Divergent Ch34-35

Last time on Dauntless, they’re “divergent rebels” with guns aimed at them.

Now they’re mysteriously not being shot.

Jeanine sits behind the desk, a phone against her ear. “Well, send some of them back on the train, then,” she says. “It needs to be well guarded, it’s the most important part—I’m not talk—I have to go.”

I wonder what she wants guarded.

The people delivering them repeat that they’re divergent rebels. This is such a stupid term. They’re divergent. Rebels would imply any degree of organization and suggest a certain bare minimum competence, but they’re just total fuckups. I don’t know why the author had Tobias say there were evil war plans, because it hasn’t mattered in the least and just makes the two of them look terrible for not trying to do anything about this.

We learn that Tobias is still not divergent and legitimately got an Abnegation result. Oookay.

“My theory is that you really do belong in Abnegation. That your Divergence is weaker.”

Holy shit do I not care.

Tobias, apparently feeling similarly about a chance to finish this trainwreck of an ending as fast as possible, tells her she’s a busy person who should just kill them already.

“Don’t be silly. There is no rush,” she says lightly. “You are both here for an extremely important purpose. You see, it perplexed me that the Divergent were immune to the serum that I developed, so I have been working to remedy that. I thought I might have, with the last batch, but as you know, I was wrong.

If only you had someone you were pretty sure was divergent to test on! Oh wait you totally guessed Tris was.

So that’s confirmation that Erudite’s corruption is just getting too -EXCIT-ED for the safety testing part of science.

Tris, agreeing with me and Tobias about the god just end please, also tries to remind Jeanine that she can just kill them, seriously, right now would be smary.

“I have had a question since I began the Dauntless project, and it is this.” She sidesteps her desk, skimming the surface with her finger. “Why are most of the Divergent weak-willed, God-fearing nobodies from Abnegation, of all factions?”

Why do you associate the psychotically self-denying with weak wills, you weirdo? This is not how you science!

Hell, god-fearing? You guys still know that phrase but not its associations? People who talk about being god-fearing are the ones who’ve molded and shaped religion into a hard enough stick to beat you to death with.

“Weak-willed,” Tobias scoffs. “It requires a strong will to manipulate a simulation, last time I checked.

Yes it’s sort of like being divergent and manipulating a simulation have absolutely no reason in the story to be linked.

Weak-willed is mindcontrolling an army because it’s too hard for you to train one yourself.”

No that’s not it either jesus christ was there some sort of deadline for this? This is getting into NaNo quality.

“I am not a fool,” says Jeanine. “A faction of intellectuals is no army.

Yes it is. Just make a super weapon and then use the super weapon. Boom, done! In fact, you already did this. You don’t need an army because you could’ve just injected all the Abnegation people with your brainwash serum and had a bloodless takeover. They’re Abnegation, they don’t know jack shit about science, they wouldn’t know the difference between brainwash and tracking device. If you can’t talk them into tracking devices, presumably you guys still get vaccinations, so just slip it in there. None of them know how anything works, they wouldn’t be able to tell one thing from the other.

I mean, if you expected the brainwash to not work because they’re all divergent, okay, that’s a problem, but you’re saying that was a minor blip and you even worked up a new batch you think has finally solved it for good.

We are tired of being dominated by a bunch of selfrighteous idiots who reject wealth and advancement, but we couldn’t do this on our own. And your Dauntless leaders were all too happy to oblige me if I guaranteed them a place in our new, improved government.”

So apparently Abnegation did deliberately refuse to let improvements through. What I don’t get is why Erudite needs to brainwash anyone. They have an entire sister faction of angry people who hate the current government. They don’t even need to attack the government to win this one, they just need to stop caring what Abnegation tells them to do.

“Improved,” Tobias says, snorting.
“Yes, improved,” Jeanine says. “Improved, and working toward a world in which people will live in wealth, comfort, and prosperity.”
“At whose expense?” I ask, my voice thick and sluggish. “All that wealth…doesn’t come from nowhere.”
“Currently, the factionless are a drain on our resources,” Jeanine replies. “As is Abnegation.

