This series is such a great idea and shows such original creativity on the author's side. I really enjoyed reading all three parts and was also very cThis series is such a great idea and shows such original creativity on the author's side. I really enjoyed reading all three parts and was also very curious about what other people thought of this book. I am not surprised that the reviews are somewhat divided, covering the entire range of possible opinions. Even though i pretty much devoured this series within a week, i cannot get myself to rate any of the parts more than three stars. Interestingly, i rarely write long reviews. I do in this case, but mostly to express what i was missing in this book because i would have LOVED to give this five stars, or more.
Unlike other reviewers i am not too concerned with the idea that Divergent leaves a lot of questions unanswered. To me, if it's a series, it is OK for the plot and the world to reveal itself over time. So i am willing to be patient and let the story reveal itself to me over time. (But, please, reveal it to me!) I am also not concerned with Tris' death. Yes, it was sad, but it did feel like a reasonable development, albeit the author could have developed that idea further by adding more inner reflection and hence making this more digestible and comprehensible, maybe. More than anything, i am pondering whether my issues with the books are the result of this being YA fiction (and me not belonging to that target group anymore), and/or with the fact that this is written from the perspective of a 16 year old? Here is why i pose this question:
- On the one hand, it is great and fascinating that the series is written from Tris' perspective as it gives the book a somewhat refreshing and very active tone. On the other hand, this also limits the author in her ability to develop the world Tris lives in. There is just so much a 16-year old can share and convey about her world. What she does not know or reflect on, we won't read and learn about. What she learns at some later point, we will learn later, too. Tris is not very observant as a character, her inner dialogue is not very balanced or expansive. Also, there seems to be a definite pace to the entirety of events which does not seem to leave much time for inner reflection on Tris' part. (This is good for an active, quick plot, but misses chances for depth). Again, this all comes to no surprise because Tris is a 16 year old, typically self-centered, but this narrative setup does leave a lot of issues untouched which it would have been really interesting to explore. (This may be why i like the movies so far. The producers have spent so much effort in developing that world visually.)
- I was so surprised to find that Four's perspective was added in Allegiant. This added variety and freed the author from the limitation of only being able to describe action in which Tris is involved and allowed her to keep describing the world after Tris' death. But (1) i find the author was unable to develop Four's character fully. Several times i was flipping back through the pages to remind myself whose part i was currently reading - Four or Tris? It was just not apparent to me. (2) What was missing here was an explanation of WHY Four's perspective was suddenly added. I could see the strategic reason, but it was not weaved into the storyline. Also, could there have been other characters weaved in in earlier parts (maybe those who die) to add some perspective and allow for more holistic storytelling?
- The Divergent and Insurgent editions i read had additional materials at the back to support readers' engagement with the book and provide some author's notes. While a nice idea, i was honestly not too impressed with Roth's musings and personal notes. I read her as slightly arrogant and self-aggrandizing as if presenting this series to the world was her personal opportunistic ego booster. This is obviously a personal impression, i.e., my perception and what i felt. Maybe i am just not used to this type of author self-representation, or this is a common thing in the YA group, no idea.
Overall, i am departing with this series and a collection of thoughts on missed opportunities. I am still not clear whether this is a generational issue, or the result of this dystopia being told from the point of view of a 16-year old. Here are some of the MISSED OPPORTUNITIES i see:
- World setup: as far as i remember, the first time that a season was being mentioned was in Allegiant (by Four). In the previous books, I kept wondering where in the year this is being set up, and over how much time this story was stretching. There was just not too much description of the outer world within which this story was placed. This feeds right into the next issue.
- Extrapolation from today/When in the future? It never became clear to me when this story was placed. How many decades or centuries after our current time is it that Four and Tris meet? My main disappointment with this book is that it does not seem to extrapolate too much from what is going on today. This book read very quickly and swiftly, which is sweet, but it also remained pretty shallow eventually. So many opportunities for making this an epic extrapolation from our world today where not explored. I mean think about it: So much information is available to us nowadays, and to review it all requires incredible amounts of in-depth engagement and analysis. But yet this is so worthwhile because it would have allowed for this dystopia to become so credible, convincing, and engaging. For example:
** I was honestly surprised that there was no description of the climate. For the longest time i thought that Lake Michigan was dry as a consequence of prior global warming until i learned it had been drained for the experiment. Why were there no thoughts at all about what could have come of climate change and global warming in that future world? Is a realistic world of Four and Tris really going to be 'just fine' climate-wise with 'normal seasons,' etc.? This would have required some engagement with current science. A great example of how this can be done is 'The Swarm' by Frank Schätzing that was so incredibly scientifically enriched. (And don't tell me YA would not handle a little science.)
