Tag: dystopia

Oct 19

Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler

Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic Fiction 12

Greetings Bookworms!

I’ve been on an Octavia Butler kick lately. After I read Fledgling (review) wherein Octavia Butler turned vampire lore upside down, I decided it was time to tackle dystopian/post apocalyptic Butler. When an author totally blows your mind in multiple genres (because Kindred too!), it only makes sense to explore their entire backlist of titles, right? Enter Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents.

parable-of-the-sowerParable of the Sower opens with a world rocked by environmental and economic crises. The US has devolved into complete social chaos wherein even gated communities cannot be guaranteed of their safety. Food prices have skyrocketed, crime runs rampant, and emergency services are available only to those who can afford to pay the fees. Lauren Olamina lives in Southern California with her family when their relatively safe existence behind walls goes down in flames. Literally. In an attempt to survive in the aftermath, she flees northward, hoping to find a safe haven in which to explore and establish her newfound faith. Parable of the Talents continues Lauren’s story as she tries to establish a community and eek out an existence in what is left of society. Her efforts at rebuilding some semblance of life are hard won, but making headway. Unfortunately, shparable-of-the-talentse must contend with slavery, human trafficking, religious fundamentalists, and nightmarish political leaders. Suffice it to say that things don’t go particularly smoothly.

I won’t sugar coat it- these books scared the ever-loving crap o
ut of me. I hadn’t had a book related nightmare in ages (and I read Joe Hill this summer!) but these novels were chilling. CHILLING. There were so many terrifying and startling parallels to current political cycle, I can’t even. DOWN TO THE CAMPAIGN SLOGAN, YOU GUYS. I can only hope Butler is simply an insightful genius and not an actual oracle, because I am fifty shades of
freaked out. I’m not saying that a certain candidate’s presidency would bring about an apocalyptic hellscape, but, I HAVE CONCERNS.

Despite the nightmares, these books were phenomenal, insightful, and generally awesome. I would recommend that all of humanity (and probably a few extra terrestrial species) read these books. I apologize in advance for your bad dreams, bookworms, but these books are SO GOOD.

What is the last book that gave YOU bad dreams? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Oct 01

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

Dystopian 2

Greetings Bookworms!

It’s always a good day when we’ve got a new Margaret Atwood novel to discuss, isn’t it? She’s back and doing what she does best, dystopia-ing it up. In her latest novel, The Heart Goes Last, Atwood explores many of the themes that made The Maddaddam Trilogy (review) and The Handmaid’s Tale (review) so doggone awesome. Let’s talk about it, okay? (Like you have a choice in this. Ah the beauty of blogging. I’m gonna tell you whatever the heck I want. You’ve got the option to stop reading, of course, but why would you? I mean, MARGARET ATWOOD!) *I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration. Opinions expressed are not tarnished, etc. etc.)*

theheartgoeslastThe US has suffered a massive economic crash and devolved into a second Great Depression (or worse, hard to say.) Charmaine and Stan have gone from a life of relative luxury with two steady incomes and owning a home to living in their car and eking out a meager existence on the tips Charmaine receives tending bar. They live in constant fear thanks to rampant crime and are at the end of their ropes. When they see a commercial touting a new social experiment, they jump at the chance to have gainful employment, regular meals, and a safe place to sleep at night.

The tradeoff is that residents of this little utopia have to spend alternating months as prison inmates. The town’s entire economy is based on the prison, so the inmate aspect is critical. It seems to be going fairly well, until Stan and Charmaine (unbeknownst to each other) develop romantic obsessions with their alternates (AKA, the people who live in Charmaine and Stan’s house while they’re incarcerated, and vice versa.)

The Heart Goes Last is an Atwood dystopia, so you KNOW it doesn’t stop at obsessing over the alternates. Once again I gleefully followed the white rabbit down the twisted rabbit hole Atwood created and I loved every minute of it. Read it, read it, read it!

