Tag Archives: dystopia

I Read – Extras by Scott Westerfield

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Extras by Scott Westerfield

Extras by Scott Westerfield

I am not normally one for reading books in sequence, as I tend to find I lose myself in the setting and then adjusting to a new book becomes more and more difficult the more invested I become. I read this series in a row more for convenience, as I borrowed them from the library all in one go. So it made sense to put the reviews out in order.

This is the fourth book in this trilogy. It’s set three years after the events in Specials, these events now known as the ‘mind rain’. To make up for the stagnation in technology, this book has made leaps and bounds in what the citizens call progress. It also helps to drive the plot that there is so much going on, and such a great need for expanding cities. For a third of the book we are following a new cast, in a different town, and the strangeness of that town was new and exciting enough to carry me for the most part. Then the other two-thirds happen.

There is no Ugly / Pretty distinction anymore. People can change their appearance in any way that they want to. The new system is based around fame. The higher your face rating, the more things you can buy, the better places you can live. Aya starts out as a nobody, until she finds a story that she thinks will help her break into the big time. Chasing the story is all she wants, no matter what the costs to herself or her friends. The story she is chasing leads her to find something much bigger. She pushes the story and her fame sky rockets. Making her nearly as famous as Tally [our favourite protagonist from the preceeding trilogy].

Tally comes to the rescue, as now Aya is in danger because of what she knows, and what she has revealed to the world. However, she did make some serious Goldblum leaps of logic to get from secret base built inside a mountain to world destroying missile launch base. She had no real proof of anything she posted.

The rest of the book is a large series of Tally being Tally and over reacting to a lot of things… and they do eventually get to the bottom of thing. Not without some drama though. We have some fire in this one… and also a whole bunch of weird surgical enhancements for better adaptation to zero-gravity.

I have to say I was disappointed that we had to bring Tally back to solve all of the problems. It was irritating, as she is a far weaker character than Aya and her brother are. I wanted to know more about the world now that they have found their freedom.

All that said, I did enjoy it more than the other books in the trilogy. And I feel a certain amount of acomplishment for having finished the series. Sometimes I wish that we could be given achievement points for things like this… I should be working towards a master level YA Fiction reader badge at the very least.

I shouldn’t be so critical, it was an easy read that I finished in a short amount of time. It had enough drama to keep me wanting to find a resolution. And the clever ‘extras’ play was good. Like… extras in a TV show are the nobodies that fill in the background, and extras like extraterrestrials. Very clever Mr Westerfield, I approve.

I couldn’t recommend reading it, I wouldn’t want to inflict that on anyone, but it satisfied me. And it helped me along the road to book challenge completion!

I wonder what I should read next. Do you have any suggestions?

-girlinthenerdshop

Divergent by Veronica Roth

I have read a whole ton of books lately. It’s pretty good to be catching up with my iggle book club choices, and getting through the massive backlog of paperbacks I have scattered about the house. I’m at 18 out of 31 in my GoodReads challenge so far. And it’s only March!

DIVERGENT_B_Format_UK.indd

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue–Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is–she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are–and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

 

This one was another quick read for me, it only took a couple of days. YA fiction has that effect on me, big font and simple, easy to devour story.

As is custom, I will start with the issues I had, I really didn’t like that the factionless were made out to be crazy homeless people, and that the evil lady wanted to get rid of them… they are a perfectly good workforce that she could utilise for cheap labour, and they already make parts of the city run by building and driving things. It just didn’t make that much sense to eradicate them.

I’m not entirely convinced by the learning to fight like a badass in just over a week. Muscles and co-ordination take a bit longer to develop than that. Especially if you come from a background without much physical activity and no previous experience in jumping on and off trains and the like. There also seemed to be a whole lot of violence for the sake of violence, the eye stab felt a bit over the top aswell. I know that Roth was just trying to show how hard it is in there, and how ruthless they all are.

My biggest issue was that of divergence. So our main character Tris is Divergent. So her brain can function in several ways, or she’s got a more open mind or whatever it is we’re told. If they don’t like this trait as a society, then why are the teenagers allowed to choose what faction they join… if they leave one and go to another faction, then  surely that leaves them open to learning a new way of thinking. As all the transfer initiates we come across still show many tendencies from their old factions. I imagine that we get more details on that as the story develops in the next couple of books. I’m looking forward to reading more.

Let’s skip to the good bit. I liked the different faction thing [even if I had issues with it too]. It was cool to see sides to the city, and how the different groups were founded because of the different responses to war and what caused it. Each faction had a different purpose which was cool, but how many super clever people does one person need?

Tris was a really well written character, she is a teenager, and as a rule teenagers are selfish and they don’t know what they want. Tris has a whole bunch of issues to get over, like leaving her family and being special and what not, and hiding the truth. She is also very cruel, which is an interesting streak to see in a leading role.

I think the highlight for me in this book was the developing romance between Four and Tris. It was awkward, and confusing for both of them. It built up so slowly so it made it feel more realistic to me. Especially having them both be nervous around each other when they were alone together, and in public not being able to do anything about it. I enjoyed it, and I was glad that they both made it to the end of the book. I hope nothing happens to Four in the next book, I’d like to keep him whole if I can.

What can I say, I really enjoyed it. I give it 4 stars, and I will most likely be carrying on with the series [and dragging Alex to see the movie when it comes out later this year!]

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