This weekend, while I was supposed to be working on my take home final, I read Divergent by Veronica Roth and Delirium by Lauren Oliver. The take home final was brutal. The reading of dark, dystopian futures where everything’s pretty messed up was, on the other hand, delightful!
Author: Veronica Roth
Genre: Dystopia, Sci-fi
Days to read: One
Synopsis and Impressions:
People are trying to fix the world (as per usual) and someone brilliant came up with the idea that people should split themselves up into factions depending on what exactly it is they blame the world’s problems on. What an idea:
“Decades ago our ancestors realized that it is not political ideology, religious belief, race or nationalism that is to blame for a warring world. Rather, they determined that it was the fault of human personality – of humankind’s inclination toward evil, in whatever form that is. They divided into factions that sought to eradicate those qualities they believed responsible for the world’s disarray.”
Political ideology, religious belief, race, nationalism…these are all simply BIG topics upon which people upload their foibles (yes, I used that word). Everyone’s unique, and has a billion words they could use to describe their personality, but everyone also has an underlying inherent tendency in their character which is the filter through which everything else spills out. I’m not sure if the citizens of this future pick the factions they belong to by looking at their worst faults and wanting to improve them, or by looking at which faction already matches their existing personality, ‘cause obviously it’s harder to pick the faction you think you’ll least enjoy.
Anyway, check out the different factions (I’m sure you’ll agree that these are the main points of blame if and when you start thinking about blaming personality traits):
“Those who blamed aggression formed Amity.”
“Those who blamed ignorance became Erudite.”
Those who blamed duplicity created Candor.”
“Those who blamed selfishness made Abnegation.”
“Those who blamed cowardice were the Dauntless.”
People of each faction also have ideal jobs, like a person from Amity could work as a nurse, a person from Abnegation could work in the government (so that they can make selfless choices on behalf of everyone) and a person from Dauntless could beat the crap out of criminals. The ideal world, certainly.
Of course, there is a bit of imbalance in these factions. I mean, Erudite and Dauntless, wow, my imagination churns up potential evil villains from those factions that are either genius mad scientists or crazy bungee-jumping pyromaniac types. But those two factions would also be the ones I would tend towards based on my personality. If I were to play the blame game, I would agree with “goody goody” Amity and Abnegation (but I can see how Abnegation can also create the world’s biggest Monster). But I’m too selfish to actually join their group. See how it works?
In this story, Tris is an Abnegation girl on the verge of adulthood. After taking a “personality test” (and what a personality test that was…nothing like the ones on coolquiz.com), she has to decide which faction she wants to belong to. Something funny happens during Tris’ test, however, and she finds out she is “Divergent” meaning the results of her personality test are too ambiguous for the computer to fit her in any particular faction. Everyone’s hush hush about it. Her examinator, a cool Dauntless chick, warns her to keep this problem to herself. Tris doesn’t know why it’s such a big deal, but one thing she confirmed from the test is that a life of grey clothing and looking at the floor and letting everyone take your seat on the bus – a life in Abnegation – is not for her. Choosing the most fitting faction is only the beginning of her problems, however. Will her family forgive her for forsaking her faction? Will she ever get used to life in her new faction? Growing up has never been tougher.
Wow Veronica Roth! Debut author awesomeness!
If I tell you about Tris, you’ll probably be able to guess which faction she ended up choosing. So I won’t tell you about Tris. She’s a surprising character, and her voice is totally likeable and, just like any human being, can’t be accurately categorized. But if you have to choose, you have to choose.
I like how Tris grows and changes by the end of the book. At the beginning, she was totally engrossed in trying to figure out why she can’t just be happy in her own faction. Everything’s pretty black and white for her. If you’re in Abnegation, there are certain personality traits you have and certain traits you probably don’t have much of. By the end of the book, however, she sees that each faction’s pretty messed up and the criteria that separates them gets all blurred. People she thought she knew do 180s and turn out to be just as surprising as her secret “divergent” label, subverting their “stereotypes” when important action/decisions must be taken. The world’s already a dystopia (I can’t imagine how segregating people into camps will do anything for improving harmony and understanding and tolerance) but it falls into a dystopia of dystopias as the people in each faction begin to lose sight of the original purpose of the factions.
The book’s dark. Noone’s safe. The world’s become a stricter place where everyone’s got to pull their weight. But it’s also terribly entertaining and has its funny moments and its moments of exhilaration. So snuggle up in your blankets with warm cocoa at the bedside and read about a potentially terrible future. But enjoy!
