Book #26 of 2014: Nineteen Minutes

Not long ago, there was a lot of controversy going around on Facebook about Nineteen Minutes. People were enraged because it was a reading list book for high schoolers and they felt that the “graphic” sex scene in it was inappropriate for this age group. I was intrigued and wanted to see what everyone was so up in arms about.

Nineteen Minutes chronicles the lives of several people and how they are affected by a school shooting in their sleepy small town. The story shifts between various points of view: Josie, one of the victims and former friend of the shooter; Alex, Josie’s mother; Peter, the shooter; and Peter’s parents and attorney. The book explores the idea that bullying can lead to someone eventually snapping and entering a dissociative state, specifically one in which the victim fights back against those people who have wronged him or her.

I feel odd saying that I enjoyed this book because of the subject matter, but it did start out on a good note. As I read on, I felt like there was a lot of dragging and I skimmed a lot of parts. I feel like a good hundred pages could have been cut out. There was an excess of rambling by Peter’s mother about how guilty she felt for somehow failing him and having him turn out to be a murderer. I know the point was to humanize the shooter, to see him as a real person instead of just a killer, but it just went on and on and on. And the “graphic” sex scene that everyone is so concerned about? Really, people? It lasted for about a paragraph and wasn’t any worse than any other similar scenes I’ve read in other books.

Overall, this one was OK. I was glad when it was over because I got tired of it pretty quickly. I felt awkward the entire time, especially during Peter’s parts, because I wanted to feel bad for him about what he endured, but I could only feel for him so much. I mean, he murdered people, some of whom had never done a thing to him in his entire life. They were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Book #25 of 2014: Divergent

I was a little resistant to read Divergent, only because everyone has had such high praise for it and I was afraid of being let down. People have likened it to The Hunger Games, and after reading it I have to say that I agree. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I have obviously seen the reviews so I had a hard time not picturing the actors in my head as I went along through the story.

In the author’s imagined world, society is broken down into five groups: Abnegation, Candor, Dauntless, Erudite, and Amity. On one day each year, all sixteen year olds must take a test which determines their rightful place in the world and then they have to decide whether to follow the test results or break away into a group of their choosing. Beatrice was born into a Abnegation family and has lived by their rules for the past sixteen years, but she can’t help but feel that maybe she truly belongs elsewhere. Her choice will affect not only her, but her family, and even society as a whole.

This was definitely a page-turner. I had a hard time finding stopping points late at night when I knew I had to go to sleep if I had any hope of functioning at work the next day. Often I had to just force myself to stop, and then I would pick it up at lunch the next day or as soon as I got home from work. I thought the premise was original and the storyline unfolded at a good pace. There were a lot of cliffhangers and surprises, some of which were easy to figure out in advance, but that didn’t detract from the overall story. The characters were well written and likable — for the most part.

I enjoyed this book so much that instead of borrowing the sequels from the library, I’m just going to purchase the set. I have been told by various people that the last book is disappointing, but I’m ok with that. This is definitely a series to own.