Divergent: Beginnings

WHY CHERI AND I ARE READING DIVERGENT.

This is how a conversation will often go between us.

Cheri: “We like books.”

Me: “Except YA books.”

Cheri: “Yeah. Like Twilight and Divergent.”

Me: “Yeah, because Divergent is lame and stuff.”

Cheri: “Why though?”

Me: “Uh.”

And that’s where it ends.

We’ve both read Twilight in a time when we were more optimistic and encouraged by friends (we read it in high school basically). We both know for a fact that we don’t like it. We’ve always had a list of stories that we don’t want to read because we think they are quintessential YA. But we aren’t really sure why we don’t like them that much. Like love triangles! But do all books even have that? Or bad world building! But some aren’t that bad…

One of those books that keeps coming up is Divergent.

divergent movie and book

Hundreds of thousands of people love this book and more now that it is a movie trilogy. We realized we could no longer get away with just saying we didn’t like it, just because. So now, we’re reading it. We’re pretty sure we’re not going to like it, but for you, dear readers, and because the movies are coming out to much hype, we are going to hate read the entire trilogy.

Hate read: v. to read angrily despite knowing that you will not like said content.

And here is the start to our crazy ride entitled:

What. The. Hell.

Oh-My-God-Who-The-Hell-Cares-Gif-On-Family-Guy

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good dystopia. 1984, Fahrenheit 451, and Brave New World all had elements about them that I really enjoyed. The best thing about all of them is that they are simultaneously a scathing indictment of humanity’s flaws and an eye opening experience. In the worlds built, they take readers on a journey that shows the dangers and powers of ideas.The validity and realism of the worlds lent itself to the fear and believability. And that’s exactly where Divergent went wrong for me. Here is a direct conversation between me and Cheri:

Chebk: DIVERGENT IS STUPID

What kind of system would force you to be something you’re not and have no surveillance to make

sure these things are being followed

Cheri: Some kind of authority figure like a teacher. It’s why school worked so well.

How far did you get?

Chebk: 20 pages

But forcing you to jump out of a train that’s moving???

Twenty pages in and I knew that this was going to be a difficult book to accept. Who the heck tells people they need to jump out of moving trains as transportation and if they don’t, then what? They’re factionless? Which is somehow synonymous with being homeless and doing jobs ‘that no one wants’ like being janitors or carpenters. Uh, those jobs need a lot of skills and knowledge and I think there are some carpenters that would like a few words with the author (I mean being all jesus-ey wasn’t jesus’s dad a carpenter? Just saying). Also, if those are jobs ‘that no one wants’, why isn’t Abnegation taking those jobs? They are selfless.

As the story continued, things just kept getting worse. The main character had similar questions to me, but they were just brushed off. Like why are there no old people in Dauntless? Guess they didn’t make the train, haha. That is literally how it happens in the book. Ha. Ha.

Guy-Jumps-Off-Moving-Train

There were oddly specific examples of how the world functions, that weren’t generalizable to the overall society/didn’t really explain anything. Like Abnegation were all policy makers and held government jobs, but is that really what those who are selfless would do? They would rule the city? I mean, what about every single other job in the entire world??? And the Dauntless. They fight. Who. What. Where. And mostly, When? We are never shown any sort of danger besides those that are internal. There is no reason to have a Dauntless faction!!!

And WHY AREN’T MORE PEOPLE DIVERGENT? Almost everyone in the entire universe will NOT fit into these cookie cutter characteristics and be able to live every aspect in them. What is the point of having a test if all you’re going to do is let the kids choose AND THEN THEY CAN CHOOSE NOT WHAT THE TEST SAID! What is the point? My mind hurts just thinking about the nonsense this book spouts.

The conclusion is I HATED this book. And I read it. I HATE READ the book. For you, dear readers. Cheri will have more coming soon and she will be more coherent, but I hated the book. And read it. And regret it.

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What are some books you’d HATE READ? or have in the past? Let us know in the comments 🙂

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7 thoughts on “Divergent: Beginnings

  1. The problem people have when walking into the Divergent trilogy is they expect it to be like classic dystopia. However I don’t think Roth was going for that, she constructed the world to reflect how society wants to put us all into simple, easy to understand categories. Each of the factions represent a way of life that we have to follow based on ideological rules. Just “be yourself” so long as who you are fits in with society’s simple stereotypes, you have a “choice” but only within the limits of the status quo.

    This is what she’s trying to show us, that society claims to give us a choice of what we can become but in reality we are constantly told what we are supposed to be.