Anyway, I’m a big fan of quiz-taking-for-fun, and I just did an online version of the Aptitude Test. Like I suspected…
Rating: 4.5 citizens who like to scorch bugs under a magnifying glass
Next book out is Insurgent in 2012! Yay!
-Cat from Beyond Books: “The entire dystopian world that Roth creates is fascinating to me. The five factions are so interesting and their reaction to each other intriguing. The fact that you have to abandon your family if you choose a faction other than the one you grew up in seems very harsh to me but it made the book all that much more interesting. How society things you can only think one certain way your entire life is beyond me. People who always tell the truth and tell it like it is (Candor) shouldn’t negate them from wanting to help others or give up their seat on the bus to someone in need (Abnegation). I don’t see how one virtue cancels out the other.”
-Alex from Electrifying Reviews: “While reading, Divergent made my heart race, my palms sweat, and it made me shutter. Reading this book was more of an experience than anything else. At first, I was a bit apprehensive of the story being set up. But Veronica Roth doesn’t even need to drag on about the completely unique and brilliant dystopian society she has created, because you are living the story.”
-Emily from Emily’s Reading Room: “There were so many things I loved about this book. Right from the start we are introduced to a society that has created a system based on values, which seems like a great idea, right? As you read, you try to figure out which faction would best represent your values. Do you value courage, honesty, selflessness, or knowledge? Soon you discover, along with Tris, that it’s not as clear as it first appears. Breaking rank from your family is dishonorable, and not all factions are considered equal. Even within factions there are tensions and disagreements about what they truly value. All of this together creates an internal and external conflict that is so complex and interesting, I couldn’t put this book down.”
-Kay from the Infinite Shelf: “I don’t want to give the impression that I didn’t enjoy the book though, because I did. And oh, did I love Beatrice! She was such a great character : hard, selfish at times and selfless at others, showing courage when she was scared, definitely different from most female leads in current YA novels. I also appreciated that, while she had a definite romantic interest for a certain guy very early in the story, it didn’t take all the space. She lived her own adventure, which he happened to be part of, rather than at the center of.”
-Chelle from Tempting Persephone: “From the beginning, I wanted to rally behind Tris; I wanted to experience her pain and pride, her uncertainty and exhilaration, but felt removed from her instead. That sense of withdrawal had nothing to do with disliking her; Tris was a strong, stubborn heroine who was determined to justify and prove herself. It had nothing to do with her narrative voice, which was uncluttered and honest. But it had everything to do with the fact that her character didn’t engage my emotions. I’d love to be able to provide a reason why, or to give examples to validate that feeling, but I can’t. Tris and I, we just didn’t click.”
-Thea from The Book Smugglers: “Yes, a few of the things about the YA paranormal “dystopian” genre that generally piss me off are present here (i.e. the tepid insta-romance, the tendency for everyone to OMG LOVE AND WANT TO PROTECT! the little pretty protagonist, Tris). BUT! These annoyances are saved by an unconventional character choice, because Tris is not your usual Mary Sue. She’s selfish. She’s manipulative. She’s vindictive as hell – and I LOVED that about this book. I mean, at one point, when a character asks for her forgiveness, she coldly refuses. Really coldly. I mean, holy masked avenger, Batman. It’s brutal, but refreshing (since these heroines are so often little goody-two-shoes that forgive even the most heinous acts). I also loved that Tris gets seriously beat up, and while she does toughen up and become a better fighter, she never becomes an amazing badass-sharpshooting-ninja warrior, and that’s cool. I loved the believable tension between herself and her fellow initiates, the discrimination she feels as a “Stiff” (Abnegation-born), her anger with her family, and, most of all, how tough she has to become to survive and truly be dauntless and a divergent.”
-NotNessie from Ultimate Book Hound: “LOVED IT. A must read for dystopian fans and anyone who loves an exciting, high-stakes story.”
-Prophercygirl from Wondrous Reads: “Divergent was full of edge-of-your-seat action, and had handfuls of twists just waiting to be discovered. It was gripping in the best way, in that I’m-not-moving way that eats up a whole day and leaves you breathlessly in need of the sequel. Finishing Divergent reminded me of when I turned the last page of The Hunger Games for the first time, and all I could think about was either re-reading straight away or ambushing Suzanne Collins’ editor for the next book. If I could do that here, I so would. Veronica Roth has exploded onto the YA scene leaving a cloud of dust in her wake, and she deserves every minute of adoration that comes her way.”