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One year after Connor, Risa, and Lev escape Happy Jack Harvest Camp, they find that their lives have greatly changed. Connor has replaced the
Admiral as the commander of the Graveyard; Risa struggles with her place in Connor's heart as well as in the Graveyard; and Levi is under house arrest, ministering to wayward youth as part of his plea bargain.

Enter Subplot #1: Starkey is a storked teen whose parents decide to unwind him, but he escapes and finds himself in the Graveyard. Starkey is extremely similar to Roland (cunning, strong, power-hungry, etc.), and wants to take over Connor's job. 

Enter Subplot #2: **SPOILER**Cam is the Frankenstein-like creature that Proactive Citizenry creates from multiple unwind parts. They want to create the "perfect" human from perfect human parts. To be successful in "humanizing" Cam to the general public, the group decides he needs to show that he can be loved. Unfortunately, Cam has set his eyes on Risa, and what Cam wants, Cam gets.

 Enter Subplot #3: Nelson is the Juvi Cop who Connor tranqued with his own gun in UNWIND (2007). Through a series of internal monologues, the reader learns that since that day, Nelson's life has been a living hell. He was ridiculed by his peers to the point that he lost his job, his marriage, and his life as he knew it. As a result, he's made it his mission to catch AWOL Unwinds and sell
them to parts pirates (there is a black market for unwind organs). Guess who he blames for his downward spiral? Yep, Connor. Guess what his mission is throughout the book? Yep, to catch and kill Connor.

Enter Subplot #4: The Anti-Divisional Resistance is a group of activists who are openly anti-unwinding. They are supposed to provide the Graveyard with necessary
provisions such as food, water, clothing, and sanitation so that Connor no longer has to send unwinds to fulfill work orders. The ADR also has a new mission: save tithes. The group poses as parts pirates as they attack vehicles
transporting tithes, kidnap them, and work to deprogram them from being brainwashed. Guess who their poster child is? Yep, Levi.

Enter Subplot #5: Miracolina is a tithe who gets "rescued" from her harvest, and she's ticked. She has no desire to be saved, and she can't stand Levi. Because Levi sees a lot of himself in Miracolina's resistance to the truth, he decides that he's going to save her whether she wants him to or not.

Enter Subplot #6: **SPOILER**Trace is Connor's right-hand man, but he's playing both sides to the middle. Although he seems loyal to Connor, he's actually working for Proactive Citizenry and feeding them information about the Graveyard.

Enter Subplot #7: Proactive Citizenry owns everything and everyone (i.e. Juvie Cops, Government, Media, etc.) has a secret agenda that Connor and Trace are trying to
crack. This group is the one pushing unwinding, and Connor wants to find out how to dismantle it and save lives.

There are more subplots, but I'm tired, and I need to get to my evaluation. 

First of all, I love UNWIND (2007). It is my favorite book, and I teach it every semester in an effort to explore the value of human life, personal responsibility, and manipulation (government, religious, and media). One of the things that makes UNWIND such an amazing read is that we get to know each of the characters as well as witness complex situations that they struggle to overcome. We fell in love with Connor, Risa, and Levi because the author helped us invest in them. This book, however, contains so much action and so little depth that the reader doesn't really connect with anyone. There are too many subplots and too little character development, which makes the storyline seem forced and disjointed. 
 
Readers who enjoy a lot of action will gravitate to this book because it seems as though there is always something going on, but readers who want a book that’s similar to UNWIND will be disappointed. The only thing
similar is the names of the characters.  

ARC provided at IRA 2012
Publication Date: 8/28/2012

 
 
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DIVERGENT is a dystopian novel set in futuristic Chicago where there exist five factions: Abnegation (selflessness), Candor(honesty),Erudite (Intellect), Dauntless (bravery), and Amity (peace). When members of each faction reach  sixteen years of age, they must participate in simulation tests that identify which faction each one belongs.

