3-6, 5-7, 7-12, Books, Children, Musings

The Harm of “Too Hard” for Reluctant Readers

I want to talk about this but I figure I should give a disclaimer:

This is my personal opinion.  It is the opinion of someone who worked in the children’s section of a book store and heard time and time again, “Oh no, you can’t have that one, it’s too hard for you.” In various tones, from disgruntled exasperation to affectionate concern.  

I want this to stop.

Why? I hear you ask, it is just our way of getting our kids to put down a book that they aren’t ready for and pick something closer to their own reading level.

When you use words like “that is too hard”, or “that is not for you”, you are telling the child that a book they are interested in (even if it is only on an aesthetic level) is wrong, or that they are wrong for wanting it.  The English language is a remarkably versatile and malleable language.  There are ways to explain your concern so that the kid doesn’t feel shut down, discouraged, or in some cases indignant.

I had a teacher tell me that the easiest way to tell if a book is the proper reading level for a child is to use what she called “the five finger rule”.  You open to a random page, it could be the first page, the last, but I would suggest somewhere in the middle, and have them read.  For every word they can’t figure out (meaning they are allowed to take their time and sound it out, with your help if you wish) but if they give up they have to put up a finger.  [note: this excludes made up words or names as the child will likely not have heard them before] If all five fingers are up then the book is too challenging for them.  So rather than looking at the size of the book, the recommended age bracket, or any of that, sit down with them and take a minute.  See if they can read a page.  If they can’t then you ask, “is this a book that you still want to read?”

A lot of the time if it was too hard for them they will say themselves that it was too hard and put it down.  If they do still want to read it then ask if they want to read it together (I am going to make a post where I talk about reading aloud and how it shouldn’t stop when kids can read for themselves).  Sometimes they will agree and other times they want to struggle through.  In this case, I find it best to say, okay this is a book that we will get to challenge you, but let’s also find a book that is a little easier so you can give your brain a rest.  This way you are not saying the book is wrong for them, or they are wrong for the book, you are encouraging them to work hard and if they are truly interested in the subject matter they will be more willing to muddle through.  Often times when they find an easier book that they are also interested in they are willing to let go of the harder one because they realize that it was too hard but didn’t want to walk away empty handed.

I completely understand when parents tell me they don’t want their reluctant readers to become completely despondent.  They know that the kid will  have to write reports for years to come and if they make the wrong move it will become a never ending struggle to get their kid to complete simple assignments.

Kids aren’t born hating books.  In my experience all children love being told stories, they like flipping through books, they like being asked questions and having opportunities to show their knowledge.  The thing that discourages them from books is either feeling humiliated (how many people remember popcorn reading and how there would sometimes be that one kid who would hate reading aloud and they somehow were asked to read the most) or through deciding that books aren’t for them.  The latter is generally a result of people they either love or respect using discouraging language: Books are too hard, you aren’t good enough, that is for kids like your sister (who is two years older and therefor a stronger reader in general, you would be surprised how kids take this as meaning that they need to find something else to do when reading is their sibling’s “thing”).

If you make reading a family affair. (Think of reading aloud to the family as the new family game night, although I’m all for family game night as well).  Try and pick books that are interesting to you, your spouse, your child or children.

I am going to try and create a tag where I label stories I think are great read aloud books for older kids as I continue on this journey so that you have a resource.  If you ever have any questions regarding that please ask me as well on any of my socials.

This post, wasn’t meant to be a reprimand, or really to discourage parents at all.  It was simply to say that the words that we use have an effect.  They are internalized.  Books are important.  Stories are a great way to learn lessons in a safe environment.  They allow kids to ask questions.  They let parents introduce new topics with a predefined structure.  Don’t lose them over something so trivial as “too hard”.

I hope this helped.

If it didn’t, please feel free to tell me why in the comments down below, I might make another posts on this topic in the future when the little one in my life is older (he’s two and really just likes pointing to farm animals and saying their sounds, not so picky)

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Musings

Monday Musings: A Call for Time Management Help!

So, you might have noticed that the number of books I have been reading and reviewing has dramatically dropped since I have started working in general, but now that I am working two jobs I am unsure of when I will have time to eat and sleep let alone read and relax.

