Article 5 by Kristen Simmons: Review

*slight spoilers*

I feel like I’ve just run a marathon.

Article 5

I didn’t quite know what to expect when I picked this up.  I’d read the synopsis on Goodreads and thought that the premise looked pretty good.  So I happened to walk by it in the library last weekend and thought “Awesome!”

I was excited, to say the least.

I’m a huge fan of dystopian novels and the idea behind Article 5 was no exception: a heavily militarized America after a war and the now strict rules dictating the lives of citizens.  The country is essentially governed by the church and the military, who rule by forcing citizens to follow a new set of religiously based laws known as the Moral Statutes.  After the main character’s mother failed to follow Article 5, having a child out of wedlock, she is arrested and her daughter is sent on a journey towards freedom.

The unfortunate thing about this whole situation though is that with this novel, your mileage may vary.

Now, this book starts off rather strong, giving a rather quick intro to the world and this society, showing off the strength of the main character and her determination to find her mother and discover some sort of freedom in this world.  I was enthralled by her love for her mother, the only family she has, and the lengths she’s willing to go in order to save her.

There were characters introduced with great promise and who had awesome chemistry with Ember.  Rosa, my favorite by far, is a smart-talking Hispanic girl with the courage to defend herself in a misogynistic dystopian America.  And Ms. Brock, a scary-as-hell headmistress who knows how to get her word across.  These were great additions to an already promising story, so I was psyched to have found this book.

And then I hit page 98, where everything fell apart.

It’s such a shame, too.  The author had built this brutal world filled with believably ruthless people, driven by desire and desperation, even sorrow.  And it all crumbled not even one-third into the story.  This is where it got kind of painful to continue.

It all started right after the main character finally met up with her love interest and AAAAAAAAAAGH the chemistry was terrible!  Right off the bat Ember lost all of her gusto and ambition.  She was transformed from this strong female character into a dumbass in distress.  Absolutely intolerable as a person, let alone as a protagonist, I almost shut the book.  But I pressed on, hoping to find the girl that had graced the story at the very beginning of the whole thing.

But what contributed to this downfall of the story?   How did it get so bad so quickly? The biggest chunk of the book was riddled with so many problems in plot:

  • The most selfish protagonist I have read about since Bella Swan.  Her love comes back to rescue her and she bitches at him the entire time for not being “the same Chase” she left behind.  Even though he is clearly suffering from PTSD she refuses to give the guy a break! She even runs away from his twice and almost gets both their asses killed.  Another thing some reviewers have complained about his how she yells at Chase and chastises him for almost killing people who were essentially going to rape her.  Completely ungrateful for any intentions he has about protecting her.
  • Chase was in love with her – why?  I mean, I can see how he felt about her when life was “normal”, but this whole journey was just unbelievable.  His patience was simply unreal.  Though, yes, we can argue that he was doing this very much so out of his guilty conscience for the death of Embers mom.
  • I really wanted to love this romance, but Ember was so awful that when they did get some intimacy going between them, I just found myself squirming in my seat, slightly disgusted. I couldn’t’ even enjoy the romance in a “romantically driven” book!
  • The fact that Ember didn’t realize her mother was dead got kind of old after a while.  And by hat I mean that she commented on hoping to find her unscathed so many times that by the time she does find out what really happened, you feel annoyed at her rather than sympathetic for her loss.

…to the overall writing:

  • There were a few inconsistencies with certain elements of the story.  Sometimes I would read something and instantly feel confused, like the author had stuck something in there, forgetting to introduce the concept or even mention when a certain event had happened.  As if half of some stories are just missing from the book. At one point Ember mentions that a character’s arm shifted in his cast – what? He had a cast now?  Also on page 171 Ember mentions that girls born out of wedlock have to wear scarlet 5’s on their shirts – but why mention something like this so far into the story?  This is a point brought up I guess to show some kinds of reference to The Scarlet Letter, but it’s effect is totally lost at this point.
  • Ember as a character fails at thoughtful introspection.  Until she realizes just how awful she was at the end of the story, she essentially pats herself on the back throughout the whole ordeal, thinking “I have great intuition about people!” and other things that make her so resourceful.  Except not.  Not even likable.  I guess Simmons was trying to make Ember sound smart, but she just couldn’t.  It just wasn’t possible at this point, and throwing in random big words didn’t help either.  She doesn’t deserve to use words like “loquacious” or “fleetingly”.  It just out of place and forcefully “poetic” for such a simple-minded girl.
  • The wording was awkward.  So awkward.  There were quotes I just didn’t quite understand, and while I figured that the author was trying to go for that artistic dystopian style, this book fell far from the mark.  I often felt like some sentences didn’t even make sense. And even when they did, it just served to make the protagonist sound like a whining child. Just a select few:
    • As if submerged in a pool of ice water, my fingers finally thawed enough to pull down my shirt (141).
    • People change? Not good enough.  Obviously he was different, but that didn’t explain why he’d arrested us or set us free, it just made me want to kick him again (143).

