Archive for the ‘Dystopia’ Category

AllegiantI truly don’t know what to say about Allegiant.  Let it be understood that I’m not a dystopian novel lover, so I’m clearly more biased than if I was reading some other genre. Given that, I did like Hunger Games, for the most part. So, here’s my stream of consciousness regarding this book:

Starting with the negatives:

(i) It was overly long (the series and this final book-average pages 550 for Divergent vs. 400 for Hunger Games). I’ve come to appreciate those authors that agonize over words and use them sparingly.

(ii) If you hadn’t the first two books in the series you’d be totally lost (considering my long term memory is shot, it took ages to vaguely remember what went on).

(iii) The flipping back and forth between Tris and Tobias I found confusing at times, although I don’t normally find the two narrator style all that confusing.

(iv) I found it hard to visualize the city, the fringe and the compound. I find that is the hardest thing for me with many books I read…trying to visualize in my head what the geography looks like.

Switching to the positives:

(i) There’s a good story in there somewhere…pure genes vs. damaged (if you want to go so far as the Master Race, you can), the pure bloods vs. everyone else, government coverups, spying on people (especially in light of today’s NSA), genetic engineering, both successful and unsuccessful. As I write this, there’s a heck of lot of good stuff in there.

(ii) It’s a fast read—at 550 pages, it should be.

(iii) The ancillary characters are likeable (Cara, Christina, Uriah), probably more so than the main characters (Tris and Tobias).

(iv) There’s a lot of action.

So, where does this leave us? I like all kinds of YA fiction, from the ‘literary’ fiction of Beth Kephart to the realistic fiction of John Green and Jordan Sonnenblick to the chick lit of Sarah Dessen. I just can’t get excited about this one, though.

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My daughter has been touting the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth. Not being a dystopian fan, I’ve been finding excuses not to read the book, which was a mistake. But then I had to read book one because I have to review book 2, Insurgent, for VOYA. No excuses allowed. I’m glad I was forced into reading it.

In Beatrice’s land, which all indications is the United States in some future time, age sixteen is crucial. At that age, everyone must take aptitude tests to determine which of the five factions they are most aligned with. They can then use the results as a basis to choose a faction or pick a different one. However, choosing a faction different from the one in which he or she is raised means leaving family and faction forever, for there is little intermingling.

Beatrice was raised as an Abnegation, a faction believing in selflessness. As such, Abnegation runs the government in the hopes of improving the lot of other factions. Beatrice’s brother chooses Erudite, which is self explanatory, as is Candor and Amity. However Beatrice’s test results are inconclusive, hovering between two different factions, indicating she is a Divergent. At the last minute she chooses Dauntless, the guards of the city.

The initiation is daunting and dangerous. Not everyone will be accepted, and those that aren’t, become factionless, homeless. The initiations tests strength and mental accuity and bravery through simulations. Divergents have the rare ability to manipulate simulations, making them somewhat dangerous.

I’m not going to tell more of the story because it will give it away. However, the Divergent trilogy reminds me a lot of the Uglies trilogy by Scott Westerfeld. In that dystopian series, at age sixteen people undergo operations to be transformed from Uglies to Pretties. There is something else that occurs, unbeknownst to the teens. It is similar in Divergent.

There is a lot of action in Divergent. There is fighting, in-fighting, friendship, wariness, competition, love interests and suspense. There is evil and good. It keeps this almost 500 page book moving along at a rapid pace. My only criticism is that it is difficult to picture the locales in which the book takes place and that is something I like to do, especially for dystopian novels, because, to me, it’s important. However, this is only a minor distraction from this otherwise fast paced, well-written book. So, if you’re a dystopian fan or like action packed reading material, try Divergent.

I’m excited about starting Insurgent, due out in July, but thought I should read something soothing and heartwarming in between, so I started  A Dog’s Way Home by Bobbie Pyron. It sounds like a junior version of the movie Howard Bound: The Incredible Journey. What could be bad about a lost dog finding his way home, huh?

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