Liked this one quite a lot. Reminded me of Mike Mullin's Ashfall in the best possible way. I think Lynn and Darla (from Ashfall) would definitely getLiked this one quite a lot. Reminded me of Mike Mullin's Ashfall in the best possible way. I think Lynn and Darla (from Ashfall) would definitely get along - yay for capable and kickass teens....more
Many readers negatively refer to Willo's dialect. I think it was quite clear and helped to convey the disconnect between Willo and his fellow straggleMany readers negatively refer to Willo's dialect. I think it was quite clear and helped to convey the disconnect between Willo and his fellow stragglers and the general world. Assuming that Willo is "retarded" as some reviewers have is frankly very ignorant. Characters (and people in the real world!) who speak differently than we do are not necessarily unintelligent. Having said that, it seems unlikely that the use of grammar rules would have deteriorated to the level Willo displays after one generation outside of the main city.
Even more readers took issue with Willo's dog spirit guide. I frankly don't understand why people find it so confusing. The connections to religion were made especially explicit when Willo references Magda's words and his own ceremonies. Is it really surprising that a sensitive child divorced from any urban influences would invest the natural world with personalities and develop his own belief system? Wearing the skull is admittedly odd - but no more so than any religious raiment really. We're just used to the look of men in robes.
Outside of these issues, I did have a very hard time becoming engaged with the book. The first two-thirds were a slog for me, requiring dedication to make it through. However, things really picked up at the end and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the final parts....more
The main character had some strength of character and some physical strength, which is always appreciated. However, despite her "nano" advancements, sThe main character had some strength of character and some physical strength, which is always appreciated. However, despite her "nano" advancements, she very rarely actually gets a fight in. One would think that she'd have some wicked battle scenes, but no. Furthermore, her special skills aren't even that useful. Sure, the ocular eyes with infrared and night vision are cool, but her extra long razer fingernails are just kind of lame. She has to get too close to the zombies to kill them, in my opinion, putting her at risk for their retaliation or spurting fluids. Sometimes it seemed the author was more concerned with building set pieces than logic. This is especially obvious near the close, (view spoiler)[when our heroes make it to Disney World - and really, Disney World?!? - only to get on the Small World ride when Peyton "sees" a human heat signal. They literally board one of the boats. Why would you just use the boat to get onto the actual land part of the attraction and check it out rather than going for a bloody scenic cruise? And then - then! - the music bloody kicks on and the animatronics, because why not, and then her father pops out. Good heavens. It's not even that the author is making some sort of heavy handed point about it being a small world, either. Evidently someone, whether her or the editor, thought it would sound cool. (hide spoiler)] Overall, there are many other "end of the world" stories with stronger characters and action. And for a more kick ass zombie tale, try Rot & Ruin.["br"]>["br"]>...more
I was not entirely sold on Divergent. The premise seemed a little hackneyed, with the structured societal roles, main character’s inability to fit inI was not entirely sold on Divergent. The premise seemed a little hackneyed, with the structured societal roles, main character’s inability to fit in with the rest of the peer group, and inevitable discovery that the society has its flaws. These elements strongly echo Lois Lowry’s The Giver, which is tough competition for any dystopian story. The Giver is so well done that all other texts will suffer in comparison. Furthermore, Beatrice’s character is very much in the mould of Tally Youngblood from Scott Westerfield’s Uglies series. The focus on her appearance, careless adrenaline seeking, and even her newly chosen name of Tris all bring Tally to mind.
All of this concedes that Divergent is not going to win any major awards for plot or characterization innovations in YA dystopian literature. The field is obviously pretty crowded and becoming more so all the time. Nonetheless, I discovered that I was being too hard the first book in Veronica Roth’s trilogy.
Tris may be in the Tally mould, but she is a lot softer. Her desires for friendship, physical closeness, and sense of belonging are understandable and make it easy to become invested in her happiness. Tris’ anxiety about her identity and self-doubts are believable and her flaws and mistakes are made clear, not just to us, but to Tris herself, through conversations with other characters and her own ruminations.
Not that this story is all thinking and self-doubt. There is a lot of action, driven by the first-person present tense format, and it moves quickly from set piece to set piece. Concepts of bravery, selflessness, and jealousy are neatly parsed (sometimes a little heavy-handedly, but without becoming too clunky). The society rules themselves are rather far-fetched, but sometimes it's best not too look to closely at the set up. Especially when we might be learning a lot more in the next two novels.
And the romance! Inevitably, there must be romance in all YA dystopias. There has to be something to get everyone’s mind off how horrible things are in their world. And honestly this is a romance that is worthwhile and balanced – Tris and her eventual partner do form a true partnership, where they rely on and value each other. Some rescuing does occur, but it goes both ways – they are vulnerable to each other and strong for one another.
Of course, the real question – That’s all fine, but DOES IT MEASURE UP TO THE HUNGER GAMES? In terms of intricate plotting, I would be hesitant to agree. The Hunger Games is a lot more tightly plotted, but to be fair Roth still has two books to go, and it would say it is equally fast-paced and a page turner. Romance – I actually prefer Divergent’s male lead, and it’s nice to have the female lead know her own mind and heart in this area. And it is so refreshing to not have a love triangle! Characters – Tris is no single-minded Katniss, but does win out in terms of realism. A sixteen-year-old might actually act as she does. I doubt many of us could actually follow Katniss’ example. World building – Divergent takes place in a pretty broadly sketched world and unrealistic world, and the Big Bad is no match for the malefic President Snow, but I’m willing to let it slide. Tris’ awesomeness carried me through the (many!) questions I would have about how their society functions. In terms of my earlier issues about plot and characterization, well, sometimes formulas are that way for a reason: they work. Roth works inside the YA heroine and dystopia conventions and still produces a solidly entertaining and engrossing book.
Overall, my answer is YES. If you love The Hunger Games, try Divergent – it might ease the pain of knowing there are no more books to read. And if you like reading about tough decision, strong and capable heroines, questions of family loyalty and struggles against bureaucracy, give this winning YA novel a go.
And a quick word about the violence: if you have shied away from The Hunger Games due to the teens-killing-teens plot pivot, know that Divergent has a little less of that. Less of the hand-to-hand kind, anyway. These teens carry guns.
Very poetic language distances the character from the reader, and the lack of action will disappoint zombie fans looking for their usual thrills. FounVery poetic language distances the character from the reader, and the lack of action will disappoint zombie fans looking for their usual thrills. Found it hard to get into....more