 

    • This is what my life has come to, I thought, watching him.  Taking clues from some a guy who is clearly waiting for some kind of sign from the universe (218 -After he saved her stupid self COUNTLESS TIMES. Unbelievable.).
    • His eyes burned with the anger I knew he only reached through fear.  How did I know that about him? I though fleetingly.  How could I read that, when I hardly knew what was feeling? (293)
    • I was the one who held things together, not the person who stirred up trouble (239). – Read the first three chapters and you’ll just facepalm at this.
    • I could go on and on with so many  more, but I won’t.  And if you’re thinking that these are quotes that just don’t make sense out of context, I promise that reading them in the story won’t make them any better.

…to things that just bugged me as a reader:

  • Chase should have had the POV in this story, not Ember.  His story would have been so much more interesting to hear!  How exactly did he get to where he was?  Why did he love Ember so much?  What was it like to live with all of the guilt form his training?  Though now that I think of this, this story would have been better told from ANY other character’s perspective.
  • Why did Simmons drop Rosa?  There was no reason to drop Rosa.  She was actually a likeable character in this story, and she essentially got lobotomized and left for dead in the reformatory.
  • The romance is not developed in the slightest.  One moment Chase and Ember are having their little drama and the next they’re making out, then the next they’re angry, then the next everything’s forgiven, and then something else utterly frustrating happens. And to make matters worse, what development we do get comes from page long flashbacks that have nothing to do with the story. I ended up skipping a few, just annoyed.  It’s such an unrewarding system.

The ending was promising however.  And I mean, I almost forgave the book for its shortcomings at the end, in which Ember hatches an admittedly smart plan in some sort of escape mission, showing her bravery and FINALLY some development as a character.  I was impressed, and yet confused by the comeback.

Overall, this book had me shaking my head for its majority.  It was so hard to sit through this thing, but I wanted to be able to say that I stuck it out.  It was an interesting journey, but that hardly makes up for the shortcomings of the novel as a whole.  As great as the first 90 pages and the last 10% of the book were, they can’t possibly cover for such an awful middle section.  Because that’s all I remember.  Upset and anger at Ember and annoying sympathy for Chase, who was essentially sacrificing himself for someone that readers were ultimately unable to connect to.   This is a sad case of a book with an awesome premise and –eh- somewhat terrible delivery.

The author does have her good points, and when she shines she really shines.  The action scenes were amazing, well-written, and pulse-pounding.  The tension and atmosphere are spot on in some parts and very vividly presented. The supporting characters overall added to the atmosphere of this brutal world, pulling in the audience for more of what was to come.  Unfortunately, when she falls short, she plummets.  The writing did not come off nearly as poetic as I’m guessing she wanted it to, and the  book, as well as Ember, come off as being way less deep than they think they are.  Want some good prose?  Read Ally Condie’s Matched.

If I were to rate this book, I’d have to give it a 2 out of 5. It has its good points, but they don’t even come close to making up for the absolutely insufferable parts of this journey. Not worth buying, somewhat worth a library loan. And it’s certainly not worth reading the other books in the series.  Oh, didn’t I mention?

It’s a trilogy.

-Andee

Why The MTA Makes Me Angry

Man, this is getting old.

I take the bus to and fro almost every weekday, twice a day between work and home.  While the commute is a full 90 minutes each way, that isn’t even something that I could complain about.  I just pop in my headphones and I go about my way.  And it usually isn’t that bad.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Some of the drivers are awesome.  One dude usually waits for me every morning, says hello, and he’s by far the most courteous and upbeat bus driver I have ever met in the city, and at 6:30 in the morning, no less.  So I’m truly blessed by that.  But… that’s such a rare occurrence.  And if you don’t live in the good ol’ B-of-More, you have no idea.

