Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Divergent by Veronica Roth (4)

I was told that this book was “The next Hunger Games!” which immediately made me skeptical. I do not want to read the “new” Hunger Games, I’ll just read THE Hunger Games eight more times thankyouverymuch. AND since I was told it was “the next Hunger Games,” obviously I had to compare it to The Hunger Games every moment I could.

The story starts with sixteen-year-old Beatrice (Tris) Prior who lives with her family in post-apocalyptic Chicago. Their city has been divided into five six factions: Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), Erudite (the intelligent), and the Factionless (the outcasts). At sixteen, Beatrice gets to decide what faction to choose to live her life in. Once she has chosen, there is no going back, and if she chooses Not Abnegation, then she will leave her family forever (except for visiting days). So naturally there’s a test where the kid goes on an LSD-trip-spirit-journey to figure out where they are Meant To Be, but Beatrice is Different Than Everyone Else. And thus our story starts.  

Beatrice vs. Katniss: the film actresses
Similarities to The Hunger Games:
-dystopian world where people are sorted
-Book 1 (Divergent) will be consumed in a 24-72 hour period, depending on how much time you have on your hands.
-you must immediately begin Book 2 (Insurgent/Catching Fire) upon finishing Book 1 (Divergent/The Hunger Games) AND even more pressing is the need to read the third book (Allegiant/Mockingjay)
-The third book is the worst, but you realize that that is the only way to end the series. Mockingjay was a struggle because I read it in one sitting, and the end felt disjointed (you know why if you’ve read it), I had the same problem with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7) because I wanted to know WHAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN as opposed to what the characters were thinking and feeling. In HP, I felt like they were stuck in that tent in the woods for ETERNITY. On the second read of both Mockingjay and HP7, everything made sense and felt Right. Allegiant took me two weeks to read. There was a lot of things I wanted to happen in Insurgent that then were fixed in Allegiant, but then…I got bored. And the end…

Differences from The Hunger Games:
-In Divergent, the city-state is divided into factions, as opposed to The Hunger Games, where the country of Panem was split into districts. Factions are divided by a personality trait, and jobs are given based on that trait, as opposed to The Hunger Games where the country was divided based on industry
-no love triangle (HOLD THE PHONES, WHAT?! A YA book with no love triangle????). Yes, really.
-By Book 3 Tris actually has a real relationship with a boyfriend where they talk and work through things instead of breaking up at every freakout like teenagers (which I appreciated)
-Tris actually cares about her relationship unlike Katniss who is a badass and is really confused why everyone’s worried about who her boyfriend is when she’s seventeen and the face of a rebellion, which is one of my favorite things about The Hunger Games series, because it’s a discussion with the reader. Why do you care about who your boyfriend is? Does it matter? You could be solving world hunger. I’m not saying its not ok to have a boyfriend, I have a boyfriend. I like my boyfriend. But I don’t like him because he’s my boyfriend, he’s my boyfriend because I like him. In high school (and after…), I feel like there can be pressure on girls to Have A Boyfriend, and that’s not really healthy. I’m totally getting on a tangent but to wrap it up, in the Divergent series Tris actually learns how to communicate within a relationship, and is still a badass, and that is awesome too. Things can be different and still awesome.
-In Divergent, once the rebellion starts, war is happening basically all the time, as opposed to the Boy Troubles/Normal Life à The Games/War conceit that is in a lot of YA (also see Harry Potter: Happy Magic School à oh it’s halfway through the book, time to fight Voldemort!)

I read these books in JANUARY and haven’t posted this because I had too many thoughts on the books, and my main problem with them is that they are NOT The Hunger Games, which isn’t REALLY a fair assessment. A friend of mine likes them better because it presents war in a more realistic light. I think the most fair thing to say about the books is that they are clearly a reaction to The Hunger Games, but I wouldn’t say that it talks about as many things as The Hunger Games does. Where Collins is discussing war, the media, and how women are viewed. (You can read a super smart interview with her here.) Roth seems to have a Strong Female Character dealing with war and rebellion. And while I think that Divergent is extremely entertaining, I’m not sure that I would get much more out of it on a second or third read. So I have to say that is DEFINITELY worth reading but NOT as good as The Hunger Games, but I love The Hunger Games too much to give anything but a biased verdict.

POSSIBLY one day I’ll read it again or see the movie and realize how brilliant it is.

If you didn’t like The Hunger Games, DON’T read it. If you loved Divergent, tell me about how wrong I am and what brilliance I’m missing. 

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