So I am coming to you.  I need your tips and tricks for finding the time to relax.  I am one of those people who gets so focused on work I even forget to take my breaks on time so honestly I need it.

I think the biggest problem for me is that when I read I prefer to set a large chunk of time aside for it and spend that time experiencing the reading process.  I curl up in bed, put on some quiet music, if I have a candle I might light that and then settle in to read.  I know a lot of people read whenever they can.  Fifteen minutes on their break, while commuting, etc. but I have a hard time focusing in short bursts, and I drive to work.

I do think I’m going to try and listen to audio books while I drive, seeing as I have an hour commute both ways but I don’t have very many of those to listen to at the moment and I have all of the physical book.

So your tips are greatly needed!

Please and thank you in advance!

Gretchen and I will be live streaming when I get out of work tomorrow and discuss this weird hierarchy of genres when it comes to books.  So do look out for that.

Musings

Monday Musings: The Reading/Bookish Resolutions Edition

Hey guys, look two weeks of Monday Musings in a row.  Its like there is consistency or something.  Not really because there was no Sunday Spam yesterday, but I haven’t been listening to Kpop this month while I’ve been home, at least not new music, so I have been out of the loop.  Most, if not all of my subscribers are probably sighing in relief right about now.  There is a reason I call that segment Spam.  Its not the spam of like sending you a mountain of things in a short amount of time, its spam as in the email that goes directly into the junk mail folder.  Junk mail section didn’t have the alliteration.  (Which admittedly is a little dumb, but I’ll chock it up to my quirks)

Anyway, this chat is supposed to be about reading resolutions not my battle with doing things.  Well, actually it is probably the best place to discuss my difficulties doing things, because this is all about bettering myself.

1. The first resolution is the standard, 50 book Goodreads challenge.  I have done this for three years, the first year I was a senior in high school and only pushed for 25 years.

2015 Reading Challenge

2015 Reading Challenge
Michaela has
read 1 book toward her goal of 50 books.
hide

 2. The other Goodreads related resolution I discussed toward the end of the fall and began doing at the end of the fall as well, which was to not only give the books I read a star review but at least a few lines explaining why I gave the review I did.  This came out of discussing how those stars are a bit subjective and arbitrary.  I give five stars to books that blew me away literally and books that I enjoyed more than others even if they aren’t necessarily the best book ever written.  Without those lines of explanation those stars are honestly meaningless.  This shows up on my side bar for the most recent ones I’ve done and if I don’t have enough to write a full blown review of something, you can get an idea of what I thought at least that way.  You should also friend me on Goodreads if you want to see what I’m reading.

3. The next resolution has to do with the book club I run.  Those of you who might not know I have a book club that I do with some of my friends from school where we all read a book and then we live stream our discussion of that book.  It really only runs over our school breaks but I want to help it grow this year.  I made a bunch of social media for it and have been pushing to have more people join us so I want to get more people involved.  If you want more information about the group you can click the image below to find all of the social media links as well as a more in depth background on the group and its founding members.

4.  One of my ongoing resolution to read books that are on the list of 1000 books you should read before you die.  I read last year about one a month but I’m not going to restrict myself to reading them at certain times.  Its just a goal of mine to get through them.  I don’t think I will read them all, in part because I am not interested in all of them but also because there are 1000 if them and I don’t have the time.  I’ve been working through those that have come out since 1900.   If you click the image it will take you to the listology list I’ve been using!

5.  The last resolution I want to talk about is my resolution to discuss the books that I don’t like.  The problem with that is that I tend not to finish the books I don’t like.  This means that I don’t write a review on Goodreads and I don’t discuss them on here.  This makes it seem like I love everything I read, or at least find it okay.  I do read bad books, I just don’t let them use up any more of my time.  I think that once I have found a good chunk of books that I didn’t like enough to finish I will make a large post that compiles them and I will talk about why I didn’t like it.

What are you guys trying to do this year as you read.  Are you joining the read critically or read diversely campaigns?  Do you keep track of the demographics of the books you read?  Are you excited for the new year?

I will be back tomorrow to do another Top Ten Tuesday which I plan on doing whenever it is a topic I feel I can join in on!  Wednesday I will have another trade paperback comic review and Friday there will be a new Book Club post, (ALTHOUGH WE WILL BE GOING LIVE LATER TODAY IF YOU WANT TO WATCH BEFORE EVERYONE ELSE!)

