***I really wanted to write a review that is spoiler free, but I’m not sure that’s possible, and gave up doing so. Proceed at your own risk if you have not read this book yet!***
I’m writing this before I read other blog posts and reviews. So that my feelings are not tainted any more than they already were by knowing ahead of time that many readers were upset with this finale.
My conclusion is that those readers are very silly. I very much liked this third installment. I thought it was well-done. If you’re mad that it’s a somewhat unhappy ending, I will remind you that this is a dystopian series.
I say “somewhat unhappy” because I think people are too invested in certain characters instead of being invested in the story or the world. Which is fine to a degree – these characters are very engaging, and they’re a huge part of why readers are drawn in. But if you’re upset only because Tris dies, or because her dying results in no happy ever after for her and Tobias, you’re overlooking the sacrifice and success of her and other characters’ actions – they’re giving their little part of the world another chance; they’re giving people hope.
And really, it’s relatively easy to guess that Tris would end up sacrificing herself. She does it several times in the series actually; it’s remarkable she survives into the third book at all. It wasn’t completely out of left field or anything.
The concept of being genetically damaged or genetically pure (GD/GP) was really fascinating to me as well as, you know, horrifying. I mean, really, humanity has never been “pure” the way they want to believe, not within this story world or outside of fiction. It takes me back to the Mudblood issue in Harry Potter, and of course all manner of racism, eugenics, and the like, in real life. It was difficult to read the discussions about GD/GP – especially Tobias’ initial reaction when he finds out he’s not really Divergent/GP – but of course, that’s exactly what gave an already powerful story its big punch.
The perspectives of the story are crucial as well. The first two books in the series are narrated solely by Tris, but book three alternates with Tobias’ point of view. This is key for many reasons, some obvious ones being the opposite sides of the GD/GP issue, and of course, that otherwise, the story would have ended with Tris’ death and no further exposition on whether their plan succeeded. I keep turning it over in my mind too – what all is changed by revealing the story in this way. I really, really love that Roth wrote it in this fashion. I think it’ll add excitement to the Tobias short stories that she’s going to release as well.
Note: I don’t mean to imply that everyone must be happy with the ending. I just think it’s important for readers to separate feelings about their expectations from feelings about what ends up being created. and definitely don’t attack the author, I mean, really. Be a decent human being, please. But I did like it! I’m ready for the film adaptations and the collections with Tobias’ perspective! Now I’ll go read all the angry reviews and probably get myself really worked up in the process.
One of those oh-so-rare dives into non-fiction for me, I thought this might be a challenging read, even though it was on audio. I did have to take breaks now and then since I was driving; not because it was boring, but rather because it was a lot of information that involved a fair amount of introspect.
I do consider myself an introvert, though I recognize that I’m not 100% an introvert by the stereotypical standards. I certainly fall on the spectrum, leaning more towards introversion, but able to cope in this “world that won’t stop talking.” That being said, I saw a lot of myself in the discussion, but found that I was often disappointed, because my somewhat low self esteem insisted that I didn’t have any of the qualities that the author was extolling in introverts; rather I just have the ones that can come across badly to others, particularly those who are extroverts, like how sometimes I may seem “anti-social.”
The idea that our culture – that is, “our” in the sense of “Western” culture, especially that in the United States – sees extroversion as the ideal is something that I’ve probably known subconsciously, but never took time to think about it. While reading this book and considering my every day interactions, I recognized how true it is though. Particularly as a semi-recent college graduate, making my way in the job world, I can see how hard it is for me and other introverts to get where we want to go because of the qualities our culture values, especially in regards to running businesses. I realize now why working at Bath & Body Works was such a terrible experience for me…
The book doesn’t explore strictly introversion and extroversion but also qualities and temperaments that are often associated with the two extremes, and how sometimes these are deceiving, such as the fact that sensitivity is most often aligned with introverts in most people’s minds, but if you think about people you know, it’s obvious that you can be sensitive and also be extroverted. The book also goes into what I think of as coping mechanisms, the possible methods that introverts can use to appear more extroverted than they are, because that’s what our culture demands, and vice versa, since even extroverts can have situations when it may behoove them to appear more introverted.