    As for the “jumping off trains” thing, that’s part of the initiation. Is it insane? Yes, it’s supposed to be. The Dauntless have to shove aside their fears and common sense in order to be part of the group. There’s plenty of cliques in high school that do stupid things and teens will do anything to be accepted into a group. You know how your Mom would ask “if your friends jumped off of a cliff would you jump too?” and you would say “no” because it’s a dumb idea. Yet, if you were surrounded by your peers who are telling you to jump, or else you’re worthless and you don’t belong… you’re “factionless”. This is why the people in the story have no desire to be factionless, Roth is telling us we would rather jump off of a moving train than spend our lives without belonging to a group. The society of Divergent uses the human need to belong against the population in order to maintain control. There are no cameras because being watched and judged by everyone is all you need to make people obey. They fall in line to fit in, they obey because they have to.

    Individuality is frowned upon because it doesn’t fit in with the system, there could be several people who are divergent but try to hide who they are in order to survive. I always thought this was a parallel to hate crimes like violent racism or homophobia. The victims did nothing wrong, they were only acting like themselves which is why (in the perpetrators mind) they must be “punished”. Those people who are “divergent” from society should only live within the confines of what is deemed acceptable. If you fit in you are held with great respect even if you are an arrogant moron, but if you don’t fit in you are shunned by the world no matter how talented, skilled, or honourable you are.

    That’s my interpretation of the world, it’s the extreme side of taking “fitting in” and showing how the world would suffer from trying to stereotype the human race. You could say I’m giving the author too much credit but I’ve heard plenty of people give YA books a bad rap simply because they’re YA books. Have YA books earned their reputation of being teenage cheesecake? Yes, definitely, but I find it ironic that people assume this book is exactly like all the others when really it’s individual in it’s own right. People lump it together with Hunger Games and Twilight simply because it’s labelled as YA which in itself shows how our world uses stereotypes to box in people’s individuality in exchange for blanket statements and careless judgement against others.

    I’m not saying this book is perfect, but it does have more to it if you give it a closer look. After all, you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.

    P.S Problems I had with the book:

    – Factionless could’ve been an insane asylum instead so the danger of not being in a group would be amped up. For example if you didn’t make it into a group you’d be tested and drugged so they could figure out “why you don’t fit in” but they’ve never found a “cure” because you can’t change who a person is to fit into who you want them to be

    – Tris and Four’s romance feels kind of off to me. I like the characters separately but their romance… I dunno it’s just kind of bland and uninteresting to me.

    – The middle is just Tris training and… going zip lining. Not much happens until everyone gets brainwashed and it’s a huge gun battle

    – There’s a lot of questions about how the world works. I think Roth’s dystopia message gets across but she glosses over a lot of important questions. Still a cool dystopia, but there’s lots of holes hidden in the woodwork.

    – WAY TOO MANY CHARACTERS you lose track who is who because of all the names. It helps that there’s a lot of character deaths so it does skim the numbers but I feel like she should’ve cut down on the character amount so the deaths would have more impact.

    – Not enough Jeanie. Jeanie is an awesome villain and I love to hate her. She’s not in the series very much though, and I think it would’ve improved greatly if she was more active in the story

    – Tris can get whiny at times, not as much as Bella or anything but there were one or two moments where I was like “I KNOW! YOUR LIFE SUCKS! MOVE ON!” but I’m not very patient when it comes to characters complaining anyway. I know you need drama but I came here for dystopia metaphors and explosions.

    – Caleb… just Caleb… if you don’t know already you’ll find out why.

    So yeah, I don’t think the book is perfect but I don’t think it’s amongst the growing list of “bad YA books” it uses the dystopia setting to deliver a message, it’s mostly targeted at teenagers though because fitting in is a huge deal and it makes sense that it would be targeted at this demographic. Sure it has a romance but at least it’s not a love triangle, and hey there’s a decent villain once you get to meet her. All I’m saying is there’s more to the story than you give it credit for.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time for such a thorough comment!

      I think that you sort of agree with me on why I disliked the book — it wasn’t a believable world. Your argument seems more about why that should be okay. I still think that a credible world lends itself to the point of dystopias which is to look critically about certain aspects of the world. You hit on a few things that Cheri will cover in our post tomorrow when she looks at it with more of a critical eye. I admit that I had a bias against this book that I felt has been realized, but I now have read some YA that I really enjoyed (see my review of The Young Elites). I think that books and authors should not alter their writings in a fashion that makes it easier to digest under the guise of writing for a younger audience. Teens will read the ‘classic dystopias’ and their message is not diluted.

      I think teens deserve better and aren’t getting it, so I still feel divergent does not live up to the hype.

      -Chebk

      Like

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