[Ariel says: The best part of my week was finding out that Matt had already written this chapter, which meant I only have to write about chapter 18 yesterday. I almost shed a tear!]
Chapter 19: Tris
We’ve found out once and for all that Tris is the most special, and that Tobias is not.
When I found out I was Divergent, I thought of it as a secret power that no one else possessed, something that made me different, better, stronger. Now, after comparing my DNA to Tobias’s on a computer screen, I realize that “Divergent” doesn’t mean as much as I thought it did.
YOUR WORDS, BOOK. NOT MINE.
OKAY, THEY WERE MINE LIKE A LOT PREVIOUSLY BUT YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN
Now that we’ve gotten the dystopian YA trope of dwelling on how special you are out of the way, it’s time for the other, previously-neglected YA trope of TEENAGE LOVE TRIANGLES
I don’t know where I’m going, but it’s away from Nita, the pretty girl who talks to my boyfriend when I’m not there. Then again, it’s not like it was a long conversation.
I don’t even care that Tris was immediately fairly rational about it. MORE YOUNG ADULT FICTION TEENAGE HEARTSTRING TUGGING, PLEASE. [Ariel said: I didn’t mention this yesterday because I didn’t think it would actually be A Thing, but I thought it was weird Nita was trying to get Fourbias alone and immediately suspected there might be sexual motivations.]
Anyway, the next logical step is obviously “take the main characters on an airplane trip”, so we get that:
“I just told the others,” she says. “We’ve scheduled a plane ride in two hours for those who want to go. Are you up for it?” […]
The sky is clear and pale, the same color as my own eyes. There is a kind of inevitability in it, like it has always been waiting for me […] there is only one frontier left to explore, and it is above.
Maybe if this had ever been mentioned, I don’t know, once.
And thus we hit the weirdest low point of the Divergent trilogy yet: dystopian airport humor.
- “How can something that big stay in the sky?” Uriah says from behind me.
- “If the Dauntless knew about this, everyone would be getting in line to learn how to drive it,” [Uriah] says. “Including me.”
“No, they would be strapping themselves to the wings.” [Christina] said.
- “My name is Karen, and I’ll be flying this plane today!” she announces. “It may seem frightening, but remember: The odds of us crashing are actually much lower than the odds of a car crash.”
Zoe explains to Tris that they use the airplanes mostly for surveillance missions to keep an eye on what happens in “the fringe”, which is “a large, sort of chaotic place between Chicago and the nearest-government-regulated metropolitan area, Milwaukee”. For reference, this area today is where Mean Girls took place.
They fly low and not too close to the city, so as to not draw attention. Zoe and Karen also flesh out a few more details about the outside world, pointing out areas of destruction “caused by the Purity War, before the rebels resorted to biological warfare” – which sounds terrifying – and where “some of the lake was drained so that we could be the fence, but we left as much of it intact as possible” – which sounds terrifying for completely different reasons.
After the airplane interlude, Tris reads her mother’s journal, that she wrote when she was a teenager, so roughly Tris’s age. Strangely, it is actually better-written than most of the book. I have no idea what to make of that.
I grew up in a single-family home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. […] My mom was in law enforcement; she was explosive and impossible to please. My dad was a teacher; he was pliable and supportive and useless. One day they got into it in the living room and things got out of hand, and he grabbed her and she shot him. That night she was burying his body in the backyard while I assembled a good portion of my possessions and left through the front door.
Or maybe it’s basically the exact same voice as Tris’s, but it just seems different because she’s not talking about being Divergent and what being Divergent means every other paragraph. I can’t tell anymore.
Tris’s mom describes how “government types” would just make her go home to her mom if she went to another city (despite the murder part, so I guess at some point in the future we get rid of child protective services. And FUCKING LAKE MICHIGAN.), so she opted to set out on her own on the fringe, where people have lived in extreme poverty “for over a century after the war ripped us apart”. One day she accidentally kills a man who was attacking a kid, and then gets snatched up by Bureau of Genetic Purity people, who test her genes and find out her genes “were cleaner than other people’s”, because Divergent has long since given up on trying to make its genetics make sense.
Meanwhile, Uriah has been watching the monitors that watch the city, and we learn that the plot is going on its boring way without us.
“Just more of the same”
It’s funny how Uriah’s description of what they’re missing in book 3 is basically my description of book 2.
“Evelyn’s a jerk, so are all her lackeys, and so on”
I sigh. “I just keep thinking . . . that in some way I belong here. Like maybe this place can be home.” […]
“I don’t know,” Uriah says, and he sounds serious now. “I’m not sure anywhere will feel like home again. Not even if we went back.”
And boy, am I glad we still have two-thirds of the book for them to explore the answer to this question. Only three hundred and thirty pages to go!
Caleb walks into the room, and Tris blows him off. Caleb sadly asks if she’ll ever speak to him again. Because it’s not like he tried to get her killed about two weeks ago. Still, Tris muses on how sad their relationship has become:
The truth is, sometimes I want to just forget about everything that’s happened and return to the way we were before either of us chose a faction.
So we’re a third of the way into this book now. So we’re maybe near the end of the first act? Or… something? We have a lot of story left and absolutely no indication of where any of it might be going. Do you think these guys are going back to Chicago any time soon? For what arbitrary, probably genetics-involving reason?