BR: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, 2011

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I read a lot of young adult books. They are generally quick reads, not horribly written, and remind me of when I was young. Well, younger anyway. This book was a lot of fun.

The story is about Jacob, who following the death of his grandfather, travels to a Welsh island in hopes of discovering more about his grandfather’s childhood at Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. He is intrigued by a collection of mysterious pictures his grandfather had that show children levitating, handling fire, easily lifting boulders, and many other strange things. Then there was the letter, seemingly written by Miss Peregrine herself a mere 15 years before the death of his grandfather. Is it possible she was still alive after 70 years? Would she know what his grandfather meant with his cryptic last words? He had to go find out. What he found was stranger than anything he could have imagined.

I enjoyed this book because the author used real photos from collectors to weave this story. It was a great way to engage the reader and keep them guessing until the last page. I could write more, but you should read it for yourself. The sequel, Hollow City, was released in January of this year. I shall be picking that one up when it comes out in paperback.

 

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BR: Divergent by Veronica Roth, 2011, Book #1 of the Divergent Trilogy

I found this book typical in the young adult science fiction sort of way. Society had destroyed itself at some point in the past, there is a new system of government, teens are forced to make life long decisions and are not allowed to go back, there are various groups with different job descriptions and there are some who disagree with the way their current society is run and seek a way to completely change it that does not require permission. 

With this basic formula, Veronica Roth as transformed the landscape of Chicago in the future and has created a society that is based on five factions and they way they interact. These five factions run different areas of society and at the age of 16, kids are required to decide what faction they want to be a part of for the rest of their lives. They can choose to stay in their faction or go to another one. The thing that helps them with this decision is an aptitude test.

During this test the child drinks a serum that puts them into a virtual simulation. The simulation presents them with various situations that determines your results based on the choices you make. Our main character’s, Beatrice, results are inconclusive and thus she is determined to be Divergent. Meaning really she shows no particular aptitude toward any faction. She is told by the test administrator that being divergent is a dangerous thing and she should tell no one…. ever.

In the end Beatrice decides to go against her upbringing and chose a different faction. She has a hard time with the training because it is the complete opposite of her life to this point, but she gets through it. Honestly, I feel her character is sort of blah, but I think that is the way she is supposed to be based on what her original faction was. She is conflicted with what she was and what she is now.

I’m not sure the story is really about her though. The main character is just the thing to tie to together and a way to explain the issues. To me it was more about the five factions, their functions, why they were developed and why they won’t be able to sustain the way things are in the future.  But the story isn’t about her. The writing was decent, it was a quick and easy read. I read it yesterday in one 8 hour sitting. 

Honestly, I think the story formula is tired and has been done. Almost everything I have read from the young reader genre is about this same thing. The characters were flat, descriptions were almost nonexistent. It wasn’t even the type of writing where I could imagine myself being there.

The book would get a 2 out of 5 for me. It isn’t a bad read if you are under 18 and aren’t typically a reader. It’s quick, easy and doesn’t require too much thought. You can tell that the next two books in the trilogy that it will be the basic characters trying to fight dissenters and end up trying to create their own society. I am not sure if I will read the other books. I may if I am just looking for something quick and easy.

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