Last time, the worldbuilding is such a disjointed mess that we get characters “repeating” information that bears no resemblance to the previous paragraph and it doesn’t look like I’ll be able to stop my white supremacist comparisons anytime soon.
We’re with Tris, reading more about her mom and the terrible, terrible decision to go to Abnegation.
I thought you were more my friend than my supervisor, but I guess I was wrong.
What did you think would happen when I came in here, that I would live single and alone forever? That I wouldn’t get attached to anyone? That I wouldn’t make any of my own choices?
I left everything behind to come in here when no one else wanted to. You should be thanking me instead of accusing me of losing sight of my mission.
“Sure, I didn’t actually do what you sent me here for, but who cares!”
Let’s get this straight: I’m not going to forget why I’m here just because I chose Abnegation and I’m going to get married.
“I’m just going to be unable to do anything about it.”
I deserve to have a life of my own. One that I choose, not one that you and the Bureau choose for me.
“I know you blew half your budget just on rewriting memories to get me in for this super important mission, and I know three people were murdered by the Dauntless in the process, and I know if I don’t go to Erudite the ‘divergent’ keep dying, and I know explicitly agreed to do this, but what about me? What about what I want?”
You should know all about that—you should understand why this life would appeal to me after all I’ve seen and been through.
NOT EVERYTHING IS ABOUT YOU.
God, this would work so, so much better if the idea was she’d be inserted, deal with the problem, then head out again, and the issue was she didn’t want to leave. Then it’s about going native, not blowing off your responsibilities.
Honestly, I don’t really think you care that I didn’t choose Erudite like I was supposed to. It sounds like you’re actually just jealous. And if you want me to keep updating you, you’ll apologize for doubting me. But if you don’t, I won’t send you any more updates, and I certainly won’t leave the city to visit anymore. It’s up to you.
Right, he’s just jealous. The fact she’s screwing over everyone can’t be the actual reason he objects to all this.
a full two years later.
I got your letter. I understand why you can’t be on the receiving end of these updates anymore, and I’ll respect your decision, but I’ll miss you.
I wish you every happiness.
So she was totally on the money and he’s so insanely mindblowingly jealous he can’t even handle hearing from her.
Tris then follows Zoe around to distract herself, and sees Evilyn sitting around staring at Tobias’ statue.
I didn’t think much of it at the time, but it must mean something to her, if she carried it all the way from the Abnegation sector to Erudite headquarters to keep on her bedside table. Maybe it was her way of rebelling against the faction system.
On the screen, Evelyn balances her chin on her hand and stares at the sculpture for a moment. Then she gets up and shakes out her hands and leaves the room.
No, I don’t think the sculpture is a sign of rebellion. I think it’s just a reminder of Tobias.
We continue to waste time on this is not a revelation no one ever thought otherwise. Then Zoe tells her about her parents.
“They met in a class,” Zoe says. “Your father, though a very smart man, never quite got the knack of psychology, and the teacher—an Erudite, unsurprisingly—was very hard on him for it. So your mother offered to help him after school, and he told his parents he was doing some kind
of school project.
Was this normal? Who the fuck knows because Tris sleepwalked through her entire childhood.
your father was a good friend of Jeanine Matthews,” says Zoe. “He saw her performing an experiment on a factionless man in exchange for something—food, or clothing, something like that. Anyway, she was testing the fear-inducing serum that was later incorporated into Dauntless initiation—long ago, the fear simulations weren’t generated by a person’s individual fears, you see, just general fears like heights or spiders or something—and Norton, then the representative of Erudite, was there, letting it go on for far longer than it should have. The factionless man was never quite right again.
So that’s why the dad jumped ship. Presumably that means he’s kinda divergent since that’s a compassion-based objection and we all know smart people lack compassion.
“Your father wanted out of Erudite, and your mother didn’t want in, no matter what her mission was—but she still wanted to be near Andrew, so they chose Abnegation together.”
So she didn’t even go Abnegation for ~love~ she just didn’t want to do it regardless.
“But she was still able to carry out her mission in Abnegation.”
No elaboration, and apparently we’re going to just ignore the thing where Erudite murdered divergents and then decided to do a coup.
“Of course, Abnegation turned out to be no better, in some ways. It seems there’s no escaping the reach of genetic damage. Even the Abnegation leadership was poisoned by it.”
I frown. “Are you talking about Marcus? Because he’s Divergent. Genetic damage had nothing to do with it.”
“A man surrounded by genetic damage cannot help but mimic it with his own behavior,” Zoe says.
This would be interesting if only it was in any way consistently handled. We’re told the faction system makes divergent and nondivergents have identical behavior, we’re told the factions were stable and great, and he specifically was surrounded by the selfless people and not the wifebeater people. It would indeed make perfect sense that people would brush off exceptions in some way, but it needs to be handled properly. Maybe say that he’s a transfer from Dauntless, for example! Blame his upbringing there. Or Erudite since Erudite is the evillest faction. There are better reasons than claiming that being surrounded by pathologically nice people makes you mimic their niceness by beating your wife and kid.
Tris also points out to herself that all divergent are surrounded by non-divergent and they don’t all beat their wives, so. Matthew chimes in that yes, that sure wasn’t convincing. We are spending a ridiculous amount of time explaining to the reader that the thing they worked out for themselves sure is true.
“Some of the people here want to blame genetic damage for everything,” he says. “It’s easier for them to accept than the truth, which is that they can’t know everything about people and why they act the way they do.”
He then goes on to say he likes Erudite and Tris once again brings up the idea that maybe she’s biased against Erudite, because there were good people as well as evil ones among them.
“They were so focused on making the world a better place.” I shake my head. “What Jeanine did has nothing to do with a thirst for knowledge leading to a thirst for power, like my father told me, and everything to do with her being terrified of how big the world is and how powerless that made her.
Which is rather too little too late, but at least the book’s admitting this was stupid. I’m not really convinced this that it was Jeanine being afraid either, but making it about bravery lets Tris add that clearly the moral is her faction got it right. Matthew rolls with this and just says that learning is nice too, and gives her a book about human biology to learn about how people work, and Tris suddenly feels the joy of learning.
He makes the acquisition of knowledge feel like a secret, beautiful thing, and an ancient thing.
“Secret” being an important part of knowledge strikes me as worrying, especially with how everything else works. But this lets her give up her kindle of mom-entries to her brother. He says he’s got info about Edith.
His green eyes shift back and forth as he searches for the right place, his fingers nimble, built for turning pages. I think of how he disguised that part of himself, wedging books between his headboard and the wall in our Abnegation house, until he dropped his blood in the Erudite water on the day of our Choosing Ceremony. I should have known, then, that he was a liar, with loyalty only to himself.
Green eyes are one of the evil colors.
Anyway, he’s found a consent form.
I, Amanda Marie Ritter, of Peoria, Illinois, give my consent to the following procedures:
• The “genetic healing” procedure, as defined by the Bureau of Genetic Welfare: “a genetic engineering procedure designed to correct the genes specified as ‘damaged’ on page three of this form.”
• The “reset procedure,” as defined by the Bureau of Genetic Welfare: “a memory-erasing procedure designed to make an experiment participant more fit for the experiment.”
I declare that I have been thoroughly instructed as to the risks and benefits of these procedures by a member of the Bureau of Genetic Welfare. I understand that this means I will be given a new background and a new identity by the Bureau and inserted into the experiment in Chicago, Illinois, where I will live out the remainder of my days.
I agree to reproduce at least twice to give my corrected genes the best possible chance of survival. I understand that I will be encouraged to do this when I am reeducated after the reset procedure.
I also give my consent for my children and my children’s children, etc., to continue in this experiment until such time as the Bureau of Genetic Welfare deems it to be complete. They will be instructed in the false history that I myself will be given after the reset procedure.
Amanda Marie Ritter
Uh. Okay. The only thing that wasn’t already known the “have two kids” thing, which was merely heavily implied.
“Seven generations back, yes. An aunt. Her brother is the one who carried on the Prior name.”
Man, it’d have been nice if anything written had suggested this place had been around that long.
The endnotes say that this was just a first draft—she was one of the original experiment designers. A member of the Bureau. There were only a few Bureau members in the original experiment; most of the people in the experiment weren’t working for the government.”
This is technically information in that I didn’t care enough to have an opinion about the bureau members: non-bureau members ratio before this.
Tris explains to the reader that Edith was totally bullshitting in that video to say what would get the people in the experiment to act like they want. No shit, Tris.
they didn’t need the Divergent to march out of our city like an army to fight injustice and save everyone, as Edith suggested.
Also hey author, notice how that option was more interesting? That’s why you shouldn’t go SHOCKING TWIST IT’S SOMETHING MORE BORING!
I wonder if Edith Prior believed her own words, or if she just said them because she had to.
This is getting incredibly weird.
My guess is it’s that the author has completely run out of ideas and is desperately padding and trying to figure out where she’s going. We keep having people wonder about self-evident things, sometimes directly after stating the obvious thing. We have people recapping past events and retelling a totally different version of something just said seconds ago. I really don’t think the author had any idea what was supposed to happen after book two at this point. Maybe that’s why she spends the whole second book dodging the question of what the secret is, then we learn that it wasn’t even true. And maybe that’s why she can’t keep track of anything at all here, and has people constantly explaining the same things over and over again, or being confused about the obvious.
As I said much earlier, Divergent really feels like it’s meant to be a complete story. They resolve the problem then suddenly jump on a train rather than let the story end. Come to think of it, even that foreshadows the problems the rest of the series would have – Tris on the train is going on about no longer having any faction, but that’s not an issue in the second book at all. Maybe when she tore out her original ending and slapped a sequel hook on, she intended something entirely different, like the Dauntless being dissolved by the surviving Abnegation or something.
Back to what’s masquerading as plot, Caleb explains that most people joined because the families would get paid for ten years. I am not sure if the author understands this is hideously unethical or just thinks that’s the most reasonable way to get people to join.
But obviously that wasn’t Edith’s motivation, since she worked for the Bureau. I suspect something traumatic must have happened to her, something she was determined to forget.”
Since the author is clearly laying out an alternate reason why people might want to join, I do feel slight hope she means to contrast that with the other people who were coerced into it, but then Tris starts going on about how noble the people are for sacrificing themselves and not how evil it was to use that as levergage, so it’s unlikely.
I may have lived on Abnegation bread and vegetables for most of my life, with nothing to spare, but I was never that desperate.
Chicken is either bread or vegetables, and also bread and vegetables are basically like starvation. So the author is very much not a vegetarian, then.
Caleb points out that giving consent in your children’s stead is a bit odd, but that’s really the least fucked up thing we’ve heard. There’s at least decent reason for that one. Naturally, Tris’ attempt to justify it therefore makes it sound awful:
“I guess we all decide our children’s fates just by making our own life decisions,” I say vaguely. “Would we have chosen the same factions we did if Mom and Dad hadn’t chosen Abnegation?” I shrug. “I don’t know. Maybe we wouldn’t have felt as stifled. Maybe we would have become different people.”
That’s because raising kids in Abnegation is basically child abuse.
The biggest issue with the faction system is that it tries to force the children into that mold despite knowing people are different. This is actually one of the only bits that at all fits with the third book reveal, as it makes much more sense if you assume factions are 99% genetic and the kids almost always do best/need to be raised under those same rules. In any other situation, the kids should be considered neutral and allowed to act outside faction boundaries until they reach sixteen and have to pick.
Tris wonders if somehow the both of them would be better, but her example is him betraying her, so no idea what her issue with herself is there. Maybe still Will guilt?
“Edith joined Erudite, didn’t she? Even though she took an Abnegation name?”
So this made no sense when it came up before, and now we see it makes still less sense. If an Erudite “took an Abnegation name” at the founding of the city, that just means there’s no such thing as Erudite or Abnegation names.
Caleb then tells us most of our ancestors were in Erudite. There were a few Abnegation outliers, and one or two Candor which would’ve been super interesting except we already know it’s genetics and so could figure out that their dad’s line was Erudite genes. I guess it’s slightly interesting in its implication that Candor is closest to Erudite and Abnegation likely ended up taking in all sorts of rejects and high-minded types to end up a hodgepodge of genes which is why the kids were more likely to get inconclusive test results.
Tris just gets mad that he must think this is justification, when I’m not sure he even feels he needs justification in the first place. Then she runs off and finds Tobias and very nearly fucks him in the hallway but luckily her other friends stumble upon them before she can actually start tearing his clothes off. With luck, this means the tedious fighting part is over with, but probably it’ll come back again.