Four

Four

Four

 

Fear doesn’t shut you down. It wakes you up.

Four

FOUR: A Divergent Collection is a thrilling anthology of four short-stories. Veronica Roth had initially started writing the Divergent series from Four’s perspective but had had to stop after thirty pages. She started the story afresh with an Abnegation girl this time instead of a boy. But the boy never disappeared.

Through these stories, we re-enter the faction system, with Tobias Eaton’s point of view. The first story (The Transfer) was released as an e-book on the 3rd of September, 2013. The second story titled The Initiate, the third story titled The Son and the fourth story titled The Traitor was released on the 8th of July, 2014 along with the simultaneous release of the book FOUR which also contains three exclusive scenes from the Divergent series.

Veronica Roth, best known for her Divergent trilogy, is the recipient of the Goodreads 2011 Choice Award and the Best of 2012 in the category YA Fantasy & Sci-fi, and is also the best Goodreads author in 2012. A like for Psychology 101, division into groups and an interest in the character Tris led to her writing the book Divergent.

The book FOUR serves as a prequel to the Divergent series. It is set in the same background as the Divergent trilogy, but in this book the story begins years earlier from when the Divergent started.

The society is divided into five different factions-Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the truthful), Dauntless (the brave) and Erudite (the intelligent); and the factionless. Every one living in this society undergoes an Aptitude Test at the age of sixteen to determine which faction suits one the best. Later, one has to attend the Choosing Ceremony where one publicly announces the faction of one’s choice. Roth chooses the time when, Four has to take the Aptitude test, to begin her narration.

Tobias Eaton, the son of an Abnegation leader, is fed up of living “surrounded by identical houses in the most monotonous neighborhood in the city, surrounded by people in identical gray clothing with identical short hair”.

Having lost his mother at a tender age and being physically abused by his father, all Tobias Eaton wants to do is run. He is willing to choose any faction other than Abnegation.

Tobias, no longer wants to be “surrounded by the differential, apologetic Abnegation”. He rebels and finally chooses Dauntless.

Tobias now goes by the name Four, a name given to him because of his four fears. Four is no longer Tobias Eaton. He has left his past behind and is “someone who’s finally ready to fight” by the end of The Transfer.

The Initiate closely follows Four’s initiation ceremony and how he successfully manages to make a name for himself in the Dauntless faction, making enemies in the process. The story ends with Four catching a glimpse of a lady strongly resembling his mother.

It’s finally time for the initiates to choose their jobs. Though Four’s first choice was being an initiate instructor, Max, a Dauntless leader advises him to be like him instead. Four agrees. As his training continues, Four learns a lot about some clandestine activities happening within the faction system. Also, by this time Four is aware of his mother’s existence. The Son witnesses certain discoveries and important decisions and thus ends.

The final story The Traitor occurs simultaneously with Divergent. Tris has joined Dauntless. Four now discovers the attacks planned and it is up to him to react appropriately to save the factions.

The book also features three exclusive scenes from the Divergent series from Tobias’ point of view. Veronica Roth says that her intention of writing this book was to satisfy the enthusiasm and the inquisitiveness of those fans who couldn’t get enough of Four. This book also serves as a way for the producers and directors to know more about the character Four so that they can successfully portray him onscreen.

The language of the book is simple yet not boring. Roth successfully manages to keep the readers captivated throughout the stories. The exclusive scenes could be quite repetitive in nature but they are no doubt a visual treat for the Divergent fans.

Veronica Roth has truly captured human emotions and reactions in this wonderful book. It has been a hit throughout the globe because it appeals to young adults universally.

This book teaches us that there’s a hero within every one of us. A truly motivating book that never fails to keep my spirits elevated.

Sambhavi Kirti

II CAMS K

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The Martian

The Martian

The Martian

The novel, published in 2014, is the highly acclaimed debut work of the author, and was later converted into a film in 2015, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon as lead character Mark Watney.

The author has worked as a computer programmer since the age of fifteen, and has been writing in his spare time for nearly twenty years: he has web comics and other science fiction works to his name on his website. His first novel ‘Theft of Pride’ failed to get published. The Martian was critically acclaimed for its scientific accuracy and engrossing plot.