Adult, Books, YA (Young Adult)

What I Read in 2014!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You do not realize how difficult it was for me to make this post.  I had to make it twice.  I had to adjust and readjust the sizes of most if not all of these images.  It took forever, but I triumphed and it is beautiful.  Is it beautiful for you too?

Hopefully my work was not, for not and if you click on an image it will bring you to the goodreads page for that book so that you may learn more about it.  Speaking of Goodreads, if you want to know what I thought about those books you should friend me here!

Also you should join the Bibliomancy for Beginners Book Club!

If you don’t have Goodreads but still want to know what’s happpening in the world of Bibliomancy then you can always follow it on twitter @bibliomancy101 and if you read along be sure to use the #beginbibliomancy to let us know what you think of our book.

Have you read any of the books that I did this year?  Did you like them?  Let me know in the comments.  I look forward to talking to you again soon.

Books

#becritcal #readcritically

At the same time I was going through my YouTube subscriptions and cutting out the fat so to speak I was listening to Ariel Bisett and Barry Pierce’s live show discussions in which they discussed many things and many posts will be born but specifically I want to talk about the topic of reading critically.  Toward the end of last week Barry suggested a new twitter hashtag of “#becritical“.  He was speaking in terms of those who review book on YouTube but why not bring it into the blogosphere.  I’m a little late to the party but it got me thinking and so I wanted to join the discussion as well.

Sorry.

Let’s start with my first introduction to the topic, one of the things that Ariel brought up in her live show Q and A was giving honest reviews.  She mentioned how she sometimes will give a book more stars on Goodreads than she feels it deserves because she likes the author and would feel bad giving it the lower rating that might be more honest.  I know for a fact that I do this.  I boost my ratings for authors I really love but then that star rating isn’t accurate to how I felt about the book and people might get the wrong idea.  How can somebody trust my review if I am elevating an unworthy book?

(Never not funny)

Then Barry was discussing how a star rating is sort of a catch all to give people an opinion that doesn’t really say anything.  I gave it five stars, it was really good.  What does that mean, really?  I know for some books that my five stars means that although there were flaws with the book I really enjoyed the experience.  This was the case of Ready Player One for me.  I really love that book, and I had a bunch of problems with it, but they didn’t detract from my love of it (watch our book club video on it!).  Then there are other books where it just blew me away, like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.  I just find that book perfect in every way, although my book club mates didn’t feel nearly the same way (see this as well!).

If that is five stars … and this is five stars … then what is five stars really? AM I FIVE STARS? ARE YOU?

This is why there needs to be a review or a discussion matched with those stars, the stars are meaningless on their own.  People need to say why they like a book because it allows others to gauge whether they would like that book as well.  People need to review critically.

We found the point.

Reading critically does not mean shredding a book and nit picking it to high heaven, it means thinking about what you read and what you thought of a book.  It means weighing the pros and cons and coming out at the end of it with an opinion, and being honest with your opinion.

Deadly.

I think that I will go into my Goodreads and go through my books to see how many opinions are honest as well as add a few sentences about how I felt about a book.  It will take forever but I have become too complacent to just assign a star rating when I’m done.  I will say in that review why I gave the star rating I did because it might vary from book to book.

(Can you tell that my tumblr is mostly Kpop from all those gifs in a row because I can. Holy Cow.)

Of course my reviews on here will be much more in depth but it will give my five Goodreads followers a better judgement of how I felt, and will help me should I need to remember why I felt a certain way about a book for years to come.  I don’t even mention stars in my in depth reviews because it’s pointless.  You know exactly what I think of a book, four stars aren’t going to give you any better insight into what I thought of a novel than my page of text on the topic.

(Look at all the stars. Ooooh. Pretty.)

Now, there’s more to this topic.  The second half of Barry’s discussion was that if a reviewer only gives high star reviews than there is no way to really tell the difference between an alright book and a fantastic book because there is no disparity in the rating.  The critical reviews help to clear this up but I am definitely guilty of a majority of my reviews being high star ratings.

Graphs!

