Novella Mini Reviews

The Transfer (Divergent 0.1) by Veronica Roth

thetransferThe Transfer is Four’s story from right before the Choosing Ceremony, during, and immediately after, and how his decision to choose Dauntless came about. It was interesting and it was nice to have a little more of his backstory. It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re a fan of Divergent.

The First Star to Fall (For Darkness Shows the Stars 1.5) by Diana Peterfreund

The First Star to Fall is the story of how Persis became The Wild Poppy, and it was also interesting. It was a much more substantial story than the other companion novella Peterfreund wrote for this world, and I felt like there was some good additional insight into some secondary characters. I missed Justen though. I think this one could be read before or after Across A Star-Swept Sea.

Hook, Line and Sinker (Deep Haven 4.5) by Susan May Warren

hooklineandsinkerHook, Line and Sinker is a companion novella set at Deep Haven, a setting used in some of Warren’s other works. This is a standalone, however, in the sense that these are new characters with their own story complete within the novella, and you do not really have to be familiar with the other Deep Haven stories, as I was not. There is a nice note from the author at the beginning that sets the stage for the essentials. I simply read this while looking for quick filler between books.

This is a Christian book, and it references several “Christian-ese” concepts that will most likely not resonate with those who are not Christians. I love really well-written Christian fiction, but the writing in this novella was unfortunately mostly lacking. I did like the main characters, college undergrad student Ross and graduate student Abigail, but I wanted to scream at both of them about how stupid they were sometimes!

Every single time Ross looked at Abigail he was thinking about how gorgeous she was and he loved her and he hated himself for hurting her and on and on. And every single time Abigail looked at Ross she talked about handsome he was and how much everyone loved him and so did she but she wouldn’t tell him because he hurt her and on and on and on. It got a bit tiring, and those precious words could have been used for better story development overall, so I wouldn’t be left confused many times by leaps in time and lack of details.

The characters were also often insecure and self-deprecating, viewing the one they loved as being so much better than them, and kept bemoaning that God could never use a mess like them, and how their future together could never happen, and yet they would never pray about these things! OK, I guess I can be guilty of similar things but sheesh, it got old quick. Had the book been longer, maybe there could have been more development and things happening in between that would have made all these moments more bearable and relatable.

Overall, I liked the general story and the characters, and their backstory was particularly interesting (though the fact that Abigail loved Ross for so many years when he was three years younger than her is mildly creepy at some stages of their lives) and O felt it had a lot of potential that better pacing and better writing could have made into a really great story. It was fun and I did enjoy it, though I kept thinking of ways it could have been improved.

The Island by Jen Minkman

the-island-minkmanThe Island is a self-published, dytopian novella that features a society based on a kid’s journal about Star Wars. That sentence is very important, because if you realize all this before you start reading the story, you’ll enjoy it more than if you go in blind. Also, Jen  Minkman is from Holland and writes her work in Dutch and then translates it to English, and I am genuinely impressed by that since I only recall one egregious grammatical/spelling error.  Though the concept of a society based on some kids’ ramblings about Star Wars may seem really silly, it is relatively believable the way it is portrayed in The Island, and it doesn’t really feel too silly.

The pacing of the story is almost perfect for a novella. Though the interest between Leia and Walt feels slightly rushed and forced, it’s more insta-attraction than insta-love, so it is acceptable. The last few chapters of the book also feel rushed, with everyone blindly believing what they have been told by outsiders and quickly accepting these new truths, ready and willing to change their society because of this. But in fairness, at least there was some slight dissension hinted at before all this unfolded. The narration felt extremely young, which I almost perceived as a negative, but at the same time that made Leia feel all the more like a real 16 year old.

I spent .99 plus tax on this novella and it took about two hours of my time to read, and for that, I say it was worthwhile. It didn’t blow my mind but it was interesting enough to entertain me when I had only one day left before Cress was set to arrive at my doorstep.

Have you read any of these novellas? What are your thoughts on them? Also, I’d love recommendations for other novellas, primarily standalones!