Saturday, July 13, 2013

Like 'Divergent,' Dauntless For The Very First Time (Book Review)

I made it through the Choosing Ceremony
Somehow I made it through
Didn't know how Dauntless I was
Until I found Four...

Okay, enough of that nonsense. I finished reading Divergent, the first book in a trilogy by Veronica Roth (and soon to be a movie), on Friday night. I first caught bits and pieces of "Tris and Four" talk from my book-loving friends on Tumblr. Then several bloggers who routinely link up with Blonde...Undercover Blonde's Book Club Friday read and reviewed it, and I knew I had to read this book. They claimed it was for people who liked the Hunger Games trilogy, and I definitely did.

In the world of Divergent, which takes place in Chicago some time in the near future, society has been split into five factions, or groups of people who arrange themselves according to the values they consider most important. Beatrice (later nicknamed Tris) Prior is born into Abnegation, which values selflessness. The other factions are Amity (peace), Candor (truthfulness), Dauntless (bravery) and Erudite (knowledge). At the beginning of the book, Beatrice is 15 years old. When she turns 16, she'll have to choose the faction she'll stay in for the rest of her life. Society places pressure on young people to stay in the faction into which they were born, but Beatrice senses she doesn't entirely belong in Abnegation.

(Yes, this is an example of the Dangerous Sixteenth Birthday trope, and yes, we also saw it in Beautiful Creatures.)

Before her Choosing Ceremony, Beatrice takes a series of tests that could help her decide which faction she has an aptitude for. She gets an unusual result - Beatrice is Divergent, with no clear aptitude for any one faction, but strong characteristics of three different ones. Being Divergent is dangerous, and she must conceal this from everyone, although no one will tell her exactly why. (She'll later find out that people have been murdered just for being Divergent.)

As much to her surprise as to anyone else's, Beatrice chooses to become Dauntless. The Dauntless initiation is the most dangerous and physically demanding of any of the factions, so much so that there are fewer openings in Dauntless than there are candidates. The first thing they have to do is jump onto the trains that still run through downtown Chicago, and some of the candidates don't make it. They become Factionless; the Factionless do all the menial tasks in society and are perpetually on the edge of starvation, relying on charity from Abnegation.

Thus, Beatrice becomes Tris. You certainly can't put her into the category of weak YA heroines. Every day, Tris gains a little physical and mental strength - and believe me, by Chapter 35 she needs every bit of it. Even though Tris manages to survive her initiation and join the ranks of Dauntless (as the #1 non-Dauntless-born candidate, no less - her Divergent status is a huge advantage when it comes to controlling her fears), another faction has a secret plan to use the brave souls of Dauntless - the closest thing society has to an army - to attack another faction.

This novel can be summed up in one hyphenated word: action-packed. The factions are supposed to work for the good of everyone by having people specialize in what they do best, but in reality, danger lurks around every corner of Tris's world.

Readers who are tired of YA novels with female heroines where the main focus of the story is a romantic relationship will find Divergent refreshing. There is a romance, but it's not the main focus. That said, the hero - nicknamed Four; to give away his given name would be too much of a spoiler - Tris's 18-year-old trainer, is totally yummy. (I love him with Tris, although I think if I were in this world, I would have a crush on Tris's fraternal twin, Caleb, who joins Erudite.)

What happens from Chapter 35 onward makes me very sad, and very eager to read Insurgent. I'm also sad when Tris says that Lake Michigan has dried up into a marshland. The whole image of downtown Chicago being a shadow of what it once was is a bit depressing to contemplate.

If I had to choose a faction, I think I'd pick Amity. Which would you choose?

Other Notes: I went to the discount bookstore today, after an anniversary breakfast with Tit Elingtin. (We've been married 11 years today.) I bought three books in Nalini Singh's Psy-Changeling series: Branded by Fire (#6), Blaze of Memory (#7) and Play of Passion (#9). Unfortunately, I forgot I already had Play of Passion, so now I have an extra copy. I still need Caressed by Ice (#3) and Bonds of Justice (#8). Anybody want to trade #3 for #9? Let me know.

P.S. I have finally seen The Hobbit. Finally, I watched a movie AFTER reading the book. It was nice to see Frodo, Elrond and Galadriel again, but it needed much, much more Thranduil. I like Lee Pace because he is Garrett from Breaking Dawn Pt. 2, although it is hard to recognize him in elf form.

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I'm not sure why it happens, but when I focus just right, I can slow time. Things around me become lighter somehow, and I almost feel the tiny particles of energy spinning inside of them. The thing is, having the ability to transform the world around you isn't all it's cracked up to be -- especially when you are running from the Valencia without any deodorant.


Heather said...

Thank you for linking up!! I've heard great things about this book.

Shoshanah said...

I'm about halfway through Insurgent right now. Honestly, before I started it I forget why and how much I liked Divergent, but it's all coming back to me now. I can't wait for the movie, and can't wait to keep reading Insurgent!

And I think I'd be Erudite. Although without all the evilness.

Erin O'Riordan said...

I think I would have picked Erudite when I was 16, and only figured out later that Amity would be a better choice for me.

Janie said...

Honestly, I like Divergent more than Hunger Games. I always get Candor on the faction quizzes, but I think that I'd probably be Abgnegation or Amity. ;)