Tell me something, Bookworms. Do you think you’d strike the bargain Stan and Charmaine did and move into a weird prison community, considering the super sucky alternative?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

 

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Aug 27

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Audio Books, Dystopian, Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction 13

Hidey Ho, Bookworms!

I know I’m constantly shoving book recommendations in your faces, but I like to think we have a symbiotic relationship. I mean, when one of my friends says “OMG Katie, read this book right now” I’ll do it… Eventually. Case in point! My friend Ash told me that I needed to read Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard and I totally did. Seriously, it was in a timely fashion and everything. Let’s talk about it, shall we?

theredqueenMare Barrow is a 17 year old “Red” girl from a poor working class background. She lives in a society where there are two classes of people. Reds like Mare and her family are ordinary folks. They put their pants on one leg at a time and bleed red. They’re also second class citizens because some quirk of evolution has created a group of people with superhuman powers who actually bleed silver. They’re called “Silvers,” natch, and they got a little drunk on their god-like powers and subjugated all the normal folk. The Reds think this sucks, because it does, but it’s pretty tough to win a fight against someone who can manipulate metal or hop into your brain and take over. Mare and her fellow Reds can only look forward to a life of poverty- if they live long enough, that is. All Reds are conscripted to fight in an endless war on behalf of the Silvers once they turn 18, assuming they aren’t already doing something useful for society (ie sewing fancy clothes for the Silvers. Silvers like pretty things.) After a chance encounter, Mare finds herself employed in the Silver Palace, surrounded by demi-gods and with an unexplained power of her own. Let’s just say that being Mare gets a whole heck of a lot more complicated from there.

Alright you guys. This book is the start of yet another trilogy in the glut of YA dystopias on the market. It combined a number of elements I recognized from Leigh Bardugo’s The Grisha Trilogy (review of book 1, as I didn’t finish the series) and The Hunger Games Trilogy. That said, Red Queen was different enough to catch my attention, and not in an eye-roll-y way. Well, except for this love quadrangle thing that was going on, but I feel like that’s par for the course in these sorts of books so I’m willing to overlook it for a hot minute. The book got under my skin and the characters stuck with me. Maybe it’s because I listened to the audio narration and it was excellent? Perhaps I’d have been less engaged if I’d done a strict eyeball read, I don’t know. Still, I think I might give book 2 a whirl and see where it takes me. If YA dystopias are your jam, Red Queen is definitely not to be missed. It may have thawed the heart of even this cranky skeptic.

Talk to me, Bookworms! If you could have the power to manipulate an earthly element, what would you pick? (I’m torn between water nymph skills and the power to do lots of back flips. I bet there’s a Silver whose only talent is doing back flips and their parents are terribly disappointed by it, but I think it would be awesome.)

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Oct 02

The Ark by Annabel Smith

Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic Fiction 15

It’s The End of the World As We Know It, Bookworms!

I feel fine. How about you? It’s no secret that post-apocalyptic fiction is my jam, so I was pretty excited when Annabel Smith contacted me about checking out her new book The Ark. You might recognize Annabel’s name as one of the founders of the Six Degrees of Separation meme. Annabel and I bonded over the fact that her meme was fun and it allowed me to connect books using yogurt (it really happened). *In the interest of full disclosure, Annabel Smith is my blog friend. I was offered a complimentary copy of this book for review consideration. That said, I’m honest to a fault, so y’all can still trust me.*

theark-annabelsmithThe Ark is one part e-book, one part app, and one part high tech epistolary novel. It’s 2041 and the future is UGLY. Hidden in the Australian wilderness lies a secret bunker of sorts. It’s a seed bank, you know, where seeds are stored so humans have a backup plan when they destroy the planet. (Seed banks are a real thing, and totally legit. Swearsies.) An exclusive group of scientists and their families are invited to ride out The Chaos (peak oil, civil unrest, food shortages, general anarchy) in the seed bunker known as The Ark. It sounds like a great plan, except whenever you confine people into an underground bunker and lock them in, things get weird. Charismatic leaders always have hidden agendas, and the folks in The Ark are left wondering who they can trust.

