Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

This review does not spoil the ending, unlike many of the reviews that have been written for this book.

I finished reading Allegiant by Veronica Roth. Allegiant is the third and final book in the Divergent trilogy.  I knew from the bad reviews that I would likely be disappointed.  The entire book was devoid of the magic of the first book. It was empty and actually quite boring for long stretches. 

While I did not like the ending, I believe I would have reacted to it better if the book had been written well.  The book was mostly boring.  During the second book, we had a build up about what exactly was beyond the fence.  We went beyond the fence in the third book, and you know what?  It wasn't that interesting.

Roth described the setting in Chicago so well in the first book.  Her descriptions were lacking in the third book.  I couldn't visualize anything well.  The area beyond the fence was a big "nothing."

The point of view alternates between Tris and Tobias, when the first two books were all Tris.  This could have worked well, but Tobias and Tris were written exactly the same, creating confusion.

Many people said that they cried at the ending.  I had no reaction whatsoever.  I believe my lack of reaction was due to me never connecting with the book.  The second book, Insurgent, set up readers for a thrilling reveal for when Tris journeys outside the fence.   The outside of the fence is not much different from the inside of the fence, so I was a bit bored from the beginning of the book.  I can think of at least one way that the journey outside the fence would have been made more interesting.  

The book has a lot of gaping plot holes.  When I thoroughly enjoy a book, I tend to ignore the plot holes.  This book was not written well, and the plot holes were very obvious.  The conflict involves people who are genetically pure and others who are genetically defective. 

The book mentions multiple times how small their world is and how the Chicago area is but a tiny part of the entire country.  Tris, Tobias, and the others have only been in Chicago, and they see maps of the United States.  They feel like they are insignificant.  Since the book emphasizes how small their world is, I have trouble understanding how solving the conflict in their small area solves the problem for the entire country.  The government could send people in at any time to further its agenda.

When I read the reviews for the first book in the trilogy, Divergent, the critical reviews complained that the world makes no sense.  I didn't have a problem with the world in the first book, because it is so magical and extraordinary.  Guess what?  Those people were right.  The world makes no sense whatsoever, and Roth's attempts in explaining it in this book are woefully insufficient.

Going back to the genetically defective and genetically pure people, Roth uses abbreviations for both liberally throughout the text:  "GD" and "GP."  Each time I saw an abbreviation, I had to stop reading to look at the letters and figure out which was which.  I really think using "defective" and "pure" would have been much easier on the reader.  Besides, I kept wanting to read "GD" as a curse word which didn't help matters any.

If you are planning to read this book, do not read any reviews anywhere, because readers are so enraged about the ending that they are spoiling it in their reviews, often in the first sentence without warning.  I saw one review on Amazon where the reviewer titled their review with the spoiler for the book's ending.  Even reading the titles of reviews is dangerous.

I don't know whether people will find this blog post and make comments, but if you are planning to read this book, I caution you against reading any comments that are posted.  Readers are so very upset that they are spoiling the book everywhere.  I have decided that I will not remove any comments that get posted that spoil the ending, so you have been forewarned.

Lots of people have been spoiled on Facebook on Veronica Roth's page and everywhere else on the internet. People have posted on their Facebook accounts that they are reading the book, and others are so angry about the book that they respond with comments spoiling the ending. I've seen many people upset that the ending was spoiled for them. 

I'm not sure when I've ever seen this much anger over a book that I have read.  In my case, I am not angry or upset; I simply did not find the book to be a worthy conclusion to the Divergent trilogy.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Nancy Drew Game: The Silent Spy

Note:  This review does not spoil the culprit or ending of The Silent Spy.  Nancy's phone conversations from the early part of the game are mentioned because some Nancy Drew collectors have been critical of the game.

Months ago when Her Interactive released the preview of The Silent Spy, many Nancy Drew collectors became upset, since the preview appeared to put the death of Nancy's mother in doubt.  Furthermore, Nancy's mother was given a name:  Kate.

Some collectors felt that Her Interactive went too far, especially because they were concerned that Nancy's mother would turn up alive.  I did not believe that Nancy's mother was coming back to life, so I considered it of little importance.  It turns out that the player is quite aware from the very beginning of the game that Nancy's mother is not alive.  The early promo was misinterpreted.

Collectors were upset that Her Interactive gave Nancy's mother a name, since her name has never been mentioned in the books.  In order to build a game around the death of Nancy's mother, she needed a name.  Kate is a nice name, short and to the point.

Other fans became upset after learning that the game shows flashback scenes of Carson and Kate arguing, since Nancy's parents would never argue.  Let's be realistic:  Married couples argue. 

It helps to put the scene into context.  In the flashback, Kate is a spy, and she plans to go back to Scotland to help bring down a terrorist group.  Carson doesn't want her to go because he believes that she will run a high risk of being killed.  Why wouldn't he raise his voice?  He was correct to be concerned.

During the game play, Carson argues with Nancy, because he doesn't want her in Scotland.  The argument is more than anything we see in the Nancy Drew books, but Carson fears for Nancy's life.  Why wouldn't he be upset?

Nancy has Ned break into her house and steal something that belonged to her mother.  Carson catches Ned and is furious with both Ned and Nancy.  This is understandable.  I also found the resulting confrontation quite funny, to be honest.

The Nancy Drew games are not classic Nancy Drew.  They are modern computer games, designed for current young people.  They are quite true to classic Nancy Drew in overall feel and spirit.  The games have always taken liberty with some details.

In fact, the games became more interesting once they strayed from the books.  All of the early games are strictly based on Nancy Drew books, so anyone who has read the corresponding book knows who the culprit is from the beginning.  Since the newer games use original stories, the player never knows for sure who the culprit will be until the final reveal.

We should also not forget that the first two Nancy Drew games were based on Nancy Drew Files books, Secrets Can Kill and Stay Tuned for Danger.  The games were never purely classic Nancy Drew.

When one is a fan of a fictional character, one has to remember that the character will modernize and change as new releases occur.  If any change is unacceptable, then avoid the new product.

While nothing I heard about the game upset or offended me, I admit that I was wary.  I wasn't sure how well the story with Kate Drew would come across and whether I wanted that type of story in a Nancy Drew game.

After my initial discomfort, which only lasted for the first few minutes of the game, I was fully engrossed in the game and found the storyline to be quite interesting.  The flashback scenes with Kate are touching.  Nancy has a personal interest in taking out the terrorist group, which makes this game the most compelling of all the Nancy Drew games.

This game is scarier than the average Nancy Drew game.  The villain is sinister.  The threats against Nancy are scary.

The Nancy Drew games are many times more interesting than anything that has come out of Simon and Schuster in the Nancy Drew line during the past 10 years.  Sadly, the current and recent Nancy Drew books are, for the most part, not very well-written and not very interesting.  I haven't even purchased the most recent Nancy Drew Diaries book.  I most likely will purchase the book within the next week, but I am not eagerly anticipating reading it.  I am not sure that I care.

On the other hand, I look forward to each new Nancy Drew game.  I devour each game as soon as I receive it and then must wait months for the next game.  The two best Nancy Drew releases during each calendar year are the two Her Interactive Nancy Drew games.  The books... meh.

Of the first 28 Nancy Drew games, Shadow at the Water's Edge is my favorite, mainly because of the great storyline and extended dialogue with the different characters.  The Silent Spy is the 29th Nancy Drew game and is easily as good as Shadow at the Water's Edge, if not better.  The Silent Spy is one of the very best Nancy Drew games.  I highly recommend it.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Nancy Drew #85 Shady Glen, #86 Misty Canyon, and #87 Rising Stars

In Nancy Drew #85, The Secret of Shady Glen, Nancy helps Joanna Williams search for a hidden treasure in gold that was bequeathed to her. Joanna has half of a map that shows underground passages leading from her house to other locations, including a cemetery.  As Nancy works on the case, three teenagers harass her whenever they see her near the Shady Glen cemetery, which they call their turf.

This mystery is a throwback to earlier mysteries, with many of those characteristics.  The girls investigate a locked building in the woods as well as underground secret passageways.  At the end of the story, Nancy, Bess, and George each receive a valuable keepsake from Joanna.

The Secret of Shady Glen is an excellent story.

In Nancy Drew #86, The Mystery of Misty Canyon, Nancy, Bess, and George vacation at Calloway Dude Ranch in Montana.  The ranch is run by Tammy Calloway, who took over after her father died.  Tammy has a large bank loan and is in danger of losing the ranch.  She depends upon the income generated by selling the offspring of Renegade, a black stallion who is impossible to ride.  Renegade's twin, Twister, will be ridden by Tammy in an upcoming rodeo which has a big prize.  Tammy hopes to win the rodeo in order to get herself out of debt.

Renegade disappears soon after Nancy's arrival on the ranch, and Twister begins acting strange.  Nancy suspects that someone is trying to sabotage the ranch.

This book marks the beginning of a sequence of books in which one or more people are hostile towards Nancy, resenting her investigation.  The people who are hostile are not necessarily villains but usually people who see a teenage sleuth as an obnoxious nuisance.

This story is similar to several past Nancy Drew books, most notably The Sky Phantom, since a valuable horse is missing.  The missing horse situation is handled much better than in The Sky Phantom, since the reader is given time to care about the horse before the horse disappears.

The Mystery of Misty Canyon is The Sky Phantom done ten times better.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

In Nancy Drew #87, The Case of the Rising Stars, Nancy, Bess, and George attend a mystery convention in Chicago.  Two stars that are scheduled to appear at the convention, Will Leonard and Sally Belmont, are abducted.  Nancy investigates when the hotel security chief refuses because he believes the abduction is a prank that is part of the convention.

