Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Hunger (Book Two of Gone Series), by Michael Grant

Book Two of Gone Series
Written by Michael Grant

"Super powers don't always make you a super hero." -- Hunger, Book Two of Gone Series, by Michael Grant

This is the second book of the Gone series, written by Michael Grant. I came across this series after searching for books similar to the Hunger Games Trilogy, which I loved. Grant's series of books revolve around a town which suddenly becomes cut off from the rest of the world after all the people over the age of 15 disappear. If you haven't read Gone, start here.

As I've found common in many long series, there are going to be books that are more exciting than others. For me, Hunger was one of those more tedious reads. Grant's ability to keep me in just enough suspense by using the countdown concept at the beginning of each chapter again and my own natural curiosity about what would happen in this phase of the FAYZ helped me through the drier sections of the book.

Hunger begins, just a few weeks after Gone ended after Caine and Sam had managed to keep from jumping. Since word spread that it was possible to stay, many more kids were able to remain after their 15th birthday. Unfortunately, for those who stayed, life was beginning to get a little more unpredictable as their food stores began to dwindle and all of the inhabitants of the FAYZ (Fallout Alley Youth Zone) start to get really really hungry.

Grant does a good job of exploring this inevitable phase in a post apocalyptic environment. I felt like he took a realistic view of how a village filled with children and teens would react to their sudden isolation--both the mistakes they would make and the ways in which they would overcome obstacles. Like any good dystopia, the Gone series is more about delving into the human psyche and exploring how people react to such unexpected and life altering circumstances.

Grant also manages to give the reader unique and complex characters that are deep and real--characters you either love, and even those you love to hate. His characters can be utterly predictable at times, and then at other times they will behave in ways that have you gasping with surprise. Grant kept me guessing about who will fall victim to the "mob mentality", who will rise above, who will encourage others to rise above, who will lead, who will rebel, etc. I love these characters.

The final pages of Hunger leave you wanting more, just like Gone did. I have to know what happened to these kids. I need to know what obstacles they will be forced to face next, what horrific decisions they'll be forced to make, and if they will ever manage to truly band together. You are left with that knowledge that it is imperative that they learn to work together if they have a hope of survival.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Queen of Swords (Book Five of Wilderness Saga), by Sara Donati

Queen of Swords
Book 5 of Wilderness
Written by Sara Donati
I must begin by saying that I am terribly fond of Donati's writing, and the Wilderness Series of books she has written. Due to a series of simple mistakes I have actually read all but one of the books in this series, book four, but I read them out of order. I began with Endless Forests (book 6); not realizing it was the conclusion of a six book series, followed by books one, two, three, and five (which I had mistaken for book 4). Presently the only book of the series I haven't read is book 4, Fire in the Sky, which I hope to rectify shortly.

Despite the willy nilly methods I employed while reading the series, thus far I've enjoyed each of the books. I'll admit to a bit of confusion about how certain characters came to be in their present circumstances, and why some characters were better explained than others (to avoid repetition because Donati had introduced them thoroughly in other books). Although the books could each function as stand alone novels, I think that you would enjoy them more, if you read them in the order they were intended to be read. It would definitely help you avoid the confusion I suffered.

Queen of Swords was set during the early stages of the American War of 1812, and much of it takes place in New Orleans (Video of Battle of New Orleans above) shortly before, during, and right after the Battle of New Orleans. Donati does an amazing job of painting a picture of a time when the cultural lines between redbone slaves (Native American), black slaves, free people of color, free red bones (Native Americans), Americans, and Creoles were extremely controversial and politically charged. New Orleans included an incredibly diverse population even then, and the racial divisions, both real and imagined, played a huge part in the way the people of New Orleans interacted with one another.

Donati also manages to clearly portray the dangers to women, especially women of color, during that tumultuous time. Her writing transports you to a place and time in history reminiscent of Diane Gabaldon's Outlander series. In fact, in a few of Donati's books her characters meet Gabaldon's characters, for any Outlander fans who cannot get enough of Clare and Jaime.

