Honest and lively YA book reviews
McDonalds was closed today guys. McDonalds was closed. I needed my coffee and my hash brown and the damn place was closed. What is this? The apocalypse?! That place is never closed. I mean they're open Christmas Day for Chrissakes, in my city at least. I don't care if you have an electrical fault, people of McDonalds - I needed caffeine!! It's my choice if I'm willing to risk electrocution to obtain it!! The crushing disappointment I experienced was akin to that I felt whilst reading Insurgent - I was promised more than this.
So we pick up immediately where we left off following Divergent. Nope, Veronica Roth did not feel the need to treat us to even a hint of a recap. So Tris and the gang are thrown headlong into revolution and, I guess a war. Half the population side with those smarty-pants meany Erudites, the other half side with our brave heroes. There's a lotta angsting, getting shot at and wandering around staring at cracks in the pavement but I'm gonna let you in on a little secret - I kinda enjoyed it in a freaky, round-about sorta way. Sshh! Don't tell anyone.
This is not something I'm shouting from the rooftops because Insurgent makes no sense. I don't know why I enjoyed it. I mean, I'm not raving. I just quietly liked it.
I shouldn't have! I should be ranting about how flawed the plot is, about all the holes I had to dodge along the way. So, let's begin:
So let me tell you a little story. I work in a care environment and therefore we provide a 24 hour service. So we've got a day shift, and we've got a night shift. And they hate each other. We are very definitely divided. I'm sitting in the night shift corner, and in day shift's opinion, we're lazy and we're antisocial and we're stupid. In our eyes, day shift are unreasonable and gossipy and selfish. In a way, we've organised ourselves into factions. And it creates nothing but resentment and poison. We can't agree on anything, the service doesn't run smoothly and management (being their own isolated faction) do nothing about it besides try and oppress the fighting and bitching using disrespectful communication and force (you can probably tell I don't like working there .....) My point is, dividing people into sections with minimal contact and little understanding of each other doesn't work, so why did a bunch of scientists in Insurgent ever think think this was going to be a good framework for a social experiment intended to eventually save all of society?! Eep - there's a spoiler right there!! But I have to talk about it, I have to get it out - it's eating me alive!! Because it seems the entire plot of the book - heck - the entire plot of the series is deeply flawed. So where do we go from here?!
I mean, I just don't get it. We're back at the same old sticking point - why is it necessary, or beneficial to separate everyone into one of five factions?! Why is it normal for these people to have only one single personality trait, and why are the Divergent considered to have "magical powers" because they don't conform to this?! Like, what?! I was hoping, praying and wishing that this would be expanded on in Insurgent. I was looking for answers guys! Where are my answers goddammit! Once again, I'm left wondering why these Divergent are considered so damn special?!
""You all have functional brains, last time I checked," I say. "You can think like the Erudite, too."
"But we don't have special Divergent brains!" says Marlene. She touches mer fingertips to my scalp and squeezes lightly. "Come on, do your magic."
So, uh, this implies that the Dauntless don't have a single brain cell between them? Really?! They have no ability to think intelligently at all?! They consider having brains and brawn some kind of witchcraft do they?! What the actual hell. I don't understand why this is such an incredible gift. Who are these strange people? They're not real people, that's for sure. Real people don't have one skill. Jeez, you wouldn't survive two minutes on earth with only one single skill to rely on. The same goes for the other factions - if we go by this same "only one skill per customer please!" logic then that must mean that Candor are honest but they're stupid and miserable, Amity are cheerful to the point of seeming high, but they're dumb as hell and weak as kittens. Is this honestly the world Veronica Roth is portraying for us? And we're supposed to buy into this bullshit?! Nope. Sorry. Can't do it.
(Now maybe you understand my confusion as to why I enjoyed this. The subject matter is bizarre and hasn't moved on from the absurdity of Divergent, so why was I so drawn into the story?! Why?!)
So the biggest question of all is why did scientists feel the need to create this unnatural social structure in order to harvest Divergent individuals when we already have a world teeming with these people?! What is going on?! Allegiant better be something pretty damn special as it has a lot of explaining to do. And if I'm still confused when I reach the conclusion of this series? Yeah, I'm gonna hulk-smash all three books straight into the recycling box, cos I'm getting real tired of this shit.
I learned a long time ago that fighting with your boyfriend or husband gets you nowhere. All you end up with is a bad mood, a headache and a missing hair straightener (yes - we're that childish) I'm quite fiery. I blame it on being Leo. I could pick a fight with a broom handle, so it really is something I've had to learn to curb. I think one of the hardest lessons we all have to learn in life is that not everyone thinks the same way we do, and therefore we are in fact not the centre of the universe. Most people reach this epiphany when they leave childhood and enter the mind-boggling landscape of their teenaged years, a fearsome place littered with mines, poisonous snakes and broken glass. A lot of hard battles are fought on this brutal wasteland, and a lot of lessons are learned. Because realising that you are in fact just one of many, that everyone has their own shit going on that does not necessarily involve you and that, due to this, relationships are far more complicated than you ever could have imagined, is hard. But it's important. This understanding, that other individuals have information, feelings and motivations unique to ours is one of the things that sets us apart from the animals. It's one of the things that has allowed us to develop as a species, and into the societies we all function in today - that we can learn from other people's perspectives, that we can share knowledge and insight and work together. Being able to do this also requires some empathy - an ability to recognise the feelings and emotions being felt by another person, to appreciate that another may be feeling something you are not.
