In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself. During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her. (From Amazon.ca)
Don’t get me wrong here. I loved the plot. It had a lot of potential to be something as interesting and intriguing as The Hunger Games. The five factions was indeed interesting, and I liked how you had to choose which faction to devote to for the rest of your life. So this part was all great and dandy. Then it falls short. So, I ask why is Chicago divided into these factions? what happened? why are these factions divided into these virtues? how did it all start? what about the factionless? how many belong there? why are they outcasted like that? etc etc… the list of questions started to get longer, and longer. Then it hit me, there is NO world building in the book. There is no background information. You’re smack in the middle of a dystopia and you don’t know how the setting got there. This bugged me. Immensely. I like my background information. If it’s going to be where it will all be explained in other future novels, then that’s silly. What’s the point of the first novel then? the first novel in a series is to explain how the setting came to be.
So you’re thrown in with Beatrice, who learns how to survive in the faction she chose. This part of the book wasn’t so bad, I enjoyed learning how they struggled to survive to be part of the faction. She undergoes a complete transformation, which, makes sense. Yet, this cliche where a nice meek girl who’s bored of her faction, joins another one and becomes an ultra bad girl who can fight, talk back, manages to get several tattoos and gets a complete makeover is overdone and cheesy. I tolerated this only because I somewhat liked how she managed to fight back against her bullies – so she does have a spine, and she doesn’t whine about it. Oh and let’s not GO THERE where she becomes a female version of Rambo and suddenly becomes the Girl of Steel. This could become a B movie any time now.
Then Four arrives into the story. By Jeebus what is it with current YA novels where names or nicknames are just utterly ridiculous? I understand, it does make sense once it’s been revealed why he’s called that but what? so the characters just didn’t have enough creativity to make up a better nickname than bloody Four?!.
I’d have to say, the characters in this book aren’t necessarily likable. I tried to like Tris, and I did at some points of the book her moments of revenge were quite satisfying. I couldn’t like Four at all because I felt he was just a cardboard character and a typical “hard but soft in the inside” personality. The romance between the two of them wasn’t working for me. They had no chemistry and it got to the point where it became supremely cheesy and almost nauseating to read both of them get all lovey dovey. It just did not work for me.
I don’t know if I’m going to read further into the series. I really did like the plot. It was a good idea and had lots of potential. Yet it wasn’t executed as well as I thought. The REAL action does not start until much much later in the novel so I wonder was 500 pages really necessary for this book? The ending, was cheesy, so cheesy you could use it to make nachos. The characters weren’t so likable and the romance just did not have the chemistry required. I’d have to say, this hasn’t topped The Hunger Games, and I stress to readers out there to read Hunger Games instead of this one. It’s so much better. I can’t believe the hype over this book, then again, maybe it’s best not to believe in all the hype after all.
I give it a 4 out of 10
Side Note: Albert? wtf man?! why did you do that?
Tris: jeebus woman, what you did at the end towards Magnus? jeebus cripes settle down before you swallow him whole. Did Four suddenly become your property and he can’t suddenly defend himself? what kind of freaking Dauntless is that then? a whimpy one that’s what. However I congratulate you Tris, you officially made Four your bitch.
Four: you suck. Enough said. Patch from the Hush Hush series could eat you whole for breakfast.