If you enjoy historic fiction, I recommend that you try out Into the Wilderness, the first book of Donati's Wilderness Series. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Predators, Prey and Other Kinfolk: Growing Up in Polygamy by Dorothy Allred Solomon

Predators, Prey and Other Kinfolk:
Growing Up In Polygamy
Written by Dorothy Allred Solomon
I've only read one other memoir book written about the polygamist lifestyle. It was also written from the perspective of a woman who grew up in one branch/sect of fundamentalist Mormonism. I must admit that I find the subject utterly fascinating. I also have to admit that Solomon's book stood out to me, when it was compared to other books and documentaries on the same subject. Unlike other sources I've seen or read, Solomon did not experience first-hand many of the more commonly heard of abusive acts while growing up in a polygamist community. I am not saying that she didn't suffer from the circumstances of her childhood, and that her suffering was unique unto her, but she avoided some of the more commonly publicized abuses that you hear so much about.

Reading Solomon's account of her life, from childhood to adulthood, opened my eyes to some of the more appealing aspects of the polygamist lifestyle. Her rendition, at times, allowed me to see what about this life could attract so many devout followers. Solomon also pointed out many of the difficulties and hardships that go along with the practice of plural marriage, some known to me already, and others I'd not heard of before her book. But what really drew me into her story was what made her experience different from the one I read about in Elissa Wall's, Stolen Innocence. It was like looking at two sides of the same coin, many of the underlying issues were the same, but seen from dramatically different points of view.

I don't mean to romanticize this way of life. Celestial marriage, plural marriage, or polygamy is filled with many ugly truths, no matter what name it is called for. Many of its followers are drawn into it for all the wrong reasons and commit terrible acts in the name of their faith. Solomon's account reminded me of HBO's blockbuster drama series, Big Love. Both Solomon, and the writers of Big Love, made a point of showcasing the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of polygamy, whereas Wall mainly just wrote about the evils found hiding within the polygamist compounds.

I think that Solomon's book is important. I think she has very eloquently shown how even good people, with the best of intentions, cannot help but cause harm while living the polygamist lifestyle. She has beautifully shown how no amount of love can completely eradicate the abuse and neglect that so easily thrives in this type of environment, and how strongly attractive this way of life can be for predators.

Dear To Me (Brides of Webster County), by Wanda Brunstetter

Dear to Me
Book Three of Brides of Webster County
Written by Wanda Brunstetter
After finishing the Brides of Webster County trilogy I can honestly say I'm not a fan of Brunstetter's work. I have read quite a few Amish fiction books over the years, most of which I've thoroughly enjoyed. Brunstetter fell short, in my opinion. To be fair to her, the competition is overwhelming. I would assume it would be difficult to come up with a unique perspective or plot in a genre that is filled with hundreds of Amish stories that have already been told. I would compare it to a writer trying to make a name for themselves in the supernatural young adult fiction genre.

Now, to be fair to that competition, many of the other popular Amish fiction writers have managed to write far more unique and entertaining novels. Aside from Beverly Lewis, probably the most well known Amish fiction writer, Amy Clipston's A Gift of Grace was, by far, my favorite Amish fiction to date. Clipston managed to create a storyline that was, at least to me, completely unique, and characters that I could both relate to and sympathize with. She proved that although there is no shortage of Amish fiction novels available, a creative writer can manage to come up with a good plot and interesting characters. Not every good story has already been written, or written well.

I should also point out that it wasn't merely the lack of a unique storyline that disappointed me about Brunstetter's novels. I felt that the story itself, however redundant it was, was poorly written and a bit remedial. I felt like the characters were not only stereotypical and extremely predictable but much more self absorbed than I felt was believable. If she was going to rehash the same plot as countless other Amish fiction novels with success, she should have at least come up with new and exciting characters.

If you're looking for an entertaining novel in this genre, I'd recommend anything by Beverly Lewis (Shunning was recently made into a movie which I also loved), and A Gift of Grace by Amy Clipston.

Boy's Life by Robert McCammon

Boy's Life
Written by Robert McCammon
“Maybe crazy is what they call anybody who's got magic in them after they're no longer a child.”-- Boy's Life, by Robert McCammon

Wow, I was enchanted by this book. It took me back to my childhood like no other book has. It was amazing to rediscover that belief that your parents are invincible and the fear when you find out that no one is. The joy of believing in the unbelievable, the magical, and the supernatural--all came flooding back.

When I opened Boy's Life, I'm not sure what I expected, but before I finished the first page I was transported to another time and place. And isn't that why we started reading to begin with? This book was just a pleasure to read, because McCammon has a magical way with words that is simply enjoyable. Reading it was like eating a big piece of melt-in-your-mouth chocolate cake that was so good you can't even feel a tiny bit guilty about eating it.

