Right after reading that blog post by Sarah Ockler, I read this essay by Stephen King about Lord of the Flies:
There was no library, but in the early Sixties, the library came to us. Once a month a lumbering green van pulled up in front of our tiny school. Written on the side in large gold letters was State of Maine Bookmobile. The driver-librarian was a hefty lady who liked kids almost as much as she liked books, and she was always willing to make a suggestion. One day, after I’d spent 20 minutes pulling books from the shelves in the section marked Young Readers and then replacing them again, she asked me what sort of book I was looking for.
I thought about it, then asked a question — perhaps by accident, perhaps as a result of divine intervention — that unlocked the rest of my life. “Do you have any stories about how kids really are?”
Not every teen who has sex or experiments with drinking feels remorseful about it. Not every teen who has sex gets pregnant, gets someone pregnant, or contracts an STD. Not every teen who has sex does so while in a serious relationship. Not every teen who has sex outside of a relationship feels guilty, shameful, or regretful later on. And you can ban my books from every damn district in the country — I’m still not going to write to send messages or make teens feel guilty because they’ve made choices that some people want to pretend don’t exist.
That’s my choice. And I’ll never be ashamed of my choice to write about real issues.
...that most of the news articles about the recent banning of Slaughterhouse Five (and Twenty Boy Summer) from Republic High School in Missouri haven't mentioned the fact that only 4 of the 7 school board members were in attendance when the vote was held.
Or that the reconsideration committee—you know, people who actually read the books in their entirety—recommended that all three books stay.
The whole situation just seems so... sketchy.
[GAH! Miss Lemon just jumped in the window with another grasshopper! She's eating it! Oh, wait. It hopped away! Nope, she's got it again... and it's gone. Down her gullet.]
So, yes. I got to Veronica Roth's Divergent a little bit late.
Did you notice how I didn't post at all at the end of last week?
That was partly due to being busy with regular camp stuff, but mostly, it was due to the fact that I sat down with Divergent on Friday morning, meaning to read the first few chapters...
...and then suddenly, it was, like, five hours later and I'd finished the book and I had to scramble to pack my things and head up to Waterford.
This isn't going to be a review-review, because I didn't even take the time to dog-ear pages, let alone take any notes: That's how enthralled I was.
It's set in future (yes, it's a dystopia) Chicago, in which people are split into five factions. Each faction believes that the world went blooey due to the lack of one specific virtue, and so, to Prevent Future Badness, each faction strives to embody that virtue: Amity strives for peace, Candor for honesty, Abnegation for selflessness, Erudite for intelligence, and Dauntless for bravery. The factions don't agree on much, and don't have much to do with each other.
At age sixteen, each resident chooses a faction. If she switches factions, after that, she'll have little-to-no contact with her biological family for the rest of her lives.
Beatrice was raised in Abnegation, but knows herself to be too selfish to ever truly belong there.
So she makes her choice, and in so doing, enters a competitive (and sometimes brutal) initiation, gets to know people raised in other factions, is involved in intrigue, and discovers that All Is Not Well Behind The Scenes of Dystopian Future Chicago. (Surprise!) And yes, there is romance. (Double surprise!)
She finds that she has untapped reserves of Survival, Inner Strength and Capability. Which is a good thing, as she's going to need them.
So, YEAH. PAGETURNER.
Minor issues: The author fell into the Main-Characters-Have-The-Perfect-Opportunity-To-Do-In-A-Baddie-But-Inexplicably-Let-Him-Live trap; I felt a bit uncomfortable with the focus on the Big Bad's body type, which seemed to buy into the Pick-Apart-Strong-Women-For-Their-Physical-Appearance-Rather-Than-Their-Actions mentality; the villains were more Pure Villain than human; and the heroine (who I mostly loved) was really slow on the uptake about her trainer's motivations.
That said, I thought Beatrice was a great main character, imperfect and believable. I liked that while she's the main character and there's Something Special about her, she isn't a One True Savior type (I can't really go into that fully because it's way spoilery). The story had some excellent, excellent twists, and the world-building within the factions was well done.
(Also, I liked the part where she BEAT THE CRAP out of a person who really had it coming. Even though I don't think I was supposed to approve quite as wholeheartedly as I did.)
Like I said: HOLY COW, WHAT A PAGETURNER.
Highly recommended for fans of The Hunger Games, etc.