Divergent Recap – Chapter 1

This morning I saw a trailer for “Divergent” (starring Shailene Woodley) and I was intrigued. So, I decided to start reading the books to see how good they are.

Things I know about “Divergent”: dystopian YA trilogy, very popular, factions that relate to traits (intelligence, selflessness, bravery and other 2), science hate. Similar to Hunger Games. I liked Hunger Games very much, but I’m not a fan of dystopian novels or movies. 

The first chapter is 5-page long. Only 5. Not a very good thing by my standards. I know people say keep your chapters short, but this seems way too short.

The chapters starts with our protagonist getting a haircut in front of the one and only mirror in her house. The protagonist looking in a mirror and describing herself is like the most boring introduction ever. And why do authors feel the need to always describe their MC if the novel is written in the first person?

In my reflection, I see a narrow face, wide, round eyes, and a long, thin nose – I still look like a little girl, though sometime in the last few months I turned sixteen.

You know what I don’t associate with little girls? Narrow faces. Maybe she feels like a little girl.

Also, I get the feel I won’t understand the factions. Why does she have to stand in front of a mirror to get a haircut? Her mother is cutting her hair. And why would her mother scold her for looking into the mirror even though this is the only time when she’s allowed to stand in front of a mirror? Stupid. But at least, they pay good attention to their looks. Heck, I wish I could remember my 3-month haircut. I usually miss it by a couple of months.

Today is the day of the aptitude test that will show me which of the five faction I belong in. And tomorrow, at the Choosing Ceremony, I will decide on a faction; I will decide the rest of my life; I will decide to stay with my family or abandon them.

I don’t get why it’s called an aptitude test. Selflessness or bravery are not aptitudes, are personality traits. And I thought she was already in a faction, her family faction, the dudes that don’t let her stare in a mirror. It’s interesting that she gets to decide at least. Also, I don’t get the use of semicolons instead of periods.

Next comes a description of her mother. She’s beautiful, but she must hide it. The faction name is Abnegation and its people cannot be beautiful.

On these mornings when my brother makes breakfast, and my father’s hand skims my hair as he reads the newspaper, and my mother hums as she clears the table – it is on these mornings I feel guiltiest for wanting to leave them.

So, I guess you decided you want to leave them, unnamed character, and it’s not a big dilemma for you. And why does she feel guilty anyway?

Now, we get to the boring ride to school on a bus. We get a description of the brother, Caleb, who looks nothing like her. Of course, he could totally be a god among women, if he wasn’t Abnegation. This faction already sounds like a total pariah among factions.

The Candor man wears a black suit with a white tie – Candor standard uniform. Their faction values honesty and sees the truth as black and white, so that is what they wear.

Huh? If they valued honesty and truth, they would know that not everything is white and black.

We find out that Abnegation volunteers also repave roads. They started in the middle of the city and continued to the outskirts, but had to stop due to a lack of materials. That would be an interesting topic to explore. Why do they have to volunteer? How does the city function? We also find about a building, the Hub, the heart of the city, but no details whatsoever. Why do you mention it, if you’re not going to say anything about it? Except that it’s black.

I can tell by the constant shift of his eyes that his watching the people around us – striving to see only them and to forget himself. Candor values honesty, but our faction, Abnegation, values selflessness.

Thanks for the repetition and stating the obvious. I wouldn’t have remembered otherwise. I don’t know in which world does this author live in, but selflessness doesn’t imply becoming a monk. Being selfless doesn’t mean forget about yourself, but rather putting the others’ needs above yours without benefiting directly. Giving your seat in a bus is not a selfless act.

I grab Caleb’s arm ad I stumble over the man’s shoes. My slacks are too long, and I’ve never been that graceful.

That’s what the world needs: another Bella! Please, no.

There some boring description of the school. Or should I say non-description? Really, what am I suppose to picture when you say “a large metal sculpture that the Dauntless climb after school”?

We then learn that Caleb is in the same year as her, so its aptitude day for him too. In a way, it’s the last day of school for them because after the Choosing ceremony, the factions are responsible for their education. I don’t get what’s the point in letting the kids mingle until they are 16, even though they have faction allegiances through their families and they diss each other, and then making them choose a faction. Let the factions school them until they are of age and they can choose.

She has a conversation with Caleb, a totally boring conversation, but the author has to tell us how worried the girl is about the test.

Then an Erudite boy in a blue sweater shoves me. I lose my balance and fall hard on the ground.
“Out of my way, Stiff,” he snaps, and continues down the hallway.

“He snaps” is not a dialogue tag. So I guess, the Erudites are the smart ones. They do seem to act like intelligent people, shoving and insulting other human beings. LOL.

At exactly 7:25, the Dauntless prove their bravery by jumping from a moving train.

That’s not bravery. People who are adrenaline junkies are also called reckless.

They are pierced, tattooed, and black clothed. Their primary purpose is to guard the fence that surrounds our city. From what, I don’t know.

What are they? Bikers or something? I would like to know more about what’s outside the city. But apparently, everything I would like to know is on the protagonist’s “I don’t care” list.

They should perplex me. I should wonder what courage – which is the virtue they most value – has to do with a metal ring through your nostril.

That’s the author subconscious way of asking “What the hell are you writing?” Just kidding! The idea is that those Dauntless people are so, so dangerous, but B is so drawn to them. Yawn.

Watching them is a foolish practice. I turn away from the window and press through the crowd to the Faction History classroom.

And that’s how the chapter ends. Intrigued? I’m not. Why is watching them a foolish practice? She should expand a little on that, not just say something random and leave afterwards.

I would say that this is a terrible first chapter. Nothing interesting happens. She gets a haircut and goes to school. Of all the ways this book could have been started, this is the best way? How about starting in the middle of the test or the ceremony?

And I’m pretty sure that the author thought those faction names are clever, but I find them so boring. They could have been less obvious, make the reader wonder what they mean. And what’s with the dress codes: Abnegation – grey, Candor – black and white, Dauntless – black? Only Erudite wears color?

And I don’t get the whole segregation by trait thing. People aren’t defined by a single trait, but by a multitude of them. It seems like lazy writing for me. Give each group a trait and when you talk about an Erudite, you automatically know he’s smart and don’t care about anything else.

Tomorrow is another day… And another chapter. Hopefully, it gets better.

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