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Saturday, June 1, 2013

Recommends and Mini-reviews III: novels, blogs, and books on craft


Legend, by Marie Lu

I’d give this novel 2.5-3 stars. Lots of people are raving about this book—it made the NYT Bestseller list—and others in Lu’s Legend series, but I am not one of those people…so take that into consideration as you read this mini-review.

Legend is basically a YA dystopian romance set in the western US (a.k.a. California) in a place called the Republic that tells the story of June, a prodigy in an elite military circle, and Day, the Republic’s most wanted criminal. They meet when June’s older brother Metias is murdered and, you guessed it, Day is the prime suspect. As the story progresses, June and Day discover that the Republic may not be as innocent as it claims to be.

Sounds like a killer story (maybe), right? Well, there were some things that I thought were pretty snazzy. 

Take the format, for instance. Lu told the story from June’s perspective by using black (or very dark blue), and took an atypical route by using gold for Day’s. It was a nice touch. The voices were quite similar, however; they spoke about scenarios and people in much the same way. One of the only differences was punctuation (June tended to use parentheses, Day dashes). The trial that determines June to be a prodigy was also intriguing, and the foreshadowing about certain characters was well done.

Unfortunately, the story was a bit predictable—the Republic is sinister, and obviously up to something dastardly that can be discerned about halfway through the book. Don’t want to spoil, so can’t say much else. I felt the characters were annoying because of their INFATUATION. Insta-love is not, well, LOVE. It ruined the romance for me. 

Divergent, by Veronica Roth

I’d give Divergent 4-4.5 stars. I’ve found that several people feel that Divergent and Legend are of the same mold…and the difference in my rating indicates that I disagree, although I will admit that Divergent and Legend have some over-arching lines in common.

Divergent is a YA dystopian story set in Chicago that features 16-year-old Beatrice making the “one choice” that every 16-year-old must make: which of the 5 factions—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), or Erudite (the intelligent)—she is going to spend the rest of her life in. 

Once you choose, you cannot go back, and if you choose a different faction than the one you were born into, you must leave your family behind.

I thought that the idea of factions was brilliant, though I’m not sure Roth pulled it off without flaw. I thought that the romantic aspect of Divergent was fairly well done (ok, until about the middle, at which point I was a bit turned off), and the effects of trauma were fairly well displayed.

If this book was a cross-breed of 2 books, I might say it’s a cross between Ender’s Game and The Hunger Games. It reminds me of Ender’s Game because of the initiation process, and it reminds me of The Hunger Games because of Katniss’ character arc and attitude (Beatrice, or Tris, is…erm…temperamental).  


Carol Tice is a freelance writer who makes 6 figures doing what she loves—and she is on a mission to help other writers prosper, too. She has a wealth of practical, compassionate, and gutsy information to offer about practically every area of writing imaginable. Seriously. Check her out on Twitter @TiceWrites

Books on Craft

The Language Construction Kit, by Mark Rosenfelder

I'd give this book 4 stars.

If you are interested in creating a language or language system (basics like naming places on a map, etc.), this book is for you! I was really struggling with creating languages for my novel series…until I found this gem of a book. 

The LCK is packed with information about everything from sound and building a lexicon to grammar and syntax. Some of the book’s examples are confusing at times—I mean, not all of us have studied Mandarin or Swahili, right?—but Rosenfelder does an excellent job of introducing would-be conlangers (language creators) to the world of functional and believable language construction.

You can see a bit of what I'm raving about here  

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