11

The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger

duffBlurb:¬†Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn‚Äôt think she‚Äôs the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She‚Äôs also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her ‚Äúthe Duff,‚ÄĚ she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren’t so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.


This book gave me acid reflux. And I don’t mean that in a good way.

I’ll say this now:¬†To all the girls who ever felt lesser, who didn’t feel beautiful, who felt like they could have been better, you deserve better than Bianca Piper.

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5

Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

rebel belleI love analyzing books with a critical lens and unpicking all of its philosophical, sociological, and psychological themes.

But once in a while, I find a book that I just can’t¬†critically analyze.¬†Rebel Belle¬†is one of those books, and you know what? That’s not a bad thing at all.

Rebel Belle is a mix between a magical/supernatural comedy, centering on Harper Price, a stereotypical Southern belle who becomes a reluctant magical protector of an just-as-unlikely boy. It’s a cute story, one that is¬†a visual¬†blend of pink frills laced¬†with magic and action. Living in a place far removed from the American Deep South, where antebellum fashion and the Southern accent were more likely to be silly, satirical representations, I suppose it made the book funnier from a outsider’s perspective.

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12

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

red risingWith its themes of oppression, revolution, resistance and war, mixed in with an¬†analysis of how war and all its hues impact the human psyche,¬†and battles of strength, cunning, and wit, Red Rising¬†is the young adult dystopian novel that I’ve been waiting for. And it was bloody fantastic.

People say that this book likens to¬†The Hunger Games.¬†Both have a similar feel: Oppressed protagonist becomes an unlikely hero as they become mechanisms of resistance and subverts of their power-hungry oppressors. But whilst¬†The Hunger Games¬†explores dehumanization and society’s obsession of reality television (both valid points to make),¬†Red Rising¬†explores the machinations and enduring effects of colonialism, and the military-industrial complex.

Whilst The Hunger Games is about how Katniss became a symbol of resistance with open defiance against the Capitol, Red Rising is about how its protagonist, Darrow, subverts the Society by penetrating the ranks of his oppressors by becoming one of them. Though I say this with bias because I am not a fan of The Hunger Games (though I see the importance of its themes), I prefer the subtle approach of Red Rising. There are so many opportunities to explore a variety of ideas and themes, and Pierce Brown takes every opportunity to flesh them out. Furthermore, Brown is a better writer; far more engaging, sophisticated, and thoughtful.

But enough of¬†The Hunger Games and more¬†on Red Rising.¬†It tells the story of Darrow, a lowly Mars miner who is a Red, the lowest caste¬†in the universe’s now highly stratified society. Humankind has now colonized other planets, and the workers of Mars have been tasked to mine helium-3 to make terraformation in¬†Mars possible.

I salute you. I love you. The helium-3 that you mine is the lifeblood of the terraforming process … And soon, when Mars is habitable, when you brave pioneers have made ready the red planet for us softer Colors, we will join you and you will be held in highest esteem beneath the sky your toil created.

…¬†Or so they have been led to believe.

And isn’t that the most cruel and most beautiful lie of all? To be told that all your hard work will be worthwhile in the end, never mind your peers lost to poverty and death, that it will be celebrated and that you will one day – but not today – rise above your suffering? Never mind that those who¬†oppress you are those that ultimately gain, and that the freedom you yearn will only be when you are no longer a viable, useful being? So long as you work hard, you will be rewarded at the end —¬†this is called the Protestant work ethic, and Weber, in his book, asserted that this work ethic is attributed the widespread of the system that depends on inequality and exploitation¬†to function: capitalism.

Red Rising¬†explores a variety of themes that are both intriguing¬†and necessary.¬†Red Rising¬†is set mostly in the Institute – a place where the top-tiered Golds are put to the test and examined¬†to earn apprenticeships and sponsors. The Institute is all at once a game of warfare, a test, and an education. But¬†the Institute is more than that. The Institute is also an institution of ideology and indoctrination. It doesn’t educate, per se, but it teaches society’s best the ways of combat and warfare – not peacemaking, not demokracy (as they call it), but lessons that propagate militarization and social Darwinism.

This aspect is Brown’s narrative on how some institutions instill ideology and rhetoric in its people is¬†not just any ideology or rhetoric. It is the Society’s rhetoric. The best soldiers aren’t those who fight the best; the best¬†soldiers are those that believe, deeply and truly, that what they are fighting for is right. That is what the Institution is trying to create: soldiers who are dauntless in the Society’s belief system.

There is an interesting ongoing analysis of how Darrow’s physical transformation to enter the Golds ranks begins¬†to affect who he is underneath. Though Darrow is the champion of the Sons of Ares, a spearhead in a¬†revolution,¬†he finds friendship and unlikely siblings¬†with those who would be his enemies, he discovers¬†how dark and deep the human psyche¬†can descend¬†in the face of adversary and desperation, and he finds both glory¬†and dangers in leadership. More so, Darrow slowly learns that there is¬†never just leading an army because you call yourself a leader; to lead is to find the balance between loyalty, respect, and fear. Darrow makes mistakes, some that are very costly and¬†set him on a path of failure, and added on top, he must wade through a cesspool of deceit.

Brown analyses how war and conflict affect people and their connections with others. Red Rising has betrayal Рa heck load of it Рand there are complex relationships between Darrow and a multitude of characters; how their personalities conflict, their ideologies and worldviews collide in some places and align in others, where and how characters earn or place their loyalties, relationships founded on co-dependence or necessity, and even how valued and close friendships can be torn apart in moments of truth. (And now is the perfect moment to mention that if you have read Red Rising, you should also read Art of War by Sun Zi.)

Red Rising is a fantastically written book. Sure, Darrow is a bit of a Gary Stu and he does come out on top, but I believe books like these should be approached as something metaphorical rather than something literal. Sometimes characters in such dystopians are representations of something Рwhether an ideology, a group of people, or even something as simple as a belief. Red Rising is that sort of book. The writing is subtle, but the themes are not. For that, this book may not be enjoyable to some, but I loved Snowpiercer, so, I suppose you can see my taste.

Oh, I loved this book so much. It was so wonderful, so thrilling, and incredibly exciting. Even when there was nothing happening plot-wise, they¬†were instead¬†moments when Darrow became introspective and observant.¬†And honestly,¬†Red Rising¬†is¬†my kind of book, and I can’t wait to read¬†The Golden Sun.¬†I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.

Note: Thank you Aentee @ Read at Midnight for recommending this book! I don’t know how you knew I’d like it, but I LOVED it. Thank you!

Rating: 5/5

Book Information
Book Name: Red Rising
Book Series: Red Rising #1
Author: Pierce Brown
Publisher: Del Rey Books

5

Let’s Talk About: ‘Strong Female Characters’

As a feminist, I love seeing a diversity of characters in books or movies. I love seeing female protagonists. I love seeing characters of colour. I love seeing characters that are genderqueer or fit into the LGBTQ+ spectrum. I love seeing characters with disabilities. In other words: I love it when I see a diversity of characters.

As someone who doesn’t see herself in mainstream media often (as in, seeing Asian female characters), having diversity for the sake of diversity isn’t always enough. I want diverse characters, but I also want them to be complex and well-written; characters that break the mould, characters not written according to their stereotypes, characters that embody the idea that difference can be celebrated and respected in writing.

But today, I’m not really talking about diversity. Today, I am talking about ‘strong female characters’.

I’ve put quotation marks around the phrase, not because I don’t believe in the ideal, but because I think our thirst for ‘strong female characters’ has created an over-simplified blueprint of how female characters ought to be, and any female character that doesn’t meet these specifications are dismissed as weak.

What do I mean by ‘strong female characters’ anyway? ‘Strong female characters’, as inferred¬†from numerous reviewers on Goodreads, may be characters that:

  • are ‘kickass’ or ‘badass’ – in attitude, appearance, or ability;
  • are able to physically fight;
  • do not need rescuing;
  • assume a dominant position in a group; and
  • outspoken and assertive

Looking at the list, I can see why these traits are so appealing. (Heck, they appeal to me too.) These traits are born from the want for something better than the stereotypical, negative portrayals of women.¬†Where¬†women are portrayed as the ‘damsel in distress’, namely being weak, physically unable to defend themselves and therefore need rescuing from a stronger (often male) character, are in subservient positions (often serving men) – anything that shackled us or perpetuated the idea that women¬†can’t do it. Who can blame us for wanting characters that defied these sexist beliefs? Characters with these traits empower us, and there is no fault in that.

And yet, the¬†‘strong female character’, and what it has become today, troubles me. It troubles me when I see reviewers or fellow women automatically dismiss a female character because she does not meet the criteria above, or are too quick to celebrate ones that do.

‘She showed x, y, z moments of weakness!’ Bad female character. ‘She can’t defend herself! She needed saving!’ Bad female character. ‘She was so scared and she was¬†useless!’ Bad female character. (Exaggerations, but you¬†see my point.)

What worries¬†me is our inability to move beyond the ‘strong female character’ archetype; that we should expect female characters to have¬†these characteristics, and anything less is not worthy of our attention.

This isn’t about our expectations and imposing them on writers. This is how we, readers, perceive and define what ‘strength’ means. This is about how this idea of ‘strength’ is putting a constraint on how we can portray female characters. This gravitation towards a better representation of women is important for feminism and its allies, but the repercussion is that now we seek a very narrow archetype of women that¬†does not represent every woman.¬†

The problem I have with the ‘strong female character’ criteria, specifically the one I listed above, is that it is tied¬†very closely¬†to ideals of masculinity. Look at the media and you‚Äôll find that, more often than not, male characters are:

  • assertive
  • in dominant positions
  • do the rescuing
  • can fight a physical fight

(Sound familiar?) There is nothing wrong if a woman has these traits, but it is such a small, narrow slice of what women could be.

So my question is: what if a woman isn’t all those things? Does that make¬†her weak? Does that automatically make her a bad character?

I really hope not.

What if ‘being assertive’ is perceived as disrespect in some cultures? Does that make the female character weak if she remains quiet? Of course not, and it shouldn’t be perceived that way. And should having a moment of being assertive be perceived as ‘character growth’? Not always, lest it be a eurocentric narrative.

Needless to say, every woman is different. Every woman has their own history, their own past, their own memories, their own aspirations, their own beliefs – the list goes on. All women are unique beings that are constantly growing and changing. It is unfair to expect women, and in extension female characters, to¬†have all of these ‘strong female character’ traits all the time. It’s unrealistic! It’s silly. Strength may be¬†physical strength, but strength can also be compassion, it can be bravery, it can be facing their fears, it can be forgiveness.

This is what I want: I want more than ‘strong female characters’.

I want¬†female characters¬†from a variety of backgrounds, that have a variety of histories, ideas, attitudes, and personalities. I want female characters¬†to show moments of weakness in the face of adversary to show their own version of strength. I don‚Äôt really care if they are ‘strong’ or ‘weak’, but I want female characters¬†to be written so that they are human ‚Äď deep, complex and adhere to their imagined cultural context, their past, their age, their experiences, their ideologies or anything that makes them¬†them, so that we can empathize with them or dislike them for their character, rather than their portrayal as a woman.

More so, I want to learn something from these female characters. I want to empathize with them, feel their pain, and feel their joy. If a female character is strong all the time, what is there to learn from her strength? Is it not through weakness, adversary and our mistakes (no matter how much we regret them) that we grow, learn, and change as human beings?

I want authors to write female characters with flaws without fear of their readers dismissing the characters as weak or bad. Real flaws, like being a coward or being selfish (in which they would hopefully overcome), not flaws like unable to dance or clumsy.

I want well-written female characters with depth and complexity, that show the beauty of humanness, and inspire us or change us.


Thanks for reading such a long post! I think this post may be the start of a new series, in which I write about topics (related to reading, of course!) that interest me. Let’s Talk About… sounds kind of catchy!

If you have any thoughts or comments, please share in the below! I’d love to hear your thoughts, and this is open to debate and discussion!

To end this post, do you have any characters (not just female characters Рany!) that inspired you, changed you, or made a big impact? Share in the comments below!

5

The Leveller by Julia Durango

levellerBlurb: Nixy Bauer is used to her classmates being very, very unhappy to see her. After all, she’s a bounty hunter in a virtual reality gaming world. Kids in the MEEP, as they call it, play entirely with their minds, while their bodies languish in a sleeplike state on the couch. Irritated parents, looking to wrench their kids back to reality, hire Nixy to jump into the game and retrieve them.

But when the game’s billionaire developer loses track of his own son in the MEEP, Nixy is in for the biggest challenge of her bounty-hunting career.


I grew up with video games. I started with the cute kids games like Spyro and Crash Bandicoot, and have since ventured into games like Final Fantasy VIII, that introduced concepts such as moral relativism and war to me when I was only eight years old (and is now one of my most precious and loved games). Games are an awesome medium; not only are they a place to lose yourself in an immersive world for those treasured moments of escapism, they are also a place to have fun, explore, discover, learn, and feel.

I could go on and on about how much video games mean to me, but to put it in a succinct sentence: I love video games, and from that, I’d like to say I know video games.

So when I read¬†The Leveller‘s summary, I thought, ‘Heck yes! Finally a book about advanced virtual reality!’¬†I was excited. I picked up¬†The Leveller¬†as soon as I could so I could, hopefully, relive the excitement of discovering a new virtual world. Conveying this concept with words rather than visual media – and be convincing – would have been a challenge. But it’s not impossible. So¬†I hoped.

Instead, The Leveller was a disappointing read that fails to have any depth. The virtual reality, known as the MEEP, is a shallow portrayal of what virtual reality could be. There is nothing about the MEEP that is compelling or complex, and, as far as I can tell, nothing unique or interesting about it either. Have a look at the likes of Log Horizon, .hack//Sign, and Sword Art Online* who, in varying degrees, explore the psychological, sociological, and interpersonal questions that come with being part of a virtual reality.

What does reality mean? Are my feelings authentic in the virtual world? Are¬†the¬†things that affect us and move us in virtual reality ‘real’? Is virtual reality a dimension of reality or not real at all?¬†Granted, I do not expect¬†The Leveller¬†to answer all of these questions in the short book that it is. But I do expect virtual reality in itself to be explored to a degree. Unfortunately,¬†The Leveller¬†misses that opportunity.¬†There is no depth, there is no substance, there is no point of discussion because it doesn’t raise anything.

The world itself is superficial and, worse, boring. Durango includes all the buzzwords that could give us a feel of what a gaming world may look like – ‘inventory’, various weapons like the ‘grappling hook’ and the ‘mage staff’, the ability to enhance one’s looks through¬†customization of their avatar – but it lacks any essence. So what if you have those features? They ultimately meant nothing, just decorations on a facade with nothing behind it.¬†After reading The Leveller,¬†I had no understanding of what the MEEP was.¬†Instead, it was¬†a confusing mess of the Sims and an adventure RPG with no unique identity, with the occasional fantasy reference.

Here, I wish I could say there was a redeeming quality in the book, but for me, there was none. Everything in this book is lacking, which is a real shame because Durango is exploring such a complex, underrated subject that, I am sure, many people can relate to. The characters were flat and stale, built with every cliche and trope imaginable. Some of their one-liners or attempts at humour made me cringe. (And I have a dry and good sense of humour; I laugh at anything). There was nothing unique about the characters either, and because of that, they are entirely forgettable.

This book tries to be deep, but before it can explore the ideas it introduces, it moves on immediately and doesn’t even dwell on the possibilities. The main character’s recklessness might have caused fatal circumstances; the confusion of having intimate feelings in a virtual reality; the possibility of using technology and fun to systematically manipulate a large group of people — all of these ideas were introduced, but never developed.¬†This book had potential, and it is a shame that it didn’t take advantage of it.

My advice? Even if it’s a quick read,¬†skip this book, and¬†watch¬†Log Horizon or¬†Sword Art Online*¬†instead.

* word of warning: Sword Art Online is an enjoyable anime, but it does have a lot of problematic elements, such as its very problematic portrayal of young female characters, and unapologetic, incessant fanservice, as with most animes that are written by men for boys. It is not blatant, but subtle and may make you feel uncomfortable. Still, it explores some interesting ideas.

Rating: 1/5

Book Information
Book Name: The Leveller
Book Series: The Leveller #1
Author: Julia Durango
Publisher: HarperCollins

3

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

c&pBlurb: Raskolnikov, a destitute and desperate former student, wanders through the slums of St Petersburg and commits a random murder without remorse or regret. He imagines himself to be a great man, a Napoleon: acting for a higher purpose beyond conventional moral law. But as he embarks on a dangerous game of cat and mouse with a suspicious police investigator, Raskolnikov is pursued by the growing voice of his conscience and finds the noose of his own guilt tightening around his neck. Only Sonya, a downtrodden prostitute, can offer the chance of redemption.


Often regarded as one of the world’s literature giants,¬†Crime and Punishment¬†is regarded as such with good reason, and is my biggest read thus far this year. It is a book with a simple premise, easily described in one sentence, but is complex and thorough in its analysis. What makes Crime and Punishment¬†so¬†difficult to review¬†lies in the fact that¬†the book is deeply rich.¬†It is, all at once, social, cultural and religious commentary, an analysis of the vulnerability and rawness of humanness, the infallibility of ideas, the depth of one’s consciousness, and, of course, crime and punishment and its¬†consequences on the psyche.

The thing that struck me with¬†Dostoyevsky’s writing was that it¬†dwelled. It dwelled on detail and moments, and takes its time to flesh out those moments, the people, and the air and tension of it. It took me awhile (perhaps too long) whilst reading the book¬†to appreciate the care and attention¬†Dostoyevsky put into the writing.¬†Now in hindsight, I realize that I have this vivid and elaborate image of St. Petersburg in my mind. I know its smells, its people, its¬†feeling of destitution and¬†harshness. It is in this grim and¬†cynical landscape where this story takes place.

Raskolnikov, the antihero and protagonist of¬†Crime and Punishment, is the ideal subject. He is impoverished and in a state of constantly flitting in and out of delirium, but¬†is also intelligent and proud. Raskolnikov also¬†believes that¬†people are divided into¬†echelons, where the superior and ‘extraordinary’ are entitled to acts that transgress¬†the law for the greater good. (But what is¬†the greater good? I suppose this question is a reason why this book is a fantastic piece of subjectivism.)¬†The belief¬†that he is one of these extraordinary men, and following a chance moment in a tavern, this¬†spurs¬†Raskolnikov to commit murder, believing that this act will lead to benefit society.

What captivated me was the depth of Dostoyevsky’s exploration of the many¬†mental and emotional states that we experience. Assuming that¬†most of us will never commit heinous crimes in our life,¬†Crime and Punishment¬†thus¬†becomes a unique reading experience.¬†We are¬†given an¬†opportunity: insight through detailed, compelling narrative into¬†Raskolnikov’s attempts to grapple with the reality of his condition (that he really isn’t all that extraordinary), and his attempts to¬†justify the murder to preserve his sanity – both which lead to a great deal of emotional turmoil and contemplation. The portrayal is brutally honest and raw, and Dostoyevsky opens¬†Raskolnikov’s psyche and thoughts wide open for us to see in plain view.

Unlike the many villains we see nowadays, Raskolnikov is not a sociopath or not entirely without remorse as we are led to believe. On the contrary, he is vulnerable, feels immense guilt (making him susceptible to psychosomatic fevers), and deeply conflicted Рnot only about the act itself, but about himself also. Add into the picture that Raskolnikov is propelled to a spontaneous moments of charity, as he pays for the funeral of a stranger (whose destiny is closely tied to his). Is this is an act of true compassion or a means to atone for a crime in which he clearly feels guilty about? Regardless of the answer, Raskolnikov is a complex character Рsometimes an enigma, sometimes transparent.

Though this book may take a pessimistic and cynical air as it delves into the dark depths of one’s consciousness and mind, it¬†is¬†incredible how this changes in the¬†very last page. And perhaps its closing sentences – which I shall leave for you to discover or revisit – perfectly articulate what this book is all about: it is our actions that inevitably make us. Suffice to say, I found the ending rather optimistic, and I now feel compelled to read this book again; maybe I will see it differently.

Rating: 4/5

Book Information
Book Name: Crime and Punishment
Author: Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Publisher: Penguin Classics

16

Divergent by Veronica Roth

divergentBlurb:¬†In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue‚ÄĒCandor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is‚ÄĒshe can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.


I really don’t understand¬†why this book is so popular and widely praised.

Well, I guess I do. This book is fast-paced, filled with action, has a romance,¬†has a vision of the world after ours, and has¬†an inkling of¬†revolution or rebellion; the generic recipe of nowadays YA dystopians. But that is precisely the problem. Despite many people claiming it to be, this book is not a dystopian; it is a¬†confusing mess with¬†romance, ‘dystopian’, and action elements in disguise.

Again: This is not a dystopian. This book does not offer any social or political commentary about our world today. This book does not arouse any sort of consciousness or awareness of injustice and inequality; it does not warn us of anything (except that one day the bravest of us may¬†jump off trains and onto tall buildings). The premise is inane – that some elusive, unspecific, but probably important group of people decided that conflict arose not because of¬†‘political ideology, religious belief, race, or nationalism’, but differences in¬†personality.

Many others have asked this before, but I’ll ask it again: how? At what point did humans institutionalize this? At what point could¬†this be institutionalized?¬†How was this sanctioned? How did people accept this and allow this to happen? How did¬†people with already conflicting political ideologies, religious beliefs, race and nationalist ideas agree on being sorted by their¬†personalities?

(“CW, just accept this premise¬†as FACT!” No can do, I do not turn off my Sociology brain ever.)

Understandably there are some books that necessitate¬†some suspension of disbelief, but there should be¬†some semblance of truth underneath the fantastical and implausible. In other words, there should be a point.¬†The Handmaid’s Tale¬†was written with an¬†implausible premise, but¬†it was written that way to delve into the consciousness of the¬†everywoman in such extreme circumstances to gauge her condition, or to make a symptom¬†of a malignant society so flagrant that it provokes analysis¬†of our own.

But… personalities. It is facile and thoughtless, not because it uses personalities as a medium of segregation, but because personalities as a point of difference in society ultimately means nothing. So everyone is different! The Earth is also round. When you are writing a piece of fiction that is speculating the future of the world – especially if you want to call it a dystopian – authors should be able to answer the simple question of ‘so what’s the point?’ when we readers are trying to gauge the purpose or reason behind their¬†hypothetical worlds.

Divergent fails this test. It has no worthwhile social or political commentary. It offers nothing insightful or meaningful, and dystopians ought to have such analysis and discussion. Dystopia is an important genre and an important concept Рit is a landscape where broken values, dark dreams and nightmares come true. Dystopia is a lens into a possible future, a forewarning and call for action, lest we allow these dystopian landscapes to be realized.

But here we are, with¬†Divergent and¬†other ‘YA dystopian’ that have reduced¬†this once-great and respectable genre to these points-to-tick-off-the-list: ‘fast-paced’, ‘action-packed’, ‘kickass characters’, and ‘romance’.¬†It is¬†ironic that in 1932, Huxley wrote¬†Brave New World¬†and warned that one day people¬†would become distracted with shallow entertainment and irrelevant information, which would overthrow¬†our desire for deep knowledge and awareness of the world and its problems.

But if we were to follow the aforementioned¬†criteria,¬†Divergent¬†does tick off all the boxes – the pacing was fast, there was a lot of action (of the physical, punchy-punchy kind; plot-wise, not so much), a female character that is, for all intents and purposes, an ‘ordinary’ girl (who¬†is, not-really-a-spoiler, actually not ordinary at all), and a nonsensical, underdeveloped romance with contrived¬†chemistry. The book truly starts at Chapter 33, so if you do not care for senseless training regimes that make little sense wherein Tris gets beat up repeatedly,¬†you could skip¬†chapters 9 to 33, and¬†you would not have missed much.

Perhaps one of the very few merits of this book is that¬†Divergent¬†explores the identity through the lens of Tris, the book’s protagonist. This negotiation of our identities, and how it may converge from our parent’s expectations of us, is a rite of passage for all those growing up. I related to Tris’s anxieties as she struggled to choose between what was expected of her and what her parents expected of her, or¬†to choose¬†what was truest for her.

The fact is, regardless of whether things are explained in subsequent books,¬†Divergent¬†didn’t give me enough to go from. There was nothing really compelling or interesting about the narrative or the fictional world that Roth created. (I acknowledge that I have high standards when it comes to dystopians.) Another merit of this book:¬†Divergent¬†was a surprisingly easy and, at times, fun (the guilty pleasure kind) read. So, who knows, maybe I will pick up Insurgent¬†in the future so I can say I finished the Divergent trilogy – just for kicks.

Rating: 1.5/5

Book Information
Book Name: Divergent
Book Series: Divergent #1
Author: Veronica Roth
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers