Shriver’s Speech

If you deem yourself to be a part of the writing world (like me) but have not yet read Lionel Shriver’s speech on current day identity politics and the way that they have the potential to impact fiction writing (I just read it), I highly recommend reading it here. It’s very powerful and has many good points.

Interview with The Clarkston News

Click here to be redirected to the original interview!

 

Six years ago Susan Arnold began writing her first novel Blue Vigilante which she just self-published.
Arnold, a 2015 graduate of Clarkston High School, explained the series began in her eighth grade English class at the junior high school.
Her teacher, Robert Albee, gave the class a short story assignment.
“As we were writing, I struggled keeping the short story short,” Arnold said. “Mr. Albee, after grading the assignment, told me that he could see there was so much more potential to the story. I just kept writing and writing and turned the short story into a four-novel-long series. The writing journey was crazy.”
During the writing journey, Arnold takes readers into the world of Marybeth, also known as “Bat.”
In Blue Vigilante, Marybeth chooses to join the most feared gang in America, Black Bullet, in a rash revenge-fueled decision, Arnold explained.
During her initiation, she proves herself to be an amazing fighter, the best the gang has ever seen. She quickly works her way up the ranks to third in command.
When she witnesses a ruthless murder during a gang fight she is faced with a moral choice, leading to the decision to quit fighting for Black Bullet. But making the decision isn’t as easy as she thinks.
“As third in command, she knows too much to simply stop fighting and she isn’t old enough to drop out of the gang, so the leader, Trigger, decides the only way to solve the problem is to kill her,” Arnold explained.
Arnold finished the first book only a few months ago and mixed in writing with being a full-time student, learning how to drive, working a part-time job and that was before she graduated from Clarkston and went on to Northern Michigan University.
“Not to mention that I matured and that changed my writing voice,” Arnold added. “Though I wish that I could have published Blue Vigilante sooner, I’m glad I didn’t. If I had published the book as a 13- or 14-year-old, the pace and tone of the book would not match the rest of the series.”
She added writing the book wasn’t the hardest part or publishing – it was editing.
“It’s a constant back and forth battle between writing and then polishing, cutting and rewriting. I’ve edited and reread BV so much, that I practically know it by heart,” she said.
Arnold enjoys Blue Vigilante because it’s the first book and series she wrote and a project she continued working on.
“I have a stack of written works I started but never finished,” she explained. “Blue Vigilante captured my imagination enough to make me stick to it.Also, I think entire idea of the plot is something that hasn’t ever really been explored before, which makes it very interesting.”
The target audience for Blue Vigilante is young adults, but Arnold added anybody would enjoy reading it.
“As long as they’re mature enough to read it,” she said. “This book involves a gang, which means violence, drinking and drugs. I wouldn’t recommend the book for kids under 12.”
Arnold is attending Northern Michigan University and pursuing a master’s degree both in English Writing and Photography.
Blue Vigilante is available online.
~Staff Writer Wendi Reardon

‘The Giver’ Review

the-giver-novelI read Lois Lowry’s The Giver in two days. I only put it down when I had to.

I was instantly gripped by Jonas, the protagonist, and his love for language. The book opens with his internal dialogue as he tries to figure out if he was frightened or something else entirely. He weighs different words and emotions in his mind, finally deciding on apprehensive. Following through Jonas’ thought process, I believe, really helps the reader figure him out as a character.

Furthermore, as we read through Jonas’ thoughts, we are exposed to the culture of his community. The community itself is captivating enough to keep me interested up until chapter eight, when the story really starts to take off! The community and it’s never ending rules are so interesting and different than that of the way that we live today, that there is no way it cannot be interesting. The community is not explained outright, which I think is why I enjoyed the book so much. As the story progresses and more rules appear, they are explained, instead of all at once. That method of writing really helps the reader feel more immersed in the world.

The Giver was a quick and easy read, something that I was not expecting due to all the hype that I’ve heard about it. Lowry does an excellent job creating a book that can stand the test of time and span generations.

I like to think of The Giver as the first dystopian book before they got really popular (Hunger Games, Divergent, Maze Runner, Delirium)! Seriously, dystopian is its own genre.

Though I wish there had been a few things cleared up, such as the ending and the part about the planes (in the beginning), I really enjoyed reading The Giver and plan on watching the movie right after I write this review (and by the look of the trailer, I’ll probably be disappointed).

I give The Giver ★★★★★

Requiem Review (SPOILERS)

lauren2boliverTo be honest, I am very disappointed with the way Lauren Oliver ended the Delirium series. I fell in love with the first book, once it started to pick up the pace. I even had the rest of the series two day shipped to my house once I finished reading because that’s how good it was and how intense the cliff-hanger was.