The book is set in a certain time in the future (with no specified dates) where travel to Mars has become a reality, with a first-person narrative (log entries of Watney on Mars) as well as a third-person narrative (all scenes outside Mars). It begins with a log entry where Watney describes his dire circumstances (being stranded on Mars with hardly any food and no means of communication with Earth) and his minuscule chances of survival, and leads into his ideas to prolong his life long enough to come up with plans to attempt to get back to Earth. Being a botanist, he plants potatoes using his own excreta mixed with Martian soil in the crew’s intended “Habitat”. As time passes, he manages to communicate with NASA using systems from previous missions to Mars. NASA then brainstorms for ideas to bring him back alive while even considering the possibility of leaving him behind, as it would cost much lesser in terms of money and potentially, even life. It is decided that a food package be sent to Watney to keep him alive, and the satellite is put together in record time, albeit at the cost of not running required pre-launch tests; due to the hasty loading, a weight mismatch causes the launch to crash and dampens everybody’s spirits and hopes. Meanwhile, a NASA astrodynamicist named Purnell is hit with a brainwave where he comes up with a slingshot manoeuvre which can save Watney’s life with minimal cost and maximum efficiency. Eventually, after months of planning and preparation, it is decided that the crew- which escaped the massive dust storm in the launch vehicle and is currently close to Earth- shall fly by Earth back to Mars to bring Watney back safely. This idea put into action despite NASA chief’s opposition, thanks to the NASA’s chief of the Mars Missions who slyly sends a newly scripted flight plan to the crew members. After a few more months and much drama (including Watney’s near-fatal drive of over 3200km to reach the launch vehicle of another mission, taking down many components to reduce weight, and near death of starvation due to rationing of limited food resources), precision manoeuvring of the two crafts by flight engineer Martinez helps save Watney, despite sustaining injuries.

It is an extremely compelling read dished out by Andy Weir, with large doses of humour, action,suspense, drama, and science; the biggest stand-outs for me are the realistic portrayal of the characters, the scientific accuracy of the entire plot, and mostly, the brilliant narrative style which leaves you breathlessly waiting to know the twists and turns of the plot! On the whole, it is an ultimate page turner and a delight for sci-fi enthusiasts; it’s a perfect ten out of ten personally and surely one of my top recommendations.

AnirudhIyer

II CAMS K

Girl on the Train

Girl on the Train

Girl on the Train

Girl on the train by Paula Hawkins is one of those books you would love to have on your bookshelf. The biggest reason why is that you cannot call yourself a book-nerd if you have not read this one. The book has earned for itself a cosy spot on many Bestseller lists- GoodReads, Times, etc., and is everything a thriller addict could possibly ask for.

Now, most authors would want their protagonists to be interesting people with interesting lives. Paula Hawkins, however, went for Rachel, an alcoholic with the most mechanical life you could possibly imagine. What is most ironic here is that this book is a top notch thriller with the first few chapters being quite dull and grey; it successfully creates an illusion of normalcy, of nothing seeming to be out of place. Just when you are being lulled into monotony, you come face to face with the turning point of the plot and suddenly everything becomes ten times more interesting. The reader’s curiosity deepens with every page he turns; he quickly reaches the point where the book becomes “unputdownable”.

Explaining the plot would most definitely ruin the read, and hence, I’ve decided to explain the character of Rachel, our Girl on the Train. As mentioned earlier she is not built of the usual protagonist material. A person with some serious flaws, Rachel is a divorcee who has sought refuge in alcohol. She drinks excessively and this costs her, her job. Afraid that her apartment owner would not want to have a jobless tenant, Rachel takes a train to London every day pretending that she goes to work. On one of those routine journeys, she sees something from the carriage window that shatters the monotony of her life. It’s only for a brief moment, not even a paragraph but a mere sentence that forms the turning point in the plot.

What is most interesting about the book is the writing style. The reader is compelled to see the picture through the eyes of three different women- Rachel, Anna and Megan, and is compelled to adapt himself to the constantly changing time frame of the plot. Towards the end of the book, the reader is left with random pieces of a puzzle with ABSOLUTELY no idea where each piece fits in the bigger picture. Only when the reader completely finishes the book, can he enjoy the satisfaction of having solved the puzzle. And this is what sets a true thriller apart from the rest.

