Book Review – Inside Divergent

Title: Inside Divergent: The Initiate’s World
Author: Cecelia Bernard
Format: Paperback
Published: 2014

Okay, so you already know by now that I really really liked Divergent, and that I was pretty much okay with the series.

So I was screwing around on the library website and I saw that this book was available, so I figured what the heck.

*sigh*  I really should have quit while I was ahead.

Inside Divergent features full-color photographs on every page and a few boxes of text here and there.  It’s designed as a movie companion for a movie that hasn’t come out yet, although  all the images are movie stills.  As a side note, I have to say that I still don’t know about all the casting choices, so the book pretty much was annoying all the way through.

Even worse, the book is basically a guide to the world of Divergent, and if you’re at the point where you’ve read the books, you’re dying for the movie and you’re grasping at everything you can get your hands on, you’ll be really annoyed that this book spends most of the book telling you what the factions are.  If you’re not somebody who has read the books and you’re getting this thinking it’s a movie companion, there are spoilers.  For example, Tris’s test results.

So, uh, this book is pretty pointless.

Also, I’m a little confused as to why there is almost no new material whatsoever in this book and Cecelia Bernard – whoever she is – is listed as the author.

I’ll give it a star because it’s pretty, but that’s all it’s getting. 1/5 pages for sure.

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Book Review – Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Title: Allegiant
Author: Veronica Roth
Format: Hardback
Published: 2013
So, we’re finally at the last book of the Divergent series, and this review is going to be difficult to write because of spoilers.  Bear with me.  To see my past reviews of the series: Divergent (Book 1) or Insurgent (Book 2). You can also see Misheal’s review of the first book HERE or Katherine’s interesting review of the first couple in this post.

Now then.

The book starts with Tris and her friends in Erudite headquarters, where they’re being held for the stuff that happens in book 2.  They then leave the city and discover what is going on outside the city where nobody’s allowed to go.  Beyond that, I can’t really say much without going into a lot of spoilers.  Seriously, a LOT happens in this book.

On the plus side of things, after how much I hated book 2, this book seriously redeemed the series.  I still think that book 2 could have been condensed into a couple chapters in book 1.  But in this book, the story moved quickly, the characters were interesting to read about (for the most part), and I got a lot of the questions that I had in book 1 answered outright or at least well enough.

On the negative, I still have issues with Veronica’s decision to just go from one book to the next as easily as one chapter to the next.  These books came out like eight months or a year or something apart.  And with NOTHING to recap what happened in the last book, there are several places where I had to stop reading and try to remember what happened.  Oh, wait, why are they at Erudite…?  What does this term mean, again…?  Who is this person…?  Really, would it have killed Roth to give us a wee bit of overlap?

Also, Caleb annoyed the hell out of me.  Yes, I understand why he was there.  Yes, I get what the author was doing.  But every scene with Caleb in it annoyed me somehow.

Also, and here’s the biggest one… I have already complained about first person (especially first person present).  I hate it, and it’s almost never done well.  While Veronica’s story is good enough to make that okay, in this case it was the most annoying thing ever.  Why?  Because every single friggin’ chapter changed the main character that we were following between Tris and Four.  And while I like Tris and Four, it’s really annoying to have to remember who is talking when all anyone is saying is “I am doing this stuff right now.”   There were several instances when I was so into the book that I forgot that the POV changed until somebody referenced the character that I thought was speaking.  *sigh*

PRO TIP – when we’re all into a book and reading, we’re not stopping to look at the chapter headings to change point of view.  Just sayin’.

Honestly, it got to the point that I would only read a chapter at a time and stop whenever the POV changed.

 

End result – the good outweighed the bad for the most part, but I have to only given this a four out of five because of the POV thing.  Sorry.

Books Review: Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Title: Divergent
Insurgent
Author: Veronica Roth
Format: 
Electronic
Published: 2011 (Divergent) 2012 (Insurgent)

 

The premise of this dystopian Young Adult trilogy is straightforward enough.  I’d even argue that it is perhaps too straightforward and therein lies its primary undoing.     The books are based on the idea that future Chicago is divided into clans (here known as “factions”) based SOLELY upon the individual’s personality trait.