When I got to the second book, Pandemonium, I was sort of let down. The way the story was told was very different from the way the first book was told. It was harsher and it wasn’t in chronological order…but it worked for the actual story, it fit the way Lena had matured between the books. But, of course, Oliver had to add in another guy to Lena’s life. I felt that the addition of this new love was completely unnecessary. Given the plot line of the entire first book, and her hatred toward Julian, in the beginning, makes it almost impossible for me to believe that she’s actually fallen for him. (I would have believed that they had just become friends and that he fell for her (given the circumstances) but I just don’t think that the Lena I had come to know would have fallen for Julian.) Don’t get me wrong, though, Julian is a great guy. And then, at the very end of the book, BAM an entirely unnecessary love triangle added just for some drama and because all the popular books at the time had a love triangle. I just don’t find it possible that Alex is alive after the end of the first book. And even if he is, that he found Lena out in the vast Wilds.

After the let down of Pandemonium, I was excited to read Requiem, thinking that it would actually be better written. I was wrong. If it wasn’t for how much I loved the first book of this series, I would have given Requiem a one-star rating. I didn’t mind how Oliver told the story through both Hana’s and Lena’s point of views, I thought that it worked really well and accented the story wonderfully. And the story itself wasn’t too bad, though it wasn’t nearly as captivating as Delirium. But, for most of it, there was unnecessary drama, a vast majority of the background information wasn’t explained (because Lena, as a protagonist, was kept in the dark for most of it, which is fine; readers, though, shouldn’t be kept in the dark. That’s, like, rule number three of being an author. NEVER keep your readers in the dark, they love to know what the protagonist doesn’t.) and the ending didn’t even seem like an ending. The book just stopped, abruptly, leaving me wanting more that I wanted at the end of Delirium. Did the rebellion succeed? Is Hana alive? How will Lena break the news to Julian–who has nobody besides her–that she’s going to be with Alex? Why are you guys breaking down a wall when an entire nation wants to wipe you out? I wanted more. And the way the book just stopped made it seem to me like Oliver hadn’t even thought out an ending, or didn’t want to, and decided to call it good. I was very disappointed and almost didn’t even bother finishing the book.

Like I said earlier, if it wasn’t for the first book, I’d give Requiem a one-star rating. But it gets a three-star rating because of Delirium.

PANDEMONIUM Review

pandemonium1

Pandemonium, book two of the Delerium Trilogy, was instantly not at all what I thought it would be.

I thought that it would pick up right where the first book left off, or at least somewhere near there, but it’s told through two different timelines: then and nowNow takes place six months after the end of the first book, then picks up only a few days after. It was an aspect of the story that I wasn’t prepared for, but I think it worked out for the better in the end.

What really threw me for a loop was the fact that Lena, the protagonist of the series, was SO different than she was in Delerium. It’s understandable, why she’s so different, but I don’t think it’s explained as well as it can be given the then and now story sequences.

The whole situation of the now sequences (SPOILER: a rebellion) isn’t well explained either. It’s stated several times that the Invalids have attacked cities across the nation, but we only get a detailed account of the attack in Portland, which doesn’t even make sense since Lena isn’t even in Portland for any portion of this book. Due to how big of a deal the rebellion is in Pandemonium, I wish there would have been more details about not just the attacks, but the rebellion in itself. Also, there is a big deal made about Lena’s escape from Portland and how it impacted the Invalid’s method of receiving supplies…shortly after, a rebellion is started. I want to know if Lena’s escape somehow started the rebellion, or if it was a lynchpin to starting it.

Lastly, there were a couple twist endings to Pandemonium. One (I’m not going to spoil it) that I thought was very appropriate and well placed, the other (also will not spoil it) seemed lame and as though it will be used to create unnecessary drama in the third book.

Overall, I give Pandemonium and 3.5/5 rating. It was well written and suspense-filled, but very different from the first book.

Delirium Review

deliriumspecialed

I just finished reading Lauren Oliver’s Delirium, which is only book one of a trilogy. And when I say ‘just finished’ I mean five minutes ago.

I have nothing but praise for Delirium. Within the first few paragraphs, I was already enveloped in the world that Oliver has created. First off, each chapter starts with an excerpt from a book or website that exists within the dystopian United States in the book. That alone shows the depth of development that Oliver used to create the story. She made up books and authors, for crying out loud.

Furthermore, love almost ceases to exist in Delirium. That is something that I can’t even fathom; not being able to say you love someone, or even something as simple as mac and cheese, not being able to hug a friend hello or goodbye because of the ever-lingering fear of being imprisoned for showing any sort of affection toward anybody.

And then we meet the main character, Lena. She is one of the most relatable characters I have ever read. She doesn’t see anything wrong with the system, she thinks of herself as any old plain Jane, and she doesn’t want anything to change. Whenever I read a dystopian series, the character is somebody that tends to stand out: Katniss, who hates the Capitol before she becomes tribute, Tris who chooses to leave Abnegation. Lena was much more simple than that (probably because she was scared out of her mind), and it was refreshing to see a character who was so normal.

Fair warning, though, I wouldn’t start reading this book if you only want to read one. Delirium ends with one of the most epic cliffhangers I’ve ever read. So epic that, as I’m typing up this review, I have several other tabs open to Amazon and I’m about to buy the rest of the series (so stay tuned for more reviews!).

Rating:★★★★