Reading this book is like sitting on a roller coaster side; you can resume breathing normally only when you finish reading it. By that time, Rachel would have easily gotten herself a place on your “Unforgettable Fictional Characters” list; enough to show that she is more than just a girl on the train.

Ritika Sowda

II CAME L

Looking for Alaska

Looking For Alaska

Looking For Alaska

Looking for Alaska is a beautiful young adult novel which is centered around the life of the teenager, Miles Halter who leaves Florida to attend a boarding school in Alabama. With his resentment towards sports and obsession for people’s last words, Miles heads off to the Culver Creek Boarding School to seek what the poet Rabelais called The Great Perhaps.

Miles befriends his roommate Chip who introduces him to the beautiful, smart, funny and mysterious girl down the hall, Alaska Young. It is she who introduces Miles to the concept of the labyrinth, which is the labyrinth of suffering. She tells him how people spend their whole lives stuck in the labyrinth, trying to escape it by imagining the bright future ahead, while in reality, they never do it. People just use the future to escape the present.

The story progresses, with the high school fun and the pranks. In the long run, Miles gets to know Alaska better and soon, she kind of becomes the centre of his universe. Everything goes on normally, until when halfway through the book, a tragedy takes place. The latter half of the book is about how Miles and his friends try to make sense of it.

What I liked about the book is that, it talks about the afterlife in a very practical way. It speaks how people believe in the afterlife because they cannot imagine death being a big black nothing and cannot bear the idea of themselves not existing.  They believe in the afterlife because they cannot bear not to.

Miles also figures out the labyrinth mystery. In the end, he decides that even though straight and fast is the only way out, getting through the labyrinth is the better choice. The book talks about how forgiveness is the key to survive in the labyrinth and how the concept of the afterlife is probably just something to ease out the suffering in the labyrinth.

Moreover, John Green has written the story fiercely, exposing the working of a teen’s mind as they grow up and explore the world. The author has brilliantly explained how everyone has a part of themselves, which is greater than all the other parts and how that part is immortal as it has no end nor a beginning and hence, it cannot fail. Therefore, there is no need to be hopeless in life as we can never be irreparably broken.

In case you haven’t been impressed by the plot already, you need to read the book for at least the way it’s written. The storyline is gripping, funny and sad at the same time. My favorite part was the brilliantly written quotes. This one by far was my favorite among all the others: “There comes a time when we realize that our parents cannot save themselves or save us, that everyone who wades through time eventually gets dragged out to sea by the undertow- that, in short, we are all going.”

This book had a really huge impact on me and I’m positive that I can never look at things the way I used to. It is just about one of the most realistic books out there, talking about friendship, loss, love and most importantly, life. It is an inspiring and a very thrilling story and something that every teen needs to read.

Shalini 

II PCMB D

Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre

“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”

-Jane Eyre

‘Jane Eyre’ by Charlotte Bronte, a classic novel that has withstood the test of time, has been read, reread and appreciated by many literature and classic novel lovers over the years. It is an extremely rare novel that manages to lure readers by virtue of its charm alone, despite not having much going into it in terms of the overall plot. Despite its complexity, though, the heart and soul of this book is the story of Jane Eyre, a principled young woman who has seen a lot of suffering.

Charlotte Bronte was an English novelist and poet, eldest of three sisters who were also famous novelists. ‘Jane Eyre’ is her most impactful novel which she released in the year 1847. Charlotte Bronte faced a lot of difficulties in her life and she found a way to express her grief and come out of it through writing. She died at the age of 38, with her unborn child, due to suspected phthisis. Her novel, ‘Jane Eyre’ has caught the attention of many critics and literature patrons.

