Divergent Ch16-17

Last time on Dauntless, her mom was born Dauntless which is a huge shock because it’s not like the last few chapters have been about how transfers exist and can exemplify the traits of their new faction. Also something something divergence is important we swear!

After her mom leaves, she heads back to find Al hiding in the dorm. He explains he’s avoiding his parents so he doesn’t have to tell them how bad he’s doing.

“Dad always wanted me to come here. I mean, they said they wanted me to stay in Candor, but that’s only because that’s what they’re supposed to say.

I’m pretty sure if they’re Candor they’re not supposed to say that.

He explains that both his parents admire the Dauntless. I wonder how common this is – we know Tris originally said that she agrees selfishness is the more important thing to fight, she just didn’t think she was worthy. If it wasn’t for the fact she also happened to find the Dauntless super awesome, she’d probably raise her kids with constant sighing about how if only she’d been good enough for Abnegation. And even for those who picked their first choice, there’s the fact that what you think at sixteen isn’t necessarily set for the rest of your life, and it’s increasingly obvious this society has no way of handling that.

Al also claims he isn’t doing this for them. I think it’s important to protect people. To stand up for people. Like you did for me.” which is probably a value his parents raised him to care about but at least it means he chose Dauntless for himself.

Mind you, no idea where he got the idea.

“That’s what the Dauntless are supposed to do, right? That’s what courage is. Not…hurting people for no reason.”

I would disagree, I think it takes just as much if not more courage to hurt others. It’s not a good thing, but it’s sure brave. There’s often a big deal about how bullies are really cowards because they pick on the weak, but that’s just proving the point. If hurting people took no bravery, bullies wouldn’t need to sort through targets for the safest option.

I remember what Four told me, that teamwork used to be a Dauntless priority. What were the Dauntless like when it was?

Back in the ancient days of a year or two ago? Seriously, Four hasn’t been here long, if he remembers everyone must.

What would I have learned if I had been here when my mother was Dauntless?

Again, the teamwork thing was like two years ago. For all we know when your mom was a kid they were really into scary movies. Dauntless might totally reimagine themselves every year. We have no idea!

Maybe I wouldn’t have broken Molly’s nose. Or threatened Will’s sister.

I like this, though. She’s being bullied and has the ability to respond for the first time in her life, and she’s being actively encouraged toward violence the whole time, so her behavior makes sense, but she’s still able to recognize it was wrong. Huge improvement in characterization from where we started.

She tries to reassure Al that maybe the not being evil part comes after initiation, and Al says he’ll probably get kicked out now and never even get that far. Which suggests he actually is pretty brave to have kept throwing fights this whole time – before it sounded like he thought he could get away with it, but he’s stuck with it even after realizing it might not work.

So she tries just sitting with him and thinks of how her dad would say sometimes that’s the best thing to help and is pleased she can do something he thought was good, so I guess she’s still being all divergent. Or more reasonably, you can’t lose sixteen years of indoctrination that fast.

“I feel braver when I’m around you, you know,” he says. “Like I could actually fit in here, the same way you do.”

And then he puts an arm over her should and nope she pulls away.

I wish I could tell him not to take it personally. I could tell him that my parents rarely held hands even in our own home, so I have trained myself to pull away from all gestures of affection, because they raised me to take them seriously. Maybe if I told him that, there wouldn’t be a layer of hurt beneath his flush of embarrassment.

Therefore she says nothing and tries to pretend it didn’t happen and then makes her escape.

When the dormitory door closes behind me, I touch a hand to my forehead and grin a little. Awkwardness aside, it is nice to be liked.

I really like how Tris is developing. This is just a perfectly realistic reaction – it’s not flattering, it’s not something evil to punish her for, it’s just human.

That supper, Christina and Will get in an argument about pets.

“Because they’re illogical,” Will says matter-of-factly. “What is the point in providing food and shelter for an animal that just soils your furniture, makes your home smell bad, and ultimately dies?”

They also provide proven emotional benefits but as a Vulcan I guess you guys can’t get in on that.

