Yay more book talk!! Hooray! I love the frequency that we get to discuss books no that more people are involved and we are on a reading schedule. No more months and months between discussions! And I am reading like a fiend. I mentioned this before, but I’ll say it again – I won’t be able to finish all of the books on this list this time, but I will try my best. I did make sure to bust through Divergent by Veronica Roth though! I read it in 2 days. One of those days I stayed up until 12:30 am, listening to a croup-filled Gabe struggle to breath all evening until he eventually fell asleep despite the mucus. Divergent, I owe you one for keeping me alert enough to listen but calm enough so as not to rush Gabe to the ER. Two points for you.
Now, let’s meet our reviewers!
This is Feeny. She is amazing and works as a 911 dispatcher. WHAT! She is Slaptastrophe on Twitter. She lives in NC and often got in trouble at school…. for reading. I love that so hard.
Meet Fer! She is my cousin-in-law, lives in Mexico City, and has 2 kids. Her youngest, Paula, is just a few weeks younger than Gabe. So let’s give her a round of applause for reading a book and doing the book report with a full house and busy schedule. Thanks Fer!!
Now then, Divergent. Maris had been bothering me to read this book for a long time, but my reading schedule had always been occupied with my giant stack of books from the book lists. And then the movie came out and I was so grumpy that the movie was going to happen before I could finish it that I just had to put it on this list. I love amazingly written literature, but I also love love love my dystopian YA. I read all of The Hunger Games while on my honeymoon. I loves it and I loves it hard. All I knew of the book, though, was from breif glimpses at the movie trailer, so I went in not really knowing what to expect.
Fer: The moment I read the name of the book that was assigned to me, I immediately felt excitement and intrigue, the title of the book caught my attention and had never heard of it. I expected to read something with suspense, action and something that had me entertained all the time.
It was a challenge for me because of time! And I don’t remember reading a book knowing that I had to be critical afterwards and answering questions about it. Normally I read books very fast, but now with two children I can easily distract myself or not find the time to do it.
Feeny: It’s not often that I start a book I have never heard of before, so when I got assigned Divergent I was simultaneously excited and nervous. It turns out it was a great choice for me. the type of book I definitely would have bought for myself had I known about it.
Lauren: It delights me that both of these people had never heard of Divergent. I feel like that is really, really lucky.
Fer gives an excellent synopsis of what any new reader will be getting themselves into:
Fer: Beatrice Prior lives in Chicago, society is divided into five factions, and each faction has a different virtue. Candor believes in honesty, Abnegation is about selflessness, Dauntless is about being brave, Amity works for peace and Erudite is about knowledge. There is an annual ceremony where all teens turning sixteen must decide which faction they will choose to live with for the rest of their lives. Beatrice turns sixteen and has to choose the faction she believes fits her best. Once the decision is made they have to train to become part of the new or the same faction.
Feeny: The first few chapters of this book dragged for me. I am a pretty quick reader but it took me several sit downs to get through the first 3 chapters, about 25 pages. I may have thought “what did I get myself into” once or twice.
Abnegation, as the word indicates, believes in selflessness and service to others above all else. The other four factions are Amity (Peaceful), Candor (Honest), Dauntless (Brave) and Erudite (Intelligent). As with Abnegation, if you know the word or the root of the word you can make an educated guess as to the factions values. The obvious connection of the name and meaning bothered me for a while. It seemed to make the book a bit…. young. Especially when in the reading notes the author, Veronica Roth, says she specifically picked words she didn’t think the reader would know. So you tell me fellow readers, am I a word wizard for picking up on what these factions hold dear?
Then, I picked up the book on a day off last week, (let go of the faction thing) and fell in to a great story. In fact I finished the almost 500 page book that day.
Lauren: The exact same thing happened to me. It was a bit slow going and then BOOM, I stayed up way too late after reading only about a third of it previously and finished the book in one evening.
To comment on what Feeny mentioned – I think it is always bad practice to assume your audience won’t “get” or pick up on something. I think that is greatly underestimating any reader. And though this is “technically” (Air quotes) a YA book, everyone I know, including my Dad, is reading it.
