BUT I'M BACK!
With a shiny new book review, too.
In dystopian Chicago, sixteen-year-old Beatrice Prior has one day left to choose which of the five factions she will dedicate the rest of her life to: Candor (the honest), Erudite (the knowing), Amity (the peaceful), Abnegation (the selfless) and Dauntless (the brave). However, when her choice splits her from her parents, she is torn between who she was, and who she has chosen to be. She must also fight for a place in initiation because she'd rather be dead than become one of the ostracised factionless. And while she cannot trust her friends, who all seek to gain limited places in their new faction, she relies on Four, her coach, while suppressing newfound feelings for him. But Beatrice is more than she appears, and her unique position gives her a shock when it allows her to see the corruption beneath the apparent harmony of the factions.
When I finished this book, I felt exhilarated. This book is all about choices, whether right or wrong, and Beatrice makes some very difficult ones throughout the novel. What I liked about this was that there were consequences, some of which were quite condemning. I particularly loved Beatrice, who is tough, but still willing to display kindness to those around her. What's really good is that SHE IS THE SAVIOUR - she doesn't need a man to save her. In a genre where girls are pretty much helpless, it's satisfying to see some girls toughen up and become strong protagonists.
I was also happy with the world building aspect of it; I could easily believe in Roth's vision of a dystopian Chicago (although I've never been there) and I really enjoyed aspects like the train jumping. Most of her characters are well developed and evolve throughout the novel.
The only real issue I had with the plot was the larger conflict at stake, which I felt did not have enough motivation behind it (or, if so, was not explained to an extent where I could understand the resulting actions). I also felt that in the climax, some of the more minor characters just went along with it. Sort of like, "The world's ending? Okay, let's go have tea!" Panic, funnily enough, wasn't exactly on their minds. But these were all relatively minor complaints, and you know what they say about opinions being subjective and all that...
Ultimately, the characters were interesting and gripping, which made up for any flaws that I'd perceived, and forced me to read onwards! AND TO THE SEQUEL (which will not be out for a while).
4/5 for a good read!
Read this if: you are fed up of the paranormal genre, but are not quite willing to give up the romance that is associated with it. Other books similar to it are 'The Hunger Games' by Suzanne Collins and 'I Am Number Four' by Pittacus Lore.
- Ring Lardner