Beatrice Prior always knew that she didn't  belong in Abnegation with her family; she's too selfish. But, she never imagined that her tests results would show that she didn't belong in any particular faction. Instead, Beatrice is divergent. And, being divergent in a society that relies on a strict code of conduct, means being a threat to power-hungry leaders; it means elimination. When everyone gathers for the choosing ceremony,  Beatrice chooses Dauntless, and seeks to hide her true identity from those who want her dead. Once in the Dauntless compound, she renames herself Tris, and  discovers that the line between friend and foe can be very thin. 

***This Review Contains  Spoilers*****

First, let me say that DIVERGENT is an entertaining read that goes very quickly. Roth does a really good job of  character development, and the straightforward plot throws in a few surprises  that are executed quite well. Having said that, this novel also falls into the trap of pretending to create a strong female character all the while grooming her to fall for a boy and start obsessing about him. Once the author introduces the love interest (which is extremely predictable), the story diminished in  value because it gets  distracted from the original plot. 

My second frustration while reading was that only four factions were adequately introduced and integrated throughout the novel. The fifth (Amity) was ignored until the very end of the novel, and when it was mentioned, I had to go back to the beginning of the novel to remind  myself what it was supposed to represent. I realize that book 2 will go into more detail about that faction since that's the one offering them asylum; however, it's poor writing technique to ignore a literary element for 400 pages. Again, most readers won't notice, but I felt like the story either needed to integrate Amity more effectively or leave it out completely. When it was reintroduced, it seemed awkward and inappropriate.

Another frustration was that too many events in this novel were predictable (i.e., Al's suicide, Tris's relationship with Four, Will and Christina's realtionship, Tris's mother being Dauntless, both parents dying at the end). I read a lot of dystopian literature; therefore, I know that a certain formula is followed when creating within this genre. However, I shouldn't be able to predict events 200 pages before they happen to the point where I set the book down and don't care whether or not I finish it, especially during its climax.  
 
I really enjoyed how evil Peter was. I feel like  he really added to the conflict in the novel, and the butter knife incident makes me rethink ticking people off. I just wish that  his evilness didn't disappear once Tris hooked up with Four; I feel like that really hurt the flow and suspense of the novel. Also, the book read like it was written for the sole purpose of making it into a series. I realize that writers don't want to divulge all of their plot twists within the first book, but it also shouldn't seem formulaic.

And, the romance completely overpowered the plot once it was introduced. I don't mind a little love interest because everyone wants to see the quiet, invisible girl get the unattainable guy, but making out as soon as both parents die and an entire faction is almost wiped out is too much for me.

*****************************************************************

Overall, it was still an entertaining read. I wouldn't have a problem handing it to a student, or friend, who wants a fun read.

 
 
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The only thing unique about this novel is the cover.

Set after the fourth world war, futuristic America, now known as Illea, has implemented a monarchy that functions off of a very stringent caste system. Although people from different castes are allowed to marry, it is highly frowned upon since it means a demotion as well as harder living arrangements (i.e. less food and natural resources). But, none of this matters to America Singer, whose family makes its living through the arts and set at level five in the system. America is secretly in love with Aspen, a six, and impatiently awaits the day that they can be happily married.

Aspen and America's relationship seems to be going perfectly until the Selection occurs, a lottery designed to find a wife for Prince Maxon. When America's name is selected, her family is ecstatic; however, she has no desire to even meet the spoiled, entitled prince because she already has the man of her dreams. But, when Aspen suddenly breaks things off and tells her that they have no future, she decides that she owes it to her family and herself to participate in the games.

This story has been said to be the Hunger Games meets ABC's  television show "The Bachelor." Not even close. Although this is the first novel in a trilogy, there is little to no plot or character development that keeps the reader interested. In addition, what little plot exists is so contrived and predictable that the reader is left bored even when there are rebel attacks, which are never really explained, on the palace and the girls' lives are supposedly in danger. Therefore, unlike the Hunger Games, there is little to no action, which causes the scenes to become repetitive. A few times, America quarrels with Celeste, the mean girl of the group, but even this is forced and expected. Overall, this novel is a poorly written romance that masquerades as a dystopian novel.  

