a lot of the Twilight characters are reflected in The Host’s characters as well:

Main character, unable to lie: Melanie and Bella

Jared and Edward

The other love interest: Ian and Jacob

Compassionate doctor: Doc and Carlisle

 A love triangle

 Those who hate the main character for no reason: Sharon and Lauren

…well, I could go on and on. For those who adored Twilight, go ahead! Definitely worth a read for you. For those who didn’t…well, steer clear. Age? Well, they’re both aimed at teenagers. Full of romance and internal monologue, with not much action.

 

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Thief by Malorie Blackman

This is one of Malorie Blackman’s shorter books. I’d only read her Noughts and Crossesseries and I thought they were fantastic- so I tried this one. It wasn’t bad. It was nowhere near Noughts and Crosses, though. The beginning, I warn you, was boring and clichéd- I was about ready to throw the book onto the floor and scream at the sky. That does change, though, and you soon find yourself in the middle of an incredible plot.

What if you could change the past to save the future?

You’re the new girl in school. You’re just trying to fit in – and it’s not working.

Then someone accuses you of theft, and you think things can’t get any worse. Until you get caught in a freak storm.

The next thing you know, you’re in the future. Being shot at for being out after curfew. You don’t even recognize your hometown. And you’re heading for a confrontation from your worst nightmare.”

The blurb is certainly very draw-you-in, because it’s so utterly confusing. The book isn’t- it’s readable and reasonably paced. It’s gripping. It’s the story of Lydia Henson, who just moved with her family from bustling London to a small town. This is the clichéd bit- she’s struggling to fit in at school. There’s a group of “popular girls” at her new school, including her “new best friend” Fran, and she wants to join them- but the leader, also the “school bully”, says to join them Lydia has to steal the school sports cup and keep it in her locker overnight. Lydia backs out- but the cup is found in her locker the next day and she is accused of stealing it. This starts a whole load of trouble for her family, and her brother is the only kid she knows who is sticking up for her. Lydia is particularly upset by Fran’s reluctance to step in and defend her- and it gets so bad that their car is attacked, they get hate mail, etc.- not great for a new school.

And now the interesting part begins! In a freak storm, Lydia is somehow hurled into the future- she meets all sorts of people and sees that in the future, she has turned into a bitter, spiteful old hag and her brother has become the well known, much hated “Tyrant”.

I think this one is aimed at younger readers- I’d say, 9-12? It’s very readable, very gripping, and I read it just a few days ago- which is quite a bit above that age! – And I have to say, I enjoyed it. It’s a lot better than many “teen” novels I’ve read, and I genuinely grew to care about some of the characters, which I think shows how beautifully relatable the book is. One to read!

 

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