I was particularly drawn into the small town of Zephyr, Alabama, its customs, its people. Zephyr is the epitome of the small town, with all its good and it's bad characteristics and characters. McCammon drew a perfect picture of the social and political unrest that would have been prevalent during that delicate time after the civil rights movement.

The Lady, a proud voodoo queen, was one of my favorite characters, although I loved each and every one of the characters if I'm being honest. What particularly attracted me to The Lady was how McCammon allowed her to make such poignant statements about the true nature of racism, not only by her words, but more often by her deeds and her very nature. He somehow managed to make her seem both regal and still entirely humble in nature. She reminded me of another character in one of my favorite series, Alma from The Castor Chronicles series by Kami Garcia. The Lady is what I imagine Alma to be like when she's 100 years old.

Really, many of my favorite parts of Boy's Life reminded me of Garcia's Castor Chronicles (Most Recent Castor Chronicle Book Review). The southern setting, which both Garcia and McCammon have so expertly captured, is no easy feat. The vibrant characters, so real, they seem to walk right off the page and into your Living Room. That perfect blending of superstition, religion, and magic that makes it difficult to tell where the line between real and imaginary is drawn. The classic coming-of-age tale so vivid that it reminds you of your own wild adventures of growing up that until now were completely forgotten.

Boy's Life is one of those rare books that transcends generations and genres. Whether you need to know you aren't alone as you struggle to grow up yourself, you just want the chance to rekindle fond memories of your youth, or you're looking for a book to loose yourself in, Boy's Life is just what the doctor ordered.

Monday, July 16, 2012

One Second After, by William R. Forstchen

One Second After
by William R. Forstchen

I really enjoyed this book, although it scared the hell out of me. One Second After is unlike the typical post apocalyptic/dystopian novels that I've read because it portrayed an extremely realistic outcome of an equally realistic scenario. I had no idea about the possibility of that kind of terroristic attack. If you, like me, don't even know what an EMP is, you'll probably be just as fascinated and nervous as I was after reading this book.

You should know that the actual threat level we can expect from an EMP device is heavily debated. If you Google it right now, you'll find articles from fairly reputable sources arguing both that the EMP threat is a real and present danger, and conversely, that it's merely a conspiracy theory and/or just an extremely unlikely threat. It is important to note that while EMPs do have the power to do what the book suggests, it appears that the technology may have existed for many years, and hasn't been utilized by anyone at the level of destruction explained in this book.

Regardless of whether or not you believe that the threats contained within are valid, it's a good read. It will make you think of a million scenarios for which you are most definitely not prepared to deal with. I, myself, love a good conspiracy theory, and enjoy watching and reading about them. Let's face it, a good conspiracy theory plot is definitely scarier than any mystery or horror fantasy can be. The very nature of the conspiracy, the fact that there is some grain of truth to it, even if it is sometimes buried beneath mounds of bull shit, is both frightening and intriguing.

Forstchen does a great job of weaving the story in such a way that makes it seem almost too realistic. By the end, you are truly concerned that tomorrow you may find yourself in this situation, knowing how completely unprepared you would be. If you like a book that makes you want to run out and buy a few thousand military rations to hoard in your basement, this is the book for you.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Going Bovine, by Libba Bray

Going Bovine
Written by Libba Bray
"In a world like this one, only the random makes sense."--Going Bovine, Libba Bray
I must admit that this book really wasn't my cup of tea. I rarely go for the science fiction genre, but when I read the synopsis, I thought that it seemed to be more of a coming of age than a science fiction. I was mistaken.
Bearing that in mind, I did manage to read the entire thing, even if it did take me several months to do so.
It wasn't that Bray was a bad storyteller, or that the book lacked imagination. On the contrary, it was an intriguing story, filled with creativity. Bray's writing style and her ability to keep the plot moving at enough of a clip to keep you biting was the only reason I was able to finish it. The only fault I can really find with the book at all is the genre. I just really loathe science fiction.
I loved the main characters, each were utterly fabulous and full of quirky and crazy issues. The ending really through me for a loop although it was well foreshadowed (perhaps I just don't "get it" because of the whole science fiction thing). Bray's writing was superb. I really wish I could have given it a better score! If you do like science fiction, even a little bit, you will probably get a kick out of this book.

