Unlike its predecessors the story focuses on Nick and Quinn rather than Nick and his love interest and there’s far less action based conflict. Secret reads like a YA contemporary issue book with a tinge of the paranormal. The usual action packed plot comes secondary to all the problems faced by both Quinn and Nick, I didn’t really mind but the story did drag at times.
I was surprised when I found myself more intrigued with Quinn’s character. I cheered on her badassery and nodded in approval every time she stood up for herself but it quickly devolved into frustration and confusion at her progression. She’s full of resentment and jealously and she makes stupid decisions at times, it is hard to like her but eventually she grew on me. As for Quinn’s love interest, I initially hated him but somehow Brigid Kemmerer convinced me that there was more to his character. Their romance still makes me cringe but they complement each other very well.
Nick is completely paralysed by his fear of rejection and throughout the majority of the book he is indecisive and scared of the choices he must make, understandable so. He is uncertain and insecure which causes him to be an ass at times but he is also suffering from the weight of the secret he carries around, inadvertently hurting people. His struggle was prolonged, it added to the realism of his situation but it was boring at times.
In Secret, he finds relief and comfort in Adam. I like Adam well enough, he’s a good for and with Nick. He’s independent, confident, playful, sarcastic and determined but he’s not really memorable especially since Quinn stole the spotlight from him. Their romance wasn’t as exciting as I hoped it would be but it was warm and sweet and as realistic as a paranormal can get. They just didn’t have me as reeling as when I read Breathless, Nick’s novella. As for the action, it was definitely a bang. There was a lot of it crammed into a few chapters but it was very much appreciated and enjoyable. It was the part of the book that grabbed my attention the most.
Throughout this book I felt a whiplash of emotions but in the end Secret surprised me. I spent the first half conflicted, torn between dislike and utter disappointment. It wasn’t a good place to be but it wrapped up so satisfyingly, all my negative feelings were soothed and I finished Secret with a smile (more like a smile then OH DAMN!) on my face. It covers a whole range of issues and they were handled beautifully, the whiplash was worth it in the end.
Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for approving me to review this title.
Right from the start Melina Marchetta sucks you into the story. You’re catapulted into the middle of an incredibly defining event. The beginning of the book is shrouded in mystery, and it’s a little confusing knowing who’s who and what they signify, if they’re even real or just a made up story. I loved the way theories flew through my head until the right one hit, it was thrilling and engrossing.
The execution of the story is brilliant, for about 100 or so pages I was fumbling to link the characters together but the slow unveiling of the truth hidden within those pages was completely heartbreaking. The way the past and present intertwined and paralleled each other is both fascinating and tragic. Even when I thought I had a grip on everything, there was always a new surprise waiting to be discovered.
Taylor Markham is such an interesting character, a deeply flawed, beautiful, striving person. Her grief and pain was written so raw and real, I felt heartbroken and frustrated and angry for her. The characters surrounding her are the sort of friends you’d want, good and kind, a little weird but fiercely supportive. I loved and appreciated their strong friendship. And then there are even more characters but these are the ones who cause stifling sobs and heartache. Yes, I get quite emotional when I love a book, more so when I love the characters.
This is the sort of unforgettable book you need to experience firsthand knowing as little as possible about the story. I’ve tried to touch on the story in my review but I can only convey my feelings towards it, it’s just one of those you need to dive in. I can’t recommend it enough, it’s a surreal reading experience and I loved every moment of it.
Allegiant was a funny sort of read for me. I feel so detached from the series I once loved and enjoyed so completely. The Divergent series was always built on a shaky foundation and in Allegiant it crumbles and falls apart though I bear no dislike towards the most raged about ending.
What bothered me most was the explanation of the current state of the world. It’s so inconsistent, the puzzle pieces jagged and wrong for each other. There were too many questions and plot holes stopping me from enjoying this book. I became quite critical while reading it, like I was analysing poorly written text rather than a story I cherish. In comparison to many dystopian books, the reasoning behind the current chaos was more detailed but it was also sloppy and confusing. Even if I suspended my disbelief of people fucking up the United States as much as they had (because seriously, what’s going on with the rest of the world?) I never understood the point of it all.
I do not know if it was intentional but the POV’s from Tris and Four were so similar I could not distinguish their voices. It made me feel indifferent towards either character. Here was Four like we’ve never seen him before, vulnerable and insecure, angry and desperate yet I could not bring myself to care. All I felt towards him was frustration and disappointment. Had he not learnt anything from Tris in Insurgent? He was so easy to manipulate and while I can try to justify it by brushing it off to inner demons of abuse and insecurity it just seemed contrived.
Then there’s Tris, a character whom I admired and respected, described as plain and small yet strong suddenly evolves into this unicorn. A unicorn that is invincible, able to resist things unheard of. The fact that I am supposed to accept that Tris is special without any explanation cheapened the ending for me.
The pacing of the book is also different from its predecessors; it’s slow and halting often dumping tons of frustrating, poorly explained science into the laps of readers. Secondary characters die and drop like flies and it’s difficult to feel anything. New ones are introduced and again there’s little to care about because they all fall so flat. Even when things were coming to a climax I still felt confused and exasperated because by this point I had had enough. Conflicts are resolved so easily and conveniently, they felt like vessels to promote certain messages about love and sacrifice. Overall, it was a disappointing conclusion to the trilogy, the story was mess and there wasn’t enough room to develop the characters. It was just so lacking. As for some of the reasons I gave this 3 stars:
- The last 200 pages were still exciting and entertaining to read despite my frustrations.
- I really liked Christina.
- There were some beautifully written paragraphs and some particularly creative symbolism.
- I liked the glimpses of friendship and how important it is. I liked that males and females were shown to be friends, good friends, without it turning into romance.
- I’m still holding on to what I loved about the characters; Tris’ courage and steadiness, Four’s support and love, Christine’s loyalty and frankness.
- I really liked those last few chapters, when everything ends and there’s just the aftermath. Because that grief and pain makes the character seem genuine and human again.