Wednesday, 16 January 2013


Title: Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth

I picked this book up on the recommendation of a friend who mostly reads nonfiction and doesn't really read fiction nevertheless YA. A lot of my online book-loving friends have read and their reactions have been mixed. Many of them have not quite felt the book and felt it failed where Hunger Games succeeded. While I'm loathe to compare any two books in the same genre because I feel like each book should be judged on its own merits, I am going to have to disagree with my online book friends. Maybe it was the early diet of class dystopians like 1984, A Brave New World and Walden Two (this one is particularly creepy since its penned by non other than B.F. Skinner. If you want a trip to crazy town definitely check it out). The darker and harsher the world, the better it is to me. The dissatisfaction of not being able to overcome the evil over-lords in these books became an undercurrent for how  I judge modern dystopians. I am loathe to like books that don't make it difficult by exposing your O'briens. I wasn't happy with the Hunger Games until I learn district 13 was as fucked up as the President. One bad guy was simply not enough for me. So, while a lot of fans hate mockingjay, I love it for the very reasons they hate it--its dark undertones, the fighting, the rebellion and Gale turning dark. But, back to Divergent. It's like the first half of this book has this dark sort of improbable feel. The idea that you can choose your own faction is very nice, but you quickly learn that initation phase is horrible and if you fail you become part of the legions of have-nots or factionless. Tris inability to fit into one box--her natural divergence--is what makes her so compelling to me. She has an internal strength and she loves her family just as much, but her struggle is about her identity can be what causes her demise. The relationship with four unfurls slowly and is not something she runs from but in an odd way embraces. Neither Four nor Tris are afraid of love, but rather they need as the only good thing in a dark world. It's the darkness and Tris's desire to not show others her weakness and her desire to try to navigate the minefield of her identity that makes her so interesting. Who can she trust? Who knows she is divergent? Are their others like her? What does being divergent really mean and why are people so afraid of them? this book really brings to light the notion of conformity. The factions can be seen as a heightened version of high school cliques. Your losers--dauntless, your shy kids-abgenation, the nerd-erudite, the cool kids who tell it like it is-Candor, and the hippies-Amity all are a part of this landscape. If you take the politics out of the story you have a story of young people trying to figure out where they belong and finding a new home when where they feel they really belong. I am really excited to see where Tris and Four's adventures take them in the next book. It's definitely a must-read whether you like it as much as I did or you think it just isn't worthy of all the hype. My only complaint don't make it a movie. I hate when good books become movies. I like to live in my imagination. I don't want casting to ruin what I picture Tris and Four to look like.

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