Also, unless cats survived the disaster but no rodants, cats are actually really important for keeping those out of your food. They don’t even need to know how to hunt, mice avoid just the smell. Plus they’ll eat other annoying vermin, like houseflies.

“Well, they’re fun to have. I had a bulldog named Chunker. One time we left a whole roasted chicken on the counter to cool, and while my mother went to the bathroom, he pulled it down off the counter and ate it, bones and skin and all. We laughed so hard.”

Authors, there are two funny stories about dogs stealing chicken. 1) Dog steals raw chicken, devours. 2) Dog steals cooked chicken, rips up. Dog steals cooked chicken, devours, is very sad or involves paying someone a lot of money to remove bone shards from the dog.

But I wish were getting a bit more background on pets. Christina here seems like someone from our world – what animals do they still have? How are they maintaining actual separate dog breeds when they don’t even populate most of Chicago and there’s no sign of anyone else around? Is pet ownership incredibly common among the factions that allow it? Because she seems completely baffled by the idea of someone not liking pets, but Abnegation presumably doesn’t either because they can’t have nice things, so that’s two out of five right there who never have pets at all. And I’m not sure Amity would given animals tend to be aggressive – it’s a lot easier to excuse your dog’s attempts at deception than how it tore apart that bunny. Come to think of it, I wonder who’s slaughtering the food animals? Possibly Abnegation, since it’s a horrible job, but maybe it’s too close to doing something for yourself given they eat chicken. Or maybe Dauntless since it involves violence and it’s not like they have anything better to do with their time.

I’d think, actually, that it’d be prized by Candor, since seeing what your supper used to be seems like something truth people would want.

Will just tells her to get a dog and stop arguing, and she says she can’t after the test.

“You mean…killing the dog, right?” asks Will.

“Yeah,” she says. “I mean, you guys all had to do that too, right?”

Because nothing says bravery than murdering anything that threatens you.

Tris fidgets wildly and Christina realizes something’s up and demands to know. So she confesses she didn’t kill the dog because she got Abnegation. Luckily, the refusal to talk of the test plus the fact no one interacts beyond factions mean no one will know what that would have actually looked like, so she doesn’t need to worry about anyone guessing that didn’t happen either.

I should not lie to my friends. It creates barriers between us, and we already have more than I want. Christina taking the flag. Me rejecting Al.

You’re really bitter about that flag, aren’t you? Even though it just made the evil kids hate her harder and then all the other kids clustered around you to talk about how cool you were for your plan.

Then finally ranking. There’s a brief explanation that someone ranked high loses more points when they lose to someone lower ranked and the lower ranked one gets more points. Therefore, Tris is now one step below Molly.

1. Edward
2. Peter
3. Will
4. Christina
5. Molly
6. Tris
7. Drew
8. Al
9. Myra

Myra being doomed was expected because she barely featured and all we heard was she was doing badly.

Molly is enraged that a person she beat is above her, and Four, who I guess is tired of Eric getting to do all the shit-stirring, says it’s because Molly lost to someone who was really low ranked, ie Tris. After Molly storms off swearing to get Tris, Christina tries to reassure Al that maybe he won’t get cut because who knows, maybe the people who actually knew what they were getting into all failed?

The split of born and transfers actually works well here. Tris is right on the edge of the danger zone, Al is looking almost certainly doomed, but there’s also the hope that Drew might wash out too. He hasn’t been featuring much either, come to think of it.

The delay…less justified. It doesn’t seem like there’s anything they can do about their rankings, so they’ll either stay or go based on this, so why decide tomorrow? Do they get one last chance to change their rankings? If so, why not have them displayed the whole time?

lingering at the back of my mind is the fact that Christina and Will are my competitors. If I want to fight my way to the top ten, I will have to beat them first.

Aren’t we cheery. This isn’t necessarily true, either – currently, they’re both in the top five, so if they do well enough compared to the Dauntless, she might have to only beat out one of those. There’ll only be sixteen kids after the first cull, meaning there’s only six people she has to be better than to stay.

Plus the way the rankings work mean she could rank first without ever fighting either of them, or even losing to them.

