[seventh and eighth books]

It's official. I am out of control. I cannot stop reading!! But hey, I'll take being obsessed with reading over any other obsession.

First up was Veronica Roth's Divergent, the first book in the Divergent series.

In dystopian Chicago, society is divided into 5 factions. Each faction is dedicated to the cultivation of one specific trait: the Abnegation are selfless, the Erudite are wise, the Amity are peaceful, the Candor are truthful, and the Dauntless are brave. When they turn 16, citizens choose which faction they will belong to for the rest of their lives after taking an aptitude test. While the test isn't determinative, it helps the teens make their decision by revealing which faction their personality most closely aligns with. Beatrice Prior, along with the other 16 year olds, must make this decision. Beatrice is torn between factions: does she choose the faction she grew up in and thus choose to remain with her family? Or does she follow the part of heart that wants more than a life in Abnegation? When Beatrice makes the decision to join another faction, one that no one would have thought she would join, she is forced to endure a brutal initiation and learn to live with the consequences of that monumental decision. However Beatrice discovers that society stands on the edge of civil war and she soon has much more to worry about.

I honestly don't know how I feel about this book. I feel conflicted. I didn't particular care for it, yet I couldn't seem to put it down. While the reader can relate to Prior, she's often not particular likeable or a good person. As much as the book tries to be an exploration of human nature, it frequently falls short, instead resorting to transparent, grandiose quotes that don't actually fit into the narration or jive with the character's normal monologue. I know Roth wanted to build more background information about the world as the series continues, but the first book is left a little too vague. I had a hard time envisioning and understanding Roth's dystopian society. All that being said, the books are still fun to read. If you're looking for a smart comment on society, look elsewhere. But if you're looking for a fun YA read, go for Divergent.

Next up was book #2 in the Divergent series, Insurgent.

Insurgent picks up where Divergent left off. Society is one step closer to civil war and the closer it gets, the more its members are forced to adapt. And in the aftermath of an attack, factions are left divided. The old adage of faction before blood no longer rings true. Beatrice is left to deal with the consequences, not just of the attack itself but also of the decisions she made along the way. Beatrice confronts her own demons and the misconceptions she held about other factions.

Most of what I said for the last review holds true here as well. While some of the holes in the last book were filled in this one, too many are still left open. I understand that this is a series and not all the information should be given up front. That doesn't justify leaving too many holes, at least in my opinion. For the first half of the book I disliked Beatrice even more than I disliked her in the first book. Yes she was stricken with grief and may not have been thinking rationally. But somehow that seems insufficient to explain her actions in this book. Ultimately Beatrice makes a decision that changes the way I feel about her. She also experiences forgiveness for some of the mistakes she made and that seems to changer her as well (a bit transparently but I'm not arguing with the end results: a more sympathetic Beatrice Prior). I do think I'll read the third book when it comes out, mostly because I am still curious about how Beatrice develops and how society responds to the revelation at the end of the book.

Like I said before, the Divergent series is a  fun, easy read. It's not the deep evaluation of human character that it tries to be, but it's still good.


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