Mini-reviews: The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult; A Thousand Cuts by Simon Lelic; and Allegiant by Veronica Roth

storytellerTitle: The Storyteller
Author: Jodi Picoult
Genre: Contemporary and historical fiction
Publisher: Recorded books
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Audiobook from the public library
Audiobook reader: Mozhan Marno, Jennifer Ikeda, Edoardo Ballerini, Suzanne Toren, and Fred Berman
Audiobook length: 18 hours and 13 minutes
First line: My father trusted me with the details of his death.

Goodreads blurb: Sage Singer befriends an old man who’s particularly beloved in her community. Josef Weber is everyone’s favorite retired teacher and Little League coach. They strike up a friendship at the bakery where Sage works. One day he asks Sage for a favor: to kill him. Shocked, Sage refuses…and then he confesses his darkest secret – he deserves to die, because he was a Nazi SS guard. Complicating the matter? Sage’s grandmother is a Holocaust survivor.

What do you do when evil lives next door? Can someone who’s committed a truly heinous act ever atone for it with subsequent good behavior? Should you offer forgiveness to someone if you aren’t the party who was wronged? And most of all – if Sage even considers his request – is it murder, or justice?

I really wish I had sat down and written this review as soon as I finished The Storyteller, because it made such a huge impression on me! And I’m still thinking about it, even though I may have lost some of the detailed statements I wanted to make. First of all, this is a pretty amazing story. Can you imagine being asked to forgive an SS officer – and then help him die? And Sage is a character that I loved. She is dealing with her own scars – both psychological and physical – and her journey over the course of the book is a beautiful thing to see. There were so many fantastic characters, and now I can’t remember their names! But I loved the ex-nun who owned the bakery where Sage worked, and also the guy who worked there who only spoke in haiku. This book has a multiple storyline narrative, and each one is as addictive as the last. Also, the narrators are excellent, so audio is definitely the way to go. And the ending? I didn’t see the twist until shortly before it was revealed, and that ending will stay with me for a long, long time.

thousandcutsTitle: A Thousand Cuts
Author: Simon Lelic
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Publisher: Viking
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my personal library
Number of pages: 294 pages
First line: I wasn’t there.

Goodreads blurb: It should be an open-and-shut case. Samuel Szajkowski, a recently hired history teacher, walked into a school assembly with a gun and murdered three students and a colleague before turning the weapon on himself. It was a tragedy that could not have been predicted. Szajkowski, it seems clear, was a psychopath beyond help. Yet as Detective Inspector Lucia May- the only woman in her high-testosterone office in the Criminal Investigations Department-begins to piece together the testimonies of the various witnesses, an uglier and more complex picture emerges, calling into question the innocence of others. But no one, including Lucia’s boss, is interested.

As the pressure to close the case builds and her colleagues’ sexism takes a sinister turn, Lucia begins to realize that she has more in common with the killer than she could have imagined, and she becomes deter­mined to expose the truth.

Another one that has gave me so much to talk about, and yet again, my busy schedule caused too much time to go by before I sat down to write a review. This is a terrific book about bullying and a school shooting, but from a completely different angle. The fact that the shooting happens in Britain, where gun violence is much less prevalent than here in the US, added another unique element to the story. As we learn more and more about the shooter, we also see Lucia’s story unfold. I found myself reading faster and faster to see how Lucia’s situation would resolve, hoping I was wrong about what I suspected. I’m not going to say anything more, because this is definitely not a book you want spoiled for you.

allegiantTitle: Allegiant
Author: Veronica Roth
Genre: YA dystopian fiction
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from the public library
Number of pages: 526 pages
First line: I pace in our cell in Erudite headquarters, her words echoing in my mind: My name will be Edith Prior, and there is much I am happy to forget.

Goodreads blurb: The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

Meh. I loved Divergent, thought Insurgent was good, but not great, and find myself very disappointed with Allegiant. The story simply doesn’t hold up as well, and there is much to be slightly confused by. I remember reading Insurgent‘s ending, with the continuity error, and wondering if I missed something. I felt that way through most of this book. Maybe it’s because too much time went by between reading book two and book three, but I don’t think so – I think it simply didn’t hold up. And I won’t even go into the choice Roth made at the end of the book. Normally, something like that would elicit a huge emotional reaction from me, but this time, I simply finished the book without feeling much of anything.

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15 Responses to Mini-reviews: The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult; A Thousand Cuts by Simon Lelic; and Allegiant by Veronica Roth

  1. Kailana says:

    I really should read more Jodi Picoult. I am hit-or-miss with her.
    Kailana´s last post ..Wordless Wednesday – Peeking Through the Trees

  2. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread
    says:

    Hmmn, you’ve gotten my attention with Piccoult’s book. I used to read her all the time, but after awhile there seemed to be a predictable formula in them. It doesn’t sound like this one is like that. And I never even read Insurgent, even though I really liked Divergent. Too many lukewarm reviews. But Allegiant??? OMG, everyone hated it. I’m still pretty excited about the movie…
    Sandy´s last post ..Sunday Salon: Slo Mo Sandy

  3. Margaret says:

    I’m halfway through Allegiant and having to force myself to keep on reading. I loved Divergent and Insurgent and was expecting a stellar finish to the trilogy. Not so. I am finding Allegiant to be so boring I might not even finish it. Meh, indeed.

  4. Beth F
    Twitter: BethFishReads
    says:

    I actually was ok with the ending of Allegiant, but there were other things that I didn’t like. I too ended up feeling meh.
    Beth F´s last post ..Review: The Headmaster’s Wife by Thomas Christopher Greene

  5. bermudaonion (Kathy)
    Twitter: bermudaonion
    says:

    Picoult is hit or miss for me – The Storyteller sounds like it would be a hit!
    bermudaonion (Kathy)´s last post ..At the movies: Her

  6. Trisha
    Twitter: Trish422
    says:

    I also found Allegiant disappointing. I was unsatisfied with the back story for the whole mess of a world, and I thought the characters acted very out of character in this book.
    Trisha´s last post ..The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini

  7. Sheila (Book JOurney)
    Twitter: bookjourney
    says:

    I read the Storyteller and loved it!

  8. Pingback: The Sunday Salon – February 16, 2014 | BOOKS AND MOVIES

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