Oh, so close! But they must be puppykick evil. Even assuming there are fewer factionless jobs than factionless, Abnegation seems to be fully employed. Incidentally, the factionless taboo is so great that Jeanine intends to absorb Abnegation into the army she won’t need in about five minutes but no mention of doing the same with the factionless.

Ironically brainwashing the Dauntless is a huge step for wealth/comfort/prosperity for everyone else already, because they seem to be getting the lion’s share of everything and I’m betting the current version will eat something other than beef and fruit muffins every meal and demand a lot fewer pretty dresses.

Tobias once again tries to escape the story with a plea she just kill him instead of monologuing her stupid plan, then points out she’ll be dead by the end of the day. No reason is given so I’ll assume he’s just trying to goad her into giving him sweet, sanity-saving death.

She perches on the edge of the desk, her skirt pulling away from her knees, which are crossed with stretch marks.

I don’t know what the fuck here. If anyone else does, tell me.

“Can you tell me honestly that you wouldn’t be happy to discover that your father was killed in the attack?”
“No,” says Tobias through gritted teeth. “But at least his evil didn’t involve the widespread manipulation of an entire faction and the systematic murder of every political leader we have.”

Eh, is that your issue?

I mean, the murder in general, sure. But political leader? They don’t seem to have been doing anything much useful even before we get to the accusations they were actively holding things back, and hereditary leaders are basically aristocracy who I’m pretty in favor of mass murdering if that’s what change takes.

“What I was going to say,” she says, “is that soon, dozens of the Abnegation and their young children will be my responsibility to keep in order, and it does not bode well for me that a large number of them may be Divergent like yourselves, incapable of being controlled by the simulations.”

…dozens? So assuming all the fifty leaders are/will be dead, that suggests Abnegation was only about a hundred people. Given we’ve heard no mention of women being leaders, it further suggests that Abnegation is actually the politicians and wives faction.

Anyway she returns to the subject of how she’s pretty sure she’s got the divergence problem fixed.

“You are correct to say that you are strongwilled. I cannot control your will.

Firstly, can so, just get his dad in here. Secondly, what the fuck does any of this have to do with anything else? He’s divergent therefore simulation hack therefore strong will lets you hack?

She presses her palms together. I see no vicious glee in her eyes, and not a hint of the sadism I expect. She is more machine than maniac. She sees problems and forms solutions based on the data she collects. Abnegation stood in the way of her desire for power

Tris, keep up. She continues to not seem to care much about power. Maybe if your birth faction hadn’t done such a great impression of an immovable object, she wouldn’t have gone nuts trying to solve the problem.

Divergence is just another problem for her to solve, and that is what makes her so terrifying—because she is smart enough to solve anything, even the problem of our existence.

No, what makes her terrifying is why someone you admit is able to solve anything could not find any alternative way to fix things than through an incredibly complex plan involving enslaving one faction to murder two others. What the fuck is wrong with your society?

“I can control what you see and hear,” she says. “So I created a new serum that will adjust your surroundings to manipulate your will.

…wait, so how does the other version work?

“You will be the first test subject, Tobias. Beatrice, however…” She smiles. “You are too injured to be of much use to me, so your execution will occur at the conclusion of this meeting.”

You didn’t answer my question! You just gave me a new question of why didn’t you just kill her instead of chatting then?

Tobias then flat out insists that no seriously he wants out can she just kill him already, and Jeanine says no dammit if she has to stick around in this horrible book to its horrible conclusion no one else gets out either. So Tobias kisses Tris and then tries to murder Jeanine. He fails because he tries strangling and not something practical. He could’ve at least tried to gouge her eyes out, that might have incapacitated her enough that she couldn’t keep giving orders and Tris would’ve been able to finish her off. Instead he’s dragged off and only then does Tris think to do anything and there’s no element of surprise by then and she fails too.

