15 June 2011

Divergent - By: Veronica Roth (Fiction)

This novel completely captured my attention and imagination from the very beginning. The author creates such a vivid and dysfunctional little universe that you can’t help but be sucked right into it.  At first you read it because you’re curious and there are so many questions to be answered. Then you’re hooked and you can’t stop because the world is so fascinating. There is a stark contrast between the innocence of the characters and the brutality that they both receive and inflict that the somewhat jarring effect leaves you a little confused (and concerned).

Fortunately Veronica Roth doesn’t shy away from her protagonist’s faults; rather she builds on those faults to create a believable character. Not everything about Beatrice is admirable or even likeable, but she is completely believable.  I loved that these faults also become her strengths in different circumstances.

At some points the central relationships are hard to understand, but I have to commend the author for allowing our heroine to be loved for her strengths for once.  I’ve been getting so tired of having a heroine who is loved for some mystical, inexplicable reason. This is a heroine who has worked to earn the love and respect of others. She has real choices with devastating and immediate consequences that she actually deals with rather than being rescued by someone bigger and stronger.

With a complicated heroine in a complicated society, this is a great story.  I sincerely hope that the author revisits this world, because I would keep reading. There are plenty of unanswered questions to keep the audience interested, but not enough to be frustrating. Just as a warning: once you start Divergent you will not stop till it’s over. 

Bookwyrm Rating - Dessert

04 June 2011

The Moral Lives of Animals - By: Dale Peterson (Non-fiction)

               There are times when every curious person wonders how alike we are to our animal friends (and relatives). We wonder if they feel the same pain we do, if they know right from wrong, and if there really is a mind capable of morality behind those adorable eyes staring back at you. Peterson allows you to come to your own conclusions without the pushiness usually found in books about animals. He’s not preaching to the choir, he’s talking to you.  His book is factual, based on his extensive research and experiences.  He carefully outlines the issues which create our moral codes, breaking them into their most fundamental parts and then he shows how other creatures in the animal kingdom deal with similar situations.
                The prose is remarkably readable for such a scientific and philosophical topic, additionally the subjects that the author chooses to discuss are always fascinating. In fact, I didn’t so much as look at another book until I had finished this one. The author allows you to feel wonder at the species that inhabit our world and the fact that we are only one of them. This remarkable book drives home the point that we are not alone on this planet, morally or otherwise.  

Bookwyrm Rating - Meat and Potatoes