But the bus system is a crap-shoot of whether it’ll be good or bad that day.  And I’m talking about the commute back home.  The first time I had to take the bus home I was practically running to catch it, but as soon as I reached the door the darn thing drove off, leaving me and a pregnant woman to catch our breaths as we waited over half an hour for the next one, which was late as well, about 15 minutes.

And this isn’t just an issue on my route. I’ve taken other bus routes over the years and the problems with this whole system are simply unbelievable.  Just an unimaginably, inexcusably lazy and awful system.  Buses don’t show up at the right time if at all, routes change without notice, and drivers can just get plain nasty.

This morning I arrived at the bus stop at 6:25 and waited for the 6:29 bus to show up.  Usually, it comes around 6:23 and the driver takes a quick break before starting up services again, since this is the first stop of the line, and shortly after I board.  But today I see the bus barreling towards the stop with a different driver at the wheel, and just as quickly it leaves.  No stopping.  No slowing down.  Nothing.  I ended up getting driven to work, which took me past a toll that incidentally happened to have increased to 4$, costing over twice as much as the bus would have.

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.  Welcome to Baltimore!

Thoroughly pissed this morning, I was going to file a complaint to the MTA (Maryland Transit Administration) via their website, but while looking for it online I came across so many stories and a few forums with people describing their own experiences with certain bus routes and drivers, ranging from being left behind, wreckless driving, and having a driver flip the bird at others on the road.  Whether they are all completely truthful, I don’t know, but I honestly wouldn’t be too surprised. Needless to say, I didn’t feel so bad anymore.  In comparison I had no complaint.  I’ve had it easy.

There are all sorts of complaints about the MTA, and thus I realized I wasn’t alone.  And I haven’t had nearly as bad an experience as some others.  One woman was blown off completely as a bus passed her by without even stopping.  She ran to it when it got to a stop light and the driver told her she should’ve stood up and then sped off, leaving her in the street.  While MTA spokesman Terry Owens says that the bus drivers are so wonderfully “trained to see people standing up”, this is ridiculous and inexcusable.  I can see how the MTA would try to defend itself and this driver by saying that people need to be standing.  And I understand that it is easier to see people standing.  But it sounds like someone needs to train these drivers in common sense because this kind of stuff isn’t just happening at stops with multiple routes, but at single route locations!  If someone is waiting at a bus stop and your bus is the only one coming, obviously people are there for that bus specifically. Why is this happening?

Though I have to say that the best stories I’ve heard by far – stop me if you’ve heard this one already – is anything having to do with the #27.  I’ve never had to take it, but according to this gem here it’s amazing elusive.  Besides being late, the bus reportedly doesn’t show up, and as this article states “it’s matchless unreliability has become legendary”.  So much so that one chagrined rider went so far as to post missing flyers for the bus, offering the prize of a high-five if the offending vehicle ever showed up.  Absolutely brilliant.

Courtesy of this guy.

Most of these complaints have been reported to the MTA, but it seems to me that almost always when they do actually get a response, it happens to be from their spokesman. First of all, why is he the one responding to these issues? I’m gonna go ahead and guess that he doesn’t have the power to make any reasonable changes. And secondly, the responses are always rather defensive without substance or sincerity.  Saying “We regret your experience” means NOTHING.  It means nothing.  At least act like you care when responding.

My own personal complaints with the system in general:

  • The signs are small and don’t stand out at all.  Sometimes I have no clue where to wait for the bus.
  • When I actually get to a sign, it gives absolutely no indication of which direction the bus is headed.  Nothing but a taped-on bus number with questionable legitimacy.
  • No schedules at most stops.
  • No maps showing where we are.  If you get lost, how can you find your way back to a bus that can get you home?
  • The bus is always late or early, the latter being the worst.  If a bus gets there early and pulls away before you reach it, you’re stuck waiting an extra hour anyway.
  • The fact that buses only arrive once every half hour, at least on my route. That is way too long to have to wait for another!
  • Last but not least: The drivers.  Oh, the drivers.  You know.

Despite these complains, I can say that I’m generally satisfied with my MTA experience since I don’t rely on it for all my transportation needs, but when things go wrong it’s always somehow a slap in the face.  It’s ridiculous.