That night there’s a scream and when she gets the lights on she finds someone jammed a butterknife though Edward’s eye. She tries to get him calm and keep him from pulling it out, and again thinks to her Abnegation upbringing to avoid panicking herself, and eventually a single nurse shows up because Dauntless just does not care.

She throws away her bloodied clothes. I understand she’s supposed to be upset, especially since she’s also scrubbing every molecule of blood off her hands (I’ve never done that, come to think) but the clothes thing seems really wasteful. The resource setup is really unclear – she’s bought a bunch of clothes, and a dress and tattoos, then another bunch of clothes when she outgrew them, and yet presumably she’s still got plenty of points to get more. Meanwhile the factionless dress in rags. And while Erudite complained about food, Dauntless seems to provide delicious meat for all, for free. Maybe the only faction that’s armed gets everything they want.

She then scrubs the blood off the floor, which is a reaction I do recognize.

“Should we tell someone?”
“You really think the Dauntless will do anything?” I say. “After they hung you over the chasm? After they made us beat each other unconscious?”

Yes. Because none of those are about cowardly stabbing someone better than you. Even assuming the Dauntless don’t even give a shit about bravery these days and are just using it as an excuse to abuse the kids, the fact is Edward was a better asset and now he’s crippled for life. Plus assuming information gets out, and as I recall Edward’s Erudite and they seem to be the only ones bothering to keep track of anything, it’s not going to look very good for Dauntless that they can’t even keep their initiates safe from each other.

Later that day, Will laments their day off, which I assume means they always had a day off because I don’t think Antag-Eric would give them a day to work off the trauma, which means there’s nothing you can do to change your rank after it’s announced, so why announce it a day before the actual cull?

Unless they were trying to encourage killing or maiming the person on top. But I figure they’d have just said to do that.

I have not spent much time alone with Will, but Christina and Al are taking naps in the dormitory, and neither of us wanted to be in that room longer than we had to.

This made sense for an instant, but then you realize, no one should dare nap without a guard now.

We’re assuming Peter did this, but it was Drew who stood to benefit right now. And Drew was seventh, so this doesn’t move him out of the danger zone. It’ll take one more stabbing to guarantee Drew sticks around.

something terrible happened, and I saw it, and I could not see a way to mend it. No one who would want to punish Peter has the authority to, and no one who has the authority to punish him would want to.

Except the Dauntless have multiple leaders! Eric is only one, there should be no reason they can’t go to another. Yes, the fact they allow Eric there at all doesn’t speak well of them, but there’s a difference between allowing him to push the kids a bit harder and someone getting their eye stabbed out in a cowardly attack. If Eric could mutilate kids with impunity, he’d be doing that right now. Also, you have nothing to lose by trying.

Tris claims the Dauntless do, in fact, have a rule against this, she’s just sure no one will enforce it, when the only think that halfway makes sense is the Dauntless don’t have any laws regulating conflicts and just expect everyone to be ready for murder attempts because that’s courage.

“Have you ever read the faction manifestos?” says Will.
The faction manifestos were written after the factions formed. We learned about them in school, but I never read them.
“You have?” I frown at him. Then I remember that Will once memorized a map of the city for fun

The book continues to treat basic interest in your surroundings as some sort of weird nerd thing.

Maybe this is supposed to be like how we tend not to read the constitution in America, but everyone knows the first few lines, and my classes certainly spent plenty of time on the amendments. And manifestos are things that are actually meant to be read.

Apparently the Dauntless one included the line ‘We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another.’ which suggests the original goal of all groups was altruism or possibly even selflessness which would explain Abnegation getting in charge, they just disagreed on the best way to aim for it. There’s definitely people who would see bravery as the best form of selflessness, and the way Dauntless value self-destructive bravery would make sense if the idea is to create people who will die for the sake of others, as does the fact they don’t care if you’re brave if you’re not physically capable as well – you’re no good to them that way.

Really, if you just change Abnegation’s real virtue to servitude, everything works. Amity’s anti-aggression is the selflessness of giving up your own safety to never hurt others. Erudite is the selflessness of education and improvement over enjoyment or emotion – refusing pets because they serve no purpose is as joyless as Abnegation is. Even Candor’s honesty could work through this lens, because we tell lies for selfish purposes, even white lies.