The thing to add about giving low star reviews, is that if a book is low enough to get that review, it’s highly likely that I won’t finish reading it.  If I am actually not enjoying a book I just put it down and say enough is enough.  What I need to do then is to say on Goodreads and on here that I rated it one or two stars and create a “did not finish” shelf.  That way people know that I wasn’t enjoying it and not that I just forgot about it and read something else instead.  I am not going to be able to post a full review of a book that didn’t merit the time to finish but I will post them on Goodreads and I will talk about them in my wrap up posts because that will even out my spectrum and remove the high star bias.

Look ANOTHER ONE!

On another note, one of my friends here at school has started a blog that I think those who read critically will really enjoy.  Casey is currently doing an in depth chapter by chapter read of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green on her blog The Drunk Librarian. I have stolen her idea of gif use in long controversial posts, but she does it much better than I do so go show her some love. I was discussing with her as well as one of my housemates how since coming to college to do my English degree I have lost the ability to just read a book and not think about it critically.  Along with this has been a shift in my reading from young adult and romance novels, which most of the time can’t hold up to scrutiny, to modern classics, adult novels, and literary fiction.  Some might say this is elitist, but I think its just that I can’t enjoy the experience when I feel like the writing isn’t respecting me as a reader.

*spiderman swings away through the city*

I am going to vow to be a critical reader and reviewer and to be honest with my opinions bar none.  I hope you will too, especially if reviewing is more than just a hobby.  I don’t get paid to do this, I do this because I love it.  If I was paid this would be a million times more important.

#becritical

Books, Musings

Monday Musings: The Rereading Books Edition

I’ve spoken on this topic before if I am not mistaken, but for the life of me I am way too lazy to go find that post.  Luckily you can hear my updated thoughts on it in this post which you are already reading *applauds*.

Last Monday when I was talking about my habits of reading in high school Frankie of insteadofgold fame posted a video discussing her own reading habit/philosophy.  Frankie makes really great thoughtful book videos and is just a lovely person in general so if you have never seen her before, first watch her video about rereading because this post is a response to that and second subscribe to her and send her a whole bunch of love.

Frankie discusses how she is an avid rereader, not because she prioritizes rereading but because she has a theory that you cannot get everything a book has to offer on the first read.  While I can agree that when one has the intent of looking at a novel critically multiple reads are often necessary.  The classics are classics not only because their stories are still relevant to us even though they often take place during a time period completely other than our own but because there is something about the writing that is enthralling.  The first time we read, Frankie postulates, we read mostly for the story.  We are preoccupied with the plot.  It is upon the second read that we are able to appreciate the craftsmanship of the writing.

This is true.  I completely agree.  This was something I realized when rereading One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest … still my favorite book of all time … for book club.  I put so many sticky notes all over this book because I was trying to figure out if the things that Kesey was saying were always relevant.  I was trying to piece together the story that Bromden tells us in pieces about his life and not focused on the immediate plot of R P McMurphy being a rambunctious asshat.  I was able to get more out of the story in my second read.

However, I am not an avid rereader.  I have never been an avid rereader.  I was always that person who put a book down and picked up a new one.  With only a handful of exceptions (I often found myself rereading my favorite passages from certain texts often).  It wasn’t until I got to college and started my English degree, started thinking about books in a different way, that I wanted to go back and read some of the stories that I had read before.

The reason behind it was not always to see if their literary merit was up to snuff, but rather to see if I would still enjoy the story knowing what is going to happen or if I would be distracted or disinterested.

I started by rereading some of my favorite childhood stories and I still hold much rapture for them, despite being able to see their flaws.  I was also able to see complexity in them that went over my head as a child.  Some stories hit home much more powerfully reading them as an adult (Anne of Green Gables for instance) and other stories just seemed to open my eyes to how much they had an impact on me as a writer (if only for my dungeons and dragons campaign) and a reader today.

When rereading passages for class it was more so to make sure that I was able to get the whole picture.  Reading Melville is no easy task on its own and he almost requires a second reading otherwise you are missing more than half of the story.  Authors choose their words carefully.  They do craft their stories.

The other half of the coin is that some books are read over and over again, not to gain insight but merely because you enjoy the story.  This is where my constant revisiting of specific scenes comes into play.  I grow bored reading the same stories over again, but the scenes that had me smiling, or laughing, or crying still hold that power over me when I read them again.  When it comes to films however I am all for the rewatching for entertainment value.  I’m not sure why I am able to rewatch actors play the same scene when I know what is happening without getting bored but cannot do the same when reading.