Now let me make a quick comparison to the French system of public transportation, which I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing while studying in Grenoble a few months back.

  • Very rarely was the bus late more than a few minutes – usually if there was a snow storm or some other inclement weather.  It never just blew past us.  It always stopped, even if I was seated and it wasn’t my bus, it stopped. And after about 10 seconds if I didn’t get up to board, it would leave.  Like the gentlemanly bus it was.  Unbelievable.
  • The bus came once every 10 minutes. Not every 30.
  • There were buses and trams (like the light rail) available.
  • Bus and tram shelters were informative.  They all included:
    • Digital displays that showed how long it would be until the next tram or bus.  They were 95% correct most of the time, and helped me on many a day when I needed to decide what would get me to my destination the fastest. I know this would probably be an expensive change, but it was so invaluable.
    • A map of the city detailing bus and tram routes. I got lost my first night there, but never again. And if I did end up somewhere random by accident, I was always able to find out how to get back home.  I can’t even imagine having to deal with that in Baltimore (where certain areas may not even be that safe).
    • The final destination is listed. Seriously.  How can you expect someone to wait at a bus stop when they don’t even know if it’s going in the right direction, Baltimore?
    • They weren’t sticks poking out of the ground. They were actual shelters.

With all of this in effect, I was able to fully utilize the services and appreciate the effort that the French bus company went through to satisfy riders.  I was appalled by the system in Baltimore, forgetting how bad it was until my return.

Alternate forms of travel are also an issue here.  Buses and trams were well used in Grenoble, but rentable bikes were the next best thing.  If you can’t get your bus service right, please at least offer alternate forms of transportation.  Bikes are a great and non-expensive way to get from point A to point B, and are awesome for the environment as well as your health!

All in all, there is so much that can be done with the MTA bus service, and it’s a shame that people are being hurt by a service “intended” to help. There are no excuses for bus drivers who don’t show at least  some courtesy or human decency when operating these buses.  Some drivers are wonderful, and while I won’t say that the bad ones are  a majority, there are certainly way too  many if them.  And sadly they’re the ones that stand out.

While there are certainly exceptions to every rule and this situation isn’t completely made of bad experiences, there are far too many unanswered complaints out there.  And for that, the The MTA oughta be ashamed of itself.  We need a system that gets people from point A to B on-time and without so many problems.

Is that too much to ask?

How Bad was the Mockingjay Ending? (Spoilers)

It’s either brilliant or unforgiviable.  Depending on who you ask.

How I (We) felt:

Okay, so this is one of those books that has divided readers.  Chances are that you fall somewhere between the spectrum of:

1) The ending was so realistic and great for the series!

And-

2) That ending just ruined the series!

Myself, I would place somewhere in between, but actually closer to number two.  I don’t think that it anywhere near ruined this amazing series, but it wasn’t quite what I wanted.  I wanted so badly to like it.  I really did.  But I actually felt a wave of disappointment and slight disbelief over the way the story ended.  I felt like the epilogue had just given up and flopped over, totally undoing the greatness of everyone I had come to admire.

Now, that’s just my own opinion.  I rarely react this way to stories, usually finding something to critique positively and taking as objective a stance as possible to review the material.  But… with this I just can’t.  This hit me at my core.  I had such high hopes.

But isn’t that everyone’s story?  From what I’ve gathered from reviews, most people are not very satisfied with this ending. They wanted their own storylines to wind up in the mind of Collins, later to be etched on paper.  And while life of course doesn’t work that way, I couldn’t help but find myself in that camp.  I guess it largely stems from the fact that I feel like there was so  much set up, great story lines and ideas bolstered by a steady pen… to be ultimately deflated by the same tool in the last pages of the book.

These emotions come from just a few key points:

  • Prim died.  I know, I know, Katniss needed a way to give up Gale and a reason to kill Coin.  But I can’t help but feel a bit angry at this.  Katniss started this whole thing essentially to save Prim’s life when she volunteered.  And to see her die was just kind of backwards.  I’ve actually seen some folks online suggesting that the mother should have died instead, which I agree with.  There was so much time spent showing how much Prim was growing up despite, keeping her chin up despite everything around her.  She was Healer2.0, and it would have been more appropriate, in my opinion, to have her carry on the tradition while building a new world with her sister.
  • I’ve been Team Gale from the start.  I liked Peeta as a character, but I thought he’d be just as fine with any other girl.  Really.  Gale and Katniss had this chemistry and strength between them that I thought was just beautiful.  Why give that up so easily?  Alternatively, had she ended up on her own without a love interest at all she might have seemed a bit stronger in the end, preoccupying herself with the state of Panem.
  • The epilogue was cold, distant, and I didn’t care for the kids. And I didn’t feel like much was resolved at all. I felt hopeless.  At the end of the rebellion.  What.
  • Finnick, come back please!  Your death was so completely pointless!  I waited so long for him to see Anna again, so I was crushed.

