There are few things I love more than a good argument. And if we’re arguing about books, then you’d better be prepared to go three rounds because I’m in it for the long haul. I happen to like all of these, but I’m more than happy to duke it out if you don’t. Go ahead – pick a fight.
1. Lord of the Rings | J.R.R. Tolkien
Have I read them? Yes. Did I forget most of what I read by the next page? Most definitely. Do I prefer the movies? Stop asking me questions. The polarizing nature of these books is mainly a rift between diehard Tolkien fans and, well, the rest of the world that is understandably daunted by books that are largely accepted as being overly descriptive and difficult to read, much less enjoy. I’m glad I read them (mainly for bragging rights), but getting through these books definitely has to come from a personal desire and not someone else’s wishes. I would do a lot of things for the people I love, but I’m not sure reading Tolkien would make the list.
2. We Were Liars | E. Lockhart
If you know anything about this book, you know it has a twist. Maybe you don’t know what it is, but you know it’s coming. And it’s a doozy. From what I’ve seen, people either love it or hate it. I liked it, though I personally wanted more specificity on the exact nature of the twist. My vagueness is purposeful for those who haven’t read it. If you want my spoilerific thoughts, my full review is here.
3. Allegiant | Veronica Roth
Spoiler alert for character deaths.
Despite the questionable stability of the movie-now-TV franchise, the Divergent books remain unscathed by drama and poor ticket sales, and Roth herself seems to be chugging along just fine, with Carve the Mark newly released and accompanied by a number of high-profile interviews. Opinions about the final installment of the Divergent books were contentious right out of the gate, with the scale tending to range from “wow that was kind of sad” to “HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME?!?!” Tris’s death…
…was unexpected, to say the least. Because so many people asked about it, Roth wrote a post about why she ended the series that way, and I think it appropriately articulates the theme of self-sacrifice across all three books.
In Divergent, Tris watches her parents die so she can live and continue to fight. In Insurgent, Tris attempts to replicate this by giving herself up to Erudite, but the sentiment isn’t the same. Nothing is gained by Tris giving herself up here; she’s acting recklessly with no thought to how it will affect the Divergent/Factionless movement she is so integral to. She realizes this when death is almost upon her, and thankfully it isn’t too late. In Allegiant, she has the chance to give herself up again and take Caleb’s place on the suicide mission to infiltrate the weapons lab, but this time her decision comes from the right place. The selflessness of Abnegation and bravery of Dauntless that she has always struggled to reconcile finally come together in an action of necessity, bravery, sacrifice and love. But it still really ticks people off.
4. Me Before You | JoJo Moyes
Spoiler alert in case the furor over the movie didn’t tell you what this book includes.
This one remains a perennial favorite of books clubs, and with good reason – the best book club selections aren’t necessarily the titles that everyone loves, but the ones that inspire the most discussion, and this one certainly fits the bill.The 2012 book garnered renewed publicity with the 2016 release of the movie, which featured an all-star cast that drew from Game of Thrones, Hunger Games and Downtown Abbey, to name a few. But behind Me Before You’s non-traditional romance lies a set of very questionable ethics, both medically and relationally. Will’s insistence on going through with assisted suicide doesn’t sit well with a variety of groups, including:
- The disabled community, for insinuating that life in a wheelchair isn’t a life worth living.
- The Christian community, for promoting selfish love instead of selfless love. This opinion may be shared by non-Christians, but that was the sector of my life that I heard it most prominently from.
- The medical community, for promoting assisted suicide. And before you get your pants in a wad, I know that not all doctors condone assisted suicide, and that it is portrayed legally in Me Before You. However, it is my opinion (shared by a surgeon that holds a masters in bioethics) that physicians are called to heal, not harm. Assisted suicide in Will’s circumstances is not the same as honoring a Do Not Resuscitate request or refusing treatment for terminal illnesses.
Wherever you fall on any of the arguments, it’s definitely a polarizing book that prompts deep discussion even among people who agree on the issues. One of my bookclub gals slapped this sucker with a 1-star GoodReads review. Gauntlet. Thrown.
5. Shatter Me | Tahereh Mafi
The Shatter Me series has one of the most unique writing styles I’ve ever seen. Protagonist Juliet mixes standard first-person narration with stream-of-consciousness sections that include crossed out thoughts as she struggles through her skittish, tormented mindset. If you can’t handle it from the get go, then I’d suggest jumping ship, because Mafi stays the course through all three books. Personally, I like them, but even I can admit that they are full of relational drama, raging hormones, and an extremely abrupt and laughable ending. But let’s face it – you don’t read these books for the action, you read them for the smoldering, overblown love triangle.
Do you love any of these? Hate them? What are your most argument-provoking reads? Let me know!