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Learning by reading

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  • #137470
    Rose
    @rose-colored-fancy

    Hey, y’all!

    The discussion on “Does reading make you a better writer?” sparked this idea.

    Which books have you (recently) read and what did you learn from them? It doesn’t have to be super in-depth, and you don’t even have to have enjoyed the book, but if it taught you something, I’d love to hear about it!

    I’ll go first and list a couple off the top of my head.

    Flavia de Luce books (First two) by Alan Bradley. 4/5 stars. 

    Goodness, the character voice in this one!! It’s bright and vivid. The mysteries were… predictable at best, but the main character was so much fun she made up for it. It really showed me that the best way to make anything interesting is to give your main character opinions about it, and people will stick with mediocre plots if your main character is interesting enough.

    The Princess Will Save You by Sarah Henning. 2/5 stars.

    The damsel in distress trope isn’t about women being useless, it’s about a character, (any character, male included) lacking agency. It was an interesting subversion, but very poor execution. (Also, I really don’t like the title. XD) The main love story was kinda okay, but the main love interest had about as much agency as a flour sack. Also, think about your worldbuilding for longer than five seconds.

    I’d love to hear about the books y’all read and whether you enjoyed them or otherwise!

    Tagging some people:


    @wingiby-iggiby


    @calidris


    @noah-cochran


    @imwritehere1920


    @sparrowhawke


    @arindown


    @this-is-not-an-alien


    @joelle-stone


    @irishcelticredflowercrown


    @joy-caroline

    Without darkness, there is no light. If there was no nighttime, would the stars be as bright?

    #137471
    Neasa
    @irishcelticredflowercrown

    @rose-colored-fancy

    Thanks for tagging me! This looks fun🤩 your thoughts on those books are very insightful. I don’t think I‘ll read ‘The Princess will save you’ now that you’ve taled about it, simply because of the subject matter. This sounds so old fashioned maybe but I love the stories where its the prince or the male love interest that had to swoop in and save the girl. I don’t like it when its overdone (ahem Lois Lane anyone?) but i still think its a classic trope that shouldn’t be subverted. Just in my head the idea of a muscular, sword fighting, strong girl saving her boyfriend? – nooo. Not the way it should be. And besides there are so many other ways girls can save guys without turning into a full on Black Widow. I don’t know, those are just my thoughts. I guess what I’m saying is that i agree with u 🙂

     

    Thorn by Intisar Khanani

    Now this book – very well written and impressive too. It manages to do a great romance without including any kissing! Not an easy feat at all, yet the author pulled it off. This book really taught me that you don’t need to make your characters kiss if you want to write a romance.

    My only complaint is that the main villain is revealed to be a suffering victim who wants vengeance. Meaning we as readers are supposed to sympathise with the villain. I’m not a big fan of this trope, I prefer the good old classical mwa-ha-ha villainous characters who are just evil full stop

     

    • This reply was modified 1 week, 3 days ago by Neasa.
    #137474
    Noah Cochran
    @noah-cochran

    @rose-colored-fancy

    Let me just say again real quick that I usually don’t learn anything new by reading, typically there are no new discoveries for me. However, I think I get what you’re driving at with your examples, it’s more about getting ideas, and finding things that you like or don’t like in story.  Sound about right? That happens to me quite often so here we go.

    Emma by Jane Austen – 3.5/5 stars

    So, I was somewhat coerced (that word might be a over the top, but I’m gonna use it anyway 🙂 ) into reading this book by a few of my female friends. I have never read a book in the romance genre before, and frankly, they have never interested me. Now, to clarify, I really enjoy romance in books, I just don’t like books whose whole plot is romance. So what I discovered from this book, is that it is indeed possible to write a decent book with no antagonists, a lot of daily life routines, and a protagonist that is arguably the worst match maker in history. xD Okay, so those weren’t exactly great examples of learning  something, but one thing I will note is the copious amount of dialogue in this book. Some of it was becoming verbose (especially in a couple of the characters’ cases) but overall, I love dialogue. My point here is this: Authors, I want more dialogue and less prose! I’m not a prose hater, I just love dialogue and some books don’t have far more prose than dialogue.

    Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith – 2/5 stars

    Don’t read this book! Just had to get that out of the way. xD This book is fantasy romance centered around court intrigue (at least the second half was, the first half was garbage), and what I learned from it is something I keep running into in fantasy, so I guess I really didn’t learn it, but here it is: Throwing around the word magic does not improve your book! In fact, I plan to make a post on this sometime soon, but I think using the word magic greatly hurts a book (I won’t get into that right now). Regardless, this book threw around the word and then (spoilers!) the villain turned a bunch of people to stone in the second to last chapter. Worst. Ending. Ever. The second half of this book would have been a 4/5 but the word magic was thrown around for no reason and the ending ruined it.

    The Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb – 2.5/5 stars

    Listen up everybody: We don’t always need to see the coming of age tale of your character, especially in the most slow, boring way possible.  This book’s pacing and action make classics look fast. But the biggest thing that this book solidified in my mind is that I do not like books centralized so heavily around the main protagonist that all the side characters or other protagonists are dead boring. This is especially prevalent in first person books, but I read a lot of first person books and many of them are done well. The point here is, books focused heavily around one character with little development of side characters feel un-epic and one-dimensional.


    @irishcelticredflowercrown

    I prefer the good old classical mwa-ha-ha villainous characters who are just evil full stop

    Wait, Neasa my friend, you’re saying you don’t like villains with reasons for their evil? You just want villains that are shallow and do evil because evil is fun (aka, most Disney princess villains)? I’ll wait for you to answer before I start ranting. xD

    This book really taught me that you don’t need to make your characters kiss if you want to write a romance.

    Amen and Amen.

    I’m not necessarily against two characters kissing before marriage in some specific circumstances, but two characters “showing their love for each other” by kissing here, there, and everywhere, is foolish and plants wrong ideas the reader’s mind.

    #137475
    Neasa
    @irishcelticredflowercrown

    @noah-cochran

    Wait, Neasa my friend, you’re saying you don’t like villains with reasons for their evil? You just want villains that are shallow and do evil because evil is fun (aka, most Disney princess villains)? I’ll wait for you to answer before I start ranting. xD

    Okay here’s what I actually mean. I think you misunderstood me there, or maybe I butchered my statement. Sorry about that😂 So obviously I don’t want all villains to be evil because they’re evil, that would be too boring. Lets get that out of the way. In fact, I really enjoy backstories for villains. The more tragic the better in fact. My only problem is the whole trend of sympathising with villains who have obviously done terrible things. I am totally here for a redemption arc, but I don’t like it when the author goes like ‘yes that person killed people and did all kinds of terrible things but its OKAY because THIS THING happened to them in their past so its fine now!’ I want to understand the villain’s reasons and motivations, but I also think writing a villain and then justifying their terrible deeds isn’t good writing. In my opinion. And I’m so not a fan of the trend in disney to make solo films about the villains and make them ‘empowering’. Of course feel free to disagree 🙂

    But I do actually very much enjoy the Classical Villain trope from time to time just because they are generally fun to write😂 like Sauron in LOTR and the White Witch in Narnia are total classics. But mostly I give my villains motivations and reasons as to why they are the way they are. I hope thats clear enough.

    #137476
    Noah Cochran
    @noah-cochran

    @irishcelticredflowercrown

    *Is appeased 🙂

    Yes, I agree about the sympathy. Just because the villain’s parents were killed in a raid doesn’t mean the protagonists should feel bad for him after they massacre a village. Protagonists are known to be quite daft. 😆

    I also like Sauron, but I’m quite sick of other authors using the dark lord trope, I want a villain with a reason.

    Btw, I got confused for a minute when entering this thread. I get tagged in by  Rose in her new thread, and then I scroll down after reading Rose’s comment and see a profile pic of a rose. I was like “wait what?” xD

    • This reply was modified 1 week, 2 days ago by Noah Cochran.
    #137478
    Rose
    @rose-colored-fancy

    @irishcelticredflowercrown

    This sounds so old fashioned maybe but I love the stories where its the prince or the male love interest that had to swoop in and save the girl. I don’t like it when its overdone (ahem Lois Lane anyone?) but i still think its a classic trope that shouldn’t be subverted. Just in my head the idea of a muscular, sword fighting, strong girl saving her boyfriend? – nooo. Not the way it should be. And besides there are so many other ways girls can save guys without turning into a full on Black Widow. I don’t know, those are just my thoughts. I guess what I’m saying is that i agree with u

    I totally see what you mean! To the author’s credit, the MC wasn’t what I expected, she wasn’t a “STroNG FEmaLE ChARacTEr” ™. She was actually quite girly, which I appreciated. Though… she had about as much personality as a wet washcloth XD

    I must say, I enjoy both. XD I love a good classic “The heroine is hopelessly trapped and the love interest swoops in and helps her” but I also like the two alternatives! “The heroine is hopelessly trapped, but somehow rescues herself.” and “The love interest got himself in trouble and the heroine helps him.”

