Saturday, December 8, 2012

Read-along: Divergent, Chapters 1-5

Hey, all! Some time ago, I asked you to answer a poll about a read-along, and which book you'd like to read with me. Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor and Divergent by Veronica Roth were the winners, so on Mondays up through January, I will write about my experience with Days of Blood & Starlight and on Fridays, with Divergent. Please feel free to chime in!

(As you might be able to tell, I am behind this week! Sorry.)

**IF YOU ARE NOT READING THESE BOOKS/HAVE NOT READ THEM, please be aware that there will be spoilers in these posts.**

Here's a quick Goodreads summary of Divergent by Veronica Roth:

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue--Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is--she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are--and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Veronica Roth is the "New York Times" bestselling author of "Divergent," the first in a trilogy of dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

Quick summary of Chapters 1-5:
  • Beatrice gets her hair cut by her mother, rides to school on a bus with her brother, and watches the Dauntless arrive from the train with clear longing.
  • Beatrice observes the other factions after lunch while waiting for her turn at the test. Her brother, Caleb, comes out looking pale. We meet Tori, one of the Dauntless, who gives Beatrice her test simulation.
  • Beatrice's results are inconclusive (she could be Erudite, Abnegation, and Dauntless), which means that she is one of the Divergent. Tori tells her to never tell another soul, because being Divergent is dangerous.
  • Beatrice leaves school early after such an upsetting result, and we meet one of the factionless. We see what it means to not be a part of the system in this world - to be hungry and poor and sometimes homeless (and this old man is quite creepy).
  • Beatrice lies a lot to her family / does not tell them of her results. Her father rants about the Erudite / Abnegation tensions, and how Marcus, one of the Abnegation leaders, is being accused of mistreating his son, Tobias. Caleb and Beatrice have another important talk, not sharing their secrets but Caleb essentially encouraging Beatrice to not be selfless; to make the choice for herself.
  • The Choosing Ceremony. We find out the history of each faction, and what they value most. Caleb chooses Erudite. Beatrice slices her hand over the Dauntless coals. "[She is] selfish. [She is] brave" (47).
  • I've already read Divergent, but I love how I'm picking up on so many more details than I did the first time I read the novel. I.e. all the details about the factions! Like Abnegation repaving the roads, Beatrice's family not having a car... Things about her personality - she is proud to run to get the nurse, she gets bullied for what she is, she is clumsy and trips on her slacks. It's amazing thinking about her in the beginning of Divergent, then realizing what she's like at the end.
  • Really fascinating, the test simulation and how Veronica Roth chose to interpret each action - reminds me a lot of Dumbledore - "your choices make who you are" or whatever the quote is.
  • I'm half wondering if I'm not doing justice to those summaries because half the excitement in Veronica Roth's writing is all the details! And I can't put everything in :(.
  • Also... it's amazing how quiet the book started off. A quiet, reflecting scene with the mirror and haircut and Beatrice's longing for the Dauntless VS. the end.
  • This book is so subtle with its foreshadowing. Caleb. His characterization. Her family. There are so many details to take in, and I'm thinking of the series as a whole, and admiring Veronica Roth's planning--what an excellent job she's done, planting these clues. 
  • Also, it's so easy to sympathize with Beatrice, I think, in those quiet moments with her family. How many of us have felt like we're not enough? In more ways than one.
What do you think? Tell me your thoughts on the book so far :).


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  2. But if she's selfish and brave, than she's not really divergent, is she?

    Oh man, I could not sympathize with Beatrice AT ALL, although the reason why hasn't happened yet. So.

  3. Oooh, you've made me so curious now though! Why no sympathy for Beatrice? Not even in the beginning?

  4. Eh, I don't think I cared much at the beginning either. She's such a speshul snowflake. I guess I never felt like she had a distinct personality, mostly she just complains about how unhappy she is. *shrug*

  5. @ Christina - interesting. I'd never thought about it that way before. I do think that her voice sometimes makes it hard to relate to her and her personality, though.

  6. I wrote her off completely when she decided she hated Al for crying "because he's so large and strong and male." As though crying is okay only if you're female or a shrimpy guy. At that point, I hated her, and that never changed. This also affected my evaluation of Four.

    Actually, I wouldn't mind that she's a bitch, except that she thinks she's the sweetest person ever. That gets old fast.

  7. She said that?? I don't remember that, and that would definitely irritate me. But didn't Four cry later in the book, or are you saying that because he cried, you thought more/less of him?

  8. She does think that. You'll get there soon. The big guy cries on the first night, and she thinks something to that effect.

    No idea if Four cries, but I would probably think more of him for that. Tris would probably think less of him, unless he does not reach the size at which crying is no longer acceptable.

    What I was saying was that I dislike Tris so much that I think less of Four for liking her.

    I also think the idea that she's divergent because she's ALL OF THE THINGS is absurd. But that's another matter.

    Obviously, I don't much like this book. O_O I wouldn't mind it so much if it hadn't been pitched to me as the best YA book ever by so many people.

    *goes back to hermit cave*

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