Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Now, I want to make it clear from the get-go that I like to read. Alot. But I am also superbly critical, as my critique group is sure to find out. And...well I really don't want Veronica Roth to hate me. Please, Ms. (Mrs.?) Roth, if you're reading this, know that I hung out at Barnes & Noble for four hours to read your book. Please, please, please, don't hate me.
So the premise of the book. Divergent is a dystopian YA novel set in a futuristic Chicago, filled with a society split into five groups, or factions. Each values one specific trait, which they think will perfect the human race. There is Candor (honesty), Amity (peace), Erudity (brains), Dauntless (bravery), and Abegnation (selfless-ness). [side note--forgive me if I mispelled or killed those names; I'm going from memory] When a teenager turns sixteen, they must decide which faction to devote their life to. The novel focuses around Tris, one of these initiates who cannot make up her mind--she is Divergent. And thus, the story begins.
From the beginning, it is clear that this book will follow the stereotypical dystopian book story arc. Society seems wonderful, then Tris can't make up her mind, she does only to find serious flaws in her faction and the society as a whole, war breaks out, and they leave. The inward monologue and sentence structure vastly mirror dystopian successes such as The Hunger Games, which can be very powerful at times, but seems equally unsuited to the more relaxed sections of this book.
But that's not what bothered me. In fact, there were times I put this book down and highly appreciated the sentence structure. No, what really got me was the dialogue.
Now, I don't know whether anyone else who read Divergent felt the same, but the dialogue very nearly killed this book for me. The plot was tight, the characters were good, but the dialogue. Ouch. Every character made the same jokes, said things in the same voice. But not even that, the sarcasm and lame attempts at humor killed me. A brief (not directly quoted, but awfully close) excample follows:
Scene: one of the Dauntless initiates has just killed himself. Tris comes upon the scene to find two men talking.
Man one: Do you think it could've been an accident?
Man two: What, you think that from fifteen feet away, he just tripped over his shoelace and--whoopsie!--just happened to stumble fifteen feet over a cliff ledge?
Now, Veronica, please (again) don't kill me. I liked the book. I will read the sequel just as quickly as I devoured this one. But please, make your characters sound real.
Did anyone else feel the same? Or I am totally off-base? For those of you who haven't read the book, I highly reccomend that you do so. It really is a good book. I promise.