    As long as all characters have agency, I love nothing more than a rescue mission. It’s one of my favorite tropes!

    I want to understand the villain’s reasons and motivations, but I also think writing a villain and then justifying their terrible deeds isn’t good writing.


    @noah-cochran

    Yes, I agree about the sympathy. Just because the villain’s parents were killed in a raid doesn’t mean the protagonists should feel bad for him after they massacre a village.

    Sooo… the ideal attitude toward the villain should be “Cool motive, still murder”? XD

    Wholeheartedly agree with both of you 🙂 Redemption arcs are their own thing, and villains shouldn’t be excused for their terrible actions. Their backstory explains it, but it doesn’t excuse it.

    I have never read a book in the romance genre before, and frankly, they have never interested me. Now, to clarify, I really enjoy romance in books, I just don’t like books whose whole plot is romance.

    Same. I don’t even like romance as a subplot, 90% of the time. It has potential, but it’s poorly executed most of the time.

    I have never gotten through an Austen book XD I really want to, but I haven’t gotten to it XD

    In fact, I plan to make a post on this sometime soon, but I think using the word magic greatly hurts a book (I won’t get into that right now)

    Make the post! I’ll be there to back you up XD I do not have words to describe how much I hate that. Honestly.

    Listen up everybody: We don’t always need to see the coming of age tale of your character, especially in the most slow, boring way possible.

    LOL, I saw that book once or twice, but it looked exactly like the half-dozen other medieval coming-of-age books I’d read, so I skipped it XD Glad I did XD

    The worst book of this variety that I’ve read was the “Youngest Templar” series. Those books make me laugh, they’re the most cliche things I’ve ever had the misfortune to read. It had all of it, a mentor death, a MacGuffin that needed to be toted across an entire continent with no purpose, and Robin Hood was there.

    I’m not necessarily against two characters kissing before marriage in some specific circumstances, but two characters “showing their love for each other” by kissing here, there, and everywhere, is foolish and plants wrong ideas the reader’s mind.

    First of all, hard agree. I make a point to use the ‘kiss rule’. If two characters have to kiss for the reader to know they’re in love, start over. It’s cute the first time, and annoying every time after.

    On that note, let’s move on to the next book I learned a lot from!

    Divergent series, Veronica Roth. 1/5 stars.

    For anyone who heard this was a cheap Hunger Games knockoff, you’re absolutely right, but it’s even worse.

    Dystopias exist to criticize a specific part of society by exaggerating it. What is Divergent criticizing? MBTI tests?

    I can repeat what everyone else has said and it’ll all be true. Illogical worldbuilding, blandest of the bland main character, forced romance with no chemistry, and unsatisfying ending. (Fun fact, I didn’t finish the books XD I couldn’t bear to suffer anymore but I heard about the ending and decided it was a cheap trick.)

    But what this book especially taught me was: Don’t cut corners. Just don’t. 

    The premise had potential, but I think the author didn’t spend enough time with it. It had plot holes and the editing felt… spotty. The book could have used two or three major rewrites. To fix the worldbuilding plot holes, cut out extra characters and scenes and clear up character arcs. (Or actually just to write them in the first place XD The only development was continual disillusionment and more Chosen-one-ness)

    What Hunger Games had and Divergent lacked was thoughtfulness. The author didn’t think the worldbuilding through, didn’t spend enough time with the characters to discover who they truly were, had no particular message or theme (Besides maybe… be brave? Like, wow. Deep.) and wrote the three books separately without any idea of where she was headed. (You can really, really tell. She introduces a side character, then kills them off in the next book because she didn’t know what to do with them. There were like… two survivors.)

    Don’t get me wrong, I rather liked the first book while I was reading it. The second book had me a bit lost, but I was still on board. The third book lost me. If you asked me what the books were about, I’d tell you someone told a girl she had a personality and she spent the next three books proving it was a lie.