For Keeps, by Natasha Friend

For Keeps
Written by Natasha Friend
"I have known Liv since we were six years old, when we first met on the swings at our neighborhood playground. She introduced herself as Olivia Sarah Weiss-Longo, told me she had two daddies, and said my hair looked like Snow White's. How could we not be best friends?" - For Keeps, by Natasha Friend
I was actually looking for a different book by Friend, when I happened upon this one. Since the book I'd been looking for was already checked out, I grabbed this on instead and figured I'd give it a try. I wanted a coming-of-age novel, and it looked like it might fit the bill.
I found For Keeps to be rather heartwarming. It documents the relationship between a teenage girl and her mother. I'm sure many readers can attest to their own tumultuous relationships with one or both parents so this is one of those books that almost anyone can relate to. Friend threw in some interesting side characters, sub-plots, and the usual amount of teen angst.
I thought this was both honest and sweet, while being a light quick read. If you're a teen looking for a book with a storyline and characters that are both witty and charming, or an adult longing to revisit your misspent youth, this is the book for you.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Some Girls Are, by Courtney Summers

Emotional, provocative, intense. Every kid should read this book. I cried nearly the whole way through as I relived my own feelings of being bullied in school. But what I experienced at the hands if the "mean girls" was nothing like the hardships that Summers describes in Some Girls Are. I cringe when I think about my formative years and worry about having to console my own child from similar mistreatment.  Kids can be cruel. My mother used to say that. It was meant to comfort, but never really was able to take the sting away. I think every single person can still call up, with vivid accuracy, the intense feelings of humiliation and pain that they experienced at the hands of a bully. There are few other experiences in life that provide such a common denominator between such vastly different people as being bullied does. Summers demonstrates so well what happens when the bully becomes the bullied and how tangled the web of bullying actually is. No one seems to walk away unscathed and there really is no winner, everyone is a victim of sorts. Read this book. Get your kids to read this book. In today's world, a world where kids are bringing guns to school to shoot other kids, where kids are commuting suicide because they cannot escape from the torment of other kids, and where every single kid knows the pain of feeling like they don't fit in, we must take steps to convince this generation of kids to stop the bullying.  Summers has done a phenomenal job of portraying what it is like to be a kid facing these circumstances. I cannot think of one negative thing to say about this book other than the fact that it shames us all that this fictional story is being played out daily in schools across the country. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Blue Bloods (Book One of Blue Bloods), by Melissa de la Cruz

Blue Bloods
Book One of Blue Bloods
Written by Melissa de la Cruz

"Black is the color of night. White is the true color of death." - Blue Bloods, Book One of Blue Bloods, by Melissa de la Cruz

I have to say that I had mixed feelings about this book. I felt it began really strong. There were all the earmarks of a good story, a little bit of suspense, a little bit of the supernatural, a little bit of witty repertoire. I did feel that it really broke down though about 2/3 of the way through the book. It was almost as if the author wrote the first 2/3 of the book and then stopped for some reason. The last 1/3 of the book was just different. It was obvious that the writer was not on the same wave length that they had been on when they wrote the previous chapters.

I found the change in style particularly appalling when it came to the characters personalities. Initially they were strong and vibrant, but then they metamorphosized into these weak willed and often cliché versions of their previous selves. I was not impressed by that change. I actually wondered if this was some sort of editing job gone awry because the writing style just changed so dramatically, but I haven't been able to find any evidence of this so far.

I found the descriptive part of the narrative to be quite good. I usually get irritated when authors try to "paint me a picture" of the surroundings like L.J. Smith was constantly doing in the last of the Vampire diaries books that she actually wrote (I have to say I understand why the publisher went with a ghostwriter). De la Cruz managed to do description it in a way that was colorful while managing to stay relevant, which really impressed me. Although I'm no New York socialite, her descriptions of the events and fashions were easy to picture and added rather than detracted from the story.

Despite the random change in perspective near the end of the book, I am dying to find out what happens next to this league of teenage immortals. I am hoping that, like the House of Night Series, the writing will improve with each book. De la Cruz already has already shown more writing talent initially than I saw in the first House of Night book, Marked, so I have high hopes for the rest of the series.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Gone (Book One of Gone), by Michael Grant

Book One of Gone Series
Written By Michael Grant

“It's vital to keep a sense of humor when the world seems to have suddenly become a very strange place.” -- Gone, by Michael Grant

It's no surprise that I love dystopian novels. Since The Hunger Games I've read every dystopian book I can get my hands on.

