Allegiant

Allegiant cover courtesy of goodreads.comSo I figured I would round out the Divergent Trilogy in this week’s review. Remember: Here be spoilers!

At the end of Insurgent, Tris survives the execution set by Jeanine, the head of Erudite. She discovers that her brother betrayed her and that Peter, of all people, was some sort of double agent. Granted, an extremely selfish one but he saved her nonetheless. With the help of the factionless, the remaining Dauntless, Candor and even some Amity people overthrow Jeanine’s tyrannical government. And with that, they discover that their whole society was something of a lie.

Their city was founded by a group of unknown people and divided into factions to try and save humanity after some unknown war destroyed the majority of the population. They were supposed to help the Divergents when they appeared, not kill them as Jeanine and company were doing. Then the Divergents would be sent out into the world to help. With what, they don’t know yet.

After the upheaval of the factionless coup, Tris and Tobias are having a tough time in their relationship. I hesitate to call it a relationship because it seems like all they do is spend time together not talking. Not doing much of anything really but trying to find some alone time (though they never really do anything with that either). Its clear that neither of them really trust each other. They keep lying to each other about various things. It isn’t really healthy but then again, their whole society isn’t really healthy so there you go.

Anyway, after it becomes clear that the factionless government is becoming just as tyrannical, albeit in different ways, than the old one Tris, Tobias and a group calling themselves the Allegiant decide to do something. That something is a two fold plan. A small group will leave the city, just as one of the founders had explained to them all in a video recording. The rest of the Allegiant would stay and try to overthrow the factionless and reinstate the faction system.

Tris and Tobias are among the people heading out of the city. Included in their group are Tris’ Dauntless friends Christina and Uriah, Dauntless leader Tori, Peter, Caleb and an Erudite girl named Cara. Tori doesn’t make it out of the city but the rest of them do and they find out exactly what’s going on.

Their city is a giant sociological and genetic experiment. There was some sort of “purity war” many generations ago that destroyed much of the United States. In order to recover from this, the leaders of the time created these test cities. The war happened because of the belief that there were “genetically damaged” people who had made trouble (to put it lightly) and the people who were “genetically pure” were trying to fix those people in these tests. Its very Eugenics Wars from Star Trek.

Tris and the others find their world turned upside down with this new information. Tris (naturally) is one of the “genetically pure” people that these tests were trying to create. The others are “genetically damaged” and therefore not as valuable to these outside scientists. Which naturally leads them to be upset with their lot in life. It isn’t long before the Allegiant group finds their way into another civil war.

Things get resolved eventually, and I have to give Roth props for not giving a wholly happy ending to the trilogy. Despite that, I kind of found the ending unsatisfying. I think it would have been better off if she’d painted Tris as a little more selfish at the end than she was. I mean, the whole time in the books, Tris is constantly saying how selfish she is when she really, really isn’t. I think it would have been better if Tris had been selfish at the end, to show that she wasn’t this perfect, always right character. Not a bad read but could have been better. Rating: C+/B-

Insurgent

Courtesy of goodreads.comAhhhhhhh. New laptop. On with the resolution! Since I did Divergent last week, I decided to follow up with Veronica Roth’s Insurgent this week. This book is number two of three. Beware there likely be movie spoilers below. Yar.

Here we find protagonist Tris on the run from Erudite with Four (which I believe we now know as Tobias), Marcus Eaton, Peter (Erudite born Dauntless asshole) and her brother Caleb. They high tail it the Amity compound outside the city to regroup. They don’t end up staying long, as they attract trouble.

Knowing they would need help, Tris, Tobias and Caleb end up running from the Amity compound when some Erudite sympathizers come looking for them. They head for the Candor headquarters where they are arrested. From the footage that Erudite released, it looked like they were in charge of the whole bloody mess at the end of Divergent.

In order to prove their innocence, they undergo a truth serum. It forces them to admit their secrets, which proves they didn’t plan or run the Erudite campaign. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there and it puts a strain on not only Tris and Tobias’ budding relationship but Tris and her friend Christina as well.

The Erudite attack Candor not long after, injecting a bunch of people with a new long lasting serum. Tobias and the new Dauntless leaders decide they are no safer in Candor than they are back at Dauntless headquarters, so off they go back home. Meanwhile, it takes them a while but Tris and Tobias figure out that this serum allows Jeanine, the Erudite leader, to control people not only at a distance, but for a longer period of time. Jeanine promises to not do anything to those who are injected with the serum if the Divergent give themselves up.

The Dauntless Divergent are pretty much “no fucking way”. Except Tris. Tris leaves in the middle of the night and gives herself up to Erudite for testing. Naturally Tobias needs to come after her and the two of them are essentially tortured by Jeanine. We learn that Peter made it back to Erudite but to everyone’s surprise, Caleb turns out to be an Erudite sympathizer. He helped capture his sister.

And I’m going to end here since any more will give away the end of the book and the movie. So, I was a little more frustrated by Tris in this book than I was in Divergent. She has this self-sacrificing thing going for her that a lot of protagonists do but she doesn’t just think any of it through. If she just talked with someone, come up with a plan, trusted the people she claimed to trust, she might have been able to do more when she turned herself in. As it was, it was sheer luck that allowed her to (SPOILER) survive the situation.

Still, fairly solid book. I was interested enough to buy the final book in the trilogy Allegiant. Worth a read. Rating: B

Divergent

Courtesy of goodreads.comSo a couple of weeks ago I flipped on HBO and there was this movie on. I had been sort of intrigued by it when it originally came out in theaters, but not enough to spend 12 bucks (or more) on. So I stopped channel flipping and watched. And was really, really intrigued. Enough so that I went right to Amazon and bought the book it was based on, Divergent by Veronica Roth.

Dystopian fiction isn’t really something I read all that often. The blurb or first couple chapters has to really grab me. Well this one grabbed me. I found the idea of  the factions based on personality traits as opposed to societal roles rather interesting. Granted each faction had pretty set jobs they could do, but that wasn’t really the main purpose of those factions. The serums were a pretty cool piece of tech as well.

There are four factions: Erudite (who prize intelligence), Candor (who prize honesty), Dauntless (who prize courage) and Abnegation (who prize selflessness). The idea is that when you come of age, you undergo a simulation that will test which faction you belong to. There is then a sorting ceremony (Sorry folks, no singing hat here) in which you make your final choice. Most people tend to stay with the faction they’re born into but some choose to transfer, like our protagonist Tris Prior.

Tris was born into Abnegation but is a rare, fairly self aware sixteen year old. She know that the life of Abnegation is not for her because she is far too selfish for it. The trouble is, her test comes back with three results: Abnegation, Dauntless and Erudite. Usually the test comes back with one result. Her test taker warns her to be careful, that there are those who would kill her for being different.

Even so, Tris transfers to Dauntless, where danger is rife simply because they’re Dauntless. They jump on and off trains, they jump of roofs, they zip line from the tallest building in the city. All in all, they’re a bit of a crazy faction since they are, in effect, the city’s peace keeping force.

Each faction has their own initiation rites. Dauntless initiation takes place over a number of weeks and includes fighting, knife throwing and fear simulations. If you can’t make the cut, then you become one of the dreaded factionless. Being factionless in this world is sort of a cross between being homeless and being a minimum wage worker. All of the crap jobs the factioned people don’t have time for or want to do go to the factionless. In exchange they get food and clothing, and usually not enough of either.

Tris battles her way through Dauntless training, dodging people who want to kill her for any number of reasons (some of them exceedingly stupid like being better at fear sims than they are). Tris makes it through the initiation with flying colors but her trials aren’t over yet.

I won’t sum up the end of the book (what would the point of that be!) but I will say that it was a very good read and I have moved on to books two and three of this trilogy. Don’t be turned off by the fact that it’s listed as a YA novel on Amazon. Its easily read by all ages because I think there is something in there we can all relate to in some way. Rating: A