New Spring

I’ve been planning on reading The Wheel of Time for a while now, having previously been daunted by the huge investment of time that would be required. I began with New Spring, the prequel to the series.

It seemed like the beginning was a logical place to start, but I really think I might have gotten more out of this book if I’d read the first couple of books in the series first. That being said, I really did enjoy the book.

I liked learning about the Aes Sedai, and their powers and politics. Moiraine and Siuan dominated this book, and I do hope that much more will be revealed about them in the remainder of the series. Having overheard a prophesy about the Dragon Reborn, one who will be able to defeat the Shadow in the final battle, the two sisters leave the White Tower and go in search of this child. During their journeys, they discover that the Black Ajah, a group of the sisters who are pledged to the dark powers, are not a myth, and that they are working quickly in an attempt to kill any man who might possibly be the Dragon. What they don’t know is that he has just been born.

The book lightly touches on Lan and his history, including the fall of the Malkieri. He doesn’t much trust Aes Sedai, but by the end of the book, begins to trust Moiraine as he becomes her bonded Warder. There are subtle hints about a budding romance between the two, so I look forward to seeing just what Robert Jordan has in store for these two characters in the rest of the series.

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Insurgent

I just finished Insurgent, Veronica Roth’s sequel to Divergent. It picks up right where the first book left off, told in Tris’ own voice.

The simulation and battle are over, but the war is just beginning. Dauntless has dispersed, many of them seeking refuge among other factions. Many of them are traitors, and have sided with Erudite. Tris keenly feels the new pain of the loss of both of her parents as well as her own horror at shooting her friend, Will. But the war continues to rage, with unlikely alliances and unclear motivation.

Much of Abnegation has been killed off. Amity and Candor do not want to become involved in the dispute, which mainly leaves Dauntless, Erudite, and the factionless, which are higher in number, and much more organized, than Tris suspected.

Tris is Divergent, which means that she has much keener perception and insight than many. It also means she has values of multiple factions. So while she is brave, like the Dauntless, she can also be selfless like Abnegation, nearly to a fault. While the Erudite are working on new simulation serum, they are able to take control of some of the Dauntless and deliver a message to the Divergent. Tris feels that to protect those she loves, she must turn herself in. When she does, she discovers that there is information that is considered so dangerous, information that could change everything, that the Erudite leader will do anything to protect.

Forming unlikely alliances, and one that could cost Tris the love of Tobias, she plays her role in discovering the truth. At the end of the book, I was very happy to learn that Tobias could trust Tris, and that he was able to be a big enough person not to throw away what they had. It did end on a cliffhanger, though, and I’m very eager to see what comes next in Tris’ story.

Definitely one of the best young adult series I’ve read. And the author is so young! It’s quite impressive. I can’t wait for the next installment.

Fever

Fever, the second novel in Lauren DeStefano’s The Chemical Garden Trilogy, picks up right where Wither left off.

Rhine and Gabriel have managed to escape from the mansion, and from Housemaster Vaughn. When they are free, in the actual world, it becomes clear that Rhine has somewhat romanticized her memories. The world is either dead or dying, much like its young occupants. There is no order. Fate delivers Rhine and Gabriel to a carnival. Really, it’s just a façade of a carnival, a front for prostitution. An older, first-generation woman runs things, and she has a special place for Rhine in her act.

Eventually, Rhine and Gabriel escape, just as Housemaster Vaughn arrives on the scene, taking with them Maddie, a malformed child of one of the girls. Still looking for her twin brother Rowan, they make their way to Manhattan, only to find that home is not as she remembered it and Rowan is nowhere to be found. Out of other options, they seek out a name and address that has been inscribed in an old children’s book that Maddie has saved from her previous life at the carnival. This leads them to an orphanage run by Maddie’s grandmother.

All the while, Rhine becomes sicker and sicker. She feels as if she is succumbing to the terminal virus, but something seems off about it, much as the death of her sister-wife Jenna seemed to be. As at the carnival, Vaughn finds her, stealing her during the middle of the night, threatening to burn the orphanage down and all its occupants with it, if she won’t come with him. Leaving Gabriel and Maddie, she returns to the mansion.

She does get a few answers from Vaughn, but she is shut away in the basement, being used as a lab rat. Only when things get too extreme does her husband, Linden, intervene. He takes her to a hospital, and it is while she is here that she finds a clue as to how to find her brother. But she is sick, and the clock to her 20th birthday and imminent death is continuing to tick.

I did enjoy this book, but I found it lacking a bit in emotional depth. I just didn’t feel like I cared about the characters as much as I wanted to. Maybe this is because the last books I read just went so far above this, that it’s hard for anything to compete. However, I still liked the story, and I will read the third and final book in the series whenever it comes out. I do care about Rhine and Gabriel enough to find out what actually happens to them.