There's less than two weeks until college for me, and I just discovered the existence of a roommate, who is actually very cool. I'm pretty happy right now. And I'm excited about WriteOnCon!
Today, I'm going to list some books that, against the odds, I actually really like.
The first is Veronica Roth's Divergent Trilogy. Like many YA readers, I've developed dystopian fatigue recently with the post-Hunger Games trend. However, Divergent caught my attention, and the second book in the trilogy, unlike most dystopian second installments, didn't let me down. I'm excited to see what happens in the last book! (Editor's Note: This series ultimately did not live up to my expectations.)
Divergent follows a girl who lives in a society where everyone is divided into one of five factions that have different main traits and responsibilities. She tests as Divergent, which means she doesn't fit into any one faction. She has to hide the truth in order to survive as she joins the Dauntless faction (the courageous enforcers) and gets pulled into a deadly conspiracy that threatens everyone she loves. There's a well-written romance in this trilogy that doesn't have a love triangle! The story is also interesting and has an awesome main character. (4.5-star average, downgraded later to 3.83)
The second book is The Host by Stephenie Meyer. This is against the odds simply because it's by Stephenie Meyer, whom many people hate thanks to Twilight. (I don't necessarily hate Twilight, but that's because I have a different perspective than most people.) The Host is better than Twilight because it lacks the clumsy helplessness of Bella. The central female character, Wanda, reminds me of myself.
The Host is a sci-fi romance where a parasitic alien species has taken over Earth. Wanda is one of these "Souls." The Souls are actually very kind, selfless, generally altruistic people. Wanda is one of the most altruistic of their kind, which she proves throughout the story. The Souls travel between the planets they've taken over, connecting to hosts in order to experience the full variety of the universe. Usually, a Soul will pick a planet to stay on as their home. Wanda is unique because she's been through a record number of lives without choosing a home.
On Earth, she finds with a new problem--the host body still "speaks" to her. The girl's name is Melanie, and she was a rebel against the Souls in the beginning. (Melanie reminds me of my best friend, incidentally.) So they fight a lot, and Wanda struggles because she's fallen for Melanie's human love and has developed a motherly love for Melanie's younger brother. Finally, Wanda breaks down and seeks out the secret place where the free humans live, which results in much abuse towards her. Over time, things change as she proves her altruism and humanity (so to speak_. She even has a great romance with another character. This whole book is thoughtful and lovely and heartening, definitely a favorite of mine. (5 stars)
My last good-against-the-odds book is more of a personal preference issue. This is Erin Hunter's Warriors series, a fantasy-like world where cats of four conflicting Clans roam the forests near a human town, guided by prophecies from their ancestors. This book's goodness is against the odds for me because I dislike stories where animals are the main characters. There are a few reasons this one is different. First, it's cats! I love cats more than any other animal and have been around them so much that I see them as human-like. Secondly, it's fantasy, which is my area. The prophecies, the wars, the StarClan stuff: it all makes me happy. Third, I love the characters. The cats act like what they are, and yet they have human-like lives with depth and drama. It's great.
There are three series so far in the Warriors world: the original, which follows Fireheart, a domestic cat who joins the Clans and becomes a great leader while dealing with a terrible betrayal from within; the second generation, which follows Fireheart's daughters and a few others as they search out a new home in the wake of human environmental destruction; and the third generation, which follows Fireheart's grandchildren, who have special superpowers connected to a huge prophecy. One of those cats is blind, which is great! As someone with a chronic illness, I 💜 disability representation. (4.5-star average)
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