So last weekend, I went and bought the Divergent trilogy. I’d been told by a few people, teenagers and adults, that it was a good read and I would enjoy it. Meh…
The concept behind this world is interesting and thought provoking, but mostly only if you do it inside your own head. The basic premise, without spoilers, is that this world consists of four factions. If you do not belong to one, or fail your initiation at age 16 into the faction of your choosing, you become Factionless. The Factionless must live outside of society while still being expected to handle the down and dirty business of everyday life, like garbage pickup and other ‘undesirable’ occupations.
Once you choose your Faction, it becomes your family, stronger than blood. The four factions are called Dauntless, Abnegation, Erudite, and Candor. One of the things that bothered me about these books is that, at the end of the first one, there was an author Q & A wherein the author stated that her readers had questioned whether or not she had made up the faction names. Now, I’m a word geek and I understand not everyone asks for dictionaries for their birthday and then proceeds to read them when they’re bored. I get that there are plenty of people who would legitimately be unsure of the exact definitions of these words. To say that your readers don’t even know that these words are actual words? I found it kind of insulting, to readers and writers alike, and the fact that an author, a purveyor of words, would just throw that out there stuck in my craw. Maybe that’s just me.
Other than that, I dug the idea of the Factions as a literary machination and enjoyed some of the characters. Is that what they call ‘damning with faint praise’?
The story took a longer time than most to give you some clues as to how the dystopian society ended up as such. There are other tales that do the same, but with this world so closely aping remnants of our current society, up to and including that they live in a wrecked out Chicago, it left a discordant note in my reading brain. Tell or do not tell, there is no middle ground for me. Although I did forgive the Hunger Games for the same thing. That’s probably because I found the short-sentenced, gritty, and fast paced Hunger Games trilogy much more engaging.
Mostly, I unfortunately found the writing in Divergent, Allegiant, and Insurgent ham handed and repetitive. Once Veronica Roth found a turn of phrase that she liked, she really stuck to it. Shiny bits gleamed through and I reached out for them, wanting to feel a connection, but unfortunately you never really got much below the surface with these characters.
In summation, enjoyable reading to wile away boredom, but I’m pissed I spent the money to buy them. I am, upon occasion, a numbskull.
Now, on the other side of the spectrum, holy shit am I in love with the Mortal Instruments series so far.
City of Bones, book 1 of the 6 book series, is the one that got made into a movie last year. That was all that I knew about it before I bought the boxed set. It didn’t seem to have the same kind of fervor and fanfare as either the Hunger Games or the Divergent movies, but the fan base was obviously large enough to warrant some movie studio trying to cash in during the YA phenomenon. I’ve no idea how well the movie did, although I heard that the sequel either starts filming this year or will be released this year. I do know that I figure it to be almost impossible for them to muck it up as much as they did the Hunger Games.
I felt so refreshed about 10 pages into this book – Cassandra Clare not only has writing skill, she also has writing talent. She uses intelligent language (as opposed to pandering to kids like they’re morons who think real words are made up words), and writes realistic dialogue, which is a thing that I cannot praise enough. Her characters are likable and fallible, endearing and repulsive, and I am deeply invested in them already. Damn it. I have a feeling that somewhere, or in many somewheres, I’ll be ugly crying about yet more fictional people. DAMN IT.
So far, throughout the fist book and the second, City of Ashes, I’ve met humans and werewolves, vampires, warlocks, numerous types of demons, altered humans, angels, inquisitors, fae folk, and Hugin the Raven. I’ve been taken through New York and the City of Bones, through portals, underground, underwater, and flown through the sky on a motorcycle that runs on demon energies. Not to mention been introduced to weaponry, familial histories, twists and turns, love and heartbreak, sickness, death, and a coming out (I’m actually still in the middle of this story arc).
With so many chances to skimp on the delicious details that really bring worlds to life, it doesn’t feel like I’m ever being rushed through anything. I can SEE everything.
Basic summation of the plot line so far- Shadowhunters are the descendants of those gifted by angels with special powers to protect humanity and fight the Downworlders, who are pretty much every kind of demon (who come from other dimensions) or earth bound naughty supernatural creature. Some long ago trouble amongst their own has come back to haunt- a charismatic man who doesn’t believe there should be any Accord with werewolves and vamps as they’re all dirty beasts, caused a rift that is now being opened again, because of reasons. Turns out the bad guy wasn’t dead after all! DUN DUN DUUUUUUUNNNNN…..
Yes, the underlying story has been told before. Duh, since they mostly all have.
This woman knows her mythology though, she knows and understands who she is writing into creation and she is 100% committed to telling their story. They may be tales as old as time, but these are fresh and interesting angles and frankly, right now I’m finding myself extremely annoyed that the thing that I need to do to get paid is standing in the way of my reading time…
**update*** So, apparently there’s an unmemorable Faction in Divergent, because I totally forgot that there’s a fifth one called Amity. I just re-discovered it because my son started reading the series yesterday and we were talking about it. Also, they mucked up The Mortal Instruments movie SOOOOO badly, that not only was it worse than the messes that are the Hunger Games movies, the fan reaction was so poor that they have shelved the second movie that they had been planning to make for further consideration…