** The author goes into the idea of genetic engineering of humans. But never does she dive into the history of genetic modification. She could have boosted the credibility of her dystopian story by nesting the idea of genetic engineering within the history of genetic modification. We are doing it today, not (yet!) to humans but we do it to plants, fruit, veg to 'remedy the humanly perceived weaknesses of these natural organisms.' And, we are already making choices in the petri dish on which embryos to give a chance and which not. GMOs are a full on reality today, but the author never even goes there to develop a story of how humans moved from genetically modifying other organisms to modifying themselves. True, that would have required some engagement with the topic and maybe a little background research to achieve that. It seems, Roth did not think this would have been worth the effort. But give a read to Kingsolver's Flight Behavior to have an example of how fiction and science can beautifully interact. (And don't tell me YA would not handle a little science.)
** Humans and violence. This may be a personal issue given that my professional engagement is all about political violence. Since Pinker (2011) and Goldstein (2012) we have this new debate about global violence being in decline and the human race generally becoming more peaceful because, on average, supposedly, we see less and less lethal violence over the centuries. Roth's description of violence is so so shallow. Some images are being shown - in brief youtube fashion - and that's it. No psychological and/or historical engagement with violence -- at least -- in the 20th and 21st centuries AT ALL. Is this how we inform ourselves today? A little youtube clip is all we need to believe something to be true? (And don't tell me YA would not handle a little history and science.)
** Political/philosophical framework. Especially Allegiant was such a disappointment because an entirely new plot was introduced and a lot of action unfolded instead of delving deeper into the Chicago world and the experimental framework and process. It left so many questions unanswered and left out topics that could have been explored so much more deeply. There was an entire political system, the US government, that was mentioned but never described or engaged with. We learn that the new Chicago leader negotiated with the US government, but that's all. We lightly touch the issue of deciding whose memory to wipe and whose to keep, but we never go in too deep on it. So many missed opportunities in this one, i won't go into further detail.
I could go on and on. I left this book feeling that someone should rewrite this fixing all the issues that i had and i would LOVE to read that book. I mostly enjoyed learning the story of Tris and Four, so really this is mostly a love story for me and that kept me reading, with some background noise that unfortunately fell way too short.
It's such a bummer in my eyes because the idea of the dystopian world with human experiments that was suggested had so much potential, and was quite original as an idea, but the author kept too busy getting all that hardcore action done instead of selling that world to us. Roth alludes to Orwell's 1984, and J.K. Rowling's brilliance, and yes, J.K. Rowling IS brilliant, and 1984 IS a classic. But Roth does not get close, even if she would like to (and may present herself as if she did in the add-on materials). I am grateful that J.K. Rowling never wrote the Harry Potter series from Harry's self-narrating perspective. That's what allowed her to develop the magic of Harry's world to such a wonderful extent, and that's what made her series appealing to such a wide audience, way beyond the YA community, and therefore including me....more
Ich habe lang nicht mehr ein so schönes und so berührendes Buch gelesen. Stilvoll verwebt die Autorin die Vergangenheit der Protagonistin mit ihrer GeIch habe lang nicht mehr ein so schönes und so berührendes Buch gelesen. Stilvoll verwebt die Autorin die Vergangenheit der Protagonistin mit ihrer Gegenwart. Sie spinnt eine beeindruckende Lebensgeschichte, welche in der DDR beginnt und eines Tages aus New York reflektiert und erzählt wird. Besonders gefallen haben mir die Detailtreue und die Berücksichtigung historischer Fakten, mit denen das Leben der Protagonistin und ihrer Begleiter glaubhaft und greifbar in den Lauf der deutschen Geschichte eingebettet werden. Die Autorin baut gelungen Spannung auf und ihre Figuren gewinnen bald das Herz ihrer Leser. Eine Erzählung, die unter die Haut geht, vielleicht auch weil man sich den Charakteren historisch und seelisch sehr verbunden fühlen kann. Ein wahrer Lesegenuss. Einmal angefangen, konnte ich das Buch kaum noch weglegen und habe es an einem Seewochenende in der Uckermark regelrecht verschlungen. Jetzt bin ich neugierig auf weitere Werke der Autorin, bravo!, und dankbar für diese herrliche Sommerlektüre....more
Read this together with my partner and we both agree that this is a very useful book for couples. The argument is intuitive: to express our love for eRead this together with my partner and we both agree that this is a very useful book for couples. The argument is intuitive: to express our love for each other, we need to speak in the language each one of us understands. It was a revelation to us that individuals speak different languages when it comes to expressing and receiving love (words, quality time, gifts, acts of service, touch). We gained understanding for each other's differences which adds depth and intimacy to the relationship. Only drawback: the book presumes marriage and does not speak to committed couples who care equally about fulfillment and intimacy in their couplehood. It seems like Chapman presumes that people get married while the "in-love" phase is still on. However, i find that more couples nowadays wait past that period and get married later. The book is equally relevant to couples in committed relationships....more