The Danner and Bishop department store from The Joker's Revenge is mentioned in this book.  Also, Nancy meets an author who is friends with Monica Crown from The Case of the Disappearing Diamonds.

I was quite interested at the mention of a "compact computer" which would have to be an early version of a laptop.  This book was published in February 1989, and quite honestly, I have no memory of laptops going back that far.  I checked Google for information on the history of laptops and found that some early compact computers that were very heavy and did not look anything like laptops were created as far as as around 1980.  They did not last long.

The genesis of the modern laptop was in around 1988 and 1989, and the photos I found show very archaic looking laptops.  The mention of a "compact computer" in this book occurred right about the time they first came into existence.  Here are some links to pictures of a couple of them.

1989 NEC UltraLite
1990 Compaq SLT/286

On page 91, Nancy, Bess, and George are taken for a wild cab ride by the villain, who places a concrete block on the accelerator, then jumps out of the vehicle.  The cab accelerates to 90 mph, exits the freeway, and barrels down a main road.  Nancy gets the block removed and brakes the vehicle, throwing it into a skid where it ends up jumping the curb.  What I find odd is that after the girls exit the vehicle, Nancy remarks, "We'll call the police later and tell them about the cab."  She says that they need to focus on who tried to kill them.  The girls walk off, leaving the cab.

I am thinking about how dozens of people witnessed the end of the cab ride and didn't know what happened.  The girls didn't stick around to explain.  What if someone else had decided to call the police, telling them about the crazy teenage girls who stole a cab and went for a wild ride? 

I wanted to roll my eyes at many of the events that occur very early in the book, but as I continued reading, I really got into the story. This is a very enjoyable book.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Nancy Drew #82 Camera, #83 Vanishing Veil, and #84 Joker's Revenge

In Nancy Drew #82, The Clue in the Camera, Nancy, George, and Hannah visit Hannah's old friend, Emily Foxworth, in San Francisco.  Emily is a famous photojournalist.  Very early in the book, Nancy places a roll of film from Emily's camera in her pocket.  From around this point on, the villains search Emily's apartment for something and even abduct Emily.

Perhaps because I had read this book before, I knew that the roll of film was the object of the villains' search.  I was annoyed that nothing more was said of the roll of film until Nancy finds it in her pocket on page 74.  While Nancy could easily forget about the film, I could not enjoy reading the book because I never forgot about it.

On the page when Nancy finally finds the film in the pocket, I ended up quitting the book and reading something else, because the last book in a trilogy had just been released.  That threw me off, and I proceeded to read some other books to refresh my memory in advance of two upcoming releases in late October.

After I read those books, I tried to resume reading The Clue in the Camera, but I found that I did not care at all.  The story in this book reminds me of some of the Wanderer books, and I did not enjoy most of those books.  Since this was a big problem which would cause me not to be able to continue, I abandoned the book on page 74. 

In Nancy Drew #83, The Case of the Vanishing Veil, Nancy, Bess, and George attend a wedding in Boston.  The bride's wedding veil is stolen just before the wedding, and Nancy offers to investigate the theft.

While I enjoyed The Case of the Vanishing Veil, I did not find it to be that memorable of a story and have nothing much to say except that the softcover book that I was reading self-destructed as I read it.  First, the binding split.  As I progressed towards the end of the book, pages began coming loose.  I believe that this was the first time a book fell apart while I was reading it.

In Nancy Drew #84, The Joker's Revenge, Nancy investigates a string of accidents that occur at the Danner and Bishop department store in Chicago.  I really enjoyed this book.  The story reminds me of the Connie Blair story, The Clue in Blue, which is also set in a department store.  The solution to The Joker's Revenge is similar to The Clue in Blue, since in both books, the culprit or culprits work for the department store.

This book makes a point of mentioning that one woman is black.  Simon and Schuster had begun to make the books more racially diverse.

In The Joker's Revenge, many people are suspects, and the reader is kept guessing at who is responsible. The book reminds me of a Nancy Drew game and would make for an excellent game.  The villain leaves behind joker cards at the scene of each accident.  I can imagine finding the cards while playing a game as Nancy Drew.  The store is a small setting, perfect for a game.

