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A novel by Veronica Roth
(2012, Katherine Tegen Books)

Divergent, book 2

As the takeover of the city continues, Tris and her friends make their way from faction to faction to reveal what they know and try to stop the bloodshed and control syrum.


-- First reading (paperback)
July 9th to 18th, 2018


I didn’t like whiny Tris, who persisted through most of the book because of the events of the previous one. I understand that she was going through post-traumatic stress disorder, and that it affects the brain for a long time, but the character became unbearable throughout most of the book. I felt the same way about Katniss through much of Mockingjay. The events of the book themselves were interesting and a lot of it made sense, pushing the story forward in an enjoyable manner, and we finally get to visit the other factions, and see their way of life. I find it interesting that every faction has its own version of the serums. Were they all created by Erudite? Who else has the knowledge and ability, in this faction system?

Spoiler review:

While the movie version of Divergent did a good job of representing the book, and even improved on some of it, such as technology, this book was so much better than the movie version, and I wonder why so much was changed. The movie could have been just as good as the first one.

The book starts in Amity, where it's obvious that Tris and the rest of the refugees don't belong. The Dauntless want action, and the Abnegation don't know how not to serve, or to serve in a communal way. I don't see how the Amity way of government is sustainable, though it does have its merits. Talking through a solution is definitely better than bullying, though it's clear that some parts of it don't come away satisfied. Being Amity, they have become good at hiding it. The success of this part of the book comes in the way Tris and Four don't fit in. Some of the other girls start making fun of Tris, and she overhears Marcus and the Amity leader talking about some hidden thing. When Tris confronts him about it, she discovers that she hates him for what he did to Tobias, and that her hatred is even stronger than her desire to know what he's hiding. It's here that she learns about the Abnegation serum to wipe people's minds; it's used on people who wander too far from the limits beyond the city. Amity has their own serum, a happy serum that makes Tris forget all about her problems, for a while.

As Dauntless invade Amity, Tris and the others escape on a train. It's funny that they have to break back into the city to get on it. There, they are confronted by the factionless, where Tobias meets his mother, who is leading the factionless into preparation for a rebellion.

Tris then travels to Candor, where a serum is used to make her tell the truth. Tobias tells of his father and the beatings he had to withstand. Tris tells of how she killed Will. Christina, of course, is very upset and won't talk to her. It's only much later, when Christina witnesses the effects of the simulation serum, that she manages to forgive.

The leader of Candor is marginalized by the simulation serum, and I think the most damning line of the entire book is where he is told that Candor is the only faction that is meaningless, the only one that they can do without completely. They need Erudite for progress, Abnegation to take care of people, Dauntless for protection, and Amity to provide them with food. But truth is not important to Jeanine. Only gaining control. And with a raid on Candor, she almost succeeds.

Here is where the movie diverges so much from the book that it becomes unrecognizable. Jeanine takes remote control of Dauntless and Candor, putting the latter on the streets around the Erudite headquarters.

Tris and the others break into Erudite headquarters while the factionless attack, but they are separated. Christina is shot, so Tris enters the hallway trap on her own -it's a simulation not unlike her fear landscape. Beyond, she finds Marcus struggling with Jeanine, and Tris tips the balance. Jeanine is shot. However, Tobias' mother takes immediate control, seizing weapons from the Dauntless, and now she plans to make a communist society, where everyone does all the jobs. This kind of society is just as bad as the one they just left behind.

All throughout the book, Tobias is on Tris' case about her reckless behavior, and he's right. But the book takes place from Tris' point of view, so all we get is her annoyance, and her internal rebuttal of his arguments. She's suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, and it's very annoying the way she argues against common sense and puts herself in all sorts of danger, even though it furthers the plot. And it's not the danger part that was annoying. It's the way she justifies it, and the way she's angry all the time, whining about how unfair everyone is treating her, while she goes off and does her own thing. Even at the end, when she snaps out of it, she's less than likable, unlike the girl we saw all throughout Divergent.

As for Tobias, he does all he can, with split emotions between Tris, his mother and Marcus. They each have a different kind of hold over him, and they are all equally strong, in different ways. Marcus causes Tobias to shrink back in fear, no matter how illogical it is. He yearns for his mother's way of life, a way out of the Dauntless that's tearing him apart. And Tris accepts him for who he is, not expecting him to fit into a certain lifestyle -because she can't do that, either. She doesn't necessarily want to overthrow the government, but to get rid of Jeanine, who killed her parents and wants to get rid of all who oppose her. While Tobias' mother wants to replace the current regime with one that she controls, Tris doesn't really care if the factions are maintained or destroyed. Tobias agrees more with his mother -that the factions are bad- but doesn't think his mother's way is the right way, either.

So Tobias releases the message from the founders of the city, that they are searching for Divergents, and once the Divergents are achieved, that they should go outside the city to join society again.

The journey is not over yet, and the fate of the city has not yet been decided.


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