The first book is the story of one Special Snowflake called Beatrice who leaves the Abnegation (eg. Quaker) faction of her birth for the more daring Dauntless.   She gives herself the cool, hip new name “Tris”, jumps off a seven-story building into a pit and then makes herself over from a quiet blonde in gray to the kind of person you instinctively avoid on the subway.    Most of the first book chronicles her transition from meek child to what is supposed to be an elite warrior but is really nothing more than a person with uncontrolled impulses toward danger.     Theoretically the Dauntless faction is the security and armed force for this fragmented new Chicago.   Reading the story, however, it’s obvious that Veronica Roth has absolutely no CLUE about how one trains a soldier.  For crying out loud, the bulk of my knowledge in the subject comes from GI Jane and George RR Martin novels and even I know that discipline is the primary skill instilled in any soldier.    Yet the Dauntless faction operates on the exact opposite of discipline, praising people for acting on their most erratic impulses.    That means that fully two thirds of the first book are a frustrating mess of watching punk teenagers get even MORE annoyingly idiotic.     The last third of the book shifts gears entirely, dumping us into the inevitable war between the factions that were originally designed to keep the peace.

I can go on and on about how terrible these two books are, about how incomplete their setup is, about how much they don’t make sense.   But instead I’m going to let you in on a bit of a secret.

These are Christian Fiction.   

In her acknowledgements of the first book,  Veronica Roth says “Thank you, God, for your Son and for blessing me beyond comprehension” .   In the second book she thanks God for “keeping His promises”.   Other than those two sentences there is little mention of religion or faith in the thousand-plus pages of story.   But it’s painfully clear that these are meant as a Christian Fiction-style response to The Hunger Games.     By the middle of Insurgent the messages about peace, sacrifice, character are coming fast and furious.   Roth said that she “[tries] to avoid preaching of any kind” yet these books  read like the author has had a steady diet of heavily-polemic Christian Fiction a la Janette Oke and Ted Dekker.

I’m a devout follower of Christ Jesus, and not ashamed of that fact.   Yet I also make no bones about my extreme dislike for most fiction marketed primarily to Christians.   It has been my experience over the past 40 years of being a reader that much of the fiction sold for Christian audiences is more concerned about re-making the philosophical points found in the Bible than it is about telling a story.    Because of that the stories are often weak, illogical, profoundly uninteresting.      What I find very curious about these two books is just how odd  it is to have the weaknesses so prevalent in Christian-targeted fiction and also to not have the overt “and then Jesus saved all of Chicago” moment.       I find myself wishing that Roth had either decided to write a better series or to make this one more open in its morality play.     As it stands, these first two books in this series are doubly-hollow and wholly illogical.

Book Review – Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Insurgent
Veronica Roth
2012 Hardback

Okay, if you remember my review of Divergent, you will remember how much I was looking forward to this book.

Of course, it took me six months to get from book 1 to book 2.

Which is where my issues start.

The story starts right where the first one lets off. As in, if you could turn the page from the last one, you end up on this one.

So in this story, we’re following Tris and Four and everyone else as all hell has broken lose and they’re going to right the wrongs that were left open in the first book.
And since it had been six months since I read the first book, I found myself more preoccupied by trying to remember a book I hadn’t read in a while and less into the story.

I had had some unanswered questions, and they were touched on about 500 pages in with last second offhanded questions.

Unfortunately, this is one of those second-in-a-series books (according to her blog, the third one comes out in October) that’s just really weak and doesn’t at all stand on its own. And it doesn’t really give enough content for the length – there’s a whole lot of people moving from place to place and talking about the same thing over and over again, but with very little to tie it into the last book beyond a couple small comments about her family and a few characters that went away in the last book that are around again here. But again, if you don’t remember what happened, you’re not going to get the few references. What I wanted to see was something that would connect the two. Flashbacks, dreams, explanations to new people, something. Hell, we don’t even get a timeline to know how much time has gone on in this.

In case you can’t tell, I’m seriously disappointed.

I’m giving it a weak three out of five, but with a warning. If you read the first one, read this one – preferably soon after having read the first. Without reading the third, this is just speculation, but this is going to be one of those stories necessary for book three, I’m sure. If you haven’t read the first one, you won’t understand *anything* about this book, so just mosey on and don’t bother.

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