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I read widely and in most genres but romance and westerns. Here you'll find my reviews since 2007, with a few reviews of previously read books as well.


In 2012, I completed an "authors of the world" challenge, reading a book for every country (and a few other entities) by someone who'd lived there for at least two years. I expect to tag these books by challenge and country in the near future. I'm still refining my list by adding books that better meet my challenge criteria.

Divergent  - Veronica Roth A fun enough young adult novel, though with fluffier world-building than I prefer. Some reviewers have been irritated by the lack of explanation about how the factions came to be; given Tris's often-repeated realization that the imagery of the fear simulations is not actual but symbolic, I will understand this novel in the same terms. While dystopian, the novel's structural base is symbolism and analogy rather than realism. To look at it another way, its underpinning is fantasy with dystopian tattoos, an assertion that this is how things are rather than a scientific explanation of, say, why Harry Potter house elf magic is different from wizard magic. Tris's ultimate invulnerability is also fantasy-like. Yes, there's a lot of detail about her fear and pain, but she does manage to subvert a number of people and powerful institutions. I may be willing to suspend my disbelief by assuming this has something to do with being divergent, but not if I don't experience it more forcefully in the second book. There's some internal inconsistency that knocks this from a 4 to a 3 star book. For example, it's apparently very dangerous for Tris to score so well on the simulations, until it's not. Tris's brother, who's not Dauntless, seems to manage to look convincing with a gun. The Erudite are clever but perhaps not smart. (While we're on the subject, must the intellectuals be the villains? I know we're all supposed to want to be Gryffindor/Dauntless, but I imagine that many readers are Ravenclaw/Erudite.)Most problematic is what back in my semiotics days we'd have called the suturing of the text via recuperative heterosexuality. The prodigious amount of snogging, tingling, etc. at the end of the book intends to be part of the satisfying resolution of this component of the story arc, but instead diverts the tension, and the triumph, at least for this non-adolescent reader. The message is muddled, not by Tris and Four's nascent romance, but by how it suddenly makes the climactic action slow and diverts the reader (and characters) from the story they should be living. I can't speak for others, but even a really hot divergent boy is not going to take my attention off both my parents being killed, my community being destroyed, a bullet hole in my shoulder, and a known and suspected enemy in the same train car in which I'm smooching it up. Since Tris can leap buildings with a single bound (or at least leap from them), I suppose this Mary Sue conclusion is heroic, but from a feminist standpoint as well as that of plot construction, it's pretty weak.