Pages turned in 2012

Despite being the year with the least books read, 2012 has been a great book year for me. I loved almost every book I read and I’m really hoping that this year will be just as amazing. Although I mentioned in one of my earlier blogs that I will post around five more books before the end of the year, I miserably failed to do so. 😦 I’ve been busy putting on different hats especially in the last quarter of 2012. The hands-on mommy hat and the homemaking hat took most of my time. Reading took a back seat toward the end of the year but the great thing about books is that they’re the most patient friends. They don’t complain when they get neglected. They understand when you need to prioritize other things. They don’t need to talk because they can read between the lines. More importantly, when you go back to them they welcome you with open arms and a great story at hand. 🙂

Having said that, allow me to introduce you to my awesome BFs (book friends) last year. 🙂

Top picks for 2012

Top picks for 2012!

I’ve read a total of 19 books last year but I think “1Q84” and “Clash of Kings” should count for three books because they’re over a thousand pages! Haha! Long novels are challenging to read but they are usually the ones that take you to places you never thought possible. 🙂

More great books!!!

Great reads from amazing authors!

I have to mention that reading Andy Stanley’s “The Grace of God” is one of the best reading decisions I made last year. Learning about God’s grace in its purest and simplest form is very enlightening. You don’t have to believe in God to read this. Just knowing about how grace is shown and experienced will more than compensate the curiosity of any searching soul. 🙂

“When the Elephants Dance” is like a breath of fresh air. Reading a Filipino author after being so used to foreign authors made me appreciate our culture all the more. It inspired me to read more Filipino authors this year! It’s a different reading experience when you know exactly where the places are and what the local nuances mean. 🙂

I fell in love with John Green's books <3

I fell in love with John Green 🙂

John Green knows exactly how a teenager’s mind is wired. His books portray teen protagonists that mirror what almost every young adult experiences. I’m a young mom, eons away from my teenage years, but his books cross different ages and it speaks uniquely to anyone who picks up his books.

Can't get enough of Dystopian novels!

Dystopian novels are too good to resist! 🙂

I’m a dystopian addict. I love how authors can come up with different dystopian plots and how the books I’ve read last year took it a notch higher than the previous ones I’ve read. These are not “Hunger Games” wannabees, mind you. They are compelling, intriguing, and riveting in their own unique way. 🙂

Some light reads from bestselling authors :)

Some light reads from bestselling authors 🙂

Of course, my year wouldn’t be complete without reading the latest books from mainstream bestselling authors. I’m the kind of reader who needs a break from emotionally heavy books that made me hyper focused for days. Thus, I pick up a light read in between. Sophie Kinsella never fails to crack me up! Haha! I have to say that Mitch Albom did a good job with “The Time Keeper.” It’s a lot better than his recent books and it hits closer to home. 🙂

There you have it! My 2012 reading companions in a nutshell 🙂 What does your list look like? 🙂

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Divergent: A Different Dystopia

Dystopian novels depict a repressed society controlled by a select group, masking itself as an ideal society. The thing that fascinates me about dystopian novels is the tenacity of man’s free will that cannot be subjugated by anyone. Authors have taken different angles in tackling dystopian societies. To date, “The Giver” remains to be my all-time favorite. However, I must say that “The Hunger Games” trilogy took the dystopian genre to a whole new level.

As I read Veronica Roth’s “Divergent” early this year, I realized that a writer’s skill is not limited by the topic she writes about. True, “Divergent” may be from the same tree but it’s unique and exhilarating in its own way.

Synopsis

Set in dystopian Chicago, Beatrice Prior lives in a society divided into 5 factions— Abnegation (the selfless; where she and her family belong), Amity (the peaceful), Dauntless (the brave), Candor (the honest), and Erudite (the intelligent). At the age of 16, they are made to take aptitude tests to determine which faction they belong to. During the annual Choosing Ceremony they can decide between staying with their family or choosing another faction where they will live for the rest of their lives.

When Beatrice took her test she had an inconclusive result. This made her evaluator worry. She was advised not tell anyone what her result was. When it was time for her to choose which faction she wanted to join, much to her parents surprise she chose Dauntless over Abnegation. During her stay in Dauntless she changed her name to Tris to embrace the new identity of belonging to another faction. Tris faced rigorous and death-defying training. After all, when your faction means bravery you should be able to face anything.  She tried to blend in the background but her ability to get past simulation tests gained her the spotlight all the more. Her budding romance with her elusive trainer named Four also added to her troubles.

Tensions arise when Tris finds herself in a situation that endangered the life of the people she loves. The turn of events will catch you by surprise as Tris struggled with her own identity in a world where trust seems to be as elusive as freedom.

Review

What I love about “Divergent” is that the characters were given a choice from the very beginning. Yes, they were trapped but they get to choose where they’ll be trapped for the rest of their lives. Early on, there’s a nagging variable presented to the reader—divergent. Wanting to know what that means along with its implications drew me deeper (and faster—because I literally read it fast!) to the dystopian world of Beatrice.

There are also very little clues as to where the turn of events will be as you read the novel. Unlike in “Hunger Games” when Katniss volunteered, I knew for sure that this was a fight for survival. With “Divergent” the reader is kept speculating on what the twist will be. I love the character of Tris and her deep sense of loyalty even if it meant putting her life on the line. You may find it ironic that I lauded her loyalty when she changed her faction. You have to read it to see how this one plays out in the novel. Four’s mysterious character got me glued to the pages as well.

The idea of cultivating your strongest virtue for the rest of your life appealed to me because I’ve always believed in leveraging on your strengths more instead of wasting your time trying to improve your weaknesses. In the novel, if you’re smart you go to the Erudite faction where you’ll be a genius by the time you die (well at least that’s my guess). But the curse in this kind of dystopian society is when a person crosses the line from being the best in his/her faction to becoming the worst of its kind.

The Amazing Author

Veronica Roth is 23 years old. Yes, you read it right she’s only 23!!! What was I doing when I was 23?! Haha! Anyway, “Divergent” is her debut novel and the sequel “Insurgent” will be released anytime this month. Yay! I’m excited to see how this trilogy turns out! I don’t expect it to reach the same heights as “Hunger Games” but I hope each book gets even better. I love the book and the concept of the trilogy for what it is. I admire Roth for her engaging prose and her dauntless leap to take on such erudite task of publishing a debut trilogy.