Like so many of us, I'm swallowing books whole these long, low days and not taking the time to record deep thoughts here at Wordy Evidence. Also, library books! I looove them, but I am not doing a good job of copying passages into my notebook lately. So, these will be brief and probably unhelpful. They will also NOT be as awesome as these haiku reviews from Amanda at Dead White Guys via The Book Smugglers.
I devoured this one in my search for an excellent First-Year Reading Experience book. I feel strongly it should be a high-interest, social-commentary novel (although the committee won't even consider it - YET). I also like the idea of a movie tie-in, and fellows, this one is in the works. Divergent takes us into a dystopian society divided into five factions based on personality traits (Candor, Dauntless, Amity, Abnegation, and Erudite). All sixteen-year-olds are evaluated and then given the chance to select their faction. Many stay with their faction of birth (genetics still play a role here), but some choose to transfer. Beatrice (later known as Tris) has a difficult choice, more difficult than most, and Divergent takes us through her choice and her initiation into the faction she chooses. It is a really interesting concept with The Giver undertones and a solid The Hunger Games vibe. I loved pondering which faction I would choose (Erudite) and considering the implications of this kind of division. At times a bit predictable, Divergent is excellent and smart fun, and it will make an absolutely kick-butt movie. There's one scene I could see on the big screen as I was reading it. Blew. My. Mind. The only thing that drives me (the writing teacher) a bit crazy is how the factions aren't written in parallel construction - Candor, Amity, and Abnegation are nouns; Dauntless and Erudite are adjectives. Makes my brain hurt. On a less brain-hurting note, it's a trilogy. Insurgent is already out; the final book is in progress and due out next fall.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
I wish I had taken my own photos of these, so I wouldn't have such picture-size competition going on. Puts me in mind of the Flag-Pin competition of recent months. But as we all know, smaller won that race, and it does here as well. Divergent was good, but The Girl who... (which for my money is much preferred to those other The Girl books) was one of my favorite reads of the year. It is magical but edgy, dream-like but not ethereal. It is smart - so smart - and compelling and friendly and dark. Did you know Valente first published it online - in its entirety - before it got picked up for traditional publication? (Go here to still get most of it for free). The next title is out (The Girl who Fell Beneath Fairyland - and Led the Revels There), and three more are planned. The art is such a great addition to this one, and though I enjoyed my library copy, this is definitely one for the home library. What's it about? September, a girl from Omaha, goes to Fairyland. And that's all you need to know. The rest is for you to discover in the book. Just trust me (and almost everyone else on the planet) that it is so worth it.
And for those that already know its worth, here is a media delight for your consumption: