Monday, September 5, 2011


Rating: 2 out of 5 Factions

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (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—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris, and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together, they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes-fascinating, sometimes-exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret: one she’s kept hidden from everyone, because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly-perfect society, she also learns that her secret might be what helps her save those she loves . . . or it might be what destroys her. (from

Dystopian societies seem to be the newest craze in young adult literature. I've picked up this book a few times before I actually decided to read it. The cover is enticing. Yes, I tend to judge a book by its cover. You're a liar if you say you don't. Roth's synopsis of the book is exciting, and the idea is really quite intriguing. However, as I got reading it, I saw so many holes in the story that I felt could have been covered with a good, solid editing. Or maybe a few more brainstorming sessions on the author's part. Perhaps she meant to leave things unanswered until the next book, but there is a vast difference between mystery that works and mystery just for the sake of mystery. At times I felt like Roth was underestimating her reader a lot. Granted, I am older than her target audience, but the young adult genre should be a little more expansive. Especially a book that is being likened to The Hunger Games and Twilight.

Beatrice, or Tris as she comes to call herself, is not a likable hero. Not in the least. I could not connect with her. Katniss in The Hunger Games was at least vulnerable at times. Tris is selfish. We get sort of plopped into it though. We don't understand why she hates her faction so much. We don't understand her big choice to change factions and why it is such a big deal for her as a character. It's just unheard of that someone from Abnegation would go Dauntless. I needed more reason than that. Yes, the two factions are completely opposite, but why did Beatrice decide to do it? I'm still unsure.

Going off of that...Tris' relationships seem forced. Especially her romantic aspirations for Four. At some level I like that her friendships are forced because she even says so herself that she's not sure how to be friends with people. It would have been nice if she would have actually connected with Christina on a different level that seemed less superficial.

Four. He seems to be the token hot guy who, for some unknown reason, is not supposed to love Tris. And he tells her that she's not pretty. The dialogue between the two has some glimmers of hope, but it seems like they fall for each other because the author wanted them to. I like when characters fall for each other despite what the reader or the author think and it seems to flow naturally. There was none of that with Four (Tobias) and Tris (Beatrice).

The writing itself isn't bad. A little too sparse at times. And I think Roth also assumes the reader knows what she's talking about. Some times she could have described what was going on better. That being said, there are moments of cliche that really irked me.

The climax is good. Jeanine and Marcus both come in a little late as antagonists. I think Roth could have introduced us to Jeanine a little sooner and then it would have made more sense when the ending comes around.

I've become a skimmer. When a book fails to hold my interest I will skim as much as possible because I still have the curiosity to find out what happens. That being said there are some books that I have no desire to know what happens. This one is not one of them. I wanted to know where Roth was going to take it.

Is it a terrible book? No. Is it in the same boat as The Hunger Games, Unearthly, or Delirium? Definitely not. Those books left me breathless and dying for more, and the writing is of a different caliber in them. I would recommend this for younger readers. In fact, I probably would have loved it if I were 14 to 18 when I read it. I gave it 2 out of 5 Factions.

No comments:

Post a Comment