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nataliya

nataliya

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” 
― Stephen King, On Writing.

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"If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals."— J.K. Rowling

Divergent (Divergent #1) - Veronica Roth Heh. I'm torn now. I eyerolled so much while reading this book that I may have permanently damaged at least some of my cranial nerves. And yet I read it in one sitting, annoyingly and inexplicably entertained. Go figure.There just may have been some facepalming as well.It's yet another young adult dystopia based on a stupid premise. Seriously, it's plainly ridiculous. If I had to compare it to something equally ridiculous it'd have to be the notion of sparkly vampires. I'm not kidding. Just listen to this:"Decades ago our ancestors realized that it is not political ideology, religious belief, race, or nationalism that is to blame for a warring world. Rather, they determined that it was the fault of human personality - of humankind's inclination toward evil, in whatever form that is. They divided into factions that sought to eradicate those qualities they believed responsible for the world's disarray."How ridiculous is it? Well, it's a dystopian Chicago where, in an attempt to battle the evils of this world people came up with a BRILLIANT idea to segregate into five "factions", each of one is based on ONE quality that is supposed to be the uber-defining feature of them. Therefore we have the brave, the selfless, the smart, the truthful, and the kind.¹ Except some people can be more than one of those - the Divergent.¹ You know what this idea is missing? A Sorting Hat yelling out, "GRYFFINDOR!!!" as the character decides to make a choice and join the reckless brave. I eyerolled at it in a children's book where it made its appearance. I exasperatedly eyeroll at it now.No, really. That is stupid. First of all, how exactly will our society ever get to the point where such thing becomes plausible? (I mean, seriously - at least we can imagine the world of "The Hunger Games" happening given current obsession with reality shows.) And second of all, how exactly is everyone in this world NOT 'Divergent'? They have an option to switch factions after being raised in one; so basically it's okay to internalize the principles of more than one of them. How will that not make them 'Divergent'? So there's that, and the sheer impossibility of a person to live only within the rigid frames of one of the factions' principles.For instance, let's look at doctors, 'kay? In this book, they belong to the faction of the kind. Because, clearly, for this profession you don't need the smarts to learn medicine, the selflessness to sacrifice sleep and rest in favor of helping the sick, the bravery to cut into someone's bodily cavity, and the truthfulness to deliver bad news or admit when you don't know something. Clearly it would take a special brain to use more than one of these qualities not only simultaneously but EVER.............................No wonder this world does not work well. Duh. I mean, how well does complete segregation work to create peace instead of creating new lines of division of "Us vs. Them"??? Clearly complete segregation would do wonders to solve the violence-causing issues in the world. History showed us many examples of that. And I cannot believe that up until this point in that universe nobody questioned the validity of this structure."I think we’ve made a mistake," he says softly. "We’ve all started to put down the virtues of the other factions in the process of bolstering our own. I don’t want to do that. I want to be brave, and selfless, and smart, and kind, and honest."Well, duh. Did it take centuries to come to this conclusion?-------------But here's the thing - once you put in the gargantuan effort to overlook this stupidity and suspend your disbelief to the point that it helplessly dangles over an abyss, this book is actually fun - despite all the faults, despite the shallow characters, despite the many elements so traditional to teen dystopias that you can't help but wonder whether they have been mass-manufactured.It's probably the sheer amount of action in this book - nonstop action that makes action-heavy plot itself giddy from action overload. Did I mention action? Tris, the occasionally too-dumb-to-live protagonist¹, does not ever seem to stop moving. Running, jumping, falling, fist-fighting, knife-fighting, shooting, running, punching - all that while she, a special Divergent snowflake, learns to fit in among the Dauntless, the Gryffindor-brave (read: stupidly reckless) faction of this universe.¹ Tris on purpose nonfatally shoots two bad guys (one of whom tried to actually rape her and kill her) - but kills one of her friends (who was mind-controlled via the actions of one of the aforementioned villains) on purpose, when a disabling shot would have worked just as well. And she shoots her friend AFTER she thinks she won points with God by not killing the villain. *eyeroll*"Somewhere inside me is a merciful, forgiving person. Somewhere there is a girl who tries to understand what people are going through, who accepts that people do evil things and that desperation lead s them to darker places than they ever imagined. I swear she exists, and she hurts for the repentant boy I see in front of me. But if I saw her, I wouldn’t recognize her. “Stay away from me,” I say quietly. My body feels rigid and cold, and I am not angry, I am not hurt, I am nothing. I say, my voice low, “Never come near me again.” Our eyes meet. His are dark and glassy. I am nothing. “If you do, I swear to God I will kill you,” I say. “You coward.”Yeah, don't piss off Tris. You may not be prepared for what's coming.Yes, almost the entire book is the scenes of Tris training to become super-awesome, occasionally punctuated by the scenes of mandatory self-doubt. She kicks ass (literally) and she is loving it. Of course, in the way mandatory to all YA dystopias, her training just proves that this plain little average humble girl is the sexy badass that is better than anyone else at whatever she chooses to do, and somehow will be number one no matter what she does because she is, well, special.Because, it seems, ever since Rocky Balboa took the second place we have become accustomed to root for the seeming underdog - but that underdog now invariably turns out to be the winner of whatever competition there may be in the book - and the hottest male lead as a special prize.Those rare times the underdog loses. This is not the case in this book. Duh.And yet, annoying as these scenes are, they are still so much fun to read. Silly, shallow, mindless fun - the kind you get when you playing a fast-paced videogame, perhaps - but fun nevertheless. Yes, most of the action here is juvenile and seems pointless as a part of faction training - but hey, so is shooting up the heads of videogame aliens. But it's still entertaining.So here's what I'm trying to say here: Suspend your disbelief, don't think too hard about what's happening, approach it as just fun - and you will be rewarded with a fun ride, like that giant rollercoaster in the amusement park that is worth it while you're on it (and slightly less worth it when you're puking up your lunch into a trashcan afterwards). Would I have given this book the GR Choice Awards? No, and I would not give one to 50 Shades of Grey either. And of course, my opinion is NEVER wrong, right?But for the entertainment value alone I will give it 2.5 stars rounded up to 3. Still, I'm undecided whether I care enough about what happens to Tris to invest time into reading the sequel. ------------So I did read the sequel after all - and here is my review of it.