Last time we hung out with our favourite group of badass badasses of pure badassery, it was family reunion day! Tris learned her mother used to be in Dauntless through the power of chocolate cake. I know chocolate cake is how I figure most family secrets out.
Dad: Chocolate cake in Seattle is really good.
Me: …You must have a secret family in Seattle!!!!
Back at the dorms, Tris asks Al if he ever met up with his family at the reunion where you were allowed to see your family even if they were from a different faction, but you weren’t allowed to act happy to see them because faction B4 blood, yo. [Matthew says: Even if I didn’t think the entire “civilization is divided into five factions in order to save civilization” premise was total bullshit, I’d still be confused why they were constantly trying to undermine their own system. This would be like hosting an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in a frat house.]
Al confesses that he didn’t go because he didn’t want to tell his parents, “Oops, probably shouldn’t have picked Dauntless after all.” As far as mistakes go, it falls somewhere above misunderstanding the lyrics of “Every Breath You Take” and somewhere below choosing that song as your wedding anthem.
You might be wondering why I’ve been thinking about this song enough that I’ve written a joke around it. Well, that would be because I realised that most of the couples featured in the books we blog about here embody this song, creepiness and all.
Tris asks Al why he doesn’t just tell his parents he’s failing initiation on purpose. [Matthew says: You know, aside from the obvious reason.]
He shakes his head. “Dad always wanted me to come here. I mean, they said they wanted me to stay in Candor, but that’s only because that’s what they’re supposed to say. They’ve always admired the Dauntless, both of them. They wouldn’t understand if I tried to explain it to them.”
I think Al could have simply said, “Because I’d look like a huge fucking idiot,” but I guess all explanations were pretty much created equal in this case.
There’s also the small matter of the fact that Al’s parents are supposed to be honest all the time as Candor. Really, truly, I understand that if I take the time to point out each and every way these factions just don’t make any sense, I’d be able to write a book. This just really irked me for some reason.
Tris begins to muse about what Dauntless would be like if it was about bravery, courage and teamwork like everyone thought it would be. This shocks me as I thought it was just about jumping off trains and protecting everyone from an unknown threat.
[Matthew says: So it’s a little weird when Ariel is the one criticizing this book and I’m the one defending it, but this is one of those times! I was totally going to jump on the bandwagon about jumping off the train and make another “so Dauntless is the faction of people who made fun of people in high school to feel better about themselves, right?” joke, but then AL MADE A PRETTY GOOD POINT:
“I guess [I chose Dauntless] because… I think it’s important to protect people. To stand up for people. Like you did for me.” He smiles at me. “That’s what the Dauntless are supposed to do, right? That’s what courage is. Not… hurting people for no reason.”
[Although I’m not sure where he actually got this idea, since Dauntless is basically just the parkour faction.]
Musing interrupted when Al’s inner Jacob rears its ugly head, much like Ana’s Inner Goddess and Subconscious used to (RIP their presence in the movie) [Matthew says: ARIEL, YOU KNOCK ON FUCKING WOOD WHEN YOU SAY THAT.]:
“I feel braver when I’m around you, you know,” he says. “Like I could actually fit in here, the same way you do.”
I am about to respond when he slides his arm across my shoulders. Suddenly I freeze, my cheeks hot.
I didn’t want to be right about Al’s feelings for me. But I was.
I do not lean into him. Instead I sit forward so his arm falls away. Then I squeeze my hands together in my lap.
As far as rejections go, this seems very tame and tactful, though not nearly as hilarious as Christian Grey punching
Jacob Jose in the face. Is there a gif of that yet? I looked around but couldn’t find one, and I don’t have time to make one myself tonight 🙁
Al apologises, and Tris tries to think of something nice to say so that Al won’t take her rejection personally until she realizes that it’s easier said than done.
But of course, it is personal. He is my friend—and that is all. What is more personal than that?
I breathe in, and when I breathe out, I make myself smile. “Sorry about what?” I ask, trying to sound casual. I brush off my jeans, though there isn’t anything on them, and stand up.