 
 
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Published in 1949 and set in 1984, the world's power is divided among three great superstates: Oceania, Eastasia, and Eurasia. Set in Oceania (future Great Britian and US post WWII), Orwell creates a society plagued by a Party that eliminates anyone who refuses to tow the party line (pun intended). The story is told from the perspective of Winston Smith, a middle-aged man who secretly rejects the hatred and lies spewed forth by the Party. As the story progresses, Winston's rebellion grows more bold as he participates in a forbidden relationship and seeks to discover the Brotherhood, an underground group rumored to be gathering forces to oppose the Party. It doesn't take long, however, for him to discover that the Party has been watching him, and it demands total and ultimate submission: mind, body, and soul. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.

Although I enjoy dystopian novels and government conspiracy stories, Orwell's novel was a very tough read to finish. The writing was very dry and rambling with little to no action during the first half. Readers who enjoy the fast-pace of dialogue will find themselves bored with the lengthy descriptions and inner soliloquies. Most of the book hinges on Orwell describing the setting so that Winston's broken spirit seems all the more tragic. For readers who want a modernized version with a more intricate plot, they need to read LITTLE BROTHER (2008) by Cory Doctorow.   

 
 
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"What if your parents could unwind you?"

This book deserves six stars for its ingenious plot!

The novel opens by explaining that the United States experienced its second civil war instigated by pro-life and pro-choice advocates bent on destroying each other. To end the long, bloody war, government officials came together to create "The Bill of Life," which "states that human life may not be touched from the moment of conception until a child reaches the age of thirteen. However, between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, a parent may choose to retroactively 'abort' a child..." They do this by unwinding them, or harvesting their body parts. It's a win-win for all sides: parents get to eliminate unwanted children, society gets plenty of organ donors, and no one (technically) dies.

This novel does an excellent job of bringing serious issues to the forefront. For instance, it has the obvious debate about the value of life, but what about humanity and our responsibility to one another? Aren't parents supposed to protect their children? When does government overstep its boundaries? Is it good to be ruled solely by moral or civil law? Does it have to be one or the other? These were just some of the many questions running through my mind as I read about children living in fear and relying on perfect strangers to show them more kindness than their own families. This book presents a ton of hot topics. In fact, I plan to read it as a class for my comp II class this fall. I want something my students can feel passionate about, and I feel like this is the book that will get them interested in reading.

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Guy Montag is a fireman. He doesn't put out fires; he starts them. In fact, the best kindling is books. Why? Because books make people think, make people question, and make people deny the status quo. In a society where happiness reigns supreme (at all costs), individual thought doesn't fit in. Then, he meets Clarisse. A young girl who makes him think, who makes him question, and plants a seed about the status quo.

It all begins with a quiet walk one evening after work, and ends with Guy running for his life with an armful of books, hoping to God that "they" don't find him.

This book refers to things that are occurring within our society today (i.e. reality TV). Even though this novel drags in a few places, its overall power is worth every word.

 
 
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Jenna Fox knows that something isn't right, but she just can't put her finger on it. The reason? Because she's lost her memory. But she notices that her family lives in secrecy, and the grandmother who once loved her, treats her with open hostility. When she starts asking questions that never get answered and realizes that she's a prisoner in her own home, she decides it's time to take matters into her own hands. What happened that night of the accident? Why can't she remember anything? And, why won't anyone tell her? What she discovers, however, is that, maybe, it was better if she left well-enough alone.

This would be a great novel to teach in conjunction with Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. It approaches the science versus nature debate from the perspective of the "monster," also known as Jenna Fox. When does science go too far? When should we let people die? When should the government step in? And, when do people stop being human?