Monday, June 13, 2011

Divergent-- Veronica Roth

So in just two week, I had SIX PEOPLE ask me if I'd yet read Divergent. I had the ARC sitting on my shelf gathering dust for months, and I decided that last weekend was the time to read that book. Um, ya. I started it at 6:00 a.m. on Saturday morning and didn't put it down until I finished it. The last book I read cover to cover like that was Graceling, and you all know how much I loved that book...

Anyway, back to Divergent.

In distopian, futuristic Chicago, there are five factions that govern the city... think Hogwarts houses but more, well, dystopian and YA. Each faction is completely dedicated to a particular virtue, and the people who live within that faction focus on nothing else. Tris, who was born in the selfless Abnegation faction has to work every day to be as completely selfless as the faction demands. When youth turn 16 they get a one-time opportunity to choose whether to stay in their faction or switch to a new one. They undergo a grueling test that lets them know which faction they are naturally inclined toward. Tris is special... she is divergent. This means that there are several factions she would fit within, but she must keep her divergence a secret... but no one will tell her why.

When Tris chooses to leave Abnegation and join Dauntless, the faction that honors bravery over all other virtues, she has to master a huge amount of physical skills (think Katniss/Hunger Games). Although she's invigorated by her choice, when it becomes clear that the factions aren't functioning in the sociologically perfect way they were designed, action must be taken. And it doesn't matter that she's the tiny "Stiff" from Abnegation... Tris is Dauntless now, and she feels the weight of her realm and people's survival-- both Dauntless and Abnegation-- heavily on her shoulders.

This is the first in a trilogy. I'd recommend it to youth who enjoyed Hunger Games, Matched, and The Maze Runner.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Imaginary Girls-- Nova Ren Suma

In rural New York there is a town that surrounds a massive reservoir. Ruby, Chloe's big sister, is the queen of this town. Not in the literal, monarch type of way, but somehow everyone bends to Ruby's every whim. Literally. Once, in the middle of the night, Ruby decided she wanted cheesecake from a bakery in Manhattan, and people were fighting over who got to be the one to fetch it for her. Ruby is idolized by all the girls in the town and lusted after by all the boys. The hold she has over all the people in the town is hypnotizing... but nobody loves her more than her little sister Chloe.

Ruby is fiercely protective of Chloe. She always warned her to never, never swim alone in the reservoir because the people of Olive would want to snatch her away. Olive was the town that once existed before it was flooded by what is now the reservoir. Ruby has a theory that the people of Olive didn't die when their town was flooded; they simply transformed and can now breath underwater.

But one day, when a seemingly innocent dare drives Chloe to take a dip in the reservoir, she comes upon the corpse of her classmate, London. And when London somehow is brought back to life months later, Chloe is the only one who remembers that she was once dead. Knowing that Ruby is somehow connected only confuses Chloe more. But as time goes on, and Ruby's mystical hold over the town falters, Chloe has to learn to be her own true self for the first time in her life... and figure out how to exist in a world where Ruby isn't the perfect and loving sister Chloe once thought she was.

This book has strong magical undertones that are wrapped up in the mysterious plot. I enjoyed the writing style of the author, and I think teen girls will like this book. It could easily be recommended to girls who request books with a slightly fantastical plot but aren't exclusively supernatural creature readers (you know, vampire-zombie-werewolf readers). Is it a book I'll remember a year from now? Naaaah. Still, I think this is better than a lot we are seeing in that genre lately.