But instead of getting into what the factions’ original goals and purposes were, or Tris telling us what Abnegation’s manifesto involved (she may not have read any but you’d think she’d have had bits quoted at her) or anything else new, she tells us what we already know:

Maybe Dauntless was formed with good intentions, with the right ideals and the right goals. But it has strayed far from them.

Also maybe Antag-Eric is just evil and things are otherwise fine. If Four is anything to go by the faction was fine until just a year or two ago.

And the same is true of Erudite, I realize. A long time ago, Erudite pursued knowledge and ingenuity for the sake of doing good. Now they pursue knowledge and ingenuity with greedy hearts.

You have absolutely no evidence of this. The only sign they’re lying is that you know you personally didn’t benefit from hoarded food, but we aren’t sure no one in your faction was skimming off the top yet, and it’s actually quite plausible your faction’s been redirecting food in weird ways and lying about it for some reason. Again, Dauntless certainly seems to have excess of everything, maybe something’s going on with Abnegation giving them the cream of the crop and other groups suffering. Or maybe Abnegation is deliberately keeping food from Erudite ever since the conflict began and so it’s been added as a grievance.

She also considers what if all the factions are fucked. Amity seems fine, though, I can tell by how they aren’t appearing or doing anything else crazy, and Candor looks pretty okay too. Erudite’s IQ fetish is a bit weird but otherwise they seem relatively solid – only kid who was allowed to prepare for his chosen faction comes from there, and they’re the only ones who seem to care what the other groups get up to.

And, of course, she explains that when Dauntless isn’t being fucked up, she loves it.

Maybe we can become brave and honorable again.

Considering it’s only been broken for a year or two in the first place, sure, shouldn’t be hard.

Anyway, Edward “quit”, which may or may not have been something that’d be forced on him anyway. And Myra’s left with him. From the comments factionless can have a family, so they’ll have one next to one of those nice open sewers. Maybe Edward will end up leading the rebellion. He’ll have plenty of time given he’s going to have trouble qualifying for half the jobs the factionless do.

Because Edward’s out, Al makes it in, because two whole Dauntless-born kids also failed. I guess they must be grading based on how fast the kids improve because otherwise there’s no way the Dauntless kids should’ve done so badly, especially when they must have a decent idea what’s involved and could’ve jumped ship to another faction if they thought they’d fail. I guess you could say kids raised in a faction value it so much they’re willing to stay even if they struggle to live up to it, but there’s little sign of such devotion so far.

Someone drew a line through Edward and Myra’s names, and changed the numbers next to everyone else’s names. Now Peter is first. Will is second. I am fifth. We started stage one with nine initiates. Now we have seven.

This is the dramatic ending that’s actually kind of silly because they left the building with twelve transfers so this second winnowing is no surprise.

Tris thinks about how she scrubbed the floor but she swears she can still smell the blood, then

Scrubbing the floor when no one else wanted to was something that my mother would have done.
If I can’t be with her, the least I can do is act like her sometimes.

She thought something similar about her dad a little while ago. It’s an interesting direction to take – in the initial chapters she’s just a failure at remembering this stuff and very flat, but holding onto her childhood and family values like this is particularly interesting because it’s at odds with the very faction system. And she goes on to say she still has her grey sneakers hidden in a drawer.

While she’s stewing, Uriah comes up and suggests leaving for an initiation ritual.

“The only initiates they usually let come are ones with older siblings in Dauntless,” he says. “But they might not even notice. Just act like you belong.”

I really like how this is set up – it’s not that Tris is such a great Dauntless she’s counting as a younger sibling. It’s that Tris’ group just went through something shitty and he’s met her so he’s inviting her along. One of the other kids complains about inviting a Stiff, which is now not a slur again, and he reminds the gang of the eye stabby so be nice.

So she hops into a train with the rest to go…somewhere. Not even Uriah knows yet. Another older girl pipes up to say it’s a surprise.

“I’m—” I start to say.
“I know who you are,” she says. “You’re the Stiff. Four told me about you.”

