Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Kearsten's Book Club: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Last night was loud. I don't know if we were all channeling the Dauntless, but even the librarians out at the youth desk commented on how rowdy book club was.  I'm not gonna lie: I participated happily in the shouty-laughter.

The book that got us riled-up was Veronica Roth's dystopic science fiction novel, Divergent.

In a future Chicago, sixteen-year-old Beatrice Prior must choose among five predetermined factions to define her identity for the rest of her life, a decision made more difficult when she discovers that she is an anomaly who does not fit into any one group, and that the society she lives in is not perfect after all.

This is a book full of action, fear, tough chicks, evil overlords (of a sort), guilt, conspiracy and a little bit of romance - and you'll be dying to take the aptitude test to discover in which faction you belong...

Unsurprisingly, we spent a good amount of time discussing the factions, each of which value a different trait: selflessness, bravery, intelligence/knowledge, peacefulness, and honesty. Can you be brave without selflessness? Is it worth it to be honest regardless of whom it might hurt? Does an awesome female character ALWAYS have to have some pretty boy tell her how amazing she is before she'll believe it herself?! (Okay, that last one is a personal beef I've been having with teen fiction lately. I'll back off now.)

Already read Divergent? Put the second book in the trilogy, Insurgent, on hold, or try one of these book club suggested titles!

The Maze Runner by James Dashner.  Sixteen-year-old Thomas wakes up with no memory in the middle of a maze and realizes he must work with the community in which he finds himself if he is to escape.

Blood Red Road by Moira Young.  In a distant future, eighteen-year-old Lugh is kidnapped, and while his twin sister Saba and nine-year-old Emmi are trailing him across bleak Sandsea they are captured, too, and taken to brutal Hopetown, where Saba is forced to be a cage fighter until new friends help plan an escape.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen accidentally becomes a contender in the annual Hunger Games, a grave competition hosted by the Capitol where young boys and girls are pitted against one another in a televised fight to the death.

Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce.  Eleven-year-old Alanna, who aspires to be a knight even though she is a girl, disguises herself as a boy to become a royal page, learning many hard lessons along her path to high adventure.

Not enough to satisfy your interest in tough, smart teen girls? Take book clubber Tiffany's suggestion to check out season one of the awesome TV show, Veronica Mars. Tiffany says that the main character of Divergent reminds her of Veronica, in her willingness to stand up for others and to not just go-along with the crowd. (And I agree - Veronica Mars was amazing!)


Anonymous said...

Teen librarian? Cool! I would have loved doing that back when I was a teenager.

I am enjoying Divergent, too. K, I love your comment about girl heroes needing a boy to tell them they're wonderful. Do you have any other thoughts about common problems in YA fiction? If it's covered elsewhere on your blog, just point me to it.

Anonymous said...

I don't think any of us have covered 'things that bother us about teen fiction' on the blog, but now you've gotten me thinking! :D

I, personally, have grown VERY tired of love triangles - while I'd have loved for two equally appealing guys to have vied for my attention in high school, I don't think it happens in real life the way it's often portrayed in fiction. But that could be jealousy talking...

As for the teens in my book group, they've brought up theor annoyance with the idea best illustrated by Harry Potter (for whom they say it works!): character who is convinced he/she is not only ordinary, but worse than ordinary, only to discover that he/she has powers unknown to all! And is fated to save the world!!! Like I said, they say this worked for HP, but they're getting tired of that particular storyline.

- Kearsten