When I first came across the dystopian book series, ‘The Hunger Games’ three years ago, I read all the three books in a span of four days. Needless to say, I loved all of them! The series sucked me in and I was stuck in that District for many days to come.
Since then, I have been on the lookout for another smashing dystopian book series, something to take my love for ‘Dystopian’ settings forward. When I discovered that there were literally uncountable books set in the dystopian world, I was overjoyed!
But alas! My joy kept dimming with every book series that I read. Or rather, unread. I began with the hugely recommended ‘Divergent’ series by Veronica Roth.
It was good, I do admit that. But it did not sustain that ‘good’. Somehow, I have realized that the first book in any dystopian book series is incredible, trapping the reader in its wake and leading them with great expectations towards the sequel. But something goes wrong there and there is a big resounding crash when you force yourself (yes, ‘force’ is the right word here) to read the final book in the trilogy. If that’s not enough, the author brings out novellas- to showcase the same events, or even new events, rather a prequel, from the point of view of other supporting characters. True fans of the series lap them up, excited to read new material.
Unfortunately, that will only happen for me, if Suzanne Collins, the author of the truly impeccable ‘Hunger Games’ series writes something new in Katniss Everdeen’s world.
Coming back to the ‘Divergent’ series, I really liked the first book. I picked up the second in the series, Insurgent, excited to dive back into Tris and Tobias’s world. But I did not like Insurgent, to say the least. However, I did want to find out how it all ends, as I admit here, I was kinda in love with Tobias. And I also had a tiny hope that Veronica Roth will steer the whole thing back to the ‘good’ stuff, bring the story back on the right path in the series finale, ‘Allegiant’.
I borrowed the book from one of my students (like I did the others) and I quote my student now, “Teacher, either you are going to bang your head or bang this book” – pointing at Allegiant – “right in the middle of your reading.”
I smiled. I expected no other outcome. I agreed with her, though instead of banging my head on the book, I let the book rest comfortably in the confines of my cupboard. Or skipped a huge number of pages when I really thought I was going to tear my hair out. Because the book was going nowhere! It was infuriating!
I did, however, reach the end somehow, dragging my eyes in the process and was happy when I finished the book. I was not happy with the book, just that I had finally completed the series. When I found out that there was a novella from Tobias’s point of view, I picked it up with dread. That book was good. But the series had lost its appeal for me.
I then read ‘The Maze Runner’ series by James Dashner.
It met the same fate. Excellent first book, bad second, I did not even attempt the third book. Instead, I read the summary of the final book online. I did not even feel like picking up the series prequel.
Next for me was ‘The Selection’ series by Kiera Cass.
Excellent first book! I moved to the second. But in the middle of it, I got bored. Yes, bored. So again, I read the entire summary of all the books online. I may still read the books sometime ahead. After a year-or-two, if I am facing a book drought, I will complete reading this series.
Then I came across the riveting ‘Matched’ by Ally Condie. I loved it so much that I didn’t read the next two books ‘Crossed’ and ‘Reached’, keeping them aside like treasures which were meant for special occasions.
But when I did read them, I was disappointed. I muddled through Crossed because it was confusing. And don’t even get me started on Reached. I gave up. I hate giving up books once I start reading them but this was torture. None of the central characters were even in one SINGLE place. All of them were doing their own thing. I could only take so much. I stopped reading. And wondered what went horribly wrong. I thought that there was something erroneous with me, giving them up. Right then, I found a review online which confirmed all of my doubts and agreed wholeheartedly with what I felt about the series. There! Relief! I was not alone.
After this, I took a lengthy pause in reading dystopian stuff. I went back to the trusted Romance books. I also turned to Mythology, reading Amish Tripathi’s ‘The Immortals of Meluha’ series. However, I couldn’t stomach the third book in this trilogy as well.
Then I chanced upon Marie Lu. Her ‘Legend’ was again an excellent first book. But then, I was expecting it to be excellent. First books, according to my observation, generally are incredible. Very carefully I began ‘Prodigy’, the second book in the series. And I loved it! Were there no flaws? No, there were flaws. But could I ignore them and move towards to the final book? Yes, I absolutely could!
Delighted, I began reading ‘Champion’, the last book in the gripping series which follows the tale of June Iparis and Daniel Altan Wing a.k.a Day through the Republic of America, a fast forwarded U.S.A. I loved Champion! I loved it so much that I am writing this article now. Finally, I found a really good dystopian book series after the indomitable ‘Hunger Games’.
Why did I love it? Why didn’t I give up or tear my hair out this time? Why did I have a bittersweet smile when I closed Champion? Why am I sure that I will reread Champion again in the future? Why do I want to see a movie series based on this fantastic book series?
All these questions will be answered in my next article where I will review the entire series, what I loved, what I didn’t (there isn’t much) and why I am finally open to reading dystopian novels again.
Marie Lu. Thank you! You are the true Champion here!