Divergent by Veronica Roth introduces us to a dystopian Chicago. We meet Beatrice Prior, who is in the faction of Abnegation. There are five factions in this new world, and each is dedicated to a particular virtue.
The faction of Abnegation is dedicated to selflessness. Candor is dedicated to honesty. Erudite values the virtue of honesty. Amity is dedicated to happiness and peace. The Dauntless faction is dedicated to bravery.
Having been raised in the Abnegation faction, it is almost a forgone conclusion that Beatrice, the later self appointed Tris, will follow in her family’s path. But Tris is not selfless, she is selfish. It does not occur to her to do the things that come naturally for those who are really selfless. VR shows us numerous examples of Tris and how she is lacking in the utter necessity of losing oneself to best help others, and true Abnegation people.
When kids of this new world turn sixteen, they take aptitude tests to show where there strengths are. We find out that Tris is Divergent, meaning, among other things, that she is capable of picking almost any faction. Although her results allow her three top choices. She rules one out immediately, and is agonized over her other two options. She makes her choice and knows that ultimately, she did the right thing and is where she belongs. With the Dauntless.
After the Choosing Ceremony, everyone becomes initiates, and they go to their new factions and begin their initiation. Initiation is just what you’d think it is. You go through stages of tests, each tailored to the faction you’ve chosen. Some don’t survive or pass the tests, and they go live with the factionless, those who have no families, no community.
There are quite a few brutal scenes throughout Tris’s initiation, but she puts her mind to it, and does very well. She survived where a lot of transfer initiates and Dauntless-born initiates have failed.
I’ve been hearing a lot of comparisons between VR’s Divergent and Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games. And I see why. The future, changed, is infeasible and inconceivable to us. How could our world have come to that? Things that no one would do now, are done habitually in these future, dystopian worlds, without seeming to think twice about it. Divergent is somehow more imaginable, more believable, and at the same incomprehensible, how our world turned out.
This book, more than The Hunger Games, (although I absolutely LOVED that book,) made me think. In THG, any and all choices were basically taken away. The way the districts live is incomprehensible to me. Sure, I feel the same about the factions, I couldn’t imagine that way of life either, but they had more choices, more options. It seemed more like a strict community to me. They can decide where they will go and what they will do with the rest of their lives. They have lives to live.
Maybe this is where some people were lost. Since the people living in this dystopian world had choices, had more options, and basically picked their futures, maybe it isn’t so dystopian. And maybe that’s correct, in a way. I’ll profess I haven’t read oodles of dystopian novels in my life. But I think this story is more believable, more credible, because you can sit there, holding the book in your hands, and imagine this world, see yourself in it. At least, I could.
I really enjoyed Tris’s journey throughout this book. In most books, especially series books, you don’t see a lot of character development. But there are a lot of points throughout this book where you see Tris struggle with making a decision or taking action. Once she has decided and acts, you see her mature. The Tris that you meet on the first page is not the Tris you see on the last page, and she’s so much greater for it.
This book is amazing in that it makes you think. You read about all these initiation trials, all these things Tris must do now, and the book is written in such a way, that you naturally put yourself in Tris’s shoes. You feel like you’re there, or you’re her, and these are your choices to make too. What I’m trying to say is that while reading this book, I automatically asked myself if I would do what she was doing, make the same choices, decisions. It was just natural.
There wasn’t a lot of background on Tris’s early years, but it works that way. You can imagine quite well with the descriptions you have been giving. If that’s not enough, then you have to think, this is a female who grew up in the faction of Abnegation. She spent her childhood learning how to be selfless, and doing selfless things.
One thing that did bother me was the lack of information and background concerning how the world got to that point. War was mentioned, but we don’t know what war, there isn’t even a mere mention of how much time has passed. We don’t know if the world has fallen apart like this beyond Chicago. Nothing else is mentioned.
I am very happy with the romance in this book. It is sweet and believable, and very real. They are both straightforward people, so there isn’t any secrets or cloak-and-dagger type stuff. And there is no love triangle in this book! YAY! YAY!!
It is my opinion that maybe the author did this because for Tris to handle what is going on, and what is sure to come, while dating two boys sort of defies belief. And then you have to remember that Tris comes from Abnegation, where there isn’t a lot of touch, she’s never been kissed and holding hands is foreign and weird for her. But as some people have pointed out, this is the first book in a trilogy, so who really knows?
Veronica Roth is a debut author, so I can’t pimp some of her books out to you, but read this book. If you enjoyed The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, certainly read this book. And if you haven’t, get to it now! (You can read my review of it HERE.)I don’t make this comparison lightly, because firstly I worship that book, but this is book has also been different. It is tamer in a way, not as much violence. And it seems to focus more on people, and decisions and actions, as opposed to consequences of war and brutality. So if you haven't read it, or even heard of it, I recommend it. This series is titled 'Divergent' and so far it is a trilogy, with the next book being Insurgent and the third is as of yet untitled. They have tentative to-be-published dates of April 28th 2012 and 2013, respectively.
Sex, Lies and Online Dating by Rachel Gibson follows a mystery writer, Lucy Rothschild, through her latest novel, dead.com and the research for said novel. Lucy enjoys her life, researching and writing her books, snuggling with her twenty pound cat, Mr. Snookums a.k.a Snooke (if anyone watches Jersey Shore; he he), and hanging out with her other writer friends. Only this time, her ‘fiction’ novel turns decidedly ‘nonfiction’ when a wack job decides to bring her novel to life.
Quinn McIntyre is an undercover cop trying to find the murderer before he/she/it/they (don’t wanna give too much away) commit another murder. He’s had his own hard life, and lives for his job. But Lucy isn’t making it easy on him, especially since she’s the prime suspect and all Quinn can think of is how beautiful she is and how amazing she’d be in bed. Bad cop, no cookie!
This isn’t the first book I’ve read by Rachel Gibson, and it’s not the first book I’ve read in this series, Writer Friends. But I was disappointed by the “mystery” aspect of it. I thought I figured out who the killer was in the first sixty pages, and my belief was reinforced not forty pages later. Then we completely ignore the killer, besides the creepy letters we get, until the last ten pages. The killer wasn’t, in fact, who I thought it was, but the tradeoff was so quick and so without basis that it felt severely anticlimactic. The only thing I can think of is when Batiatus (from Spartacus: Blood and Sand) says to his wife Lucretia “not all ventures end in climax” and she says “a fact known well to many women.” Well known indeed!
The romance aspect varied for me. The sex was always great, and towards the end I was satisfied with their love, but in the beginning I just didn’t feel like it was there. I also don’t feel that RC gave us much in the buildup of the romance. One minute there’s no love, and the next there is, and you’re kind of left thinking uhh, where did you come from? But how well written it is in the end sort of makes up for it.
If you have never read Rachel Gibson, I wouldn’t start with this book. Although it is the first book in the series Writer Friends, there is no need to read them in order. The only issue is that all the characters are mentioned throughout all the stories, so something may be mentioned that you hadn’t yet read from a particular book. RB really is a good writer, and her stories are normally amusing, entertaining and a bit heartwarming. I’d recommend True Love and Other Disasters, which is by far my favorite book from her, although it’s the fourth installment in the Chinooks Hockey Team series. The first is Simply Irresistible.