No, we’re still not done yet.
Chapter 7: Tris
After the riot, Christina points out how last-few-Harry Potter-books this is all getting.
“I didn’t really want to bring this up, but I can’t stop thinking about it,” she says. “That of the ten transfer initiates we started with, only six are still alive.”
Christina then says something that sums up the book a little too well.
“Sometimes I get where Evelyn’s coming from. So many awful things have happened, sometimes it feels like a good idea to stay here and just… try to clean up this mess before we get ourselves involved in another.” She smiles a little. “But of course, I’m not going to do that,” she adds. “I’m not even sure why. Curiosity, I guess.”
Yep, that sounds about right. The bad guys kinda make sense, the good guys don’t know why their idea is better, and the book doesn’t know either, but it’s going full steam ahead with one side anyway.
To be clear, there’s nothing inherently wrong with a story where the bad guys have some ideas that are better than the good guys’. There’s a lot of cool, morally grey territory to explore in a story like that. Divergent doesn’t really do that, and instead gives us scenes where the characters don’t realize they’re raising good questions about why not to do what they’re doing.
“What if it’s just more of the same? Just . . . more crumbling city, more factions, more of everything?”
“Can’t be,” Uriah says, shaking his head. “There has to be something else.”
“Or there’s nothing,” Zeke suggests. “Those people who put us all in here, they could just be dead. Everything could be empty.”
Just so we’re clear here, “out there” is, you know, the rest of the North American continent. Which they’re just gonna… walk around?
Later, Evelyn announces new rules for the city, including a curfew, and that everybody will “learn the jobs the factionless have done” and do them “on a rotation schedule”, because the most efficient way to run a civilization isn’t with specialized labor, but with a giant chore wheel.
Anyway, ready to see the book try way too hard with its symbolism?
[A]fter Evelyn’s announcement, [I leave]. As I walk past the fourth floor, I hear a yell [and see] a cluster of young people – young, younger than I am, and all sporting factionless armbands – gathered around a young man on the ground.
Not just a young man – a Candor, dressed in black and white from head to toe. […]
“He’s in violation of the dress code.” [says one of them.] “I’m well within my rights.”
Tris solves the problem by… giving him a blue sweatshirt.
The factionless immediately stop beating up the boy, and warn Tris to watch her back, to which she responds
that she won by giving someone a fucking sweater that, “I guarantee you that I don’t need to”, which is still pretty bamf.
On her way back, Tris then gets kidnapped by the Allegiant, who throw a bag over her head to protect their identities. For some reason, this is the first time in the series that the book also thinks it’s being absolutely ridiculous.
“We are the Allegiant,” the voice replies. “And we are many, yet we are no one. . . .”
I can’t help it: I laugh.
Oh, sure, when someone else is cheesy and ridiculous, then it’s okay to laugh. Who are you to point fingers, Divergent?
“We’re going to have a meeting tomorrow night, at midnight. We want you to bring your Dauntless friends.”
“Okay,” I say. “Let me ask you this: If I’m going to see who you are tomorrow, why is it so important to keep this thing over my head today?”
This seems to temporarily stump whoever I’m talking to.
“A day contains many dangers”
Seriously, Allegiant. Where are you getting off on this? The last thing you tried to get us to take seriously was a faction system social experiment designed to create pure divergent genes.
[They leave behind the] pillowcase with the words “Faction before blood” painted on it.
Whoever they are, they certainly have a flair for the dramatic.
Chapter 9: Tris
The next morning, Tris’s brother is on trial.
The factionless only make trials private when they feel the verdict is obvious, and Caleb was Jeanine’s right-hand man before she was killed.
Once again, this is a book where it’s totally ridiculous that an underground opposition in a city under military rule would want to keep their identities secret, but a seventeen-year-old boy with no formal scientific education is a mad scientist’s number two guy.
Tris is conflicted, since her brother betrayed her and gave her up to be executed, but he’s still her brother. She also tells her friends about the Allegiant meeting, and they agree to sneak out and go to it to see what their plan is, and to see who the Allegiant are:
Susan and Robert stand together, talking; Peter is alone on the side of the room, his arms crossed; Uriah and Zeke are with Tori and a few other Dauntless; Christina is with her mother and sister; and in a corner are two nervous-looking Erudite.
How the fuck did Peter get an invite before Tris and the rest of the A Team even hear about this?
We meet Christina’s sister, who has as much subtlety as this book.
her sister turns to me and says, “So you killed Christina’s boyfriend.”
We then meet the leaders of the Allegiant:
The first is Johanna Reyes, former spokesperson of Amity […] The second is another woman, but I can’t see her face, just that she is wearing blue. […] An Erudite from head to foot, but not Jeanine Matthews.
They explain their plan, which isn’t surprising for anyone who has actually read the book thus far.
“We believe in following the guidance of the city’s founders, which has been expressed in two ways: the formation of the factions, and the Divergent mission expressed by Edith Prior, to send people outside the fence to help whoever is out there once we have a large Divergent population. We believe that even if we have not reached that Divergent population size, the situation in our city has become dire enough to send people outside the fence anyway.”
This seems like kind of an important point of omission, since all you know about the situation outside the city is that it’s worse.
“In accordance with the intentions of our city’s founders, we have two goals: to overthrow Evelyn and the factionless so that we can reestablish the factions, and to send some of our number outside the city to see what’s out there.”
They all formulate a plan to use the Amity trucks, tomorrow night, to sneak the A Team out of the city. And also Peter, because haha why not.
Question of the Day! What’s a movie/book/tv show that you would probably like if it weren’t for one single scene that ruins it for you? I was recently reminded of A Fish Called Wanda, which a lot of people think is one of the funniest movies ever (someone has literally died of laughter while watching this movie, which is apparently a real thing that can happen), but the first thing that pops into my head is the scene where Kevin Kline eats Michael Palin’s fish, which almost brought me to tears instead.