Tris has to come to terms with killing a friend, and losing her parents, while trying to form and keep new alliances with The Factions (and FactionlesTris has to come to terms with killing a friend, and losing her parents, while trying to form and keep new alliances with The Factions (and Factionless). But nothing is black and white anymore…
I checked back, and it’s been two years since I read Divergent – high time I read Book Two, I thought, and I had some summer time reading space and went for it.
Despite the gap between the stories, I didn’t feel lost as to what was going on in this book. It’s almost self-contained, with enough back-story reminders to keep you on track. There’s a nice sequel hook at the end so you come back for Book Three to see how it all works out.
Roth sketches her world in rough outlines, with shades of grey and rain the predominant colours and weather, but despite that, you get a solid sense of place and are very grounded in this world and its characters.
I commented in the first book there didn’t seem to be much chemistry between Tris and her instructor, Tobias (now her lover). This time it seems more developed and the relationship more concrete. There seems to be more of a need for each other now.
Roth doesn’t hang about in this book. Her pacing is relentless; there aren’t many pages where the characters aren’t moving forwards to the next event. Tris is shifting locations constantly in this book, from Amity orchards to Candor confusing corridors. The pacing is almost too fast, and sometimes the action blurs into one.
Tris also changes alliances as her whims take her. I’m not sure I would Tris with my back in a fire-fight: She might decide the people we were supposed to be fighting have a better deal for her. It does make her character and the dynamics of her relationships more interesting though. Tris is a woman in conflict, with everyone around her and herself.
I will be coming back for Book Three…maybe in another two years....more
I picked this one up cold from a vibe from Goodreads. Quite a few people seemed to be talking about it and making it book of the mon* Minor spoilers *
I picked this one up cold from a vibe from Goodreads. Quite a few people seemed to be talking about it and making it book of the month. Having read the 500 pages in under a weekend, I can see why.
The story is set in a crumbling Chicago of the future, some time after an unspecified war. Society has rebuilt itself along tribal lines: Abnegation, selfless charity workers, Amity, friends to everyone, Candor, who never lie, and Dauntless, the closest to the military. Everyone belongs to one clan, above all other sentiments, even to their family.
When Beatrice Prior, an Abnegation, is tested to see which clan she should take for the rest of her life, she's stunned to discover she's 'Divergent', having attributes of more than one clan. Told to hide her test results, she chooses the hard and brutal life of a Dauntless, fearless and militaristic. I was expecting her to announce she was Divergent at the start of the book, but it didn't turn out like that.
The book follows her training and selection, and at times is brutal and honest in its description of the violent life the Dauntless lead, though never to the detriment of the story, or simply for gore.
There's also a romance between Beatrice and her instructor, an understated sub-plot that becomes more important at the end of the book. That was only part that felt flat for me - there didn't seem to be much chemistry between them.
The characters are all drawn well, each has their own personalities, weaknesses and strengths. Only the villains Peter and Molly seemed a little cartoonish, but that didn't stop them from being brutally efficient at removing the competition.
Every page of this book has something going on. Either Beatrice is being tested, is falling in love, is trying to discover what it means to be 'Divergent' and why she should hide it, or is trying to stop war breaking out.
There isn't a space wasted, and the pace of the book doesn't slow at all. I rocketed through it, stuck to every page.
**spoiler alert** Cassie and the remains of humanity live on an immense space station, taken from earth when environmental disaster wipes out the popu**spoiler alert** Cassie and the remains of humanity live on an immense space station, taken from earth when environmental disaster wipes out the population.
At least that what she's always been told...with the help of her friend (and then boyfriend) Balik, Cassie explores the dark secret behind Space Station Hope, a revelation that eventually leads her fleeing for her life.
Although the book was a little slow to get started, I didn't feel like I wanted to put it down at any point. Mel C-J created a believable world, and one which kept me guessing right up to the last chapter.
Some theories I was flicking through as I was reading included Nineteen-Eighty-Four, Logan's Run, Soylent Green...Was it even a space station, I wondered? All of these theories were way off the mark, and close to the end, I wondered if Cassie's parents were androids, and all of what was happening was benign. Wrong again!
The idea of a space station run by aliens so they can harvest human DNA was done with subtle hints and misdirection. At no point did I guess that was what was happening on the station.
In some places, the editing was a little rushed, and because of that, some of the nice ideas in the book slipped past me. I was too busy trying to figure out the sentence to concentrate on the story. Mel C-J did seem to need more commas so I could get a sense of what's going on.
That was particularly bad near the end of the book, when Cassie's father showed up. I think the scenes with him could have been cleaned up quite a bit. I also think a bit more world building to establish the scale of the space station would have helped, and I would have liked to have seen more of the guts of the place, as it were.
I liked all the characters in the book, even breathless Ami and Olivia, who shows her humanity later in the book despite her superficial appearance and personality. Everyone was well rounded and nicely developed. I even felt empathy for the aliens, forced to harvest humans to survive.
In the end, I'd give it 4/5, mainly dropping the star for the grammar errors that needed fixing. But I'm hooked enough to start looking for the sequel! ...more
Lochan and Maya have been abandoned. Left to care for their three siblings by a drunken mother who's out chasing men, a father on the other side of thLochan and Maya have been abandoned. Left to care for their three siblings by a drunken mother who's out chasing men, a father on the other side of the planet, all they have is themselves.
Locan suffers from social anxiety and Maya has never had a boyfriend; they see themselves more as partners than brother and sister, they always have…and so they fall in love, physically and emotionally.
I think incest is the last taboo subject to be covered by YA (although my wife said Flowers in the Attic did it in the 70s - I haven't read it.) I've read books about suicide, rape, pregnancy, sexual preferences…there's really nothing YA can't cover anymore. Fantastic time to be reading it!
The book splits points of view between Lochan and Maya, and it was Lochan I immediately connected to. Not because of the incest angle, but because of his social anxiety. I suffered through it as a teen, and still do to some extent 30 years later. Not as bad as Lochan – no panic attacks, thankfully – but I was right back there with him, eating outside on a cold day because of the terror of being around other people. Suzuma has nailed SA, and nailed it right down to the last detail. When a teacher shows him a sliver of compassion, I nearly cried as he did.
As a result, I didn't connect with Maya as much – almost not at all, actually. I found her to be two dimensional, but I suspect it was because Lochan was very real to me and not through any fault of the writing, which is flawless.
Suzuma draws a world full of details and life. Every character comes alive – Tiffin's love of football, Willa's anxieties, Kit's teenage rebellion. This is a family full of very real characters, and the world building is superb for its little details. One complaint: She's fallen in love with the word puce.
Now I suppose the reason the book was written: The incest angle. Apparently, even consensual incest is illegal in the UK - didn't know that.
For me, the least interesting thing about this relationship is that it's between a brother and a sister. All I see is two people in love. Who they choose to love is entirely up to them.
Lochan and Maya have no illusions that what they're doing is going to end well (and indeed it doesn't), and they admit they might grow apart and find other people to love. They know biologically they can never have children. They don't care. What they have is each other, right now and their love is passionate, deep and very real. Also very physical, something Suzuma pushes the edges of with her intense descriptions of their intimacy.
When someone asked me what this book was about and I told them incest, they went, ewwwww. This is from someone with a very liberal mind. I thought that was interesting. It really is an ingrained taboo.
My thoughts on it: Who are we to impose our morality on them? Society says they can't love each other. Society also once said that a man can't love another man, or a woman love another woman, or even marry a woman with a different colour skin.