I greatly enjoyed this book right up until the climax.  Nancy grabs the skid of a helicopter as it takes off from the top of a building.  As the helicopter climbs higher, Nancy pulls her leg up onto the skid and then finds a place to hold on underneath the helicopter.  The helicopter flies through the city to the river while Nancy hangs on.  As the helicopter lands on a boat in the river, Nancy drops into the cold water, where she treads water, then climbs onto the boat, where she saves the day.  This sequence of events is impossible to believe, and I wish that it had been written differently.  If this part had been different, I would consider The Joker's Revenge to be the perfect book. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Series Book Questions Summer 2013

I was asked how many chapters two different Nancy Drew books have.  The first question was for this book, which is Nancy Drew #19, The Quest of the Missing Map, with a copyright date of 1969.  I find that most buyers haphazardly try to determine whether Nancy Drew books have the original text, not aware that in most cases, the outside of the book reveals which text the book has.  This book must have the revised text, since this particular cover art was only issued on the revised text.

I have put together a page that details which text a Nancy Drew picture cover book must have based on the cover art.

Nancy Drew #1-56 Picture Cover Gallery

The same prospective buyer also asked me how many chapters this book has, which is Nancy Drew #39, The Clue of the Dancing Puppet.  Nancy Drew #35 and up were never issued with 25 chapter texts.  The books had 20 chapter texts in the first printing, so all books have the original 20 chapter text.


Someone told me that they received books from me that they didn't order and that they didn't want.  They asked if it was a scam.  I was given no other information, and the person did not give his name.  I replied with the following:
You are going to have to give me more information.

1. Did you place an order from me?

2. If so, what did you order and when did you order it?

3. Exactly what did you receive? Please give me the titles of the books that were inside the package.

I need this information because I have no idea from your message who you are, where you are, or what you might have received.

Once I receive answers, I can help.
I received a response the next day stating that the problem had been resolved but without explaining.  This time the message was signed.  The name seemed somewhat familiar, so I believe that I did mail this person a package.  I sometimes receive orders for which the buyer has me ship the books to a different person in another state, perhaps as a gift.  I suspect that this person had received one of those packages.  If you ever buy something online for someone else as a present, you might want to let the recipient know that they will be receiving a package.


I usually don't publish direct quotes from private messages, but I must make an exception in this case.  The title of the message was "Like your books very much."  The message read:
Dear Mr or madam
i am Effie from China,we saw your website and found your books are all interesting
we are a printing company ,specilize in printing all kinds of books,if ok,we hope to print books for u and publicize your books in China
So apparently, this person is offering to print copies of all of the books I have in my booth and then publicize them in China.  I guess the Chinese are clamoring for reprints of juvenile series books.  Seriously, the message is ridiculous.  I do not have the rights to the books I sell, so I am the last person to approach to run a scam like this one.  Most likely, if I were to contact this person, she would tell me that I need to advance her a large sum of money for the printing of the books.  I would probably have to send the money via Western Union, and then I would never hear back.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

People Who Want to Sell Me Books #2

Last year, I wrote about how people who want to sell me books are often very concerned about what will happen to the books.  Recently, someone contacted me wanting to sell a complete set of Beverly Gray books including the reprint of Beverly Gray at the World's Fair.  This sounded promising, so I asked for pictures and a price.

The woman told me that the books had belonged to her mother and that she would try to get a picture taken.  She wanted $300 for the books, but she stipulated that I must sell the books as a complete set and that the buyer would then have the right to decide whether to break up the set.  That request was a deal-breaker.

I cannot promise to sell a set of books as a set.  Most buyers already have some of the books and are locked into purchasing them individually.  Complete sets of books are much harder to sell, especially these days.  I am not certain whether I could sell a complete set of Beverly Gray books for as much as $300 and not have the books up for sale for years.  If I were to sell the books individually, I would do fine, but not as a set.  This is all assuming that a decent number of the books had dust jackets and were in pretty good shape.  I never did see a picture of the books, so I have no idea what was offered.

I am not sure why it matters whether I break up a set or whether the person who purchases the books from me breaks up the set.  The set would get broken up either way.  I know from personal experience that most complete sets of series books that are sold on the internet go to people who are buying to resell.  Selling a group of books as a set will most likely result in someone reselling the books individually.  Why does it matter if I do that or if my buyer does that?  The likely answer is because if I keep the books as a set then at least a slight chance exists that my buyer will keep the books as a set.

When a prospective seller of books makes a stipulation about what will happen to the books, it is clear that the seller still has an attachment to the books and should not be selling them.  The only way to make certain that a set of books is not broken up is not to sell them.

Another prospective seller of books contacted me, stating that she had 10 boxes of series books that had been donated to the library.  She stated that they don't normally sell to dealers but that she was making an exception.  This was fine with me, but we had a big problem.  The 10 boxes of books were in Colorado, and I am in Oklahoma.  She wanted me to come look at the books and choose which ones I wanted.  The distance was too far away for me to consider checking the books, especially since I wasn't going to see photos ahead of time.

I am quite puzzled about why a library would contact someone in a different state and offer to sell the books to that person.  Why not just sell the books at the local library sale?  I wouldn't be happy if I lived in that community, collected series books, and my local sale was offering up the good books to people from outside the state.  The whole thing is strange.