Perhaps it is the time commitment involved in each.  Depending on how long a novel is it means committing from several hours to several days to go through the story where as a movie is usually no more than three hours long.  I don’t feel guilty about spending that time doing something I enjoy where I might feel guilty reading something all the way through when I only really liked a handful of scenes from it.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was the first time I was rereading a novel that I fell wholeheartedly in love with; a novel that I feel is perfect in every element.  While my second read was mostly focused on analysis of the subtext, I still enjoyed the story and characters for what they were.  Perhaps my problem is that my heart is not easily given to books where as I have lists and lists of “favorite” films.  I can tell you which books are my favorites I have to ask people to specify a genre or emotion when asked what my favorite film is.

What do you guys think?

Do you go back to certain media again and again?

Why do you think you do it?

Is it to get more out of the story like Frankie suggested or do you simply go along for the ride because it is an enjoyable ride to take?

Tomorrow the Bibliomancy for Beginners Book Club will be meeting to discuss John Dies at the End (my choice! so excited) and a reread for me coincidentally.  Who is ready for horror/thriller/comedy book discussion?  I most certainly am!  I will tweet out the livestream link tomorrow, or you can wait until Wednesday to see my post of it HERE!

I hope you guys have a great week and I’ll talk to you again soon.

Musings

Monday Musing: The Reading Through the Night Edition

Something that is probably not surprising to anyone who follows this blog or knows me in person is that I was voted “Class Bookworm” by my class in High school.  It was something that I sort of campaigned for in that I told my friends and some of my classmates to spread the word but I found out later that this wasn’t really necessary.

I thought that I was relatively invisible in High School.  I didn’t participate in many activities, I was in the Art Club (& Art Honor Society) as well the National Honor Society and I was in a games club that played Dungeons and Dragons (which consisted literally of just my friends).  So I was surprised to find that a huge portion of my class hadn’t even thought of someone other than me for bookworm.

I knew that a portion of my classmates looked to me when they were struggling with a subject, or wanted to know if a test was hard.  (Literally there was one time in Chemistry where a girl turned around and asked what I got and when I responded with a B+ she said “Oh thank god, I thought I just didn’t understand it but if you got a B I don’t have to feel bad about my C.”)

Then I remembered how many times different people would see me reading.  How often I read in class when I had finished my work.  I wasn’t one of those kids who was on their phone when I had down time.  I always had a book out.  To the point that it was always sitting on my desk just in case.

The one moment where I think about how strong I felt about reading was when a girl who didn’t really talk to me much but was sitting near me in English class turned to me and said, “Weren’t you reading a different book yesterday?”

“Yeah, I was.”

“You had a different book the day before that you were almost done with.  Why, aren’t you reading it any more?  Did you not like it?”

“No, it was a good book, I just finished it.”

“You finished it.  Both of them?”

“Yes.”

“Oh, I don’t think I’ve finished a book since like sixth grade.”  She laughed awkwardly and like shifted away to talk to someone else.

The thing that struck me about that conversation was half that I don’t think I could comprehend a world where the last book I had read in its entirety was several years in the past, but that someone else could not comprehend a world where you can finish a book in a day.  I used to read books in one sitting.  I would read multiple books in a day, or parts of multiple books in a day.  I would stay up until 3 in the morning reading to finish a book even though I had to get up in three hours to go to school again.  It was not only something that I enjoyed doing but something that helped me keep my head on straight when I was buckling under pressure.

One of the ways that I got through High School was that I wasn’t allowed to read until I finished all of my homework.  I took multiple AP classes my last two years and multiple languages.  I had a lot, A LOT, of homework, and yet I still managed to read scores of books on top of those that I needed to read for my English classes.  Partly due to the fact that after toiling through twenty statistics problems, and reading the next chapter for AP Chem, and doing a practice exam for AP Government was that I could pick up a book and read about something else.

At that time it was mostly paranormal romance books.  I would grab a Kresley Cole novel and read it in one sitting, about three hours, and then go to bed.

