Legend by Marie Lu

A fun YA book set in a dystopia that seems more the result of politics and climate change than nuclear winter or an equally dramatic break with today. Though, given the Elector’s control over information, who knows how much the world is accurately seen by either of our perceptive teens?

Day and June are both very sympathetic characters; incredibly skilled and to be looked up to from a raw potential POV, but also still victim to teenage gaps.

I enjoyed the first book and am a few chapters into its sequel, Prodigy.

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

A worthy conclusion to the trilogy.

The last book ended with Tris’ capture–she begins this book held in Erudite headquarters, this time fortunately not alone. The city struggles with the changes brought about by the assault at the end of book 2… and the Tris’s big revelation to the city.

The world grows again–not just out to the city’s associated Amity farms, but beyond the city altogether. Outside… it turns out the cities and factions are not at all natural–they’re somewhat controlled experiments.

This book introduces Tobias as an alternating POV. For the overall story, the addition makes sense, but I miss the immediacy of Tris’s journey alone, as in the first two books. Some of the conflicts that arise I’d probably have explained away more easily with access to only one POV–with both, the thinness of the dispute felt a little more author inserted.

This book is great for explanations and lore, though I completely empathize with Tobias when he bemoans just how many revolutions he’s participated in by the end of the book.

Time is a little more front and center; you realize that the first two books are much less than a year’s action. This book has a somewhat odd pacing for the world behind–a few longer gaps of “not much going on, losing track of time”. And it features an epilogue set two and a half years later, looking back on this crazy time and its lasting impact.

A good conclusion to a fun book. The politics all trended YA simple, but the excellent and vibrant characters kept the action focused where it was strong. Well done, particularly for a debut series.

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

The sequel to Divergent. If you liked the first book, this is a fine sequel. The book does have the drawbacks of a mid-trilogy book. It starts with a defeat and runs generally down beat–particularly Tris’s relationship with Four.

At times, it felt like progress was being stolen from the hard earned victories of Divergent, but they feel like a natural continuation. We learn much more about Candor and Amity this time; while there are strands of “peaceful hippy” to Amity, and strands of “no filter” to Candor, both have more nuance than their they present to outsiders. We also learn more about the factionless.

Tris continues to struggle, now to survive a life on the run, rather than just adjusting to Dauntless life. She has good allies and vibrant connections to them–they rarely feel like they’re making their decisions motivated by plot.

The book ends with tumultuous change and a revelation that feeds straight into book 3.

Divergent by Veronica Roth

A good book, YA focused, the beginning of a trilogy. I enjoyed it enough to want to read the sequel.

For world building… somehow the world was messed up, probably involving corrupt politicians. From that fallen world, society organized itself into five factions (plus the leftovers)–each with a high minded goal and a widely acknowledged vice. Tris, our viewpoint character, grows up as a member of Abnegation–a service/charity focused faction that tends to the downtrodden… and runs society, since they personify selflessness.

This book is set in a fallen Chicago; prosperity is long behind, and communication, much less travel beyond the city appears strictly limited. A few chapters in, the students (who are 16?) are subjected to a hallucinatory experience that guides them to the faction that fits them best. Except that Beatrice is one of the (rare?) few who is Divergent–not strongly inclined to one faction. She learns that’s a dangerous place to be… and the rest of the book reinforces the need to conform and fit in.

Once I complete my current checked out books, the sequels will hop to the top of my queue…

Windswept by Adam Rakunas

A nicely dystopian sci-fi future; it harnesses corporations’ flaws and projects them forward for an authentic feeling.

Padma’s an excellent character with a bit of mystery to her past. She’s solidly connected to the other people of Windswept, and has strong motivations and responsibilities that get her interacting with everyone in a more than plausible way. She’s also damaged by an experiment, and it’s interesting to learn how it came about in parallel to her world going to shit. Which, of course, it does from a few pages in.

I really like the truths about Windswept that are revealed, slowly but steadily. The plot has a lot of action, but not a lot of deadly violence, which feels right for a world so in need of people.

Radiant by Karina Sumner-Smith

The author builds an interesting, grungy future. It’s even more extreme on the haves–there’s something even more necessary to future work than skills or machinery operation: magic. The magic is hinted at as maybe advanced science, and the ruins of the old world definitely reflect modern skyscrapers, subway lines, etc.

The society is strange and strained; it turns out that Xhea (our heroine) is the one who is going to push society off the cliff. Though much of that appears to be the result of cross-cutting manipulation from various players…

It’s an interesting world, and the exploration rarely feels like a travelogue. Xhea has a history and is known throughout the city for old deeds, which makes it feel authentic.

The heart of the story is about friendship. It’s nice to see how strongly friendship affects Xhea (and her friend Shai), how committed they both are to doing right… to each other, and the others with a claim on them. The tower intrigues are largely off stage, but there are strong hints that they make sense if you’re in the right circles…

Long story short, the story and friendships worked. The world is altered now, and it looks like Xhea is a player. I’m interested in seeing what the next book brings…