Friday, November 18, 2011

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Please note that this is posted for our Mock Printz discussion and will have spoilers and pertinent plot points discussed.

First review here.

On my second read the first thing I noticed is how well the author sets up all the major plot points in the book within the first few chapters. It is subtle and well integrated that I didn’t even realize that it was happening the first time I read, I was too busy being swept away by the story. We learn about the origins of Four, even though we don’t know enough to know what we’re learning. We learn about the factions and the stresses that are growing between them. We learn about the danger being a Divergent will bring, although not why or how or where.

I enjoyed the first person present tense. I enjoyed Tris’ perspective and her insecurities and feelings of inadequacies. Perhaps she picked up on things rather quickly and was rather tough for such a small person (but I’ve known some wicked mean-scary skinny people so…). I thought the characters were for the most part distinct and well developed, with there being enough building of the villains to keep them from being card-board cackling maniacs (except possibly Jeanine). And there was just the right amount of tension throughout the novel to keep you turning the pages.

Themes of friendship, morality, family (blood vs. faction were particularly strong), pride vs. bravery, forgiveness, and revenge ran through the novel.

Possible faults:

Tris’ romance with Four relied on some well-worn romantic tropes. He is distant, kindamaybe too perfect at everything he does, and has a mysterious past, is oh-so-strong and manages to come to the rescue at exactly the right time (ack!). And I would say that he has a secret soft side that only she sees (and then go barf), but I really think that we’re getting only Tris’ perspective and she only interacted with him as a trainer. However, when she saw him partying in public with his friends he was substantially different than in his role as trainer. Soooo, I bought that he was different in private. He was obviously different in public with his friends. I don’t know. I liked the romance regardless. I can’t help it.

The factions. Do they really make sense? I mean when you really think about them, does it make sense that people would organize themselves that way? I think the fact that they are crumbling doesn’t mean that their origins weren’t born out of noble aspirations. We know so little of what the cataclysmic event was that brought on this dystopian world (in my mind NOT a problem), that it is hard to know whether or not people would organize themselves this way. It seems to me we have a good idea of what their original purposes were and an even better idea of how far they have strayed from them. I don’t even mind that we don’t learn very much about 2 of the factions (Candor and Amity) since the sequel will have to be substantially different from this book and they could very well be explored there.

From the choosing ceremony on – the rate of healing was a little unbelievable. They cut their palms people and dribble blood – that hurts! And then you can't probably even pick up a pen. And I doubt it heals that fast. How deep did they cut it? Additionally, the beatings they took during Divergent initiation were brutal, yet they shuffled around and then sort of healed. And this is despite hospitalization... I dunno. It wasn't like it was over a period of months, it was at most two weeks.

The Simulations and the final test – the fear landscape. It seemed pretty clear that they weren’t directly connected. By that I mean, the simulations the initiates had when preparing for the final test, weren’t necessarily their fears. So why are Tris’ almost exactly the same as her practiced simulations? Four had four specific ones. They were directly related to his life. In real life he has a fear of heights. But birds pecking? The water tank? Peter burning her at the stake? In real life Tris does not have a fear of birds pecking her to death (etc.). At one point she wishes that she only had four fears to face, but she isn’t that brave. But. Um. Actually…no matter how you say it (powerless, weak, out of control) it is all basically the same thing. So if her one fear is powerlessness than how come she doesn’t just have one simulation? Why aren't more of hers related to her real life? Or is Tris just so damn bad-ass she really only has one fear?

And here is where my main problem comes. The very last simulation, where Tris sacrifices herself instead of shooting her family would have fairly screamed Divergent to the several leaders who were watching the whole freakin’ thing on a screen!

So, yeah, some potential issues. On the whole? I still loved it. I can't wait for the sequel.

Mock Printz Titles:

A Monster Calls - Patrick Ness
Between Shades of Gray - Ruta Sepetys
(Patti's review)
Berlin Boxing Club - Robert Sharenow
(Patti's 1st review)
Blood Red Road - Moira Young
(Patti's 1st review)
Daughter of Smoke and Bone - Laini Taylor
(Joanna's review)
Divergent - Veronica Roth
(Patti's 1st review)
Everybody Loves the Ants - A.S. King
(Patti's 1st review)
Flesh and Blood so Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Legacy - Albert Marrin
Imaginary Girls - Nova Ren Suma
Where Things Come Back - John Corey Whaley

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