Tobias is injected and it makes him attack her because he sees something else. What it is we don’t know, but whatever it is he doesn’t seem to figure out something’s up by the fact he sees something different once he gets up.

“The advantage to this version of the simulation,” she says, her eyes alight, “is that he can act independently, and is therefore far more effective than a mindless soldier.”

And you apparently invented it in the last couple hours or else you’d have used it in the main rollout! That’s really impressive, Jeanine. You’re right, those fools at Abnegation shouldn’t have laughed at you. You’ll show them all.

Tris is dragged off thrashing. She manages to bite one of them. See, if Dauntless had done its job of numbing people to physical violence, Tobias could’ve chewed open Jeanine’s throat a few minutes back. There’s a hell of a lot of stuff that’s perfectly effective and people just don’t do it because it’s horrible, and literally the only thing the Dauntless initiation is good for is forcing people to get used to doing horrible things.

The next chapter has Tris dumped into an empty tank, because Jeanine decided that fuck it, she has to be a ridiculous villain? She will be the most fucking ridiculous villain there ever was.

If I refuse to give up now, it will look brave to whoever watches me with that camera, but sometimes it isn’t fighting that’s brave, it’s facing the death you know is coming. I sob into the glass. I’m not afraid of dying, but I want to die a different way, any other way.

This is a brief moment of decent writing, a return to the hallowed times of a few chapters ago. It quickly turns into

The video camera means they’re watching me—no, studying me, as only the Erudite would. To see if my reaction in reality matches my reaction in the simulation. To prove that I’m a coward. I uncurl my fists and drop my hands. I am not a coward.

and we learn that Tris didn’t mean an internal bravery but that her outward bravery appearance should be that of acceptance rather than struggle. Incidentally, I don’t agree regardless. Rage against the dying of the light, Tris. You literally have nothing to lose.

My mother submerged me in water when I was a baby, to give me to God.

Aw, they’re Catholics! Well, probably one of the Protestant branches that also do this given the area but I’d rather believe Catholicism is still chugging merrily along at the end of the world. They’re the best one because they’re oldest.

It has been a long time since I thought about God, but I think about him now. It is only natural. I am glad, suddenly, that I shot Eric in the foot instead of the head.

That’s another type of cowardice. I understand that religiously this is supposed to mean that it was objectively good, but no it wasn’t, if God wanted that then God is diverging from objectively good.

My body rises with the water. Instead of kicking my feet to stay abreast of it, I push all the air from my lungs and sink to the bottom.

Weeks of quality Dauntless training right there.

Come to think of it their reactions must be so fucked in any actual disaster. They’re trained to either shut down until they get calmer or fling themselves into the suicide route.

But we still have chapters to go so let’s get ourselves a deus ex machina to drag things out.

I hear a bang, and the glass cracks. Water sprays out a hole near the top of the tank, and the pane cracks in half. I turn away as the glass shatters, and the force of the water throws my body at the ground. I gasp, swallowing water as well as air, and cough, and gasp again, and hands close around my arms, and I hear her voice.
“Beatrice,” she says. “Beatrice, we have to run.”
She pulls my arm across her shoulders and hauls me to my feet. She is dressed like my mother and she looks like my mother, but she is holding a gun, and the determined look in her eyes is unfamiliar to me.

Tris remembers that right, her mom totally got Dauntless training too. Unlike her useless daughter, her mom is into headshots. And actually succeeding at saving their family.

“How did you know to find me?” I say.
“I’ve been watching the trains since the attacks started,” she replies, glancing over her shoulder at me. “I didn’t know what I would do when I found you. But it was always my intention to save you.”

So the author can’t even begin to explain how she knew Tris was in the ridiculous villain deathtrap.

Tris is shocked her mom cares given she transferred factions despite already knowing her mom did the same.

I don’t care about the factions.” She shakes her head. “Look where they got us. Human beings as a whole cannot be good for long before the bad creeps back in and poisons us again.”

…so we aren’t getting a humanist message about how trying to eliminate evil by cutting out parts of ourselves is wrongheaded, the message is you’re fucked however you go about it.