    Wow, this was critical. I totally understand if someone likes the books because not everything has to be deep, heavy reading material. I just personally think the premise could have been fulfilled better with some edits.

    I could go on about Divergent for a really long time because it’s such an excellent case study XD But I’ll stop here XD

    Without darkness, there is no light. If there was no nighttime, would the stars be as bright?

    #137602
    Noah Cochran
    @noah-cochran

    @rose-colored-fancy

    I don’t even like romance as a subplot, 90% of the time. It has potential, but it’s poorly executed most of the time.

    I definitely agree that it is poorly executed much of the time (like, I can think of dozens of books), but I still think it can add a lot to the story, even when not done ideally.

    After saying that, let’s take a look at an example of a terrible relationship, oh wait, you already mentioned it, Tris and Four in Divergent. Hot. Garbage. Its my turn to start ranting about Divergent. 😎

    As we both say, yes, the relationship is terrible and rushed crazy fast. In my opinion, that is the thing that ruins the most romance subplots. Rushed relationships (which is basically a growth on insta-love which I hate to death).  The next thing that is terrible, you also mentioned: the characters are absolutely boring. I hate Four. The side characters are boring, and Tris gets worse and worse (she starts out fine). But the main reason I barely finished the first book (you liked the first book better than me, I didn’t even get to the sequels xD), is the antagonists’ plans were just boring. That is probably very subjective to me, but I just didn’t find them interesting. I would probably give the first book a 2.5/5 and the ending a -2/5. xD

    I’m not sure I would call it a knock off of the hunger games though (the movie at least is much different from Divergent). I have not read Hunger Games, but I will say I find the premise much more interesting than Divergent’s (I watch the first of the four movies, it was decent, but I know, I know, don’t compare the book to the movie). However, from what I’ve heard about the love triangle that dominates the series I’m not sure how much I would like it.

    At first I thought I was going to like the message in Divergent. I thought the message was don’t conform to the cultural and government pressure and norms, stand out in a good way. But did you catch that? I said “stand out in a good way.” xD I don’t think Roth knows what standing out really means. It doesn’t mean to go get tattoos so you’re different from everybody else, it just means to act according to your beliefs and not conform to everybody else. I don’t know if Tris acquires some sense throughout the rest of the series, but I hated the tattoo scene in the first book.

    Okay, I’m done. 🙂

     

     

    #137845
    Bethania Gauterius
    @sparrowhawke

    Well I don’t have the time nor the inclination to respond to y’all’s comments (look at me using y’all–I hope I did it correctly) but I agree with ’em.

    Unfortunately haven’t done as much reading recently as I’d like, and the reading I have done has been mediocre, but here goes.

    Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner (1.5/5)

    Insta-love is the dumbest thing ever and if you’re going to include a D&D campaign in your story, please make it interesting and understandable and not just about how cute the DM’s face is.

    I do not recommend. In my defense, I read this book for WIP genre/story research purposes.

    Any novel by Gary D. Schmidt (4-5/5)

    What is not said is just as important as what is, character voice is everything, repeating phrases that have different meanings in different contexts but that always kick you in the feels are the best.

    Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

    Currently reading this tome for school, but lemme just say, I love Tolstoy’s simple, third-person omniscient prose! It seems like Russian prose is very simple and I absolutely love it.

    The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (4.5/5)

    This is excellent Christian fiction in my opinion. Pretty much everyone in this story does not have the right perspective to the issue–some are too harsh, others are too lenient. I love that conflict of views.

    Just don’t write sentences like Hawthorne does or start your story with a forty-page info dumpy prologue that could’ve been reduced to five pages.

    that’s all i’ve got for now

    oh, and Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens has some great prose and chapter titles

    "For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust." - Psalm 103:14

    #140280
    Arindown (Gracie)
    @arindown

    @rose-colored-fancy I think this thread is a terrific idea!

    I haven’t been reading too much lately, unless you count school textbooks. I’ve learned a ton from my Western Culture textbook so far (about how to world-build and stuff), but…😆

    I’ve slowly been working through a re-read of Lord of the Rings. I’ll give them a 6/5 stars.🤩

    One thing I’ve really enjoyed is how human Tolkien’s characters are, and I’ve been especially been paying attention to how he does relationships between characters (romantic and non-romantic). I’ll fight anyone over the fact that Tolkien has two of the best buddy, I’d-die-for-you-bro teams in writing history (Sam and Frodo. And Legolas and Gimli). Especially in our culture, if you’re not careful, even normal relationships can be mis-read to be something “more,” so I’m trying to take tips from Tolkien.