The Ark was published as an e-book with a cool collaborative app experience. Or so I heard. The book is best experienced on an iPad, and relative luddite that I am, I’ve only got a Kindle Paperwhite. (Which I love the way humans are never meant to love electronic devices.) Luckily, I was able to poke around the novel’s corresponding website after I’d finished reading and came to appreciate it even more. If you’re going to read this one, don’t skip the website. Or, you could just read on an iPad and be one of the cool kids and not have to take the extra step. Whatever.

The story itself is laid out in a series of e-mail communications, text messages, and blog posts. There are also several segments presented as transriptions of conversations and it was exceptionally cool to get to listen to those through the website/app. Heaven help me, I LOVE Australian accents. Certainly an innovative idea for a disturbing story.

Of course, I wouldn’t be me without a minor gripe, would I? There’s a section of the book written in the form of a teenage boy’s blog posts. I know teenagers are all about the text-speak and the new-fangled lingo, but I struggled to read portions of it. That’s really more on me than the author, my inner old lady is spoiled by correct grammar and conventional spelling (they don’t call me Ethel for nothing!) Still, if you’ve got the itch to read some delicious post-apocalyptic fiction, I recommend you get your paws on a copy of The Ark post haste!

Alright Bookworms, let’s get real. If you were locked in an underground bunker, how long do you think you’d make it before losing your ever loving mind? I think I could hack it a week. Maybe. What about you?

 

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Aug 14

Sad Robot Stories by Mason Johnson

Dystopian 16

Greetings, Bookworms!

You know how I’m always rattling on and on about books and how you should read them? Sometimes I actually take other people’s advice. Really. I listen when you give me suggestions, I promise. Case in point. A few weeks ago I put together an Idiosyncratic Lit List dedicated to robot stories. When I posed the question at the end of the post as to what I’m missing in the genre, I heard a loud chorus of “Sad Robot Stories!”

sadrobotcover400Available through small press CCLaP Publishing, Sad Robot Stories by Mason Johnson is a novella that will warm the cockles of even the most robotic heart. Our hero is a robot… Named Robot. Because why not? He was always uncommonly fond of humans for a mechanical being. He even came to befriend and love a human family.

Sadly, that was before the world was destroyed and humanity snuffed out. All that remain are robots, which is perfectly fine with most of the android population, but our poor Robot is heartbroken. Seeing the glimmers of what makes humanity good through Robot’s eyes is a fantastic journey.

It’s not all wistful looks at humankind, though. Sad Robot Stories is darkly comedic and filled with poignant satire. You’ll be hard pressed not to laugh, cry, and fall head over heels in love with Robot. You bookworms have never steered me wrong, and Sad Robot Stories was no exception!

I’d like to thank Monika from A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall in particular for her, uh, gentle? persuasion in getting me to read this book. You know, if you consider emailing someone a direct link to a free downloadable copy of the book gentle persuasion (you dirty, dirty book pusher, you.) That said… You can download this book FOR FREE from the CCLaP site. If you love it (and I know you will) you can make a donation commensurate with your enjoyment. OR you can just buy the thing outright. That totally works too. Go get your robot on, Bookworms!

Talk to me, Bookworms. What other gems am I missing out on? Sound off on recommendations, I’m all ears!

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Feb 18

The Office of Mercy by Ariel Djanikian

Dystopian 22

Howdy Bookworms,

You know how much I love a good dystopian novels, right? ESPECIALLY when they can stand on their own and not foist a trilogy upon me. (This ended well, PLEASE, don’t trilogy me!) A while back I received an email from Penguin (my favorite publisher, for obvious reasons) offering me a copy of The Office of Mercy by Ariel Djanikian in exchange for an honest review. Despite my love of penguins and Penguin, the receipt of a free book has not compromised my integrity. For real, I’m too honest for my own good.

officeofmercy The Office of Mercy had me hooked pretty fast. It’s an undeniable page turner, that’s for darn sure. Natasha Wiley lives in a settlement known as America-Five. About 300 years before this novel takes place, a great “Storm” destroyed the majority of human life on planet Earth. What remained holed up in these elaborate bunkers and got their science on. Since then they’ve been slowly expanding and figuring out ways to clothe, feed, house, and amuse their population. Oh, and they’ve been growing spare organs and attempting to conquer the aging process. Nobody dies in America-Five.