Her mom exposits that she was also divergent and her own mom was Dauntless leader and tolds her to go to a safer faction. So divergence has always been a big murdery deal even though the only reason we’ve given for it being a problem is that any divergent in the Dauntless ranks currently would get in the way of Erudite’s plan. Book, do you want to try yet again to make sense of this? I’m sure you can find a new way to fuck it up.

“I don’t understand why we’re such a threat to the leaders.”
“Every faction conditions its members to think and act a certain way. And most people do it. For most people, it’s not hard to learn, to find a pattern of thought that works and stay that way.” She touches my uninjured shoulder and smiles. “But our minds move in a dozen different directions. We can’t be confined to one way of thinking, and that terrifies our leaders. It means we can’t be controlled. And it means that no matter what they do, we will always cause trouble for them.”

Except for the part where you didn’t do anything like this and spent your life being Abnegation.

I feel like someone breathed new air into my lungs. I am not Abnegation. I am not Dauntless.
I am Divergent.
And I can’t be controlled.

No, you’re just regular Dauntless.

Her mom then sacrifices herself to distract the zombie Dauntless, which does seem an actual Abnegation/Dauntless fusion, so Tris can run to where the rest of her family is hidden. Midway through Tris disregards her sacrifice in favor of staring at her mom go down for drama’s sake. Then she considers if maybe committing suicide right now might be fun, but she remembers that Tobias and her mom said to be brave and as a divergent, she can only do stuff other people tell her.

God this book has turned to shit so fast.

18 Comments

  1. Ember says:
    I think the Divergent are called “rebels” to distract from the fact that the only people with any objections at all to the way the government runs things are the antagonists when Divergence is billed as a dystopia novel. The other YA dystopias you’ve reviewed here have already established a disturbing trend of grandstanding about how radical opposition is just as evil as bad government, but this is kind of a new low that I think might technically take the book outside of the genre completely.
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    1. Betty Cross says:
      I’ve read the whole trilogy but I won’t spoil item for you. Let it be sufficient to say that there turns out to be more than two antagonists in this game.
    2. Farla says:
      That would seem to fit. You have to have the main character be rebels, regardless of what they’re actually doing.
  2. Niesse says:
    Oh, and the book was doing so… adequately. What a shame.
  3. Eilonwy_has_an_aardvark says:
    Standard choosing serum given to anyone: affects Tris completely normally. She just makes annoying choices that mess up the sequence.

    Fear-scenario serum given to all Dauntless: puts Tris into the hallucination but she knows it’s a hallucination and can affect it.

    Super-sekrit brainwashing serum designed to last longer and work better than the mid-range product: doesn’t affect Tris at all.

    BAD sciencing, Erudite! Bad sciencing!

    1. Farla says:
      It may not be right, but I thought the reason she screwed up the test was because she was aware it was a test so she didn’t obey the voice and that’s impossible otherwise. The problem is it’s never actually explained what non-divergent people experience in the sims or how the test is supposed to work. If the serum had minimal effect on her of a voice telling her what to do that she could blow off, we’d know.
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      1. Eilonwy_has_an_aardvark says:
        Eep, you’re right that she’s aware it’s a test! It needed to be established strongly in the text that she wasn’t supposed to be aware it was a test, since a normal person in our universe would expect self-awareness. It’s not like we all go into hallucinations when taking the Myers Briggs Personality Inventory.

        Should have let her talk with her brother, who I don’t think is explicitly established as Divergent in the first two books. (This all gets retconned madly later, so Tobias’ divergency is a moving target, and I can’t swear Caleb’s status isn’t.)

        1. Farla says:
          I’m not even completely sure that she isn’t supposed to know it’s a test, it’s just my best guess.
    2. Eva Rinaldi says:
      This whole chapter makes no sense because if “divergent” actually just means “we can’t use simulations to spy on your deepest fears or how your mind works, because you’re a lucid dreamer” then it makes sense why a government that is super into simulations (spoiler for book 2 slightly) is so concerned about people who’s brains can’t be controlled by them.