WHAT A COMING OF AGE STORY THIS IS! Really, though, I liked how Tris handled the situation even though she’d never had any practice in a situation like this before. [Matthew says: Maybe because she’s… Divergent!] Tris even has the usual reaction later of feeling flattered that she was liked even though it was awkward.
At dinner, as their friends are discussing the upcoming rankings and life before Dauntless, Tris experiences more awkwardness with Al:
Al and I meet eyes, like we usually do when Will and Christina start to fight. But this time, the second our eyes meet, we both look away. I hope this awkwardness between us doesn’t last long. I want my friend back.
Uh, footage not found? We’ve seen Tris stick up for Al and stuff but I haven’t seen enough evidence of this kind of friendship.
The conversation winds up being about their aptitude tests, and Tris says that she actually got Abnegation.
“But you chose Dauntless anyway?” Christina says. “Why?”
“I told you,” I say, smirking. “It was the food.”
She laughs. “Did you guys know that Tris had never seen a hamburger before she came here?”
She launches into the story of our first day
Man, remember last week when Tris had her first hamburger? Let me tell you all about it again even though we were all fucking there! Here, let me tell you again, this time in slow motion!
Tris feels sad that there are now lots of barriers between herself and her friends like when Christina took the flag during capture the flag, or Tris rejecting Al. Suck it up, Tris, you’re not here to make friends, you’re here to win Dystopian Society’s Next Top Dauntless.
Later, Four explains the ranking system:
After the first round of fights, we ranked you according to your skill level. The number of points you earn depends on your skill level and the skill level of the person you beat. You earn more points for improving and more points for beating someone of a high skill level. I don’t reward preying on the weak. That is cowardice.
Okay, that’s all well and good but these fights were selected randomly and not everyone fought every other person, so it’s not really Peter’s fault that he beat Tris in a fight. Not that I want to defend Peter or anything, but this seems a bit extreme given Four doesn’t say, “It’s cowardice to beat the ever loving shit out of your weaker opponent” and simply that winning at all against them is worth no points.
The rankings for your viewing pleasure:
- Myra [Who?]
This is important because:
- Molly ranked lower than Christina because Tris beat her in a fight. She is pissed and threatens Tris.
- Later in the night, Peter stabs Edward in the eye because he beat him.
- [Matthew says: Because we’ve hit the obligatory “let’s quantitatively rank the characters in this YA dystopia” part of the book. I guess this is what they have to do in Divergent and The Hunger Games for arbitrary list-based entertainment since they don’t have Buzzfeed.]
Before the eye stabbing, Tris lies awake wondering why her mother transferred out of Dauntless. [Matthew says: Just think, if this story were written one generation earlier, instead of all those scenes with Tris narrating how she didn’t fit in being born into a society where nobody was allowed to look in a mirror, we could have had her mom narrating how she didn’t fit in being born into a society where nobody could just walk on or off a goddamn train.] Anyway, we interrupt this important question to bring you terrifying eye stabbage:
Edward lies on the floor next to his bed, clutching at his face. Surrounding his head is a halo of blood, and jutting between his clawing fingers is a silver knife handle. My heart thumping in my ears, I recognize it as a butter knife from the dining hall. The blade is stuck in Edward’s eye.
Later, Tris and her friends find out Edward and Myra (seriously, who the hell is she?) have both dropped out of the running to win Dystopian Society’s Next Top Dauntless. Better luck next time, guys.
[Matthew says: I can’t decide if this is really relevant, but this scene was cut entirely from the movie adaptation, which really annoyed my friend I saw it with. Just think, I almost didn’t get to experience the riveting, visceral horror of “The blade is stuck in Edward’s eye”. VISCERAL, I SAY!]
Tris and pals also lament the fact that telling the authorities that Peter and Drew were responsible wouldn’t do jack shit and that Dauntless used to be a faction that truly valued bravery. Tris believes Dauntless is a faction worth saving, but clearly this book is about being Divergent as fuck and not saving a doomed faction.
I’m thinking of a number between 1 – 100. What is it?