People do, however, still die on the Outside. Natasha works in what is known as The Office of Mercy, her job being to track tribes of Storm survivors, and if they get too close, to kill them. Compassionately. To end their suffering. It’s all very altruistic.

The vast majority of the citizens in America-Five have drunk the kool-aid. There are a handful of conscientious objectors, and though they’re tolerated, they are NOT popular. It’s hard to work in the room where you release the death weapons and not buy into the philosophy, so Natasha is on board…

Until she goes on her first field mission, and she realizes that the tribes people aren’t exactly what the elders have trained her to believe. That’s when all the interesting stuff starts to happen that I can’t TELL you about because it would be SPOILER-Y and this book is too good for me to ruin for you. Ugh. Scruples.

I loved the ethical conundrums put forth by this book and Natasha’s evolution. Plus, all the science-y stuff was pretty rad. I’m a sucker for rooms full of spare human organs, what can I say? If you like dystopian fiction, I highly recommend The Office of Mercy.

Since America-Five is getting close to providing its citizens with immortality (thanks to spare organs and fancy pants medicine) I got to thinking. Even if you were guaranteed health, safety, and a life free of physical suffering, would you want to live forever? 

*If you choose to make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Feb 06

Archetype by MD Waters

Dystopian, Women's Studies 14

How Goes it Bookworms?

I’m doing just fine myself. You know. Not having been bought, sold, or otherwise manhandled has made my life pretty darn sweet. I’ve always been a pretty big fan of my basic human rights not being violated. I’m not sure what it says about me as a person that I really dig dystopian fiction, because they are all up in the human rights violations. A few weeks ago I received a pitch in my email for a new novel called Archetype by MD Waters. *Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The price of my integrity is significantly higher than the purchase price of a book, my friends.*

archetypeI went into this novel with a boatload of skepticism because it was pitched to fans of The Handmaid’s Tale. I don’t think I put too many authors up on a pedestal, but Margaret Atwood? Yep, she’s on the pedestal next to the bust of Jane Austen, my Alice in Wonderland teapots, and Alfred, my penguin butler. (Alright, I don’t actually own a bust of Jane Austen, but you get my point, right?) It’s awfully bold to compare someone to the likes of Atwood, so my snarky eyebrows were fully engaged.

Emma Burke wakes up in a hospital not having any idea who she is or how she came to be there. She is slowly rehabilitated by a team of doctors and her doting husband Declan. All seems to be going swimmingly, as Emma is falling in love with her husband all over again.

Except for those pesky nightmares. Emma is having freaky specific dreams. Dreams where she’s suspended in a giant vial of fluid. Dreams where she’s having romantic interludes with a handsome stranger on a beach. Dreams where she’s imprisoned in a camp where women are being trained to become wives…

As a bonus, Emma fixatest on Indigo flowers. Apparently "true indigo" doesn't have blue flowers but "false indigo" does. I probably shouldn't be fixating on this detail. (Image Source)

Emma loves her some Indigo flowers. The book just calls it indigo, but the internet says both “true” and “false” indigo flowers exist. I don’t know which the author is talking about, though I THINK it’s this one. I probably shouldn’t be fixating on this detail but since I’m on the subject… The flowers on the cover appear to be dendrobium orchids, not indigo. I’m just saying.  #FlowerNerd (Image Source)

Something stinks in Denmark, and Emma is struggling to figure out what.

Apparently, something has gone wonky with society. Humans, as they are wont to do, have gone and screwed things up. Eeee’rybody wanted to play scientist and design themselves some baby boys, which left a whole lot of boys with no ladies to carry their children.. THEN, because I can only assume Mother Nature was PISSED, the few women remaining start to have severe restrictions in their fertile years. I think your imagination can take you to a place where women have become a rare commodity, and it isn’t pretty.