Fer: The recurring theme from my point of view is “making hard decisions”. From beginning to end it’s all about the decisions the characters make what put the whole story together. I don’t think I was nagged about anything! I was sucked in by the chapter-ending cliffhangers. Every time a chapter came to a close I got that desperation to continue, regardless of how early I had to get up the next morning.
Feeny: From time to time there were character aspects, like the faction names, that seemed a bit clunky. Things that seemed to be repeated over and over to make sure the reader picked them up. A boy that likes Beatrice flirts with her for almost a hundred pages all while she wonders “why is he acting so strange?”. I get the “I’m a sheltered teen who never saw physical displays of affection” thing but after a while I just felt a bit beat over the head with it. Flaws aside, a book about a girl learning to be herself whilst figuring out that the world is much bigger than herself? Count me in!
Lauren: I’m starting to get worn out by the need for every single dystopian book to have a strong female lead who is unhinged by a romance and the chronic issue of not knowing herself. There has to be another kind of strange future than one where children are left in charge, adults are useless, and a major side story is constantly: Do I love him? I don’t know. Do I? AND! I am super over the constant fear of sex. Those kids would be humpin like rabbits if there wasn’t some weird puritanical, “we shouldn’t encourage teenagers to do it” pressure.
Fer: She succeeded! Veronica Roth has a wonderful ability to keep the reader’s attention and make a reading of about 500 pages enjoyable, easy and fast to read and very entertaining. Her writing is simple, and her imagination to create this dystopian world left me very satisfied, she has very well-planned and written descriptions, and these descriptions unfold in a very relaxed pace, different moments, scenes and situations full of action, fights, romance, friendship, laughter and a little mystery. I must admit that I saw certain things coming long before they took place.
What I found a bit hasty was the end, because in 80 pages Veronica Roth twists and squirms a lot of things, there are deaths, blood, fighting, sacrifice and more, although I’m not complaining all that happened I wish it hadn’t been so straight forward (literally, I was recovering from one death when Veronica Roth goes and says ” You are not sufficiently emotionally damaged, take this, here’s another tragic death”)
I’m obviously left wondering what will happen next! It’s a trilogy!!!! But thinking just about this book, she writes everything you need to know, as an introduction story I think it’s great.
I think that what makes this book so special is that there is a ton of realistic action and the romance doesn’t cloud the book’s plot. There are so many novels similar to this one that I feel lose their possible potential because of love triangles. This book doesn’t have any love triangles, but instead, has a very realistic relationship.
Feeny: If you like series’ like the Hunger Games, or Chaos Walking, you will like this book. If you like adventures or mysteries but are hesitant about a somewhat simple book you should give it a try. I picked up the second book an hour after I finished this one!
Fer: I was sucked in from the very beginning.
I would recommend it:
- If you like a strong female lead
- If you liked reading “The Hunger Games”
- To teenagers maybe 15 and up
- If you like action, suspense and a little bit of romance
Lauren: I couldn’t help comparing this book to the Hunger Games the whole time, and in some places I felt like Divergent succeeded better. I thought the opression was more subtle, the twists more surprising, and I enjoyed that Divergent does not have a clear “this is right and this is wrong” path. It’s complicated and I think that’s well done. I spent a lot of time thinking about what I was supposed to be getting out of the story while reading. And a lot of that thinking was super conflicted. The bad guys are not always who you think they are and that makes for a really good story.
That being said…. I don’t think I’m going to continue reading the trilogy. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I feel like there are so many other books I would like to read that maybe this one I will let just be a movie experience and let the books just be. I hope it will be just as entertaining.
**To play off of the book to movie theme of this particular reading experience, there is a fun little giveaway happening today! A random commentor, contributing to the discussion of the book, will be selected by Random.org to receive a copy of the blu-ray movie, Divergent, when it comes out in August!! So comment, discuss, one entry per person. In your first comment please indicate if you are also entering the movie drawing. Reading + Movies sounds like the greatest day.**