Monday, January 5, 2015

not so divergent

I digest books. Typically, I can tackle a thousand pages in one night. Sometimes, I read proper literature. Most of the time, I read stuff that will relax me before bed.

That is why I selected Divergent. I thought, "This will be a darker story, but it will be an easy read."

And it should have been. However, it wasn't. The writing is so simple that I found it hard to take. The whole series is roughly one thousand and five hundred pages. I should have been able to conquer the series in two nights. It took me three weeks to muscle through the first book. THREE WEEKS! That doesn't even cover how long it took me to finish the other two books. Which I decided to read to allow Ms. Roth the ability of redemption. Note: She did not redeem herself.

I didn't like any of it. 

My number one complaint is all of the, "I say", "he says" garbage. It ruined the flow of each conversation and continuously thrust me out of my imagination. Another complaint is about the setting. Chicago. Veronica Roth's hometown. Coincidentally, my hometown.

Now, I understand, this is the alternative-universe-futuristic-after-war-dystopian-Chicago. But there are massive details that troubled me.

This "Divergent Chicago" is a Chicago where the trains work better than they do in real life. Do you know how many times I got stuck on the El, waiting for hours while the CTA de-iced the rails or did whatever general maintenance they like to do? Also, what is the point of having a train running non stop? Who is driving? Is this some sort of Dauntless thing? Did they say to themselves, "We could stop the train...buuuuut...let's just go ahead and make shit harder for ourselves." Or perhaps, it's that they didn't want any of the other factions using the trains? Because if the other factions used the trains the Dauntless would take offense?

Silly Dauntless, so possessive of your trains. Tsk. Tsk. 

There was nothing about the writing that made me feel like I was in a "destroyed" Chicago. It almost felt like all the factions looked at Chicago and said to themselves, "We could re-use all these resources and standing structures. But again that would make too much sense. We'll use a couple but then build new things almost entirely from stratch." 

Color me confused.

Then there was Tris... oh Tris...

She was supposed to be this confused girl, torn between the world she grew up in and the world she wanted. A girl that mules her way into becoming a real bad-ass. However, I found her to know exactly what she wanted from the beginning with maybe after slight struggle with self-doubt and muscle tone, she was the same person. I could have replaced her with a hubcap and felt more of a connection. There was nothing about her character that felt human to me. She was more of an automaton that you followed around while things happened to her. I found myself hoping that she might express herself, and instead she would just get caustic. Talk about some emotional problems. And no, I don't feel like that was an Abnegation thing.

It made me feel like if I asked Tris, "Tris, what do you feel is the biggest problem with Dauntless?" Her response would be either, "Go away." or "Faction over blood." Neither of which is an expression of what the girl feels or thinks. And yes, there were a few times she expressed "feelings". But the feelings were; empty immature contradictions, misplaced angers, or Four. Because Four is an emotion apparently.

Four is a cool guy Tris. But, really? Get your panties together sister girl, cause you suck at love.

Then there a veritable list of other things that bothered me. Like, how the factions themselves functioned as a society. (Which I was willing to over look.) Or the gratuitous violence. (Which I would have been pleased with, if the pacing was better.) Or the giant holes in world building. (Who is the Dauntless army protecting? Why are they just beating each other up and/or waiting around for society to collapse?) Or the plausibility issues. (Why is everyone so blood thirsty for the Divergent but somehow okay with the factionless running amok?) Or other issues. (How is it that Abnegation is supposed to be selfless and yet is so obsessed with control at the same time? That is a paradox people. And not one that I feel is useful in anyway to the story or the world. Or even a good parallel to current political systems.)

Lastly, there is no point in me explaining the plot. Because really there isn't much that happens. Tris leaves her Abnegation beginnings. Rides trains. Meets Four. Does the whole Dauntless thing. Get's in some fights. People die. There's some trippy shit mixed in there. As, well as some hormones. In the end, Four and Tris, kinda save the day.

But, I'm glad I read it. Because now, I can have animated and highly opinionated conversations about it. 

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