The plot of the book talks about how Jane Eyre, an orphan of no beauty, wealth, or social standing, is taken in by her relatives, the Reeds, who treat her with contempt and even cruelty. When she’s old enough Jane is sent to Lowood School, much to her relief. But the food is foul, several of the teachers are cruel, and sanitation is so bad that an epidemic causes several deaths among the pupils. A ray of light brightens Jane’s life in the form of Helen, her best friend but Helen succumbs to the epidemic while Jane survives. Jane continues in Lowood for eight years, six as a student and two as a teacher. She yearns for a change and takes up a job as a governess to Adele Varens, the ward of the master of Thornfield, Edward Rochester, a dark, brooding Byronic man living in a seemingly haunted house. Jane finds herself falling secretly in love with Mr Rochester and when he proposes to her, surprising her, she accepts willingly. Their wedding ceremony is stopped short when a man interrupts them claiming that Rochester is already married. Jane decides to leave him and flees, penniless and struggling since she feels humiliated. The events that follow lead to a series of discoveries, tales of empathy and friendship, struggles faced by a woman, Jane’s dilemma, misfortunes that befall Mr Rochester after Jane leaves him and the latent yet passionate love between Jane and Mr Rochester.

I do not have a particular genre of books that I prefer over others and hence, I decided to read this timeless classic, having received many positive reviews about it. What struck me the most about this novel is the style of writing used by Bronte, which combines a certain authenticity with good quality writing.The manner in which Bronte has explicitly explained what all Jane underwent made me feel that I was a part of Jane’s story as I leafed through the pages. The book taught me a lot about friendship, empathy, patience and love. Jane’s character impressed me the most.  Despite her social powerlessness Jane is one of the strongest women characters in fiction and by sticking to her principles she is rewarded with true love. This book, I believe brings out the struggles faced by a woman and her will to overcome them. It is one of the most powerful novels written by one of the most prolific classic writers. To me, it is an inspirational novel that each person perceives in his or her own way. I feel that this timeless classic is a must read for all those literature and classic loves out there and also those who want to be introduced to the world of classic literature.

Srishti M

I HEPP ‘N

The Sandman-Preludes and Nocturnes (Book 1)

 

 

 

The Sandman Preludes Nocturnes

The Sandman Preludes Nocturnes

The Sandman- Preludes and Nocturnes is a dark fantasy novel, the first book in the Sandman series of graphic novels authored by the Hugo prize awardee Neil Gaiman with the art work contributed by Sam Keith. The Sandman series was the critically acclaimed work by Neil Gaiman that got him established as one of the greatest fantasy writers. Some of his other works are, ‘Good Omens’, co-written with the late author Terry Pratchett, ‘Neverwhere’, ‘Anansi Boys’, etc.

The Sandman, as the title suggests is the story of Morpheus, an endless, more commonly known as Sandman or Dream, the ruler of the dream realm. He is the sibling of the other endless’, Death, Delirium, Destruction, Desire, Despair and Destiny.

Precludes and Nocturnes starts out with the capture of Morpheus by the magician, Roderick Burgess. Burgess with his son, Alex and his occult followers, perform a ritual in hopes of capturing Death, Morpheus’ elder sister in order to bargain for immortality but mistakenly, bind Dream, instead. For decades, Morpheus stays in captivity while humanity suffers with the absence of the ruler of dreams. Eventually, Morpheus breaks out in 1988, after 72 years in captivity, incredibly weakened. The story then takes us through the journey of Sandman, through his quest for revenge and recovery of his totems of power which had been scattered in the duration of his imprisonment.

The story is an incredibly well researched and well written piece of literature. It is a perfect blend of lore and fiction, a must read for all the mythology enthusiasts out there. We come across many popular figures, biblical and fictional like Cain and Abel, ucifer, Beelzebub, John Constantine and urban legends like Dr.Dee, an embodiment of the popular John Dee.

The most incredible part of the graphic novel, which I particularly enjoyed was the last chapter, where the author introduces Death, to the readers. Where most pieces of literature portray Death, personified or otherwise, as a negative character/phenomenon, Neil Gaiman has put forth a different view, something that would make us ponder over our irrational fear of death and that land of the unknown beyond that.

He is of the opinion that Death, like any of us, is just doing her job, a dirty work that no one else is willing to do. While we worship the God who gives life, why do we fear Death? A valid argument against mankind’s notions of life and death.

‘I find myself wondering about humanity,’ he says in the voice of Sandman, ‘Their attitude to my sister’s gift is so strange. Why do they fear the sunless lands? It is as natural to die as it is to be born. But they fear her. Dread her. Feebly they attempt to placate her. They do not love her.’

Precludes and Nocturnes, is a thoroughly enjoyable book, given the reader has interest in the genre and doesn’t have a sensitive stomach. It is certainly one of the most satisfying pieces of literature that I have come across. And like most Gaiman literature, Preludes and Nocturnes is one of a kind.

