14 November 2012
Bobby Steele is not keen on being himself. His father, who has the same name, runs a local auto repair store, and found himself on the front page of the newspaper after a nasty domestic battle that resulted in Bobby's mother leaving the family and his father having to serve jail time and attend AA meetings. Bobby's also not keen on going to Riverview High, which can't raise enough money to repave its parking lot while nearby private school Whitestone can put in a planetarium. While chilling at the local IHOP, Bobby and his friends make up an identity, Rowan Pohi, and apply for Whitestone. When Rowan is accepted, Bobby decides this is the new start that he needs. He tries out for the football team, wins a writing scholarship, and has the attention of Heather, a rather nice, rich and attractive Whitestone girl. This can't last long, and soon the gig is up. Will Bobby get in big trouble, or will he still have a big opportunity to better himself?
Strengths: This was a good, quick read that will be great for boys. It reminded me a lot of the fabulous The Mark of Conte (28 March 1976) by Sonia Levitin. I liked how Bobby's family was troubled but still functional-- he helps to take care of his five year old brother, cooks dinner, and works for his father. His father goes to bat for him when he gets in trouble. His friends are not sure how to handle him being at the fancy prep school, but stand by him. Good stuff.
Weaknesses: This came to a conclusion very quickly, which makes a bit of sense because it was so clear that Bobby would not get away with his plan. Being over quickly, while if felt a little choppy to me, will probably be a good thing to the boys who read it. I feel sort of bad that I deaccessioned this author's Flying Solo(2000), which was not flying, just sitting on the shelf!
Roth, Veronica. Insurgent.
1 May 2012, HarperTeen
This sequel to Divergent weighs in at 525 pages and was a book that really could have used a map, so you know my Fantasy Amnesia on this plot will be quite bad. I will do my best. Spoilers if you have not read Divergent.
Tris is dealing with the aftermath of the Erudite plot to kill all of Abnegation, and the guilt she feels from killing Will and seeing both of her parents die to save her. She is trying to get to Jeanine to retrieve data, but things are so fraught with danger in her entire world that just trying to survive and fend off whomever is attacking at the moment is about all that she can manage. Of course, Four/Tobias and the rest of the Divergent who escaped are trying to formulate a plan to somehow make things better, but it's tough. For a while, the group is taking refuge with Amity, but when they fight among themselves over the data disk that they saved, they are asked to leave. They also find out that Amity people get along so well because their bread is drugged! They then take refuge in a Candor/Dauntless enclosure, but even this is not safe. Tobias manages to meet up with his father and his mother at various times, and they aren't particularly helpful, nor is Tris' brother. The Erudite are bent on finding out why Divergent are immune to the simulations, adn at one point attack the compound and shoot everyone with discs that cause simulations; Tris removes her own in a painful manner. She is, in fact, usually suffering from one injury or another. Eventually, Tris turns herself over to the Erudite and the mad Jeanine, who experiments on her to find out more about the Divergent and plans to kill her. Tris is expecting that, but not expecting Tobias to show up with a plan. When Jeanine is not able to find out what makes Tris tick, she is so angry that she orders her to be killed ahead of scheduled. Not wanting Tobias to die, Tris helps him mount an attack on the Erudite they hope will stop their evil plans.
Strengths: Definitely a page turner, and a cool dystopian novel. I love the idea of a civilization based on personality types. Fans of Matched and The Hunger Games will clamor for this series.
Weaknesses: I had trouble remembering some of the important plot points of the first novel, so getting up to speed was difficult. The romance between Tris and Tobias was still there, but most of the time htey just spent their time putting their hands underneath the edges of each other's shirts, which got a bit tiresome. This was even MORE violent than the first book-- I just started to assume that every character I cam across would eventually die in a violent and gruesome way.