Welcome to March's book club, babes!
(If you link up I'd love you to slap this image on your post somewhere. Please and thank you!)
2014 Book Club Schedule:
March: Divergent by Veronica Roth (March 27)
April: Night Circus by Eric Morgenstern (April 24)
May: The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman (May 29)
June: Matilda by Roald Dahl (June 26)
July: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (July 24)
August: Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan (August 28)
September: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (September 25)
October: Z by Therese Ann Fowler (October 23)
November: Wonder by R.J. Palacio (November 20)
December: My Story by Elizabeth Smart (December 30)
BOOK CLUB QUESTIONS
+ Who is your favorite character in the novel and why?
+ Did you like Tris as the main character? Why or why not? Do you see her as a strong female lead?
+ What did you think of the ending of the book? Was it satisfactory to you?
+ Did you like the writing style? Why or why not?
+ What was the most surprising or shocking thing in the book for you?
+ How do you feel about Tris and Four's relationship? Could you tell that Four liked her before Tris figured it out?
+ Anything else you want to say, add, admit, confess? Now's your time to shine!
First off I would like to open with a big, fat whopping disclaimer. I know a lot of you really like this book. And I really wanted to really like this book. I found the author's blog, and she is awesome. Her writing is witty and hilarious and she's so down to Earth. (She even tells how she got lined up with an agent, a how she signed a book deal, etc. Fascinating!)
And so, I really wanted to like her book. I tried to like it. I hated the first half and then I started to like it (mostly the make out scenes) and I thought, sheesh, I'm going to end up liking this book! Then my homegirl (can I call you homegirl, Veronica?) went and totally massacred the ending and now I don't like the book at all. I will not be reading the second or third book, but I am interested enough to look it up on wikipedia to see how it ends, so I suppose there is mild interest there? Also, I will be seeing the movie the weekend, so I guess somewhere in me I liked something about it?
My other disclaimer is that I listened to the first half of the book on tape and whoever they found to read the book for their tapes is THE WORST. She had the most dramatic over the top voice. I couldn't handle it.
The main reason I didn't like this book is that I felt it was flawed in its very premise. The whole idea of the book is that everyone can fit into one of five categories based on their interests. But then Beatrice goes to take the test to sort her (also it was too much like The Giver, Matched and Harry Potter with the whole sorting process) and OH MY GOSH SHE HAS MORE THAN ONE INTEREST/ ABILITY. Now she's this huge anomaly in society and she's do dangerous because she doesn't clearly fit in to one of five very precise boxes. This whole foundation of the book is flawed. It would not be that unusual at all to be "divergent". It would be very common in fact. Human beings are complex, we are multi faceted, and on any given day with any given person there are tons of elements at play. To pretend like Beatrice was unique or special because she was divergent just wasn't a strong enough reason to me to make her complex or unusual. Now, if she could talk to snakes, that'd be something special... (Yes, I love Harry Potter.)
THE IDEA OF CHOOSING FACTIONS
The whole system of the factions seemed extremely flawed to me. When they are choosing their factions everyone makes it seem like it's this big, happy deal but basically if you leave the faction of your parents you are disowned. So if you are naturally different in your interests from your parents, then you will be shunned from society? Even for a flawed society like Roth was trying to create, that didn't make much sense. There's one part in the book where Tris goes to visit her brother and she says "I'm not allowed to love him anymore." What?! Now that's a faction rule? You can't love your brother if he has different talents and abilities than you? The idea of "factionless" didn't make much sense, either. So if you make a mistake at 16 when choosing your faction, then you have no specialty and have to be a bum for the rest of your life- "Factionless." I didn't feel like Roth thought out the dystopia enough- it just felt haphazardly strewn together to me and like she was making up rules as she went.
I could not handle Tris' initiation into dauntless. To start with, how stupid can a group be? All they do is jump from trains and hang from chasms. I didn't feel like that was brave at all. I though it was moronic. If a 16 year old student told me he had to jump from a train to get into a group I would tell him that he is an idiot.
The other thing that drove me crazy about the initiation was ALL THE SIMULATIONS. Oh my gosh so many! End the simulation madness! Half of the book I spent in some lame simulation in some lame scenario that wasn't even real. I think she could have gone way way less on this. Also, as far as the simulations go, I didn't feel like there were clear rules established. I don't like plot holes, and I felt like there were a lot holes here. Tris mentions several times that she feels pain, but they are simulations. Aren't they supposed to be fake? And if the pain is real then the simulation isn't really fake there now, is it? Pain is a very real fear so fake simulations with real pain= real simulations.
I know I'm a total book snob, and I'm sorry, but sheesh. The writing in popular books these days is getting worse and worse. I didn't expect no F. Scott Fitzgerald when I cracked the book, but at least pretend like you are trying with your writing. This book feels like it was written at a third or fourth grade reading level. The sentences were SO short and they always followed the same pattern. The paragraphs were short, too- there was little development throughout. In a way I was almost insulted that she didn't work harder with her writing. I know she can write with a lot more voice and skill than this book because her blog entries are terrific. I read on wikipedia that she wrote Divergent over her winter break from college so maybe she was just way rushed? I don't know, but the writing sucked.
