who says you have to be crowded into the living room, kitchen, and/or dining room to hold a book club? we are ladies of the 21st century. we don’t need no stinkin’ couches. so pull up a blog and join in the conversation.
the members of the BOOK HUNGRY are (alphabetically): patty blount, kelly breakey, karla nellenbach, vanessa noble, alyson peterson, cynthia reese, elizabeth ryann, and myself. here’s the deal. we pick a book to read. we discuss via email. we post a review on our individual blogs on the same day (3rd thursday of the month). we link to each other. done. i know, genius. click on each one of their names (above) and it’ll take you to their review. browse. enjoy.
this month’s BOOK HUNGRY selection is:
DIVERGENT by veronica roth
what it’s about from amazon: 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.
my opinion: in a world (today, now, the present, america) where dystopian novels are abundant, this one rises to the top. well, not above THE HUNGER GAMES or THE GRACELING, but near them. the concept of this story is fascinating, but then again, that’s one of the things i like most about dyptopian novels — seeing how the author has broken down the US and built it back up again — but what i like most is roth’s execution of the concept.
the US she presents is stark and rigid and unforgiving, but the reasons for it to have evolved that way aren’t unbelievable. sure, this society is a bit creepy and a lot unrelenting, but the five different factions make sense. those are all positive qualities to find in a person, but the disturbing part comes in that each faction has to solely commit to the pursuit of one quality (bravery, intelligence, kindness, truthfulness, selflessness) and that’s at the root of the unrest. when a large quantity of people are pigeonholed into acting a certain way at the expense of creativity and individualism, tensions will rise and battles will be fought.
another strong feature is the romance. it’s one of the most natural, realistic, and well paced relationships in YA. the way tris and four interact is charming and awesome and very much on point. their interactions are gritty and honest and lovely and confusing, as they often are when you’re a teen, heck, when you’re an adult too.
a novel of this sort is usually very plot centric, and don’t get me wrong, this is too, but it’s also surprisingly character driven. tris and four are so dynamic and richly detailed and i think it’s a big reason why this book is so successful. it doesn’t rely on the action to move it forward, but rather the characters. that’s an impressive feat for a dystopian novel.
the only weakness (for me) in this book is the ending. it feels too rushed. the pacing of the training (aka, the rest of the book) is perfect, but then the end happens andbigmomentafterbigmomentafterbigmomentplusmoreaction and whew, too much happens in way too short of a time. i’m not usually a fan of major cliffhanger endings, but somehow, i think this book would have benefited from one. (and after a discussion with sister E, we decided DIVERGENT would have been stronger if it ended earlier, though the rest of the book hungry gals loved the book as is.)
but overall, this is a dynamo of a book and YOU should read it.
and next month, we’re picking up kelly’s choice of PARADISE by judith mcnaught.