It’s official: the year of 50 books is turning out to be a lot of fun. Not only have I read some great ones so far, but I’ve been getting recommendations left and right, and reading in-tandem with some friends (which makes each one kind of like it’s own mini book club). In case you’ve missed what the year of 50 books means and all you hear is me rambling, head here for a full lowdown. And if you’re already looped in? Well onto books 6-10, then!
Insurgent, by Veronica Roth I mean, you guys had to know this one was coming, right? I loved the first book in the Divergent series, so onto the second it was. I didn’t read them one right after another, because that seem like a lot post-apocalyptic drama to handle in one sitting. I have to say, I’m not as crazy about the second one as I was the first–in my opinion, the storyline didn’t have the heart-racing sense of urgency and continuity of other series (like The Hunger Games) and I was left wondering whether or not I’ll finish it off with the third book. Insurgent picks up right where Divergent left off–no literally, like 2.5 seconds after. We find out that SPOILER ALERT Four’s mom is very much alive, which leads to a mess of a situation because Tris doesn’t trust her (I mean, duh). But Tris trusts Four’s abusive father, Marcus, enough to partner with him to try and end Erudite? Right. That makes sense. END SPOILER ALERT I think what bothered me most about the second installment in the series is that the Tris that we all know and love from the first book seems to have taken a quick break–gone is the strong girl who joined Dauntless, and instead she’s replaced by a Bella-esque caricature of herself (sorry Twilight fans….*crickets*). She was taking foolish risks and betraying people I didn’t think she would, and I’m not sure that I liked it. I like my characters to stay true to themselves, and I get kind of mad if they don’t! I mean, will I read the last book? Probably. I’ve come this far, so I might as well, right? Rating: 6 out of 10
The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty This was definitely one of my favorites of the bunch–it was sad and angsty and happy and intriguing all at once…I really, really loved it. Set in Australia, The Husband’s Secret follows numerous characters as their lives intersect and they deal with the consequences of their actions. I have to say, the way the book ended was nothing like I expected, but I was left feeling satisfied by it–it certainly wasn’t a happy ending by any means (In fact, I cried on the subway. Just one small tear you guys.), but I felt like all the character’s stories were tied up nicely. That “secret” the title calls into question? It’s one Cecilia Fitzpatrick finds in a letter addressed to her from her husband to be opened in the event of his death–while he’s very much alive. The letter sends numerous lives into a tailspin, and the whole thing is one big emotional roller coaster. The present-day stories are intersected with flashbacks to one very terrible event, and history of the Berlin Wall–couple that with the constant presence of Tupperware (I mean constant, no joke.) and overarching theme of Pandora’s Box and you have a very obvious message: sometimes things are contained for a reason. Rating: 9 out of 10
The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman Real talk: I had to keep turning back to the cover of this read to make sure that this book was, in fact, written by a woman. The main character, 20/30-something man-child Nate is almost too real. Like, “I might swear off men forever” kind of real. We’ve all known a guy like him–always over-analyzing his women, looking for foolish faults, falling too deep too fast and then getting scared. But for some reason, as frightening as this look into the dating man’s mind was, I was entranced by it. I saw so much of my current life situation in Nate’s experiences (he’s also living in NYC and a writer, so there’s that) and I really enjoyed following through the ups and downs of his ever-tumultuous love life (even if he didn’t end up with who I wanted him to end up with). The prose was witty and full of life, and there were lots of big, astute words–I’m really glad I read it on my iPad, because the dictionary feature definitely came in handy. The central love affair of the book (if you could call it that, because Nate seems to have an allergic reaction to the word love) deals with Hannah, who Nate meets at a party. The disintegration of their relationship (it’s not really a spoiler, considering you really see it coming) is written with such preciseness, and with such nuance, that it can only have come from an author that has experienced the same. This book will make you very thankful if you’re in a relationship (unless you’re in a relationship with a Nate) and maybe just a little bothered if you’re not–either way, it’s a must-read in my book. Rating: 8.7 out of 10
If I Stay by Gayle Forman Um, sob city guys. This whole book was an absolute downer–albeit an enjoyable (sorry if that’s weird), well-written downer. The very (very) short book follows 17-year-old Mia after a catastrophic car accident changes her life forever. It’s written through the eyes of Mia in “limbo” in the hospital, as she tries to decide whether she should live or let go (I told you it was dark). Honestly I don’t have much to say about this book other than that it was good–there wasn’t a ton of character development and I was left feeling sad and not really wishing that it was any longer. I feel like the short length of it really lent well to the story–it was just a slice of Mia’s life, and it had a rushed sense of urgency because she needed to decide–fast–whether or not she was going to live. It definitely made me hug my family a little tighter (and search Netflix for a funny comedy to watch after). Rating: 6.7 out of 10
Dirty Love, by Andre Dubus III This was a good one. Dubus, who wrote House of Sand and Fog, turns his prose into short stories for Dirty Love and they’re just that–a bit dirty, a bit gritty, a bit salacious and packed to the brim with engaging, intriguing characters. Truthfully, books with mini-stories in them rarely appeal to me–I like following a character from start to finish–but this was different. I felt that, while Dubus left some of the character’s stories unfinished in the traditional sense, they all had a sense of finality to them that satisfied me. They all center around love, but certainly not the butterflies and sunshine type–there’s loss, there’s love for all the wrong reasons, there’s betrayal. Each character is consumed in different ways with the acquisition of love, while simultaneously trying to escape the gravity that comes with the emotion. I think my favorite story was that of Marla’s, an overweight woman experiencing her first real relationship–Dubus so perfectly wrote the very nuances that are present when a relationship is slowly-but-surely disintegrating. No matter the character though, Dubus was able to embody them perfectly…it wasn’t one author trying to take a stab a lot of different characters–it was a bunch of real (or, what felt like real) lives spilling onto the pages, told only the way that person could tell them. I really loved it. Rating: 9.5 out of 10
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