This I don’t like, because now it is the specialness thing. But it’s a lead-in for her to ask about her love interest, and Erudite Tris pops up to get useful into – Four doesn’t come on this, which the other girl attributes to him being jaded because almost nothing scares him, therefore Tris guesses this will involve heights.

She must not know that if she speaks of him with such reverence in her voice.

Every last Dauntless we’ve seen has spoken of fighting through fear, never claiming to just be fearless. The book keeps acting like that idea is this big secret but it seems really accepted by the whole faction.

“Everyone knows Four,” she says. “We were initiates together. I was bad at fighting, so he taught me every night after everyone was asleep.” She scratches the back of her neck, her expression suddenly serious. “Nice of him.”

So either Four risked his own standing by doing that or, more likely, this is why he’s so nostalgic for the good old days of his initiation because back then you weren’t put in opposition with each other. Possibly this also means that they weren’t only taking the best, either – otherwise, training her so she made the cut would just have been being mean to whoever she edged out. But if that’s the case you’d expect there to be some degree of tension from the Dauntless about the fact so many kids are getting kicked out, including their younger siblings.

Anyway the idea makes Tris feel violent, because she’s insanely jealous of Four every time anything involving him comes up.

The train is going much faster than it has every other time I’ve jumped, but I can’t lose my nerve now, in front of all these members.

Huh, this suggests maybe they do baby the initiatives along a bit.

The Hub is behind us, black against the clouds, but the buildings around me are dark and silent. That means we must be north of the bridge, where the city is abandoned.
We turn a corner and spread out as we walk down Michigan Avenue. South of the bridge, Michigan Avenue is a busy street, crawling with people, but here it is bare.
As soon as I lift my eyes to scan the buildings, I know where we’re going: the empty Hancock building, a black pillar with crisscrossed girders, the tallest building north of the bridge.

I suspect if I had a better idea of what the city looked like this would contain some pretty useful info, but it’s late and I don’t want to look up a map. But just from the fact they’re still in skyscraper territory and yet completely beyond any habitation presumably means that the majority of the city is uninhabited. What happened?

“Do the elevators work?” I ask Uriah, as quietly as I can.
“Sure they do,” says Zeke, rolling his eyes. “You think I’m stupid enough not to come here early and turn on the emergency generator?”

Hm. That must be being kept supplied, but likely isn’t a problem given Dauntless seems to have access to anything they need. And it means that unlike the carnival area, this area has been properly disconnected from the electrical grid…I hope. It might just be that the wires to this particular ruin broke at some point.

They head in.

“What floor?” the girl with the shaved head says.
“One hundred,” I say.
“How would you know that?”
“Lynn, come on,” says Uriah. “Be nice.”
“We’re in a one-hundred-story abandoned building with some Dauntless,” I retort. “Why don’t you know that?”

Very Erudite today! Not only is she extrapolating that the Dauntless would always go to the top because Dauntless, but since it doesn’t make a point of her checking out the buttons beforehand, I think she knows off the top of her head how many stories this is.

Come to think of it, for someone with such disdain for Will memorizing a map, she knew a lot about the landmarks and their location.

Then they climb up a ladder through a whole in the roof.

Part of me wonders if this is a suicide mission disguised as a game.

Seeing someone climb up a ladder is making you think that? Even if the ladder fell, it’d only be a drop of a few feet since you’re just getting from the top floor to the roof. But for some reason she’s really freaked out now.

At first, all I see is the marsh, wide and brown and everywhere, touching the horizon, devoid of life.

Okay. So it’s not that it’s fall it’s that something has gone impossibly wrong.

In the other direction is the city, and in many ways it is the same, lifeless and with limits I do not know.

I guess the fact the city is in ruins and yet not being reclaimed by nature was a subtle clue I should’ve picked up on earlier. She mentions torn up ground and open sewers, never weeds.

What would have done something like that, though?

Tris doesn’t share my horror here, probably because she has no idea it could be different. Besides, she has other considerations. There’s a steel cable and a bunch of black slings

We’re going to slide down a steel cable in a black sling from one thousand feet up.

This is the least dangerous thing they’ve asked you to do.

