Wednesday, 18 April 2012
This one's about Tris (formerly Beatrice, see my comments about the name Wendy in my previous post about Switched), who lives in a world where people are divided up by their aptitude into communities, which they are expected to be more loyal to than their families. When Tris takes the test, however, she comes out as 'Divergent' rather than one of the five factions - Amity, Abnegation, Dauntless, Erudite and the other one. Oh, Candor. Apparently being Divergent is a super big deal which will probably get Tris killed, and so she has to pick another faction and then hide what she really is. She chooses Dauntless, which turns out to be a huge mistake, since it involves jumping off building, jumping onto moving trains, getting tattoos and learning to fight. She also meets Four and essentially falls in love with him (this isn't a spoiler, it's clear from basically the moment she sees him what's going to happen).
Okay, so I really liked this book. My synopsis probably makes it sound like I wasn't keen, but I did enjoy it. It takes a phenomenally long time to get going, an unacceptably long time but I didn't happen to have another book handy, but once it did it turned out to be pretty good. Until the end, which was kind of rushed. Again, it's the first book in a trilogy that doesn't have the balance right. The first two-thirds of the book should have only taken up a quarter of it. And the final fifth should have taken a third. (I'm just making these numbers up, by the way. I didn't go through and plot my theory and check page numbers to make fractions. That would be lame).
Also, the name Four. First off, it's a stupid name. Second, it's confusing because although it's a stupid name, it's an actual word. Lines like "Four heads across the room to the table" are utterly confusing, because I don't know about you, but I read that line as meaning that there are four individual heads on the other side of the room, not that the character named Four was heading across the room. It's hideous, quite frankly. And thirdly, when his real name is revealed (because apparently Four is just a stupid nickname), it's utterly disappointing. I started to miss him being called Four.
It's also quite violent, which I wasn't expecting. I know it's been billed as a thriller, but I figured it would be a case of everything going on in the mind since it's all about people's true personalities. There's a lot of fighting, and an incident involving a butter knife that I'd rather not go into.
It's quite different to anything I've read before. I mean, sure, the love story element is achingly predictable - so predictable that you'll be yelling at Tris in your head to figure out what's going on because she really has no clue - but other than that it's different. I was really interested in the idea of dividing people up according to their personalities and core values, and I'm keen to see where it goes in the second book. I think I'd recommend this one, though my recommendation would have to come with a warning about the necessity of persevering, because it really does take a long time to get going.