In addition, there are just some points that are unresolved.  So many questions needing answers!  I was really hoping to see the future after the war.  What happened in the capital after Paylor became president?   What TV thing is Gale doing?  Is he a dystopian Ryan Seacrest?  Please God, no…  And did he really have anything to do with Prim’s death?  Did Coin? Are people from the capital and districts integrating?  Where will everyone live?  And a lot more that I had hoped we’d gain insight on.

I guess I was really bothered by the fact that the epilogue didn’t answer anything of the sort.  Nothing to help the audience know this new Panem and its potential future.

Another huge complaint I’ve been hearing is how “the book is just a total mess”.  And I will gladly disagree with that sentiment. The plot was very well paced, for the most part, I think.  The fighting was action packed but I didn’t get lost in it.  I wasn’t overwhelmed.  I thought it was well written and the tone was always spot on and the story flowed.  It wasn’t until the underwhelming ending that I felt some kinda way about it, like more could have been done to end this deserving series on a truly strong note.

The Reality:

BUT, while I do feel this way, it is important to keep in mind that this is in fact a first person perspective.  What we get is what’s important to Katniss, and I do commend Collins for sticking to that perspective, even though she probably knew that readers might not be 100% happy with the way things ended up.  I respect her as a writer.  And while I may not agree with her choices as the storyteller, I respect them as well.  No matter how pointless Finnick’s death seems (RIP bro).

For all my whining, the epilogue does sum up the state of mind of Katniss very well and gives us an honest description of what her life has become because of what it once was.  She feels emotionless almost, it seems, distant from the people around her.  She doesn’t even give the names of her children, which actually really pissed me off while I was reading it.  “Boy” and “girl” was essentially what we got, and I felt nothing for these kids as characters.  I wanted to love the children of the Mockingjay! I felt no hope for the future, nothing for this Panem which wasn’t even described in the end.

But you know what? This is still the POV of, essentially, a war veteran.  She talks about how she finally had kids when Peeta had nagged her enough, and while I was upset at her coldness, I realize that yeah, Katniss might not be all there anymore.  How would I feel having/raising kids in the world she now sees, covered in the shadows of her past?  I mean, the kids are playing on a graveyard for goodness sakes.  It is a realistic ending.

This is just something I think we should keep in mind when critiquing/criticizing the book.  And as I mentioned in my Crossed book review (which you can see here), we can’t blame the author for this.  This is just her interpretation of her own work, and I can’t argue with it.  I respect her decision, and I  just wanted to give my own opinion on the matter since I’ve been seeing much debate about the ending.  So here’s my own perspective.

Peace.

-Andee

CROSSED Review: Ally Condie (Spoilers)

 

Image

Huh.

I’ll admit it.  That was my reaction to Ally Condie’s second book in her Matched  series. Crossed picks up where the first story left off, with Ky sent out to die in the Outer Provinces from whence he came, leaving Cassia to pick up a new ally in pursuit of finding her love.  And thus begins the next part in our three part series of rebellion!

Now, I loved Matched.  It was a breath of fresh air!  I’d just finished the Hunger Games series and I actually felt kinda into the whole dystopian vibe, so I went to the library, saw the green cover, and there went the rest of my week.  Really it took me only two days to finish that bad boy, and at the end I squeed. Hardcore squeed.  A satisfying love triangle within a 1984-esque society that’s actually not a hackneyed mess?  It was a dream come true.  I was invested from the first chapter and finished the book in record time, laughing, crying, and wriggling in my bus seat as I finished the last chapter, people seemingly too freaked out to sit next to me.  Matched made a true fangirl out of me, and so I anxiously waited to get to the next book.

So a few days later I finally get Crossed.  And from that point onward I felt as if the story was for some reason going by much slower than I had anticipated.