      It makes no sense to have the divergent be a problem before the simulations were invented, and it doesn’t seem like Jeanine (inventor of the simulations) is that much older than Tris’ mom.

      Also, just realized that this book series would be awesomer if Jeanine was the protagonist. “So I clawed my way up to being leader of the Erudite, so I could make more cool science without those fools holding me back, but it turns out that they weren’t afraid of how awesome my science was, the government won’t let anyone invent things! And they’re giving the really good food to the factionless and the Dauntless, who don’t do anything! Screw this, I’m taking over the government.”

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      1. Farla says:
        I think the divergent purges only just started happening, but even still, if you’re concerned divergents aren’t too easy to predict, just keep them in jobs where they can’t do anything important and move on.

        Jeanine is cool because she does stuff and things change, and you can’t have a protagonist change things, it’s against the rules.

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  4. Socordya says:
    When they dropped her in the tank, and she decided to give up like in the simulations, I was convinced it was going to turn out that they had only injected her with the new serum or something like that and she would wake up by giving up. Perhaps because the whole deathtrap thing was too dumb to be real.

    On another note, her mom is pretty cool.

    “”My mother submerged me in water when I was a baby, to give me to God.”
    Aw, they’re Catholics! Well, probably one of the Protestant branches that also do this given the area but I’d rather believe Catholicism is still chugging merrily along at the end of the world. They’re the best one because they’re oldest.”
    Or they worship the Drowned God! It would explained why they hate joy.

    1. Farla says:
      I was thinking that, but I was also thinking that’d have been a decent twist and if there were going to be decent twists Erudite wouldn’t have been evil, so I figured it must actually be happening.

      The only thing better than Catholic Jesus is Zombie Cthulhu Jesus!

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    2. Anon says:
      Isn’t the oldest one the Eastern Orthodox Church though? Wikipedia tells me that it’s called “Orthodox Catholic Church”, but as a person living in the Balkans and with an orthodox family, I can tell you that they consider catholicism to be a whole different thing.
      1. Socordya says:
        Well, the Catholic and Orthodox churches are two halves of the same organisation that was cut in half after a schism. In the west, where most people are culturally Catholics of Protestants, we tend to think that the original one was the Catholic Church and that the Orthodoxes are the ones who broke away, but I suppose that for the Orthodoxes, it’s the other way around!
        1. Anon says:
          Oh, I didn’t know that – I thought that since “Orthodox” means right belief, the west agreed that it was the original one (and when I was younger, I thought that naming our religion “the true faith” was very, very arrogant). Any idea how that happened? And yeah, it’s really interesting how different countries teach different interpretations of the same event!
          1. Farla says:
            Bear in mind also that religions tend to change naturally over time. Regardless of which was founded first, if they view each other as diverging from the true faith over time, they’ll both say they’re the oldest one to be actually right about it.

            I think the Catholic claim of being the original comes from the idea they were founded by Peter and have an unbroken succession from there and so all other churches need to follow their decisions, and the split originates from the fact the other churches didn’t care about that in the first place. This goes back to the founding of Christianity, so really, it’s always been that there were a lot of churches forming in the general area who didn’t recognize the pope as the highest authority, it just took a while to officially split up.

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  5. Anon says:
    “So apparently Abnegation did deliberately refuse to let improvements through. What I don’t get is why Erudite needs to brainwash anyone. They have an entire sister faction of angry people who hate the current government”

    ^THIS.

    I didn’t like Tobias much, but for me, this book really went off the rails the instant we learned that Erudite was evil with a capital E. The ending is so, so very bad.

    Would have been a far more interesting choice if Dauntless had attacked Abnegation, no brainwashing required. Then Tris would have had to actually make a choice between blood and faction instead of this fakey one. But that would have required Tris to actually do something instead of being so passive.

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    1. Farla says:
      It’d also have meant actual fallout afterward and her faction having more problems than just the people at the head. So no, obviously there’s a win button.
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