Saturday, February 25, 2012

Divergent, Veronica Roth (2011)

Reviewer: BeezusKiddo

Rating: 4.5 tasty pierogies

Review: Divergent was selected as the top book of 2011 in the Goodreads Readers Choice Poll. It's easy to see why- this book is engaging, excited, and leaves the reader eager for Roth's next book (Insurgent, expected in May 2012).


Roth has the unfortunate timing of her book being released in the height of Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games books. Both depict dystopian futures with strong, brave women in the lead role. Veronica Roth's book is excellent, but her writing is less mature than Collins, so the comparison weighs in favor of Collins. It's not necessarily fair to compare these books in this way, but it's unavoidable due to the timing.

The only criticisms I have about Divergent are few and petty. I wish the lead, Beatrice, didn't re-name herself "Tris," it reeks of trying to hard to fit in. (Admittedly, strong female characters named "Beatrice" or "Beatrix" mean more to me than most, my daughter's middle name is "Beatrix," and she is named after a certain brave, ruthless woman of the same name.)

The love story is predictable and kind of immature, but that's not entirely a valid criticism, because the characters are young, so an immature love story is appropriate in that context.

I liked the way Roth characterizes and develops each of the factions. I also liked the extensive initiation process for joining the factions, it was an excellent plot device for developing the faction's personality, and makes the social structure much more interesting than "ok, this is where you're going."

There is the perfect balance of action and description in this book for it to be transformed to a thrilling movie that is completely true to the book. (Although I love the Hunger Games, it's so heavy on description that I think the movie won't be able to everything.)

Roth keeps a blog about her writing experiences, and it's interesting to get such an intimate view into the writing and editing process. I particularly liked her entry about the differences between the early drafts and the final story of Divergent. She seems down-to-earth, intelligent, and friendly. Also, she's only 23! What an amazing accomplishment for someone so young.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Happy Friday Gift: Best Short Story Evah!

Well, it's Friday - finally. This has been one of the more stressful weeks of my life professionally so I need to decompress something fierce.

To celebrate our collective impending weekend freedom here is a link to what may very possibly be the best short story ever written: Symbols and Signs by Vladimir Nabokov.


I'm pretty certain at this point that Nabokov is the best writer ever although there are a few more of his works I need to read before I can say this definitively. No one can do what he can do with the written word. I love this phrase from Symbols and Signs so much, "...of neglected children humming to themselves in unswept corners." He writes phrases like that - which stick in my mind for days.

I began writing short stories when I was eight years old. I love writing but everytime I read Symbols & Signs I want to punch myself in the face and burn everything I have ever written.

Enjoy! Love, Elle