Reading Wrap-Up #09

I know I usually include four books in my reviews, but with these three books, I met my GoodReads reading challenge goal of reading 35 books this year! My main goal was to read more books than I read last year (25) and I’m really proud of myself for doing so. I hope to continue reading a lot and surpass whatever my final count is next year.

As a reminder, here is how I rate my books:

  • (★★★★★): Loved it
  • (★★★★): Really liked it
  • (★★★): Didn’t hate it, didn’t love it
  • (★★): Barely finished it

Another few notes: I will warn if there are any spoilers with (start spoiler) and (end spoiler) so you know when to stop reading and pick up again if you don’t want to ruin the book for yourself. I no longer go out of my way to watch adaptions, but will continue to mention them and their general critiques (from Rotten Tomatoes) in my reviews.

Divergent by Veronica Roth

81-DFVziuwLRating: ★★★

Genre: Young adult, dystopia

GoodReads rating:  4.21 / 5 (2,590,000 ratings)

Medium used: Audiobook (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Date started/ finished: 14/5 – 18/5

Summary: In dystopian Chicago, society is divided up in five different factions “dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue.” When Beatrice gets puzzling aptitude results, there seems to be no right choice when it’s her turn to choose her lifelong faction at age sixteen. Meanwhile, tensions between the different factions brew and war may be on the horizon.

Thoughts: Now, most people give this series shit for riding the 2010’s dystopian train, but I don’t have a problem with that. The idea is original, but the execution is meh. I have a lot of unanswered questions about the factions but all in all, not terrible. For most of the book, I felt like I was reading a a fan fiction; a watered down plot with more romance than I care for. Not to mention the romance hardly makes sense, it’s so sudden and intense it made me feel awkward reading it. The plot really dwindled about 3/4 through and seemed to completely fall apart at the end, like the author was rushing to meet a deadline or something. It left me absolutely no desire to read any of the other books and slightly wishing I hadn’t even read the first.

Other adaptations: The movie might actually be better than the book. Some casting choices were questionable and the soundtrack doesn’t always fit the tone, but it follows the plot well and puts the focus on the action in the book.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

81cAi-RIjcLRating: ★★

Genre: Fiction, young adult

GoodReads rating:  3.99 / 5 (208,000 ratings)

Medium used: E-reader (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Date started/ finished: 12/5 – 19/5

Summary: When billionaire and father of childhood friend Davis goes missing, Aza and her friend Daisy pine after the cash reward by getting close to Davis… until Aza’s mental illness and feelings of Davis make things a bit more complicated.

Thoughts: The only good thing about this book was that it was short so my suffering was short-lived and I didn’t waste my money on a paper copy. Okay, maybe not entirely true, but basically. John Green and I had some beef prior to this book. I tried my best to watch The Fault in Our Stars movie with an open mind, but cringed so hard at the scene where the characters kiss in the Anne Frank house and everybody claps (seriously, poor taste). Anyway, I also tried to read the book, but again, cringed so hard at the lead holding a cigarette between his lips without lighting it as a “metaphor” (who actually acts like that?)… that was maybe two chapters into the book. I decided to give this book a try hoping the plot of a missing billionaire would distract from the inevitably horrible characters this dude is prone to writing… I was wrong. While I can relate to the main character Aza and some of her O.C.D. as a bit of a dermatillomaniac myself, that’s about as far as the compliments go. The plot goes nowhere, the dialogue is unbearable and the characters are forgettable. I could tear into this book all day, but it’s not worth the energy.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

the-great-alone-kristin-hannah-hi-resRating: ★★★★★

Genre: Historical fiction

GoodReads rating: 4.33 / 5 (210,000 ratings)

Medium used: E-reader (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Date started/ finished: 26/5 – 31/5

Summary: Former Vietnam POW Ernt is down on his luck in Washington when he inherits land in remote Alaska. The Allbright family (wife Cora and young teen Leni) move up north to find life off the grid didn’t make things better for their family, but worse. Ernt gets violent and radical, putting his family and the community in danger. Meanwhile, Leni tries to navigate what implications her parent’s relationship have on love as she navigates her feelings for classmate Matthew.

Thoughts: Wow, Hannah should rename this book The Great Sad. It’s very conflicting, thoughtful and emotional. I cried… a lot. I think the last time I cried at a book like that was when I read my all-time favorite book, The Green Mile. I do have some cons about this book, but it couldn’t have come at a better time in my life. I put it on hold at the library so long ago I forgot what it was about, however, in the meantime I got a job in rural Alaska and reading about life in the last frontier was really inspiring. My cons are: the ending was a bit unrealistic (but welcome as the rest of the book was quite dark), Hannah tends to over-describe at times, and I didn’t feel it was “historical” fiction because there weren’t too many era-specific plotlines. To be honest, any other time I would have given this a four-star, but the Alaska setting and pulling of my heartstrings made it a five-star read.

Photo by Radu Marcusu.

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