[REVIEW] Free Four – Veronica Roth

ImageSummary
Overall – 1/5

Short Review
FREE FOUR is a (very) short story based on Veronica Roth’s DIVERGENT, second in a small series of eBooks which recount Tobias’ life before, during and after his own initiation. FREE FOUR is supposed to be a re-telling of DIVERGENT from Tobias’ view.

Honestly, my first thought when I finished this story was “Are you joking?”. I was very excited to get a chance to hear Four’s voice, especially now it’s been revealed that he will share the narration with Tris in ALLEGIANT, but I cannot help but feel completely let down by FREE FOUR.

It’s sold as “Free Four: Tobias Tells the Divergent Story”. Exciting, right? What you actually get is 8 pages (on my iPad Mini) of Tobias fumbling through the knife throwing scene, then four extracts from DIVERGENT and INSURGENT. Seriously, 8 pages.

The language felt very clumsy and rushed to me, definitely not up to Roth’s usual standard. It was difficult to truly see this narrator as Four; his voice didn’t feel right compared to the character in the main series and even the previous short story. I couldn’t relate to him in the same way or picture him as the same man at all. FREE FOUR didn’t add anything to this scene for me at all, Tobias was weak, even pathetic, and completely terrified of Eric. Not the Four we know.

I get the feeling a lot of hardcore fangirls will be thrilled at this release and while I do love Four and his relationship with Tris, I am definitely not thrilled. I only hope this isn’t a preview of what’s to come with ALLEGIANT.

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[REVIEW] The Darkness of Shadows – Chris Little

the darkness of shadowsSummary
Characters – 2/5
Plot – 1/5
Style – 1/5
World Building – 1/5
Overall – 1/5

In a Tweet
“Irritating woman attempts to take revenge on her abusive parents but instead falls into a baffling world of magic that changes her life.”

Review
Natalie’s life has not been easy. Left scarred and broken by her parent’s abuse, she has grown into a distrustful and cold woman yearning for revenge. Natalie has a plan to murder her father but quickly discovers it’s not enough as she unravels the magical world he’s hidden from her all these years.

The premise of this novel is initially very promising, the blurb sounds great and I was really excited to get started. However, by the end of the first page I was already lost. The writing is very choppy and often jumps between the present day and Natalie’s memories without warning which I found confusing and jarring.

There are a lot of references nestled in the narrative that completely went over my head and by the end of the novel I had resigned myself to being perpetually confused. Maybe it’s because I’m not from New Jersey, or because I’m not even American, but I felt slightly alienated by it all.

I couldn’t connect with Natalie in the slightest, she frustrated me and her bad attitude grated on me. This character has suffered a horrific childhood and the effects of this clearly hang into her adult life, but I couldn’t sympathise and really couldn’t root for her. I think perhaps the style played into this, I just didn’t find it easy to care.

The magical world gained more than a few eye rolls; there was even a Scooby Doo style hidden room behind a bookcase. Nothing was explained in a clear way and the whole premise was muddled from start to finish. Rules are discovered on one page then completely thrown out of the window on the next. Maybe it was just me being dense, but I couldn’t make sense of a single part of it.

I liked the bond between Natalie and Valerie, it’s nice to see a sisterly bond in an urban fantasy novel. There was no love interest or messy love triangle, just Nat and Val sticking together and keeping each other strong. Valerie was the only character I felt I could fully appreciate, she had a sense of humour and balanced out Natalie’s irritating voice.

Overall, I was just plain confused. Nothing about THE DARKNESS OF SHADOWS seemed to gel with me and I spent a lot of time trying to work out what was actually happening rather than enjoying the story.

I received THE DARKNESS OF SHADOWS for free from the lovely people at Rogue Gargoyle Books. My reviews always represent my own honest opinion.