    The other book I read lately was The Spy by James Fenimore Cooper. I’ll give it 4/5 stars. (@noah-cochran I feel like you would really like books by this author).

    I felt the ending didn’t get tied up properly, but the rest made up for it. The biggest thing I noticed about this book was how funny it was. Something modern authors seem to have lost is the ability to be clever or even funny in their prose. The writing was just more intelligent than what is trending now-days.

    Not all those who wander are lost.

    #140281
    Arindown (Gracie)
    @arindown

    @noah-cochran somehow it didn’t tag you.😄. Have you read any James Fenimore Cooper? I think you would really like his stuff.

    Not all those who wander are lost.

    #141645
    Brooke
    @wingiby-iggiby

    @rose-colored-fancy @irishcelticredflowercrown  @noah-cochran  @sparrowhawke  @arindown

    I totally agree with all of you! This was a great topic idea, Rose! I don’t think I’ve read any of these books y’all have mentioned (except LOTR), but I sure know which ones to avoid now! XD

    I haven’t really done a whole lot of reading lately since life decided to pick me up by the feet and dangle me upside down, but I’m currently working through Ben-Hur. The author sure did his research: the book really brings the ancient world alive in my mind, and I can picture things so clearly! However, it is a little wordy, as most books from that time are 🙂 I think balance is needed with descriptions, and they ought to be immersive, showing rather than telling (of course). One of my favorite things in Ben-Hur is the dialogue — although the Egyptian can be pretty wordy 😛 I totally agree books these days need more dialogue. Dialogue is how we communicate, and should therefore be how characters in a book communicate!

    Judah, the MC, is also pretty good, but he’s sorta like every other hero out there, lol. However, I do sympathize with him because he wants revenge (and I really wanna see him get it!). But the antagonist/villian! I want more Messala! He is so annoying and prideful but he is also so interesting and smart. From what I’ve read, he’s a great example of an antagonist: make them do something to the MC that affects them badly and always keep the antagonist a step ahead of the MC. But keep them interesting; give them multiple layers. Messala is a two-faced apple, and I think that is a great tactic.

    I have also read The Hiding Place, the autobiography of Corrie Ten Boom. And just wow! Even if the events in that book were fiction, it would be impactful. But since its all true, its WOW. Corrie is a very lovable character: she is imperfect, but so very sweet. She tends to be a little impatient sometimes, and yet she is so funny. There is a perfect balance, and your heart really rips in two for her and her family. I love that book, and I love Corrie Ten Boom. If you want a great read, this is the book for you!

    And that’s all I have for now! 😀

    I light the arrow, pull the bow,
    Shoot that fire right through my soul.

    #141647
    Brooke
    @wingiby-iggiby

    Ok, that tag didn’t work, oops. Let’s try this again:


    @irishcelticredflowercrown

    I light the arrow, pull the bow,
    Shoot that fire right through my soul.

    #141990
    Noah Cochran
    @noah-cochran

    @arindown

    I have not read anything by that author,  I’ll check him out. 🙂

    #142117
    Rose
    @rose-colored-fancy

    Sooo… I actually replied earlier but the internet gremlins devoured it again XD


    @sparrowhawke

    It was really cool to hear your opinions on those books! I actually haven’t read any of them, but I want to read Oliver Twist sometime!


    @arindown

    I haven’t been reading too much lately, unless you count school textbooks. I’ve learned a ton from my Western Culture textbook so far (about how to world-build and stuff), but…

    LOL, know that feeling! I had Social studies last year and I still find myself using it in worldbuilding XD Trias Politica, who controls the punishments, etc., etc. It does make me think of some things I never thought of!

    The biggest thing I noticed about this book was how funny it was. Something modern authors seem to have lost is the ability to be clever or even funny in their prose. The writing was just more intelligent than what is trending now-days.

    Yes! I have several books I read only because they’re funny XD I really enjoy clever prose, and on that count, the Flavia De Luce books are brilliant! They’re remarkably witty, especially in the similies and imagery.