The premise in Gone is pretty unique to me, a slight variation on the religious apocalypse where all the kids under 15 are left behind. It reminded me in some ways of Lord of the Flies, because civility breaks down almost immediately when a group of children are forced to try and survive in a world without adults. There are some other interesting religious aspects just touched on in the story which may become more developed in the following books.

I liked the format of the book, each chapter counting down to the end of the book and the timeline for a major event scheduled to happen in just 399 hours. Grant did a great job of keeping the story moving as he bounced between the different characters, always giving multiple points of view without being repetitive The characters were each unique and well constructed to help move the plot along.

The ending wasn't completely unexpected, but there were facets of it that did manage to surprise me. I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next for this motley crew of kids in the next book, Hunger.

Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451
Written by Ray Bradbury

“With school turning out more runners, jumpers, racers, tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, fliers, and swimmers instead of examiners, critics, knowers, and imaginative creators, the word 'intellectual,' of course, became the swear word it deserved to be.” Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury

As far as classics go, this wasn't my favorite. I think that it's one of those books that everyone should probably read in high school, not for its entertainment, but for what it teaches you. Akin to 1984 (which I actually enjoyed much much more than Fahrenheit 451) it's one of those books that reminds us of what is important in this world, and hopefully keeps us, as a society, from making any truly horrible choices. A warning to the future generations just how important education and knowledge is.

I only had two major problems with this book that kept me from rating it a little higher. The first problem was that I felt it referenced the Bible and the worth of that book way too much. The bible, as far as moral teaching goes, is one of the worst books out there. It condones all sorts of horrible crimes like rape, incest, abandonment, genocide, etc. (I could go on, but I think you get the point). It's filled with contradictions. I understand why Bradbury probably felt like it should play a significant role in the story, assuming he was a Christian. Personally though, for me, it was a turn off. It diminished the overall message I thought the book was attempting to make.

The second problem I had was that it was too dry for my tastes. The plot wasn't very exciting to me. The characters weren't compelling. It just wasn't that great. Ok, but not great.

I'm sure that I'll get some negative feedback on this one, but you can't help what you don't like. Perhaps it just wasn't for me.

Fifty Shades of Grey (Book One of Fifty Shades), by E.L. James

Fifty Shades of Grey
Book One of Fifty Shades Trilogy
Written by E.L. James
"What is it about elevators?" Fifty Shades of Grey, E.L. James

Well, I'm no stranger to the trashy romance novel. I read tons of them in high school. So when I first heard about this book, I really didn't think it would live up to the hype. Could it really be that smutty? Would it manage to embarrass even me?

Well, I have to say that I did like the book. It was the first book I'd ever read with the dominant/submissive theme. I have to say that some parts of that aspect of the book bewildered me. I personally couldn't understand how anyone could enjoy being a submissive. It felt offensive and demeaning to me. And if I'm being incredibly honest, I found some of the behavior of the dominant abhorrent, borderline abusive, and downright horrific.

So, now you are probably wondering what on earth I did like about the book, after reading the previous statements. I liked the love story. I felt a kinship with the characters. By the time I finished the book I was laughing and crying with both Anastasia and Christian. It is that precise attachment to the characters that will keep me coming back. I want to know what happens to them. I want to know if their dysfunctional relationship will work. I want to see them overcome this bizarre (to me) relationship and build something better, something healthy and loving. I want Christian to learn how to love and Anastasia to learn how to stand up for herself.

There I go again, the perpetual optimist.

The Time Capsule, by Lurlene McDaniel

The Time Capsule
Written by Lurlene McDaniel

Like all of McDaniel's books, The Time Capsule was about a family who has to struggle with a loved one's terminal disease. It shows, from the inside, how the friends and family deal with the very real possibility of loosing their loved one, as well as the day to day struggles that must be faced. McDaniel also usually writes about young people, so you get the whole "coming of age" obstacles, as well as the life and death struggle. I've always enjoyed the way McDaniel writes and how adept she is at showing you this world from a unique perspective.

I've always found the idea of twins who seem to have some kind of ESP with one another to be pretty intriguing. When I saw that one of my favorite authors had written a book with a little bit of that mysterious twin power I was excited to see where she'd take it. Although, overall, I liked the book and thought that it was worth the read, I was disappointed that twin aspect wasn't as big a part of the story as I had expected, and that when the "twin power" was mentioned it was done so in an almost silly and kind of cliché' way. I would have liked to see her do more with it, but I still enjoyed the book and can recommend any of McDaniel's books if you've never tried her out.