No, seriously. Aside from the knives, I guess, but firing a gun without any training, jumping on and off trains, punching each other into unconsciousness…this is something that just looks scary. I guess the jump off the building you already did might be comparable, but I’m dubious because I think there’s a good chance the pit with the net was only so big and if someone went too far to the side they wouldn’t correct you, because they’re psycho like that. The only real concern is that the Dauntless’ rabid hatred of safety means it might be at too steep of an angle and you risk breaking something when you reach ground.

“Oh my God,” says Uriah.
All I can do is nod.

Book, you are just not going to win here. It’s not a big deal.

Shauna is the first person to get in the sling. She wriggles forward on her stomach until most of her body is supported by black fabric. Then Zeke pulls a strap across her shoulders, the small of her back, and the top of her thighs.

And now actual safety? I was thinking they just throw the fabric over and tell you to grab either end and then shove you. But this is now rollercoster style safe. It’s showing that the initiates’ earlier comments about the Dauntless Ferris wheel just being something you hold onto aren’t true at all. The Dauntless would be fine with carnival rides, the point is to confront fear, not danger. Speaking of…

None of the members seem at all afraid. They act like they have done this a thousand times before, and maybe they have. But when I look over my shoulder, I see that most of the initiates look pale or worried, even if they talk excitedly to one another. What happens between initiation and membership that transforms panic into delight? Or do people just get better at hiding their fear?

Also there’s the fact that it’s not all that scary if you’ve done it already.

“Ready, Stiff?” Zeke smirks down at me. “I have to say, I’m impressed that you aren’t screaming and crying right now.”

We’ve nearing the halfway point of the book and still no explanation for why everyone thinks Abnegation is cowardly. Candor should have this reputation for not being good at hiding their reactions.

Uriah says Tris is properly Dauntless, and his brother jokes about not tightening his straps enough.

“And then, splat!”
“Yeah, yeah,” Uriah says. “And then our mother would boil you alive.

“Only if she found out.”

But this gets into the teamwork/murder problems. It’s very easy to do something like this and have it look like an accident. Dauntless would need a code designed to make this unthinkable in order to function – because you don’t even need murder to happen often when just the possibility will warp everyone’s behavior.

Tris isn’t considering this and instead enjoys her ride.

I feel like I am without substance, without weight. Ahead of me the marsh looks huge, its patches of brown spreading farther than I can see, even up this high. The air is so cold and so fast that it hurts my face. I pick up speed and a shout of exhilaration rises within me, stopped only by the wind that fills my mouth the second my lips part.

I really do wonder if the rest of this didn’t come later and the original story was Tris just being Dauntless.

I hang about twenty feet above the ground, but that height seems like nothing now. I reach behind me and work to undo the straps holding me in. My fingers shake, but I still manage to loosen them. A crowd of members stands below. They grasp one another’s arms, forming a net of limbs beneath me. In order to get down, I have to trust them to catch me.

And this is both a good scene and yet such a weird counter to how their initiation has been – actual Dauntless being nowhere near as vicious as the initiates are expected to be on their first day.

They look as windblown as I feel, the frenzy of adrenaline in their eyes and their hair askew. I know why my father said the Dauntless were a pack of madmen. He didn’t—couldn’t—understand the kind of camaraderie that forms only after you’ve all risked your lives together.
“When can I go again?” I say. My smile stretches wide enough to show teeth, and when they laugh, I laugh. I think of climbing the stairs with the Abnegation, our feet finding the same rhythm, all of us the same. This isn’t like that. We are not the same. But we are, somehow, one.

This is actually a sort of emotion I find really suspicious – the bonding of all being scared together seems like it’s some sort of brainhack, and this isn’t exactly the kind of camaraderie that forms only after you’ve all risked your lives together so much as the kind that forms when you’ve deliberately created a barrier to entry and then wallow in your newfound ingroup.

I mean, what’s the very next thing this group of comrades does?

“Look! There he is!” someone says, pointing over my shoulder. I follow the pointed finger toward a small dark shape sliding down the steel wire. A few seconds later I hear a bloodcurdling scream.
“I bet he’ll cry.”
“Zeke’s brother, cry? No way. He would get punched so hard.”
“His arms are flailing!”
“He sounds like a strangled cat,” I say. Everyone laughs again.