    @wingiby-iggiby

    I totally agree with all of you! This was a great topic idea, Rose! I don’t think I’ve read any of these books y’all have mentioned (except LOTR), but I sure know which ones to avoid now! XD

    Thank you! It’s really fun 🙂

    Ooh, I actually read Ben-Hur too! (Multiple times actually. In my defense, I was bored XD)

    The author sure did his research: the book really brings the ancient world alive in my mind, and I can picture things so clearly! However, it is a little wordy, as most books from that time are   I think balance is needed with descriptions, and they ought to be immersive, showing rather than telling (of course).

    I agree with you, the descriptions were very immersive, but I’d argue he rather overdid it. There’s a specific chapter I’m thinking of, (I think near the start of Book Second) where he spends the entire chapter describing the Jaffa gate in extreme detail, along with several people who pass through.

    This wouldn’t be bad in and of itself, it was very well written and descriptive, but what bothered me was the payoff. We never hear about the Jaffa gate again, and we never see any of the people he described. That entire chapter is setting up for something that never happens.

    Now, I realize this all comes down to Lew Wallace being a Victorian (TM) so his writing style was basically “I can describe a brick for fifteen pages,” Which is okay! It’s a style! That was how they wrote! Still, to me, a modern writer, it rather irks me that there’s so much superfluous information.

    Also, it kinda made me laugh how white some of the characters were XD Mary being white with blond hair and blue eyes was a bit of a “??? Oh, yes. Victorian.” moment XD It didn’t actually bother me, I just thought it was amusing XD

    One of my favorite things in Ben-Hur is the dialogue — although the Egyptian can be pretty wordy   I totally agree books these days need more dialogue. Dialogue is how we communicate, and should therefore be how characters in a book communicate!

    Definitely! I do agree that dialogue is important, but I’d also argue the Victorians had a bad habit of either info-dumping or emotion-dumping in dialogue. (I just coined that term XD)

    What I mean is that the Victorians hadn’t figured out “Show don’t tell” yet, so many characters say exactly what they’re thinking or feeling. It both takes away from the realism and arguably makes it less interesting. I like it when characters tell half-truths or lie about their feelings, it adds depth and conflict!

    Also, the speeches. I’m all for more dialogue, but it gets annoying when it’s an entire chapter of one character talking without being interrupted once. I learned a rule of thumb that a character shouldn’t say more than three sentences without being interrupted, and I try to stick to that, it helps me keep from info-dumping.

    Judah, the MC, is also pretty good, but he’s sorta like every other hero out there, lol. However, I do sympathize with him because he wants revenge (and I really wanna see him get it!).

    I see your point XD I won’t spoil anything, but what surprised me most about the difference between the book and the movie adaptations is the ending. (the older ones, not the new one that turned the story upside down) I won’t tell you what it is, but the movie changed a lot of things, mainly, the resolution of the character arc. And for once, I enjoyed that aspect of the movie more.

    (LOL, I haven’t even seen the movie, but I know the plot and what they changed XD)

     But the antagonist/villian! I want more Messala! He is so annoying and prideful but he is also so interesting and smart. From what I’ve read, he’s a great example of an antagonist: make them do something to the MC that affects them badly and always keep the antagonist a step ahead of the MC. But keep them interesting; give them multiple layers. Messala is a two-faced apple, and I think that is a great tactic.

    YES! He was a brilliant villain and I loathed him, and I wish we had gotten more of him. Also, no idea if you’ve gotten that far yet, but Egypt/Iras is one of my favorite characters. She’s complex and interesting and conflicted.

    Anyway, just a few of my thoughts on Ben-Hur. 🙂 Or, well, most of these apply to most Victorian authors. I like analyzing styles to see how they work XD


    @noah-cochran

    Rushed relationships (which is basically a growth on insta-love which I hate to death).  The next thing that is terrible, you also mentioned: the characters are absolutely boring. I hate Four. The side characters are boring, and Tris gets worse and worse (she starts out fine).

    Totally! Don’t worry, you didn’t miss anything, the books just get worse from there XD I’d say the only character who gets slightly more interesting is Four. I didn’t particularly like him and I certainly didn’t like their relationship. They’re honestly terrible for each other, they spend the entire second book lying to each other or arguing. Or kissing. In great detail.

    But what made Four just a bit more interesting is that he got his own POV in the third book. His voice felt out of character (He had a very slow, descriptive, detailed voice, much more so than Tris, and it didn’t suit him) but we got some more of his thoughts and backstory.

