Wednesday 2013-11-20

Divergent by Veronica Roth

"Veronica. What were your options?"

I hate it when Father gets like this. Everything has to be made into a point.

"I could have stayed in the elevator... Or I could have given up my spot for someone waiting and taken the stairs. Or ... or ..."

"Or you could have waited by the elevator for the next available one. Or you didn't have to go into the building in the first place, you could have called. Abnegation means being constantly aware of the choices in front of you. If you cannot see the choices then you cannot choose the one that benefits others the most."

Why is this so hard? I mean, I know he loves me ... and he's just trying to do his best to help me prepare for my Initiation... but I know what's coming next.

"What did you decide would be your punishment if this happened again?"

"I ... I chose caning."

"And what did I choose?"

"That I have to write a story."

"Not just any story. A story about a girl who saw all the choices in front of her and made something of them. Now walk home, pick the branch with which I will cane you, and write your story before I arrive home. Go."

"Yes, Father."

Sorry to spoil the story; Veronica once more disappoints Daddy.

Choice and Compulsion seem to be Divergent's major themes: each child must choose one of five life paths, the starlet has more choice than others because she's capable of fitting into multiple paths, and once again we are reminded that drugs turn kids into zombies. Except that aside from the "major" decisions, there's little to no wrestling with choices.

This works though, because in Roth's world all the kids are frustratingly idiotic, and only occasionally do they randomly evince some brilliance. The difficulty is that we have to plow through a bunch of pages before we find any bright spots.

Roth probably just needs an editor to help her deepen and build out the novel's structures. Perhaps the screenwriters managed that....