Now I’ll admit that Crossed was sort of disappointing.  I was expecting more, with better scenery than the first movie since now they’re in the wild, and a much bolder and engaging romance between our two narrators.  But I found that I actually had some gripes with the story:

  • The pace was so slow, it took me longer than usual to get through just a few chapters.  Reading across the span of 60 pages took longer than i felt it should have.  This is my biggest complaint, and the biggest one I’ve heard so far from fans.
  • The setting was rather disappointing   Now, I can see how this sort of thing might be very new and invigorating for someone like Cassia who’s been sheltered all her life, but to the audience it just ends up reminding us of The Host, just with a better written romance.  All of this potential and it’s spent it in a cave?
  • Questions, oh so many questions!  While I thought that the book was pretty decently paced, for what it is, I thought that there were some questions best in this story, not what is surely to come in Reached.  Why did Xander give those blue pills to Cassia?  What happened to Laney?  Who was the Enemy?!  This last one I actually did expect an answer too, and was greatly surprised when we got nothing more than a simple hint from Ky at the end about one possibility: could it be the Rising?
  • Some character gripes. I really hated it when Vick died.  I didn’t feel that it was entirely necessary.  And while Eli is a likable enough character (they all are, thankfully), I feel like he’s really just there for the shallow purpose of assuaging Ky’s guilt for leaving the camp decoy’s behind.  He didn’t really change the game or have anything significant to contribute to the plot.  If he had ended up dying at some point I would have felt sad because he is a nice kid, but I wouldn’t have been distraught.  Kind of a wasted opportunity and I’m still trying to figure out what exactly he lent to the story. But I’m sure he won’t disappoint in Reached.

But for my complaints I will say there there was a lot that I enjoyed in this story:

  • The scenery, though a bland choice in my opinion, was beautifully described and Condie really, truly pulls out the beauty in everything.  The musings of the characters gave me insight into the landscape.  I’m a tried-and-true city girl, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t feel, at least once, that I myself was in that canyon, writing poetry to myself about the walls of the caves or the plants of the valley.
  • People have complained about how the characters are actually far too reflective, stopping the plot at every chance to ponder their past or the mysteries of the cavern and how it might relate to their own lives and situations.  But I actually appreciated this. For one thing, Condie is a master at her craft and she writes amazing prose and poetry.  Every time Ky went back into his own story, his observations about the environment always played perfectly with the narration. These two elements really complemented each other and while the book did have me falling asleep at some points, I can forgive it because of the payoff of this wonderful, introspective writing.  It’s hard not to appreciate beauty.
  • The romance, while not as enthralling as I would have liked, is very realistic.  More realistic than the whole Hey let’s give Katniss three books to play around and finally settle on one of us thing from the Hunger Games series.  The protagonists kissed, they never took each other’s touch for granted, and they argued.  Nothing sexual and raunchy or over the top.  It was wonderfully balanced, and the tone was very much in line with the way it started in Matched.   And I actually like the role Xander played as suitor much more in this book.  He was suave and mysterious, an equal match for Ky.  I respected him more in this book.   And believe it or not, I can actually see Cassia ending up with him in the end of it all.  This series can go in a few different directions and still get a satisfying ending, I believe.   Condie’s set this up very well and I commend her for that.

In my opinion these points push the book into a rather favorable light, overall.  This wasn’t a bad book! I would even say that it was a good book, though not quite up to par with its Matched  predecessor.  There was a lot of mystery that I would have liked to see unraveled, and so I was a bit disappointed with the story itself.  But I do think that this book is rather well paced for the sake of the series as a whole, even though it the plot moved as slow as molasses at some points.  While I would say I had to plod through parts of it I had to never force myself to actually start reading it again.

There is a wonderful promise waiting at the end of the Condie rainbow and it’s the final, hopefully revealing book of Reached, where we should get the unraveling of all of the mysteries of the Society, its motives, and maybe even its origins.  Despite the short-comings of this sequel, I feel that just leaves us with more anticipation for the final part of this dystopian trilogy.

So if I had to rate this book, I would give it a 3/5.  No more, no less.  A good book, but it didn’t quite fulfill our expectations and it certainly did not live up to Matched.  A good effort sadly suffering from a slight case of sequelitis.  But the series is so worth a read.