    It would have improved him a lot if it had actually gone anywhere, but instead, his narration just kept spinning around the same facts instead of actually doing anything or revealing anything interesting. (Honestly, would it have killed the author to write an actual character arc?!)

    But the main reason I barely finished the first book (you liked the first book better than me, I didn’t even get to the sequels xD), is the antagonists’ plans were just boring. That is probably very subjective to me, but I just didn’t find them interesting. I would probably give the first book a 2.5/5 and the ending a -2/5. xD

    Definitely. It was boring but somehow hit out of nowhere. It didn’t make sense and took the agency from all the characters. Nope.

    I don’t think Roth knows what standing out really means. It doesn’t mean to go get tattoos so you’re different from everybody else, it just means to act according to your beliefs and not conform to everybody else. I don’t know if Tris acquires some sense throughout the rest of the series, but I hated the tattoo scene in the first book.

    I think she might have been aiming for that, but she definitely missed the point. I totally agree with you, and I think she should have pushed the point (of acting according to your beliefs despite opposition) a lot further, by making Tris actually make choices and bear the consequences instead of kind of driving through the plot. I really didn’t like it.

     I have not read Hunger Games, but I will say I find the premise much more interesting than Divergent’s (I watch the first of the four movies, it was decent, but I know, I know, don’t compare the book to the movie). However, from what I’ve heard about the love triangle that dominates the series I’m not sure how much I would like it.

    And that brings us to:

    Hunger Games (all three books) by Suzanne Collins. 6/5 stars.

    I really, really love these books. They’re not necessarily fun, and they can often get really dark, but the author managed something that I haven’t seen often.

    She wrote a book that confronts people and makes them think. This is especially rare in YA books, but she did an excellent job.

    One thing she’s mastered is the art of making a point and getting a message across, and I think that’s what it taught me, more than anything else.

    Every scene, every character, every decision, and line of dialogue was intentional. She did exactly what Veronica Roth failed to do, she thought about it really well and edited out everything that didn’t serve her purpose.

    She managed to convey a lot of messages about separation of the classes, propaganda, government, rebellion, and war. It was fascinating since she has some excellent points that she makes very clear without saying it outright.

    As for writing craft, it’s downright impressive. The characters and relationships are interesting. The pacing is flawless, and the plots develop in an interesting way. The prose isn’t remarkable, but it’s crisp and strong and gets the point across.

    I was impressed with how well she wrote the romantic subplot. Now, I knew I was heading into love triangle territory (I don’t like love triangles, they annoy me) and I was dubious about it, but I was surprised by how much of a backseat the romance took to the plot.

    This isn’t a romance. It’s a dystopia, first and foremost. The romance always stays in the background, and there’s way less “Oh, no, who should I choose?”-ing than I thought there would be.

    Even the love triangle is deliberate and reinforces the themes and message, with Peeta and Gale deliberately being foils for each other and Katniss and representing opposite worldviews. Unpopular opinion, although I don’t particularly like it, I think it might have been the best fit for this story. (I just approved of a love triangle. Oh, horror.)

    Anyway, that was a very long-winded way of saying I really enjoyed the books and heartily recommend them. I’ve never actually watched the movies. (I know how much violence there was in the books and even though they toned it down, I’m not watching that.) But I’ve heard they’re good adaptations, as far as they go!

    Without darkness, there is no light. If there was no nighttime, would the stars be as bright?

    #142120
    Joelle Stone
    @joelle-stone

    This is going to be like OOBER quick ’cause I don’t have much time. XD

    Title: War of the Realm series by Chuck Black

    Likes: I went into this thinking that I’d probably end up disliking his writing style, since I’ve read a few of his other books and been a little disappointed that the plot was so great but the writing was so bad.

    However.

    Not only were the plot and characters amazing, but the themes were strong, the structure was stupendous, and the prose stupefying. So. Read the books.

    (Also, the main love interest has a point of not dating. *squeals* You don’t see that every day!!)

    Dislikes:

    There were moments when things seemed too slow or even a little cliche, but for the most part there were really no dislikes for me.

    Main Lesson(s):

    “It’s wrong to do nothing when you can do something.”

    There really is an invisible battle going on ALL around us.

    God has a plan.

    Christ is the key.

    —————————————————————————

    Thanks for the tag, Rose!

    "For love is strong as death." -God

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