Last night I read the entirety of Mr. Penumbra’s 24 hour books store by Robin Sloan in one sitting, through the night.  This was something I haven’t done in forever.  This was partly because I have been in a reading slump of late, but also because I have been so stressed out with college, over loading myself that I could not finish all of my work, and in turn could not read without feeling guilty.  I couldn’t sit through a whole book feeling like I could be using that time to study more.  When I felt guilty reading, I just wouldn’t read.

I’m glad that I was able to read a book that was able to enthrall me so totally that I didn’t feel guilty.  Somehow I still feel guilty even when I’m not at school.  I hope that I can get back into the habit of reading like a normal person this semester.  Actually, less like a normal person and more like a person who lives off of stories instead of air.

Things.

Stuff.

Bibliomancy tomorrow per usual.  *fingers crossed*  We will be discussing The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury.  (It is Taylor’s choice and a good one)

I will hopefully have a review up for Mr. Penumbra’s on Friday. :O

A review.  On Friday.  Unheard of.  (I talked about why earlier up there)

Bibliomancy For Beginners, Books, YA (Young Adult)

The Hostile Hospital: A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket Book Discussion (Bibliomancy for Beginners)

THE HOOK HANDED MAN RETURNS, and somehow manages to wear latex gloves, I’m calling shenanigans.

Title: The Hostile Hospital
Author: Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler)
Publisher: Scholastic
Page #: 258
Genre: Middlegrade Fiction

We will be discussing the eight book in the series tonight at 8:30 EST.  If you want to join in feel free to comment below.

The plot thickens, and men without hands are still creepier than Olaf who is heard and not seen for the most part.

5 days left in the series and regular programming will return.

Books, YA (Young Adult)

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick Review

I bought this book for myself for Christmas and read it in one night.  It helps that a majority of the pages in the novel are covered in pictures rather than words but really they are filled with such detail that I probably looked at them just as long as I spent time reading a page covered in words.

Title: The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Author: Brian Selznick
Publisher: Scholastic
Page #: 525
Genre: Middlegrade historical fiction

I think that the best way to introduce this novel to people is by telling you about the idea that this book was based upon.  The author came across some material talking about the automatons created by a particular artistic black and white film director from the dawn of film.  He imagined what it would be like if a young boy had found one of these wondrous machines and that is where this story was born.

I love the fact that Selznick draws out for us so many scenes.  They are scenes that could easily be described or left to the reader to imagine, but having the author’s imagery right there to see was interesting.  I can appreciate the amount of time that went into this novel not just in writing and editing but also drawing and shading all of those images in such detail.

The story was very cute and well paced.  There was a good amount of sass from the main character and while most of the other characters were only there for brief periods of time they all had a distinct personality and aura.  I loved every character in this novel.  I liked how it ended and I appreciated how while the story itself was fictitious it was inspired by true events.

My brother has taken it to read for a school project later in the month but I hope to get it back so it can take a proud space within my shelves.  I also saw the film and think that it was a perfect adaptation of this story.  I think that it at least matched the novel if it didn’t surpass it.  Being able to watch recreations of those black and white films was definitely cool.

All in all I think this is a really great story for people of all ages, it is a quick read if nothing else just give it a chance.

I have to finish reading the first novel from A Series of Unfortunate Events because The Thirteen Days of Misfortune begin tomorrow folks are you ready?  Tune in at 8:30 EST to watch us live, we have questions open so if you want to know our opinions about something in particular you are welcome to ask them there.  If you can’t watch live I will be posting it on here afterwards.  There will be a live stream everyday for the next two weeks starting tomorrow, one dedicated to each of the books.  I must get back to it, the Pied Piper is calling me, can you hear him?

Books, YA (Young Adult)

Book Discussion: The Divergent Trilogy

I said I would give you guys my in depth opinion on the divergent trilogy since I read all three books last month.  I will start off with three mini spoiler free reviews and my usual information on the books and end with a spoilery discussion which will have a spoiler tag notice.  If you haven’t read the books and don’t want to be spoiled then the last few paragraphs aren’t for you but if you still want to know my opinion stick around for the first bit.  *thumbs up*

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Title: Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books
Genre: YA Dystopian Fantasy
Page #: 487

I gave Divergent four stars out of five.  It has an extremely interesting world that captivated me from the beginning.  I completely followed the logic behind setting up the society in the way that she did and it was interesting to see how this world functioned and why it was falling apart.  We have what I consider a fatal attraction romance.  We have interesting well developed and rounded characters with unique motives.  Overall I enjoyed it and I am not a big fan of dystopian fantasy.  You might enjoy it too.