~

Now, I don’t usually write reviews, but I felt compelled to for two reasons.  A) Writing helps me figure out my own honest opinion about the book, and B) I recently read some reviews that just pissed me off.

Honestly.

It takes a lot of effort to write a book!  That I’m sure of, and I’m tiring of seeing people sh*t on Crossed because it didn’t completely bend to their desires or answer every question that they had.  Good stories take time and pacing, and this book at least gives us some beautiful insight into Ky’s past and his own thoughts.  I actually felt like Cassia was a secondary character to him in this one, but I’m OK with that.  The two person perspective worked and I don’t think people are giving any of this credit for what it is.  It’s like people are somehow reading with their eyes closed!  There was so much subtext and so much mystery to it.  You can’t take every line, every work at face value.  This series is deeper than that.

But even more than that, I’m just sick and tired or reading reviews like “OMG this book sucks where’s Xander????” and “Condie f-ed this up, what was she thinking this is not the romance I wanted!!!1!!!1”.  It’s upsetting because I love seeing criticism from both sides. But at least do it respectfully.  Some reviews just seem like folks decided to ride the hateful bandwagon together, insisting that Condie just pushed through the second book in an attempt to make money and cheat her readers.  That she can’t write.  That she wasted our time.

And I’m not trying to shoot anyone down for their opinion.  We’re all entitled to what we think and how we feel.  But when you start attacking the author (and not even in a well-presented manner), I’m done.  Your review has just crossed a line.  We’re here to critique the book itself and not throw uneducated accusations at someone who wanted to give you a good experience.  It just hurts me to see people who obviously didn’t take anything from this book trying to blindly tear it down.

Let’s open our eyes when we read.  Remember, we get what we take away; at least make the experience count.

-Andee

Drinkify Me!

So here is a little gem I stumbled upon a few months ago.  Drinkify!  I’ve gotta say, the fact that this exists is amazing, and I love who ever probably actually went through the process of making every last one before adding it to the list.  You know, probably for science or whatever.

http://drinkify.org/
http://drinkify.org/

So how does it work? Type Ke$ha into the search box and make sure you’ve got your vodka ready.  In the mood for a little Ray Charles?  Hennessy is your friend.  And if you really want a party, feel free to check out the The Killers for something a bit special.  Hahahaha…but I mean, don’t actually.  Because it’s illegal.  Just sayin’.

My personal favorite?  The Kurt Cobain.  Keeping it sweet, yet simple.

-Andee

Cosplay that Made My Day….

… Involved furries and a group of Hetalia cosplayers in front of the Duomo in Milan.  Wut.

Behold!  The thing I came to see!

Image

And the Cosplayers!  The Italian cosplayers!

Image

Can I just say that I find it a little ironic that Italians would be playing characters from a show about how idiotic their country’s  physical embodiment happens to be?  But whatever, at least they didn’t ask for money!  Also the costumes are so good I wanted to cry.  Just saying.

And thus I continue my posts after a 10 day trip to Italy. With Stuff like this going on.  In Milan.

~Andee

Confessing… Anonymously, Of Course

When I started stumbling yesterday, this was the first link that came up, and man was it a good one.  have you ever heard of PostSecret or had of those anonymous confessions pages at your college?  If not, this a phenomenon that’s always gotten to me.  Just the secrets that some people are holding, and the sadness that comes with it… alternatively, there’s some joy in there.  But what you mostly see are the words that people are too afraid to admit out loud…

Images from ignant.de

Now, I’m gonna go ahead and admit that I get a little depressed reading some of those… but in a way, its not a completely bad feeling.  These kinds of posts remind me, and probably a lot of others, that there are people out there who feel just like you a lot of the time.  I often get down on myself a lot, the same way you may as well, but events like these anonymous confession displays remind us that we are all more alike than we are different, though we tend to forget that quite often.  This exhibit gives people a chance to participate, maybe let off some steam, and connect with others in a certain way despite having never met them.  I looked at just a few posts on the site’s pictures, and I went “yep, me too.  I know that feel, bro.  Dang, who else wrote this?”

I wish that there would be more opportunities at schools or at public places to really just write it all out.  Yeah, I understand that there’s potential for abuse with these kinds of systems, if you write something not so nice or legal.  But hey, trying is better than not.

And you know, maybe if more people carried that philosophy there would be less regrets on that wall.  Maybe.

-Andee