05 April 2014

Book Review: Insurgent





Title: 
Insurgent
Author: Veronica Roth

Synopsis: Picking up at the end of Divergent, our heroine Tris joins with her few remaining friends after a tragic attack that left many dead in order to recuperate and form a plan. They quickly realize that they cannot remain with the neutral faction of Amity and must rather form a plan to overtake their enemy Erudite and learn the reasons behind a rather unexpected attack at the end of the previous book. Meanwhile, Tris struggles to cope with the loss of close friends and family members and suffers from painful flashbacks and paralyzing fear. However, as in the first book, when she is needed to stand up for what is right and fight the enemy to save innocent lives, Tris steps up to the challenge.

Positives: Tris is courageous even in the midst of fear. She struggles to overcome her fear and saves lives in the most unexpected moments. Additionally, she shares a deep love and committed relationship with her boyfriend, seeking reconciliation after frequent fights. Tris ultimately decides to save lives over following the crowd and seeks truth over fitting in, and she is willing to risk her life and relationships for what she believes is right. Finally, at one point in the story Tris sacrifices her life for the good of many others, willing to die in the place of other Divergent.

Negatives: There are a few instances of language. Tris has suicidal inclinations throughout the book and her boyfriend frequently follows her to make sure that she won't throw her life away. When she is sentenced to execution, she is content to die, not caring about life, but right before the moment arrives, she changes her mind and is ready to live and maintains that passion for life throughout the end of the book. Like the first book, the brutality continues in Insurgent. As full fledged war arises, the violence and body count also rises. Tris has flashbacks of family and friends dying during the attack in the previous book. She stabs an enemy soldier and must shoot a copy of herself in a simulation. Four beats his father in the same way he was beaten as a child. Tris' brother is knocked out. Multiple individuals are shot. A person under a simulation walks off the edge of a rooftop and dies while Tris watches helplessly. An enemy leader is shot and stabbed. Finally, the love relationship between Tris and her boyfriend continues and escalates. She touches him, kisses him, and spends multiple nights in the same bed as him.

Messages: 
-Selflessness v. selfishness
-Faction v. individuality
-True bravery
-Life v. death

Conclusion: This book seemed to very accurately depict the psychological aftermath of a sixteen year old girl engaged in war, and it isn't always pretty. While this book was a dark, there were frequent sweet moments throughout where Tris places others' lives before her own and shows mercy even to those who do not deserve it. However, I would warn readers that while this book may look like fun teen fiction, it is a serious story. Like the first book, it isn't a "happily ever after" kind of story, but it's worth the read.  I would recommend it for boys or girls 15+.

Rating: 3 (Decent)

11 January 2014

Book Review: Divergent

I am learning just how bad I am at blog upkeep, but between school, directing an independent film (www.thescarletlettermovie.blogspot.com), keeping in contact with friends and family, volunteering, and getting involved in Church and Bible studies, I don't think about blogging in my spare time, rather I think about reading (the books I really should blog about) or writing (which I consider a very worthwhile expenditure of time). Anyways, just being honest here. Without further ado: 



Title: 
Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth

Synopsis: Beatrice (Tris) is a sixteen year old girl in futuristic, dystopian Chicago which is now a city filled with five factions which each value one specific character trait: Courage (Dauntless), selflessness (Abnegation), peace (Amity), intelligence (Erudite), and honesty (Candor). At the age of sixteen, every individual must take a simulation test which will tell them in which faction they belong. They must choose which faction they wish to become a part of, and they must hold to the saying "faction before blood," leaving their families behind for a new life and a new family within their chosen faction. However, Tris is divergent, meaning that she can warp simulations so that the test does not work on her, and she is not told in which faction she belongs. She chooses Dauntless, a military-like faction and must face her worst fears as part of the initiation process, all the while being told that she must tell no one that she is Divergent because her life is in danger.

Positives: Tris struggles throughout the book with selfishness over selflessness, but when it really matters, she is selfless, even laying down her life in multiple instances. Moreover, Tris shows true courage and compassion in her care for others. Tris' family thanks God for the meal before eating dinner.

Negatives: There are a few instances of language. When someone commits suicide in the Dauntless compound, one of the leaders extolls it as taking great courage, however, Tris is disgusted by his eulogy and mourns the loss of a friend. Tris is brutal at times, taking her anger out on others in hand to hand fighting or later, shooting an enemy in the hand to make him talk. Additionally, Tris shoots a friend who is being mind-controlled by the enemy. There is also a love relationship between Tris and a leader in Dauntless. She touches him, kisses him, spends an afternoon in the same bed as him, and they discuss sleeping together in the near future. Additionally, a Dauntless leader, Four, has a history of abuse from his father including getting whipped with a belt and locked in a closet. Finally, in the end there is a lot of death as war breaks out, and Tris is engaged in the battle, killing and watching friends be killed.

Messages: 
-Selflessness v. selfishness
-Faction v. family 
-True bravery 


Conclusion: This book would make for an excellent discussion. There were a lot of thoughts concerning true bravery, selfishness, and strength. It also didn't sugarcoat real life which I appreciated. However, I would warn readers that there is negative contact (as discussed above), and the book is geared toward a more mature audience. It doesn't end happily ever after, but it's worth the journey. I also enjoyed the bits of psychology that Veronica Roth wove into her story.  I would recommend it for boys or girls 15+.

Rating: 4 (Liked it!)