When I am reading a book, as I get near the end, I start to think about what my next book will be, much like my knitting, I don’t like to have the possibility of empty needles, nor do I like the idea of not having the next book on the cards. I knew that as I ended “Moon Over Soho” that I would be reading Veronica Roth’s “Divergent” next as it is a book that I seem to see cropping up more and more around the internet.
“Divergent” is set in a future dystopian world in part of the United States. All the reviews and I think in the summery in the book, says it’s set in the Chicago area, but I don’t remember reading this in the story. The basic plot is that society is split into five factions, each with an overwhelming quality that defines that faction, so Abnegation’s quality is selflessness – putting everyone else before you in everything that you do. We meet the main character, Beatrice, as her choosing day grows close and she has to decide whether to stay with her family or to defect to another faction and never see her family again. She decides to defect, a decision based on “aptitude” tests that all 16 year olds have endure. And, of course, the story unfolds from her fight to be accepted into another faction, to deal with her own identity issues [and being “Divergent, not belonging to any of the five factions] and the real dystopia, the real politics of what is going on her world.
“Divergent” is one of those books that people either love or hate. It’s also one of the those books that is difficult to review and consider without comparing it to other books in the same genre, especially as that same genre is growing in popularity thanks, it would seem, to Suzanne Collins “The Hunger Games” trilogy. Of course, dystopian futures do not start with “The Hunger Games”, but it would seem that this is the fashion for Young Adult fiction at the moment, you know the ones with a more hopeful and fluffy endings to those like “1984”.
I enjoyed reading “Divergent”, of being lost in Beatrice’s world, so much so that I read it in three sittings. I was reading this on my Kindle so I am not sure how that really affects my reading speed, but I do tend to finish books quicker than if I were reading them in paperback, that being said, in paperback this novel falls just short of 500 pages [according to GoodReads] so I consider myself fairly impressed with how quick I have read this. Perhaps it is because the language is easy to read, and it relatively simplistic both in style and in eloquence. I was speaking to my friend Erin about this novel, and I didn’t realise until she pointed out that Roth uses “he says/she says” a fair amount, and after Erin mentioned this to me, I thought I would pick up on it more as I steamed through, but luckily I didn’t, and it didn’t detract from the overall experience.
As mentioned, I think this is a fairly simplistic book. With a lot of the dystopian novels I have read in the past I can see elements of them in the reality we live, none more so than Orwell’s warnings in 1984, but with “Divergence” I think I enjoyed it not because of the elements of reality – to be honest I couldn’t see any – but because it is sheer escapism from everything that reality has to offer. There are areas that I think the author could have expanded on, and considering there are two more books in the series, it’s possible that she will/has, how did the situation come about in the first place? How did this dystopia establish itself? What has happened to the rest of the United States, something that is barely hinted at as Beatrice wonders what is beyond the world she knows [perhaps we’ll have some of Plato’s Cave allegory to come?].
I think you have no choice but to like Beatrice. I think that the author has written her perfectly to manipulate you into feeling for her – because she’s so “small” and “weak” and “childlike in stature” – that you have to cheer for her as the underdog in all that she’s doing. There is, of course, the element of Mary Sueism in this aspect – being the complete outsider, and finishing where she does in the rankings for being a Dauntless [the faction she left her family for] – and the fact that she can’t be controlled by those in control and her actions as the story climaxes does scream Mary Sue. I hate using the term when applying it to general fiction [fanfiction, not so much of a problem], but perhaps a person could develop that much because of the situations that she’s encountered. I don’t know, I would hope to never know.
One thing that I didn’t like so much about the plot was that Beatrice “fell” for someone. By falling for Four, the author is suggesting that she can’t actually make it on her own, that none of the stuff she does is worth doing without having Four by her – which makes some of the ending slightly predictable. I also don’t like the amount of God that comes into it at the end, the odd expressions “thank God” doesn’t bother me, but I sort of felt like the author was shoving Christianity down my throat at the end [I don’t have a problem with religion in the slightest, just don’t want it shoved down my throat].
That being said I am looking forwards to reading the next book in the series, hopefully to find out some of the answers to the questions posed above, and hopefully move away from the areas mentioned as negatives. I shall find out soon enough I am sure.
At the beginning of my post I mentioned that as I near the end of one book I start to think about another. With the pace that I read this at, I haven’t time or chance to really think about what I want to read next – there are plenty of books on my shelves, both physical and virtual to choose from it seems unreal, and there are always more books to add to the shelves that they groan in protest!
I’m feeling the need for something slightly Steampunk, considering my knitting is Steampunk orientated at the moment.
Keep on reading,