I liked this book a lot, but in the end, it’s almost kind of depressing, no matter what side you’re approaching it from. If you’re an extrovert, you realize how often introverted people get passed over regardless of the wonderful things they could potentially contribute, and as an introvert, you recognize that these values aren’t likely to change anytime soon, unless you’re willing to move somewhere where the culture leans more in favor of introverts, and so without a lot of effort and a lot of time spent feeling uncomfortable and exhausted, goals may not come as easily to you as they do to more extroverted peers.
It’s a rough world, you guys. GOOD read, though.
Yes, I have decided to revisit our beloved Harry Potter via audio book. I figure it’s a good time for that, with holiday travel coming up, so I’ll have something to listen to in the car.
I hadn’t read the books or watched the movies in quite awhile before starting this audio book, a much longer break from HP than I think I’ve ever had. I mean, sure, my internet friend Lauren didn’t read the books until this past year, so I witnessed her journey, as well as that of Muggle Hustle on Twitter, but that’s not really the same.
Jim Dale was not the perfect voice, but he did well enough that I didn’t think about it much and was able to be absorbed in the story – the story that I thought I knew top to bottom, but of course, I do not. New delights every time. :)
I had forgotten, for example, how little Dumbles interacts with Harry at the beginning. Their relationship deepens so much in the second half of the series, it’s easy to forget!
I also found myself thinking about that discussion about children’s and YA lit, where some people claim that the characters in these books are not realistic, that most children are not that bright or that precocious. I did have moments when Harry or Hermione or some other character said something and I thought “an 11-year old wouldn’t say that!” but I’m learning more and more that a) kids are obviously smarter than they are given credit for and b) the story would be harder to move along, and less engaging, if these kids were more “realistic” as defined by who knows who.
and man, Draco really is a little snot from the very get-go, isn’t he? Gee whiz.
Quite ready to keep making my way through these.
Slowly, a family began to take shape in my mind-not unlike the many I had visited-one living in a remote village, forced to make a painful choice that most of us would find unbearable. At the heart of this family, I pictured a young brother and sister, who become the unwitting victims of their family’s despair. The novel begins, then, with this single act of desperation, of sacrifice, an act that ruptures the family and ultimately becomes the tree trunk from which the novel’s many branches spread out. —Khaled Hosseini
I’m not sure Mr. Hosseini could write a happy book to save his life. I mean. Really. But as usual, it was a beautifully written, deeply moving story, and one with much less violence than his previous two, which was welcome.
I’m amazed at how he switched perspectives several times but still managed to tell a flowing story that I followed with almost no trouble; I almost didn’t notice it happening later in the book, because the changes, for the most part, feel very natural, like, “Oh, I was starting to wonder about this person’s part in this and what his or her view was.”
I enjoyed the changes in setting too: our characters are, of course, in Afghanistan, but we’re also taken to Greece and France and the US, and it’s wonderful to imagine all these locales.
I’ll spoil it a little, just enough to tell you that the focus of the story is a pair of precious siblings who are separated at a young age – at an age when the older boy feels a huge loss, and the younger girl is too little to remember what happened, but feels an odd void in her life. So…if you’re not already crying just from that… I promise you’ll cry if/when you read the whole book. Also, the girl’s name is Pari, which is “fairy” in Farsi. ADORABLE.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
I don’t usually do the vampire book thing. I did read the Twilight series when they came out, and maybe one or two others. I picked this one up because several YA authors recommended it via Twitter.
Overall? Meh. Maybe vampire books just aren’t for me.
But it was well-written. I liked that romance was not front and center, and played a much more minor role than I feel is typically seen in YA fantasy vampire books.
I feel ashamed that I don’t have anything more substantial to say, but I wasn’t super impressed, and I didn’t write this until over a week after I’d finished. I’d venture to guess if vampire books are your thing, this one is well done and different enough to be worth your time, but I don’t know what else to say.