I can’t say much more without getting into serious spoiler territory, so I’m shutting my pie hole. Suffice it to say that Emma’s journey is WELL worth a read!

Alright Bookworms, let’s talk about comparisons. Do you find it off-putting when a book is described as “for fans of” or do you find it helpful? In this case I actually found it to be useful, so I’m rethinking my rage on the subject. What say you?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. I will keep every single penny of it for myself because I am SELFISH and that’s LEGAL. Even though I’ve got lady parts I can have my own money!*

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Jan 28

I Don’t Even Want to Go There! (Top Ten Tuesday)

Dystopian, Top Ten Tuesday, Zombies 39

Greetings Bookworms,

It’s Tuesday and the ladies of The Broke and the Bookish have a fabulous topic for us today. They’ve asked us to list out societies we’d never want to live in and/or characters we’d never want to trade places with. Dystopias and post-apocalyptic novels are some of my favorite books, so I’m really excited! Let’s get to listing, shall we?

TTT Don't Go There

1. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (my review): Hmmmm, let’s think. Why wouldn’t I want to live in a world where women are enslaved and used strictly to breed children? Maybe I picked the husband I wanted and have no desire to be reassigned by a terrifying religious government. Maybe it’s because if I’m going to grow a kid, I’d like to keep it. Maybe it’s because they no longer allow women to read?! Plus, that whole winged hat thing is a bad look for me.

2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: Children fighting to the death. For sport. Even if you don’t get chosen yourself, your kid someday might. Let’s talk about the worst thing ever. I think this is pretty much it.

Try not to cry. I dare you. (Source)

Try not to cry. I dare you. (Source)

3. The Passage by Justin Cronin (my review): I had some serious anxiety reading about the people living in the compound. Nearly 100 years since the vampire apocalypse, this fledgling society lives on a wing and a prayer… And the rapidly deteriorating battery powered lights that keep them from being eaten every night. 

4. The Road by Cormac McCarthy (my review): We never find out exactly what happened to the world, but nothing grows, everything is coated in ash, and there are bands of cannibals roaming the countryside. It’s so freaking BLEAK, and I don’t want to go there ever, ever, ever!

5. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro: How would you like to grow up knowing that you were a clone being used for spare parts? Don’t get too attached to those kidneys now, kids.

6. World War Z by Max Brooks (my review): I had SO MANY NIGHTMARES reading this book. It’s a fantastic look at what would happen to the world during a zombie apocalypse.

7. The Stand by Stephen King (my review): As if surviving the deadliest strain of the flu EVER and trying to find other survivors weren’t enough of a challenge, the friggin devil incarnate is out there causing trouble? Yep, I could live my life without going through THAT madness.

8. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (my review): Oh, I won’t lie. There are days when a dose of Soma sounds like a grand idea… But I’m not big on societally mandated orgies. Sorry y’all.

9. Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank (my review): Nuclear War is THE WORST. I don’t want to live through that.

10. A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin: I don’t know what’s the worst thing about living in this world. The brutal “justice” meted out by wicked royals? There’s no telling when winter will end? The friggin zombie things living behind the ice wall? Heck, Martin is so fond of killing off characters I’d probably already be dead. Westeros, I shan’t be visiting!

Alright Bookworms, it’s your turn! What books would you NOT want to be sucked into??? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Your support is appreciated!*

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Jan 09

Solomon The Peacemaker by Hunter Welles

Dystopian, Science 15

Hiya Bookworms,

A few weeks back I ran across a review for a book that piqued my interest. Monika from A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall posted a review of a very cool sounding dystopian book called Solomon the Peacemaker by Hunter Welles. I love a good dystopia, so I made my way over to NetGalley to ask nicely for an advanced copy. *Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I wouldn’t dream of lying, for I fear the wrath of the robots…*

solomon the peacemakerThis book is set in the future- the world has been cordoned off into safe zones known as “nodes” for major cities as well as outlying areas of wildness. Robots known as “servods” perform household functions for the majority of families living within nodes. Sadly, none of them have the comedic timing of Rosie from The Jetsons. The peace of society as it is now known rests heavily in the hands of “the Peacemaker.” The Peacemaker is an elaborate computer program designed to predict and diffuse violent conflicts around the world. It also needs to be installed in a human’s head in order to work. Because cyborgs.