Their sense of belonging is based around their sense they’re different from others, which does not work out well for everybody else. And these people are the ones that used to patrol the factionless area, who are seen as scum by everyone. What sort of abuses did they commit?

But Tris is a part of the group, and also this is the most positive thing we’ve seen from the Dauntless all book, so she’s over the moon and feels like she’s truly a faction member. When she returns for supper, though, she heads to her friends.

I didn’t think about them when I accepted Uriah’s invitation. In a way, it is satisfying to see stunned looks on their faces. But I don’t want them to be upset with me either.

Tris is not the most likable person, but I’m enjoying her honesty. And it makes sense for her to be self-centered when this sort of thing was never an option before.

The group is not too happy, despite her attempt to sound like none of the Dauntless liked her coming, but Al changes the topic for her to say that you missed Christina almost punching an Erudite,”…“He was here asking for opinions about the Abnegation leadership, and Christina told him there were more important things for him to be doing.” And in case we don’t get why they’d be particularly upset she ditched them when they were doing this, Christina says she defended Tris’ old faction. But then the conversation moves along.

I nod along like I’m listening, but all I can think about is staring down the side of the Hancock building, and the image I got of the marsh full of water, restored to its former glory.

Oh, yeah, she totally pictured the water. It was odd because I’m not sure she ever has seen a large body of water. Since it’s been brought up again I guess this is some sort of important foreshadowing.

And she thinks about how now she actually wants to be a Dauntless, which…is not a new thing, she’s been enjoying the non-evil parts of this the whole time.


  1. Socordya says:
    This is actually a sort of emotion I find really suspicious – the bonding of all being scared together seems like it’s some sort of brainhack, and this isn’t (exactly the kind of camaraderie that forms only after you’ve all risked your lives together so much as the kind that forms when you’ve deliberately created a barrier to entry and then wallow in your newfound ingroup.

    I mean, what’s the very next thing this group of comrades does?

    “Look! There he is!” someone says, pointing over my shoulder. I follow the pointed finger toward a small dark shape sliding down the steel wire. A few seconds later I hear a bloodcurdling scream.
    “I bet he’ll cry.”
    “Zeke’s brother, cry? No way. He would get punched so hard.”
    “His arms are flailing!”
    “He sounds like a strangled cat,” I say. Everyone laughs again.

    Their sense of belonging is based around their sense they’re different from others, which does not work out well for everybody else. And these people are the ones that used to patrol the factionless area, who are seen as scum by everyone. What sort of abuses did they commit? )

    Told you they were Facist.

    1. Farla says:
      That’s a lot broader than fascism, though – fascism likes nationalism and foreigner hating, but so do most dictator style governments, and they usually don’t want their own groups splintering to hate each other. I don’t get the impression there’s any higher authority manipulating this for their own ends or trying to control the ingroup/outgroup, they’re just a pack of thugs. They respect people from a different faction entirely (Erudite) yet tear down people of their own faction. It’s a mess.
      1. Socordya says:
        Well, what made me think Fascism was the glorification of violence, strife, and the contempt for “weakness” , but it’s true that they don’t perfectly match, particularly organization-wise like you said (no trace of a cult of authority or the Leader either).
  2. actonthat says:
    The unoriginality “sporking” just gets better and better.

    This has, by far, been the best of the YA we’ve done. It’s biggest vice right now is that it’s trending toward plotlessness, but it’s managed to stay alien and interesting enough so far. I’m not sure why I was hearing it was the Worst Thing Ever.