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Title: Insurgent
Author: Veronica Roth
Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s Books
Genre: YA Dystopian Fantasy
Page #: 525

This was my least favourite of the trilogy because it put the world building on hold to further the plot.  Which is completely reasonable and understandable and I believe it was a completely honest and important part of the series.  That being said since my favourite part about the books are the world in which they are set, it falls a little flat for me.  I still gave the book four out of five stars because even though it wasn’t my favourite, it is still an incredibly captivating and compelling story.  This also has one of the best reactions by a protagonist suddenly forced into a dangerous situation in almost any book I have read, YA or adult.

Title: Allegiant
Author: Veronica Roth
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books
Genre: YA Dystopian Fantasy
Page #: 526

We got back to some series world building in this book and that picked it up for me.  This was my second favourite of the three because the pacing is a little on the slower side.  I know the internet has been raving about the ending.  Personally I felt that it was the ending the series needed.  It might not have been the ending I wanted or expected but it was the right ending.  I would not have had it any other way and I respect Veronica Roth for writing it.  In a world where we feel the end should almost always be happy because the real world isn’t sometimes a real ending is more worth while.  Likewise this book got four out of five stars from me and was a worth while ending.  I was not disappointed in the least.

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*spoilers*

*spoiler alert*

*warning there are spoilers about*

Now that the alert has been put out there I would love to tell you all the nitty gritty details about why I really enjoyed this book and what I felt were the weak points.

Now I mentioned how much I liked the world building in this series.  If I haven’t beaten you over the head enough I’m going to do it again.  This was one of the most interesting worlds I have read to date.  Post apocalyptic dystopian societies are so interesting to read about in general but this was such an interesting way of doing it.  It was a pseudo-utopian society.  It wasn’t an oppressive dictative power.  It was something that in theory and on the outside seemed wholesome and good.  It seemed like a good way to get rid of all of humanity’s problems.  It was so interesting to see somebody acknowledge that what looks like it would be perfect can still lead to problems.

The one thing that I almost always disagree with is what I call a fatal romance.  I say fatal not because it is deadly but because it is inevitable.  There is some sort of visceral chemical reaction between two characters that cause them to instantly fall in love.  It is probably either an extremely unrealistic depiction or an extremely true depiction of teen love.  I know as an anthropologists that our bodies are biomechanical machines.  There is something completely honest about somebody having a physical reaction to someone else.  The problem I have with this in novels is that it often feels insincere.  We, as readers, don’t feel like there was enough time to get to know the characters or feel like they know each other.  I will say that as the story progressed this felt more and more like a real relationship and I could let their instantaneous romance slide by the way side.  The quote about choosing him every day that came up in the last book is one that is simultaneously beautiful and true.

Now the monster in the closet.  What did I think about the end.  I said earlier that I felt it was the right ending for the books.  It is why I think this is one of the best endings to a trilogy that I have ever seen.  I felt that it was completely true to the characters and to the story.  My roommate here reads fanfiction all day and all night and every so often I hear her shout out something about how she won’t read a fiction if it is tagged with major character death.  Some people just can’t deal with characters they are so emotionally invested in dying.  I have never been one of those people.  I take more issue with characters I love acting out of character to further the plot somehow than I do with them dying.

The thing about these books is that even though they are a complete work of fiction in an incredibly interesting and harsh world I still think they are one of the most honest books I have read.  I found this year that my favorite books are not those that over romanticize or criticize reality but are those that are true.  Humans are incredibly messy beings.  They are capable of so much good and so much destruction.  With these books I think that Veronica Roth has done an incredible job in representing that fact.

I realize after writing all of this that even my spoiler section isn’t very spoilery.  I guess I just rather talk about the abstract ideas than the nitty gritty details.  Perhaps I’m just used to be nonspecific.

I am writing up another post for next week once this one is done and I have a few ideas in the works for upcoming posts.  I hope you guys are having a good week and enjoy your weekends.  I have one more week until Thanksgiving break.  Woo!

I will talk to you soon and as always, The Pied Piper is calling to me, I hope you hear him too.