We slowly learn these facts through what appear to be psychological or criminal investigative interviews with Vincent Chell. Vincent and his wife Yael were never big fans of the whole robot industry, feelings which led to their involvement with a bizarre cult-like resistance group determined to undermine the Peacemaker. I found this narrative technique intriguing, as Chell’s memories slowly unfolded.

I was riveted by the story, but rather disappointed in the ending. I won’t be a Spoiler-Saurus-Rex, but I was left with some lingering questions… If you have any inclination toward sci/fi and dystopian fiction, I’d recommend you give Solomon the Peacemaker a try.

If you could have a robotic housekeeper, would you? I’d be all over that, because cooking is the worst. I’d get a chef robot. Dangit science, when is somebody going to get me a chef robot?!

*If you choose to make a purchase of Solomon the Peacemaker from a link on this site, I will receive a small commission… Which I intend to invest in the research and development of chef robots.*

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Nov 01

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Dystopian, Young Adult Fiction 32

Howdy, Bookworms!

Last month I read Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth. I, along with thousands of other greedy readers, waited in anticipation for the final installment of the series, Allegiant to be released. I’ve been toying with the idea of how to put this review together while still avoiding spoilers, so I’m going to do my best. I will not be spoiling this book specifically, but if you haven’t read the other books, there may be some spoilage. Soooo- here’s  a weak little SPOILER ALERT just in case.

allegiant-book-cover-high-resI was so excited when this book was released. I absolutely loved Roth’s initial tales of a dystopian Chicago ruled by factions, each faction valuing one personality trait above all else. I mean, I just HAD TO KNOW what was going to happen with the factions and Tris and Four and their luuuurve. So I started reading. Things started a little slow, but I had high hopes they’d pick up once the CONSPIRACIES were uncovered.

The conspiracies were actually fairly satisfying. What wasn’t satisfying was Roth getting heavy handed with the moral lessons. I am ALL ABOUT equality and diversity and all that good stuff, but you know how grouchy I get when I feel like I’m being preached to. LUCKILY, though she walked the line very closely, Roth didn’t QUITE go into full preach. That’s good, because I didn’t want to have to throw a temper tantrum.

Tris and Four and their little tumultuous romance kept on keeping on. At one point, Tris had this great epiphany about her relationship with Four. She realized that when you’re in love, you have to choose each other every day. At this point I had to remind myself that Tris is only supposed to be 16. She obviously hadn’t attending 8 zillion weddings with her husband as videographer, so she wouldn’t know that her little speech sounded just like this cheesy poem about marriage we used to hear ALL THE TIME.  (It’s right up there with First Corinthians and anybody quoting Wuthering Heights on their wedding programs on the list of Things That Annoy Katie.)

There’s a huge thing that happens at the end of the book that has a lot of readers freaking the frick out. Now, I don’t always NEED a perfectly happy ending. I mean, I LIKE a happy ending, but I can be satisfied with a well done sad ending. I just… I’m confused about how I feel about this whole darn book. I didn’t hate it by any means, but I didn’t love it either. I so badly wanted to love it. It felt rushed, and now I feel confused. This is me right now:

feelings

(Source)

Have any of you Bookworms been left confused or bereft by the conclusion of a series? Disappointed? Heartbroken? I don’t know what my feelings are doing, help me out here!

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Divergent, Insurgent, or Allegiant by Veronica Roth (or all three) please consider using these links. I’m an affiliate with Book Depository and make a teensy weensy commission if you make a purchase. We all know the proceeds are going to be used to feed my book addiction… Enablers :). 

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