I must conclude that the above life lesson has yet to be learned by Tris and Tobias. Their relationship in Insurgent is dire. Now that they have transformed from kinda-falling-for-each-other into officially changing their Facebook statuses to "In a relationship", Tris and Tobias have gotten about as insufferable as is possible. I didn't much care for this match in Divergent and I sure as hell am not feeling it now. Holy crap, these two need to grow up! They fight constantly. Their bickering turns into an ever present, background whine throughout the entire story. Tobias accuses Tris of lying to him, Tris accuses Tobias of withholding information from her. And blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. It just goes on and on until the end of time, and we are considering throwing ourselves under the wheels of those trains just to be free of their unending arguing:
"I am almost afraid of him. I don't know what to say or do around the erratic part of him, and it is here, bubbling just beneath the surface of what he does, just like the cruel part of me. We both have a war inside of us. Sometimes it keeps us alive. Sometimes it threatens to destroy us.”
""You don't have to tell me everything right away, but I have to tell you everything right away? Can't you see how stupid that is?”"
"“I'm not going to pretend to know what's going on with you," he says. "But if you senselessly risk your life again --"
"I am not senselessly risking my life. I am trying to make sacrifices, like my parents would have, like -- "
"You are not your parents You are a sixteen-year-old girl --"
I grit my teeth. "How dare you -- "
"-- who doesn't understand that the value of a sacrifice lies in its necessity, not in throwing your life away! And if you do that again, you and I are done.”"
Holy crap, guys!! ENOUGH!!
I swear, Tris spends about 75% of the book moping and angsting. She's the master of the inner monologue. She should have an award for this achievement. I just don't know what happened. Her and Tobias' relationship seemed to morph from the kinda tedious, although I guess, somewhat sweet attraction of Divergent, based on respect and admiration, into this ugly, whiny, doomed-to-failure monster of lurve we have foisted on us for the entirety of Insurgent. I was under the impression that Tobias was attracted to Tris' bravery, her bold actions, her desire for justice. Now, all of sudden, because they're a couple I'm guessing, Tobias seems hellbent on sheltering Tris, protecting her and rescuing her. Why the hell does she suddenly need rescuing?! Why is he trying to control her at every turn? She needs to feel like she's making her parents death mean something by finishing what they started and continuing their work, despite the danger this places her in. She needs to do this to grieve and to work through her loss, to find some reason in all the sacrifices she's made. So why is Tobias preventing her from finding peace by attempting to stop her from carrying this out?! Get out of her way Tobias, you jerk!
It's like he's completely incapable of seeing anything from Tris' point of view. I mean, her parents have just died - let the girl do what she needs to do to recover! I hate Tobias for his attitude towards Tris' needs. As far as he's concerned, she doesn't have any. Like she should just sit quietly in a darkened room somewhere and wait for his instructions? Please! Just let her do her thing Tobias! It's as if, the minute they decided they were a couple he assumed this controlling, overprotective role. Like, hey girls! Want to know when a boy is really in love with you? You'll know because he'll start demanding to know your thoughts, moves and coordinates every second of the day. Yeah right! C'mon, that's not love! That's controlling and downright fucking irritating. Most of the time I just wanted Tobias to cut it the hell out!! Let the chick breathe buddy, she's dealing with a lotta shit!!
Veronica Roth seemed to have some kind of vendetta against her supporting characters, having most of them die off rather dramatically in some horrendously violent way, typically as a result of gunshot wounds. This seemed a tad unfair as Bulletproof-Tris blunders through pretty much every situation protected by her body-of-steel, entirely unharmed. Sure, she's nursing that old bullet wound to the shoulder but it can't be that bad if she's still able to hang off the underside of a bridge in spite of it. I suppose, in a way all these deaths were mildly entertaining as they provided the opportunity to play the mystery game of Who Will Die Next. It seems no-one can escape this fate, even poor unsuspecting Fernando, just doing his best to support the revolution wasn't safe from Ms Roth's blood thirst. I thought his death was unfair and gratuitous. There was really no need for him to die.
Other than being walking target practice, the supporting characters don't really bring much to the story. The characterisation is pretty 2D, which is a shame as better developed, some of them could have been interesting. Christina was somewhat entertaining and she could have had quite a good backstory, having transferred from Candor and then been reunited with her family when the fighting began. But this was never built on enough to hold my interest. So ..... Meh.
Peter also could have been a decent character, with his questionable morales and unique take on life. But again, nothing much came of him. He was just Thug With A Pulse. So that got old pretty fast.
There was waaaay too much time spent on Tris' wandering around, being eaten from the inside out by her guilt and regret and not enough time spent on moving the story forward with the help of the other characters, to really get to know anyone. And besides, I was loathe to get attached to any of them when I realised that a bloody, undignified death awaited them just around the corner. Urgh. I guess Ms Roth was going for the shock factor. But when everyone dies, I fail to be shocked any longer.
This book is a bit of an enigma to me. I enjoyed it. But I don't know why. I had a lot of issues with it, but it was somehow entertaining. There was only so much of a blind eye I could turn to the ludicrous scenario, but there was just something about it that held my interest. The writing style is decent enough. There were a few questionable similes in there, and some of the description was a bit clunky, but generally alright. The end was not the fascinating and surprising twist I was expecting. I kinda saw it coming. But still, it was okay. I mean, I wanted to be all like "oh wow!! The ENDING!! Such amazing, such awesome" but, nope. Couldn't do it. At the end of the day all I could really muster was an "Oh right then. What next?" It was all very anticlimactic. I always feel unsatisfied by cliffhanger endings though. It's unfair to be lead a merry dance all the way to the end and then be abruptly dropped with no compete conclusions. Authors - don't do this! IT'S NOT COOL!!
Know what's also not cool? Ranting. So I apologise. Over and out my friends!!
See y'all after!