Sujitha Prabhakar

II HEPP N

Paper Towns

Paper Towns

Paper Towns

“The town was paper, but the memories were not.” 

Paper Towns is a mystery, thriller book written by John Green, an American novelist. It was published on October 16, 2008 by Dutton Books. It debuted at number 5 on the New York Times bestseller list for children’s books and was awarded the 2009 Edgar Award for best young-adult novel. . The focus of this book; according to Green is the mystery in which the protagonist Margo Spiegelman has profoundly and consistently been misunderstood by the other main protagonist Quentin Jacobson who sets out to look for her but does not find her, in the sense that he is looking for the wrong person.

Paper Towns takes place in and around a fictional subdivision called Jefferson Park, located in Orlando, Florida. The book opens up with two nine year old children discovering a gruesome dead body that tied Margo and Quentin together for the rest of their childhood. Margo takes up the initiative to find out more the murder which showcases her love for mysteries. The chapter rightly ends with the quote, “Maybe she loved mysteries so much, that she became one.” The next chapter depicts both the protagonists who are now grown up, grown apart, and have found different identities in High School. However, Quentin is in love with Margo who is one of the ‘popular kids,’ very attractive and has lots of friends. Margo one day shows up at Quentin’s room at night and they go on a midnight drive where she sets up pranks to get the people who hurt her which included her boyfriend and her best friend.  That night, Margo, refers to Orlando and their subdivision as a “paper town.” She describes it as “fake” and “not even hard enough to be made of plastic”. The day after their exhilarating journey, Margo goes missing. Quentin believes that Margo has left clues behind for him to comprehend and so he sets out with his friends to find her. In the end, he makes a connection using a map he found searching for her which leads him to discover that Margo has been hiding in a fictional town called Agloe, which was created as a copyright trap by mapmakers. Margo is upset about being found as she did not intend for it to happen. Quentin and his friends are shocked and angry at this reaction. However, Quentin comes to realize that the image he had been creating of Margo was not accurate as it was the show she had put on for everyone else, the role everyone expected her to play. He grows furious at her for wasting their time and worrying her family but, she argues that Quentin just wanted a troubled girl he could save. Ultimately, Quentin comes to accept that it was unfair to expect her to be more than just a person, and that she could not be blamed for being as imperfect as everyone else. The ending of the book is ambiguous and thought provoking. There are always questions that a reader can ask about what happens after the end of a story; there is always more to tell. For me, that’s one of the pleasures of reading.

In my opinion, ‘Paper Towns’ glows with an aura of mystery and a deep significant meaning behind every line. “Nothing ever happens like you imagine it will,” says Margo and this book is proof of that declaration. The theme of this novel is getting wrapped up in the mystery of something, and Quentin was completely taken up by the idea of Margo and the mystery surrounding her even though he had no real relationship with her. Though it may seem to be a novel with a typical storyline, the metaphors go well beyond it. The concept of Paper Towns and people leading Paper lives refers to how we normalize our lives and play out our roles like we’re meant to, not leaving any space for the mystery and thrill. Paper Towns are flimsy and planned; all things are paper thin and paper frail and likewise, are people. Margo wanted to get away from this as she loved mysteries and felt like no one could understand this. She was expected to play out a role in school, the attractive popular girl whose life seems perfect but she could not do this anymore. The strong point of the book are definitely the metaphors as the author connects them beautifully to the unspoken problems like the normalcy of daily life and how it leaves no space for thrill. This book has not disappointed me in any way so I dare to say that it does not have any weak points. The transition of Margo in the way that Quentin sees her is also remarkable. In the first part, he’s viewing Margo very one-dimensionally. She’s paper-thin to him; she is nothing but the object of his affection. In the second part, he’s seeing a girl who’s half there and half not—so he’s thinking about her with more complexity but still not really thinking of her as a human being. In the final part of the novel, his complex imagining reconnects him to her, albeit not in the way he might’ve hoped. “What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person” says Quentin. I’d recommend this book to anyone who needs a little thrill and wants to get themselves, lost in the pages of a brilliant book.

Nikitha Bibiana Annmarie

II PPES ‘O’