Extras (Book Four Uglies), Written by Scott Westerfeld

Book Four of Uglies
Written by Westerfeld

"You see, freedom has a way of destroying things." - Extras, by Scott Westerfeld

Well, I must admit, Extras was a huge letdown for me. After I finished Specials and Tally made her announcement that she'd be watching the world, I was super excited to read the next installment. I loved how Specials had opened the eyes of the world, and I was psyched to discover what they'd done with the place. Honestly, I think that it would have just been better for the series to end as a trilogy as was the original plan, rather than end it this way.

Maybe you'll feel differently than me, after reading Extras. If you really really really loved how Specials ended, and the characters in the previous trilogy, you will very likely feel the same way I did about this book. So read it at your own risk.

To end on a positive note, I did think that the ending was surprising, so it did have that going for it. If you've read the entire series and want to discuss, please join me at my UgliesOverview, and leave me a comment on what you thought about the series.

Thoughts on The Uglies Series

I want to preface this with a warning to those who have not completed the series yet. Do not read this until you have read all four of the books in the Uglies series!  This is my own thoughts and interpretations of the series and it does contain spoilers that may well ruin the unpredictablity of the books for you.  It would be a shame to miss out on the discoveries you'll make by reading these books yourself.  I just enjoied the series so much and found it so thought provoking that I wanted an outlet to express my thoughts on the series as a whole without having to worry about giving away too much of the story-line and messing up the books for the future readers.  This is my review of the entire series, without holding anything back.

If we're being honest here, I have to admit that I wasn't crazy about the conclusion book to the Uglies series. When I found out that it was originally only going to be a trilogy, I felt a little better about it all. In my opinion, it would have been better ended after Specials.  I felt like the characters I'd grown to love were regulated to the back burner, and the new characters were too shallow or too deep - it lacked the balance that I'd come to love about the Uglies series. That being said, I also felt the plot was kind of thrown together. Everything happened too fast, and was wrapped up with a nice bow at the end, with little left to chance. All in all, I think that Westerfeld should have stopped while he was ahead and just left these characters and storyline for some other series where the changes would have been innovative, rather than dissapointing.

I also have to say that, in the final book, Extra's, I hated Tally's character. She was way to different and I felt that she was less genuine because of it. She seemed so thoughtless, arrogant, and just plain dumb. Always before, Tally, even when she didn't quite know it, seemed to have others best interest at heart. She was caring, even when she wasn't supposed to be. She broke through the training and the rewiring of her brain over and over. The final version of Tally, in Extras, just didn't seem like the Tally I thought she would become after rewiring her special brain. I was also disappointed that she didn't seem to be "with" David, after all they'd been through and how didn't seem to care that they weren't a couple. I felt like that was totally out of character for both of them. In my mind, I invisioned them together as a couple maybe even with a child, protecting the world from itself. But it was like she hadn't really repaired herself from the Special status at all.

Now to discuss the first three books, the original trilogy, which I loved
Westerfeld's style has remained much the same throughout the first three books of the series as he allows the characters to become more and more real to you as you see them interacting with others and with their world. I think he is brillant at this method of writing because he rarely, if ever, describes any person, place, or thing as a narrator. Instead he allows you to see the world of Uglies only through the masks of his characters. This is especially interesting as the characters change so dramatically throughout the books, giving the reader the opportunity to see this world from so many different perspectives that it becomes so tangible. 

I love how wildly unpredictable Tally's character is at the onset of each book and how much farther she must travel, mentally and emotionally, to get back to her true self.  I truly love how Westerfeld manages to make you want to laugh and cry over Tally's struggles to remain true to herself. I love how at the beginning of each book she thinks that her new existance is perfectly fine, but how her complex brain never seems to allow her to really settle into her changing roles. This entire series so far has been an amazing metaphor for me. I liken Tally to the free-thinkers of our own world, and the religious and government leaders who have struggled to tamp down that desire to question everything. Tally is the perfect example of the best society has to offer, someone who time and again rises up from her environment better and stronger than before. Everytime they operate on her they try to remove her ability and desire to rebel, to question. Every time they fail. Tally has the remarkable ability to see through the bull shit and apply logic and reason to her life and actions, as well as those around her. I think it has been incredibly fortunate that I found this series as I was struggling with my own identity as a free thinker. Tally is inspriational in that respect. Her ability to free herself from the masses and to take her own path doing what she believes is right no matter the consequences is such an inspiration.