EXAMPLE: p. 442: "I feel like someone breathed new air into my lungs. I am not abnegation. I am not dauntless. I am divergent. And I can't be controlled." SO much of the writing is like that- short, choppy sentences that follow the same pattern. Drove me CRAZY. Also Tris is always having some big revelation that she is... DAUNTLESS. Or she is... DIVERGENT. It got pretty old pretty quick.
Lastly, does anyone know why authors seem to be writing in present tense more often? Hunger Games was written in present tense as is Divergent and it drives me crazy! I just never feel like a book can reach the beauty or depth or complexity in present tense that it can in past tense. To me it is a lazy way to write and I see it as a trend in popular writing today. Is it easier for people to read?
PREDICTABILITY AND (NOT) TRUSTING THE AUDIENCE
I guess when it comes down to it, I was a little bit insulted when I was reading this book because Roth was SO obvious with where things were going. The second Four was introduced I knew it was Marcus' son and that he and Tris would end up together. It was just too obvious the way she laid everything out. When Tris' mom came to visit it was so apparent that mom had been dauntless before, but then it's supposed to be this huge reveal at the end of the chapter, "My mom was... DAUNTLESS." Yah, duh. Figured that out forever ago, sweet cheeks. I just felt like Roth didn't trust me enough as a reader to draw my own conclusions, she had to tell me for me. She spelled out everything to me. There were no subtleties. I just needed to feel like she trusted me as a reader to understand what was happening and where she was taking me, and I didn't feel that at all. I felt spoon fed. The whole time.
EXAMPLE: P. 330- She mentions several times before the chapter starts and in the beginning of the chapter that she wonders why Four is nicknamed Four. THEN Four says she is going to find out why he is named Four. THEN, after they end his simulation she says, "Those were your worst fears? Why do you only have four..." My voice trails off. Only four fears... "Oh." I look over my shoulder at him. "That's why they call you--"
Yes, Veronica, we got it. Next time make it more obvious, I about dang near missed it there!
THE PART(S) I LIKED
For me, the strongest part of the book was the middle, which was interesting because this is usually where I lose interest. I loved her developing relationship with Four and I thought their romance was pretty sweet. Also I just love kissing scenes, so that was awesome. (Greg says I'm a perv. I say books just need more kissing.) I liked Al's suicide- I thought that was unexpected and really helped to show how far dauntless are willing to go. I liked some of the initiation. I liked when she escaped and saw her brother.
I also really enjoyed thinking about the different factions and their possible flaws. I guess, anything, even when it is something very good, can turn bad if it is not done in moderation. It was interesting to think how such great qualities as intelligence, bravery, kindness, even selflessness can be a bad thing if used to their excess.
With about 100 pages left in the book there was some hope for me and I thought, by golly, I might just like this book yet!
AND THEN IT ALL GOT RUINED FOR ME.
What the crap was with that ending?!? Someone answer me now! Probably the worst ending of any book I have ever read. So let me get this straight... you are going to make me read 400 pages of initiation into dauntless just to turn every person in dauntless into a mindless robot? WHY DID THEY JUST GO THROUGH THAT INITIATION? WHAT WAS THE POINT OF IT? Nothing! Because Erudite had the serum to brainwash everyone! MWAHAHAHAHA. So why didn't they just do that on pg. 25 and I could have saved myself 400 pages of reading?! I felt like I just got totally hoodwinked, being forced to read about the development of these people and their faction and then in the end everyone's a zombie conducting a senseless genocide on abnegation! Oh, it was the worst. The absolute worst.
And why were they killing abnegation? I never felt like that was really answered. They just wanted to kill all the faction because they thought they had too much power? There was no build up whatsoever to the genocide. I feel like if you're going to have some big crazy fight, then at least lead up to it, build suspense, tension, fear. All of a sudden everyone's killing everyone. The end.
Also, all the fighting was with these mindless dauntless robots. It wasn't even real fighting. So lame. Give me a person who can think, feel, react, not Tris going ape on zombies.
Perhaps the part that bothered me most was the senseless killing of Tris' parents. It kind of felt like, "Oh, I haven't made this book sad enough... quick, kill mom! Now kill dad!" Ta dah! End of book! The parents didn't have a big enough of a role in the book for their death to mean much anyway, it more felt like it was supposed to mean something. Now, if mom and dad had been in the book at all it might have meant something, but they were such underdeveloped characters that their slaughter was meaningless and pointless. It did not have the effect at all that it should have had on readers.
Alright, I know I was a bit harsh, and if you liked Divergent I'm sorry if I just insulted everything about the things you know and love. Please tell me why you loved it. Like I said, I wanted to like it. And I do like Veronica Roth. A lot. I want to be friends with her! I just couldn't do Divergent. Forgive me.
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