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Carpe Librum

Bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.


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Historical Novel Society

Divergent  - Veronica Roth I wish I could say that this book is too predictable, the premise too primed for inevitable disaster, and the main character too normal to be as special as she is supposed to be. Part of me didn't like the number of times we are reminded that Beatrice is short and candors can't lie. I would like to point out that Four's real identity was easy to guess, as was Beatrice's mother's origins.

The fact is though that despite any of these downfalls, Divergent completely sucked me in and I couldn't put it down. I finished this 487 page book in less than 24 hours because the quick-moving action and ever changing situations make it difficult to set aside. Maybe Beatrice herself wasn't overly endearing, and possibly I thought her eye roll inducing at times, but the overall cast of characters and the plot they are a part of is enthralling. So, the faction names are a little lame, as is the idea that we could choose one of five possible characteristics to define us for the rest of our lives, but I guess that's kind of the point. That's why it all falls apart.

This Hunger Games style novel takes place in a futuristic Chicago where 16 year olds are forced to choose which of the five factions they will spend the rest of their life in. Abnegation prizes selflessness above all things, which in its extreme leads to boredom and joylessness. Candor is honest to the point of tactlessness. Dauntless is brave to the extent of pointless stupidity. Amity reminded me of peace loving hippies of the 60s. Finally Erudite are those who worship knowledge kind of like evil geniuses. I know, you're already thinking, "well, there's no way that could work out." You're right, but I bet it still disintegrates in a way you wouldn't guess.

My only serious complaint about this book is the sexual content. Though the main characters are 16 years old, the writing style makes this book quite appropriate for 11-13 year olds, until you get to the part where the sexual exploration starts. There is nothing too explicit - touching, kissing, fantasizing - but a little more than I would want my kids reading.

This book does a good job of reminding us that it takes all kinds of people to have a successful society. Yes, we need people who are brave, but are also selfless, and it doesn't hurt to be smart, kind, and truthful as well. Maybe focusing on only one of these makes us lose sight of what is great about these other characteristics and other people. The subtitle of this book is "One choice can transform you." If you make the choice to pick it up, you will likely not be able to put it down.