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Fandom: Divergent Trilogy
Story Arc: Selfish
Story Title: Tears
Story Summary: We are trained to remember. We are trained to forget.
The heart of Abnegation was the forgetting of self—and the remembrance of the consequences when he failed. Tobias knew this, thoroughly. He recited it to himself as he trembled in a ball on the floor of the small, dark closet. Forget self. Forget myself. Urgently, pleadingly. Forget, forget, forget.
He learned everything there was to know about tears.
The heart of Dauntless was the forgetting of fears—and why they mattered. Tobias knew this, thoroughly. He recited it to himself every time he stepped into his fearscape when he remembered the closet, remembered the beatings, remembered his father, remembered why he walked away. Forget fear. My fears don't matter. Urgently, pleadingly. Forget, forget, forget.
He forgot everything there was to know about tears.
So there are only a handful of books I truly love, and for some reason, Divergent is one of them. Made me think about why.
- It's a book that does not flinch, but does not flaunt. For some reason, a lot of fiction nowadays glories in its atrocities. It's graphic, it's violent, it gorges our senses and desensitizes us to the horror it's portraying. There's a word for this: gratuitous. A scene is far more chilling for what it doesn't say, rather than what it does. I want to understand clearly and readily the depths of what is going on, even if that understanding is truly terrible, but I don't want to be stuck with images in my mind I can never unsee. I don't want to be traumatized by a book. Fear is not healthy. Fear is not a tool to wield on oneself.
- It's a book with iceberg worldbuilding. The book is internally consistent and evokes far more detail than it had time or willingness to explore. I want to live in a setting when I'm reading a book, and Divergent does that for me.
- It's a book with powerful characters. Not only do I love them, they make sense. They are painted as whole beings on the page, even the small roles, such as Tris' mother whose name is only mentioned once. There is nuance and depth and room to grasp the character without much telling involved. Four's main appeal I think is that when he lets Tris in, he lets us in. We never see the world through his eyes, so he is as much a mystery to us as another person could ever be. What we see of him, he chooses to show us.
- It's a book that does not characterize harshness, cruelty, or killing as noble, good, or desirable, though the last is occasionally necessary and probably will become more so. Tris calls her own descent into cruelty a weakness. I want a book that calls good 'good' and evil 'evil.' It is rare that I read a new book any more that does.
Yes, I missed yesterday's countdown. Let's not discuss why. :mutters darkly: Will reply to comments, reviews, and posts later when I'm feeling more human.
So someone said something on Tumblr re: Four/Tris that I flat disagree with. They couldn't forgive Four for telling Tris she's not pretty.
Oddly enough, that made my blood boil.
Why is it you can write an ugly male character and have someone fall in love with him and that's great? Why is it that a girl has to be pretty or beautiful to be considered attractive or desirable? Why is it that this double standard is perpetuated by women?
Tris is not pretty. It is well-established by the book. Yet, she's capable and self-aware and confident and dauntless and desirable. She's got an honest lover who tells her the truth, that it's who she is that attracts him and not how she looks, who wants to find out how much it takes to break her, for crying out loud, to scare her just to see her wake up.
So, Tris isn't pretty and no one cares. Good.
7 Things I love about Divergent:
- The parents matter. They affect the plot, the story, the characters, and yet Tris is still her own person. Just the way it should be.
- Tris is a product of her family. She has a father who knows how to think, a mother who is divergent and dauntless, a brother who knows how to strategize and do the necessary, even if it hurts someone he cares about. She fits. Her family is a part of her, and when she goes to save the day, they're a part of it.
- Four. Let me count the ways... I could go on about him forever.
- The writing. It's vivid. It sucks you in. I read those first 100 free pages and promptly plunked down $11 bucks to finish reading the book that night on my computer. The longer sample, by the way, the more likely I am to buy the book. Just saying.
- The intimacy. Yes, that. The Four/Tris relationship was built up properly. It wasn't about sex or physical attraction, though that was present. Mildly. It was about really falling deeper and deeper in fascination with each other and their minds and then wanting to express that physically. Intimacy is not sex.
- The ideas. Tris is really more philosophical than you'd think at first glance. She not only thinks things through, but also rationalizes, analyzes, considers. She peers at her own self and tries to figure out what makes her tick. This, despite being raised Abnegation. In fact, I think that's why she does it. She thought that if she could figure out herself, she could change herself and become selfless at last. Uh... No.
- The secondary characters. They have their own lives, loves, hopes, dreams, tragedies. They don't make Tris the center of their world or even share the center of their world with Tris. You can feel the world behind the tantalizing sketches and know how much pain they will experience, even without Tris noticing.
I can hardly wait for more. 14 days, y'all.
Favorite new Insurgent quote, from chapter 38:
Cruelty does not make a person dishonest, the same way bravery does not make a person kind.
Eleven things I hope to see in Insurgent:
- Christina's reaction to Will's death.
- Something more about Natalie Prior. I know she's deceased now, but...
- Some family interaction with Caleb and Andrew.
- Four/Tris. Come on. How could I not?
- What Veronica Roth means when she says Tris is so different by the end of the book.
- Come-uppance for Eric.
- Some real reactions from the Amity faction to everything on.
- The whole idea behind guarding the fence. I've got ideas, but I want to see the reality.
- Marcus and Tobias interaction or resolution. Talk about cutting tension there.
- A good Erudite member. Besides Caleb.
- Candor unhappy about the deceit of the Erudite.
To be honest, I'm not counting on seeing all these things. But I'm hopeful.
Thoughts on the tragedy of Al and Tris in Divergent. I was requested to write an Al/Tris fic over the holidays, and by chance, it's one of the ones that fell by the wayside in the realities of too much life to do them all. I forewarned the requester that angst and tragedy was probably on the menu, and they did request nontragic.
But Al and Tris are tragic. Why?
It's unrequited. It's the guy that's so sweet and you care about so much but can never return the feelings. It's the guy that's so hurt and just wants to put you both on the same level again. He's scared. He's one step away from factionless, and he chooses death instead because he can't even have your friendship anymore. It's the wrong choice you never meant to make. It's horror and pain and fear and grief for all the good that once was and never could be again.
I don't want to write this fic to be honest. There is no rightness to smooth over the pain. It just hurts, and I'm not a masochist. I'm glad Roth wrote it the way she did. It was real and honest and raw, and so is the book, but I just can't go there again.