Wednesday, 16 October 2013
Divergent & Insurgent - Veronica Roth - Book Review
I'm not going to lie - Amazon told me to read these books. They kept coming up on my 'Recommended for you' list, then I read an article over on 'All Women Stalk' talking about books you must read before they are turned into movies...so I click onto IMDB and find out the first book, Divergent, has been made into a film that's on it's way out at some point over the next couple of months.
See, I have this thing about books, and an even BIGGER thing about books that have been turned into movies. There is something about the page to screen adaptation, from fiction to screenplay, the process and the results really fascinate me. (So much so it was the front runner when I was thinking up ideas for a PhD application!)
One click purchase thank you very much, a quick trip down the whispernet and BOOM, my Kindle library has two shiny new additions.
YA, dystopian future, we find ourselves in what used to be Chicago, but has since been split up into 5 factions; dauntless, abnegation, candor, amity and erudite. Each faction is devoted to its singular goals and way of life. And then we have 'The Factionless', the poorest of the poor, those who failed in their chosen faction have quite literally been kicked out and left to find for themselves - or drive buses, collect garbage etc, generally the jobs those who belong to a faction do not want. The belief is they have no direction and so no purpose in life, unlike those in the factions. Harsh much?
The idea of the factions reminded me of the districts in The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins, in fact Divergent reminded me a whole lot of The Hunger Games, with one exception - the Divergent (soon to be) trilogy actually got better with each (so far) new book.
Our main character, Beatrice, or Tris as she later becomes, is originally from Abnegation, a reserved, selfless grey clothes only bunch of folk who do a lot of charity work for the Factionless and are pretty meek compared to the other factions. Long story short, she takes a test at the age of 16 to determine what faction she is most suited to, then she gets to make a choice; stay with her existing faction forever more or risk becoming factionless by joining a brand new faction and attempting their initiation tests. So we can all guess what happened here, right? Tris runs away from her somber home and joins up with the gun wielding, train jumping, tattooed members of Dauntless - as you do!
This first book follows Tris through the initiation process and sees her tested beyond all reason. She goes in a journey of self discovery, and even deeper, a discovery of the world around her - which of course, isn't what it seemed at first. She must learn what it is to be Dauntless whilst trying to understand her own secret - that she is Divergent, and the consequences of that can be deadly.
I really liked it! Like I said, it reminded me of The Hunger Games, and I loved the first one in that series. Though I'm about 10 years older than the main characters, I could relate to their problems, I know what it feels like to be a 16 year old trying to find your place in the word and not quite knowing just where you fit in - and that doesn't go away with age!. I thought the characters where well developed and the teenage mood-swings, though annoying, fitted in perfectly - who wasn't a moody teenager?
Structurally, the story moves at a well set pace, with a rhythmic prose that is easy to follow and digest. I wonder if Roth had three books in mind because this one felt so well paced, it seems almost purposeful and not rushed through unlike Collins. Roth paints a vivid image of this dystopian society but it's easy to see a relation to reality between the lines.
Following on right from where Divergent left off, Insurgent picks up the story and the pace. "One choice can destroy you" is the tag line and oh, how true that becomes. We see Tris having to make some tough, gut wrenching decisions with little evidence to go on - you don't half feel sorry for this girl and what she's about to go through in Insurgent!Tris is trying to make sense of her own identity whilst figuring out where she fits into the storm that is now brewing amongst all the factions. You try getting your head around politics and boys at the same time - it's a toughie made even worse with blood on one hand and a gun in the other.
Tris has to now accept she is Divergent through and through and deal with the consequences of that - oh and make a decision on where her loyalties ultimately lie - with her love, her faction or her family?
Fast! Fast! Fast! Roth picks up the pace here and I loved it. Fighting, drama, romance, death, it's all here page after page. That being said, there's alot of stodge here too which was disappointing. Yes, I know I ma reading about teens, but do they have to be so anghsty all the time? The sexual tension between Tris and Four was a little too fluffy for my liking - I'm not saying they should have jumped each other, but for what I'm reading to be overly emotional horny teenagers, they would have probably got a little more carried away in the real world...just saying. When the book isn's so focused on the romance - I loved it all the more. Tris is a very well developed character who manages to stay true to our original impression of her, she stays true to her own ideals - even when they cause her conflict and pain. Usually you'll find the tough cookie chick falls for the boy and becomes a Mary Sue over night but thankfully, not our Tris!
What I love most about Insurgent is how much deeper we go into each individual faction - and it's those I love to hear about. Their different beliefs and ways of life, how they make their own significant contribution to each other factions way of life too, be it providing teachers, food or interrogation methods. I find it pretty interesting and each faction seems well thought out and pre-planned (I'd love to see Roth's original notes on the factions, much like Rowling's original notes on the Hogwarts Houses!)
The final installment of Roth's trilogy, Allegiant will be out October 22nd 2013 and I will be pre-ordering this on my Kindle. It's not often I pick up a series that isn't already completed by time I get around to it so it'll be nice to be reading along with everyone else - and not being the last to jump on the bandwagon!