FOUR, BY VERONICA ROTH (Story collection from Divergent)
DISCLAIMER: Contains spoilers for the Divergent series
Recommended by the creep on the internet who got offended when he heard of the challenge :/ He actually "recommended" the Divergent series, the Hunger Games and To Kill a Mockingbird. I will read To Kill a Mockingbird a bit later, but i had already read both the other series. I hadn't read these stories, though, so I thought it could count.
I should probably say by now that I'm not a big fan of this series. I support the concept of girl writing for girls about girls, and it not being the "typical" girl story, but these books seemed a bit sloppy to my taste. The turn of phrase and the choice of words seemed hurried, and the whole concept is... a stretch, to say the least. It requires A LOT of suspension of belief; if you even start thinking about how things happen, the whole thing comes apart. And there's that big anticlimax when you find out that being Divergent means nothing at all.
Synopsis: Four stories, from the point of view of Four, that tell a bit more about his past and are supposed to serve as a prequel to the main series.
Overall enjoyment: I did NOT like it. It wasn't just a waste of time, it ruined the good parts of the series. If you do read this before you read the books, then Four becomes the most important character and Tris is just his love interest. Actually, her death in the end of the third book would probably become a case of refrigeratoring. He's the one with a plan, the one who wants to help people, and she's just a silly girl getting into things she couldn't possibly understand.
Plot: Nothing that wasn't already in the books.
Characters: Again, nothing that wasn't already in the books. I do like her characterization, it's probably the best finished part of the series.
World/setting: The same as the books. It's one of the things I found sloppy, the second you start thinking why things are the way they are, the whole concept falls apart. But then, I suppose it was a good idea and there are many books written with much bigger flaws.
Writing style: It was actually better than the books. She takes a lot more care with her turn of phrase.
Representation: Nonexistent, just like in the rest of the series.
Political correctness: I'm so pissed off at this. This book is 280 pages long, and it manages to turn the whole thing upside down, making Four the true hero. Their relationship in the books was dangerously close to abusive at first, and one of the things I liked was that (at least as I remember it, I did read it a while ago) Tris calls him out on his abusive behavior and he apologizes and changes it. In light of these stories, though, he seems justified in his abuse, and she seems hysterical and selfish on complaining about it. This is so wrong.
I'll still read To Kill a Mockingbird, but I guess I've learned my lesson about taking recommendations from creeps on the internet...
Up next: Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel