Friday, June 27, 2014

Book Series Review: Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant


Divergent – This book is a 10/10.
It’s better written than the Hunger Games and far more interesting. (my Hunger Games review)
The characters are more interesting and the balance of character development, plot, and fun is perfect.
It reads like fan fiction of Hunger Games written by someone with a better understanding of the human mind and extreme emotions. It also doesn’t base the entire plot on kids killing kids so it isn’t nearly as grotesque and macabre as Hunger Games.
Veronica Roth is witty and wise. She understands teenage cliques and the dichotomous struggle to honor parents while striving for independence and freedom.
She understands the impossible topic of suicide:  
"He throws himself off a ledge and Eric's calling it brave?"
- "What do you want them to do? Condemn him? Al's already dead. He can't hear it and it's too late."
"It's not about Al." I snap. "It's about everyone watching! Everyone who now sees hurling themselves into the chasm as a viable option. I mean, why not do it if everyone calls you a hero afterwards? Why not do it if everyone remembers your name?"
Divergent is an excellent book and well worth reading.  It is a very fast read and though the basis of the book seems at first far-fetched, it makes a great landscape and background for a riveting story.

Insurgent – 6/10.  
     It’s still a very fast read and well-paced novel.  The problem is that the author kind of loses her way.  It’s a little like Hunger Games Book 3 – when an author changes the world in which their story is written, it’s very difficult to know which characters fit where and what they would do in different situations.  To me Ms. Roth knew her characters fairly well, but once the background changed they no longer felt fully authentic and the plot got muddled.  I still read it in less than 5 hours, and I wanted to read book 3, but the fun and the intrigue weren’t as strong.

Allegiant – 2/10.  Yeah, this book has 3 HUGE flaws.
1.      VIEWPOINT.  The first two books are written first person from the female protagonist’s viewpoint.  Veronica Roth writes perfectly from the mind of a teenage girl.  THEN - In the 3rd book the author changes it up so every other chapter is written from the Male protagonists point of view… and it fails miserably.  At least 7 or 8 times while reading I was confused because the “male” chapter sounded the exact like the “female” chapters.  His voice and thoughts and perceptions were exactly the same as hers.  Roth may develop the skill of writing from a male viewpoint, but she isn’t there yet, and the book suffered terribly because of it.
2.       MORAL.  This book is “the moral of the trilogy.” But instead of letting it play out through the characters and natural plot – the author decides to tell you the moral of the story, over and over and over again.  She slams it down your throat like you’re so dense you didn’t get it the first few hundred times so she must explicitly state it again.  I got so sick of it that by the time she reached the emotional climax of the book and I was supposed to be crying like a baby – I was bored instead.
3.       PLOT.  This book falls victim to the same problem that plagued the 4th Bourne movie and Hunger Games Book 3 and so many others.  The author had to expand the universe to keep the plot going.  She had to say “but wait, there’s more.  This is just the tip of the iceberg.”  Then she didn’t know what to do with the rest of the iceberg.  The plot pacing is off.  The characters get confusing as she tries to keep old characters, introduce new ones, change their alliances, and change their personalities and character.
She also refers to things characters said once, a thousand pages ago, and she expects the reader to remember what was said, who it was said to, and what emotions everyone was feeling at that time.
 
The series is not worth reading.  I was told that by multiple friends before I started, and they were right.  The first book is great and well worth it.  The second book is only valuable as a bridge to the third, and the third is a train wreck. 
The best thing I can compare this series to is the TV show Heroes. 

With Heroes – Stop after Season 1. 
With Divergent – Stop after Book 1.

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