    *melts back away*

    1. 13thlemur says:
      Aside really lacking a solid plot, the pacing is really slow in the middle here and doesn’t pick up until like the final ten or so chapters. So I think people notice the problems with the world building stupidity a lot more since they’re given some breathing room to think things over. You add that this came out after Hunger Games so you got people crying “rip off” (seems kind of silly they’re not that much a like – a lot less so then Hunger Games and Battle Royale) it does seem to get a lot more hate then it necessarily deserves. I mean it’s not good but when put with other popular YA novels it’s not that noticeably worse. Which isn’t saying much I guess.
      1. sliz225 says:
        I concur with all the above. The world-building gets shittier and shittier as the book (and series) progress (I’m surprised Farla hasn’t attacked the population numbers–each year of initiates seems to be smaller than my elementary school). Other than that, Divergent isn’t too sucky. The characters are a strong point, especially Tris, who’s genuinely flawed without being totally unlikeable. The author lets Tris do things that most YA protagonists aren’t allowed to do–keep an eye on Will’s ultimate fate.
        1. Eilonwy_has_an_aardvark says:
          Along with population numbers, let’s consider that so far, we haven’t seen anybody over about age 45.

          The factions have supposedly been around for ~80 years. There should be living adults who dimly remember a childhood before the factions. The faction leaders (at least of the more sedentary factions) should include people in their mid-60s whose grandparents were involved in setting up the system. (I’m assuming most couples have their two ten-months-apart kids while in their very early twenties.)

          1. Farla says:
            There should be living adults who dimly remember a childhood before the factions.

            Unfortunately Tris’ complete ignorance mean that it’s entirely possible there are and we’ll just never hear about them because she won’t ask questions.

            It’s also possible that whatever disaster hit, it drastically reduced life expectancy for that generation. Whatever happened seems to have been nasty and far-ranging. I’m assuming not radiation because that’d still be showing up in the population, but chemical weapons can do a lot of damage initially and a contaminated environment afterward would leave people less healthy and more prone to illness. That might also explain why everyone’s treating the past as so far off – the faster people die, the narrower your perspective becomes.

        2. Farla says:
          I can’t complain about the population numbers because no one will tell me! There’s fifty adult Abnegation in the government and an unknown number of others doing other stuff. The community produced at least four kids for the choosing ceremony, because Tris won’t even tell us if her family and the other were the only ones or just the ones she was close to. There are twenty Dauntless initiates and half of them are transfers and at least one kid transferred from Dauntless. Dauntless only takes the ten best kids but we’re also being told that Dauntless’ initiation has changed significantly in the last couple years, so for all I know this is the first time they’ve capped the initiates.
      2. Farla says:
        So maybe the rage is in part because a lot of them finish the book/series before sporking, then go back to the start pissed off at all of it?
    2. Farla says:
      Yeah, I don’t know why there’s so much rage for this. Even its stupid worldbuilding doesn’t have any obvious real world parallels, like Hunger Games and how the capital was definitely not America as seen by the rest of the world.
  3. sliz225 says:
    “Or maybe Dauntless [kill animals] since it involves violence and it’s not like they have anything better to do with their time.”
    I like to think this is how they train their children. Just hand them knives, toss them into pens of farm animals, and the person who walks away wearing the most blood gets to go out for ice-cream. Everyone wins!
    1. Farla says:
      That seems completely Dauntless, especially considering how hard it is to kill some animals.
  4. Zolnier says:
    It reminds me a bit of Harry Potter (a series which I adore but yes is very flawed), the characters are quite well done but the actual setting is very logically faulty.
    1. Betty Cross says:
      As with Harry Potter, my interest was sustained by the characters. VR made me care about Tris and Four, and that carried all the way through the trilogy. There are plenty of novelists that can’t do that.
      1. Zolnier says:
        Plus genuine creativity even in batshit insane dumb settings is nice too see.
        1. Ember says:
          Plus, it’s harmlessly insane and not Unwind insane! That’s a nice change of pace!
          1. Zolnier says:
            Yeah it’s nice reading through something that lacks bizarre and reprehensibles morality like Whiter.
  5. ConcernedCarla says:
    Yes, this series has a lot of ridiculousness (and personally I hated the 3rd book, most people either hated it or completely loved it so idk). But the series has always had a special interest for me as someone who’s lived in/near Chicago my whole life. Incidentally, the abandoned Hancock thing does make some sense. If you Google a picture of the Chicago skyline, you’ll see one skyscraper on the north side really far away from everything else (it’s way more obvious looking from the west or east). That’s the Hancock.

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