Today we’re halfway through the book! Remember that group of characters who called themselves Allegiants and served as this book’s namesake? I don’t.
Chapter 24: Tris
In the series’ spirit of uncovering THE TRUTH, today’s first chapter kicks off with finally tackling a question no one cares about:
I turn to Christina. […] “What’s going on with you and Uriah?”
To be fair, I don’t care about any of the questions currently unresolved in this book, so, sure. I’ll bite. What’s up with Christina and Uriah? I mean, they’re totally together, like, all the time now. Just ignore how that’s mostly because this series has killed off all their other friends by this point.
Christina doesn’t clearly answer whether they’re hooking up or nothing’s going on or what, but she does make it clear that she’s not interested in a relationship with Uriah because “he can’t have a serious conversation to save his life”. This is apparently a character trait of Uriah’s. Now I know.
Christina then asks the much more important question of whether Tris and Four have banged each other yet. And if you thought the sentence I just wrote to describe this was cringe-worthy, wait until you see what’s actually written in the book:
“Where have you been lately? […] With Four? Doing a little . . . addition? Multiplication?”
Their conversation shifts over to that whole “genetic damage” business, as everything always does in this book. Christina says that it makes her angry, because there’s nothing she can do about it. Tris makes a surprisingly good point about how this book doesn’t make a lick of sense.
“I’m just saying that doesn’t mean one set is damaged and one set isn’t. The genes for blue eyes and brown eyes are different too, but are blue eyes ‘damaged’? It’s like they just arbitrarily decided that one kind of DNA was bad and the other was good.”
Why, yes, it is like
Veronica Roth the Bureau arbitrarily made this decision and now we all have to live with it.
“I guess I don’t see a reason to believe in genetic damage.”
You and me both, Tris. You and me both.
“Isn’t looking at the result of a belief a good way of evaluating if it’s true?”
“Sounds like a Stiff way of thinking.” She pauses. “I guess my way is very Candor, though. God, we really can’t escape factions no matter where we go, can we?”
Trust me, if this book ever once stopped trying to explain absolutely everything in terms of factions, I would have noticed.
Fourbias shows up and Christina leaves so they can have sexy sexy makeout times, but, lo, they do not have sexy sexy makeout times. Fourbias instead tells Tris about his late night adventure with Nita to the fringe, but Tris is much more concerned about a very different late night adventure with Nita to the fringe.
“She promised to show me evidence. Tonight.” He takes my hand. “I’d like you to come.”
“And Nita will be okay with that?”
“I don’t really care.” His fingers slide between mine. “If she really needs my help, she’ll have to figure out how to be okay with it.”
This is a surprisingly sweet moment from Fourbias! So according to Newton’s third law of young adult fiction, Tris must have an equal and opposite reaction:
“I’ll go. But don’t for a second think that I actually believe she’s not interested in you for more than your genetic code.”
Chapter 25: Tobias
That night, Tobias brings Tris to meet Nita. Nita is initially annoyed, but – much like the discerning reader – almost immediately becomes completely indifferent to Tris and Tobias and their petty squabbles. Go Nita.
Tris laughs, harshly. “That’s what you told him, that he would be protecting me? That’s a pretty skillful manipulation. Well done.” […]
Nita doesn’t look angry anymore, just tired […] “You could be arrested just for knowing what you know and not reporting it. I thought it would be better to avoid that. […] I would rather have both of you than neither of you, and I’m sure that’s the implied ultimatum,” Nita says, rolling her eyes.
Nita takes them to meet new character Reggie, who is also “genetically damaged”, to show them what they’re there to see. Naturally, he pulls it up on a tablet, because all centuries-old documents that the government is hiding from public access are available electronically.
It takes me only a few seconds to realize that they are photographs of suffering: narrow, pinched children with huge eyes, ditches full of bodies, huge mounds of burning papers. The photographs move so fast, like book pages fluttering in the breeze, that I get only impressions of horrors.
Why are the photographs moving too fast to see? Isn’t it assumed that Reggie put them on the tablet himself?
Reggie brings up a photograph with a man in uniform holding a gun and points. “That kind of gun is incredibly old. The guns used in the Purity War were much more advanced. Even the Bureau would agree with that. It’s gotta be from a really old conflict. Which must have been waged by genetically pure people.”
Holy shit, you guys. You know what this means? There’s another conspiracy at the heart of Divergent!
Despite everything since the climax of the first book being 100% about Tris’s struggles with governments trying to kill her and other people, Tris suddenly doesn’t get that the government is trying to kill people.
“Okay.” Tris’s head bobs, and she’s talking too fast, nervous. “So they’re lying about your— our history. That doesn’t mean they’re the enemy, it just means they’re a group of grossly misinformed people trying to… better the world. In an ill-advised way.”
Nita and Reggie glance at each other.
“That’s the thing,” Nita says. “They’re hurting people.”
Yeah, come on, Tris. You should know this. There’s all the social conditioning making people discriminate and kill each other both in and out of the experiments, which were allowed to go on even when the test subjects starting mass murdering other test subjects…
“Jeanine wanted to stifle [Abnegation] . . . the Bureau was all too happy to provide her with an incredibly advanced simulation serum”
…or there’s another goddamn conspiracy.
Nita explains that the Bureau supplied Jeanine with the serum the Erudite used to make their brainwashed armies. For… some reason. And now it’s time for a couple pages of what is both my favorite and least favorite part of Divergent: seeing what mental gymnastics the book goes through to try to make this sound like it makes sense.
That’s the attack simulation serum.
“Now why would the Bureau have this unless they had developed it?”
…I suppose “because you just told me so” is the actual explanation, then, since the book has specifically said that the Chicago experiment further developed this very serum. Except when it didn’t, when it’s relevant for the plot.
“You’ve seen what’s happened now that the city knows the truth: […] Many people will die. Telling the truth risks the safety of the experiment, no question.”
Yet somehow supplying the experiment with guns and mind-control drugs doesn’t.
“the Bureau probably thought, better that the Abnegation should suffer a great loss— even at the expense of several Divergent— than the whole city suffer a great loss.”
This is the most short-sighted solution I’ve heard to a problem since I went to a bottomless brunch to deal with a hangover.
Four provides a handy summary of what Divergent‘s conspiracy within a conspiracy about a conspiracy is now:
Most of [the Abnegation] are dead. Murdered, at the hands of the Dauntless, at the urging of Jeanine, with the power of the Bureau to back her.
The most predictable line that could possibly follow this follows this:
“And now, things could get even worse.”
What? Oh no! Even worse?
How can the civilization that intentionally divided itself into jingoistic factions against itself before one conspired to massacre the others before another faction that’s not a faction but all those factions are jingoistic against conspired to massacre the other others before we learned it was all a conspiracy by an outside government that was actually part of a bigger conspiracy against the other other others outside the experiment but also conspired a conspiracy for the conspiracy within the conspiracy to keep up the other conspiracy get worse?
“The government has been threatening to shut down the experiments for almost a year now,” Nita says.
Wait, this sounds like the only thing that could possibly improve the current situation. What am I missing?
MAYBE A CONSPIRACY?
“The experiments keep falling apart because the communities can’t live in peace, and David keeps finding ways to restore peace just in the nick of time. And if anything else goes wrong in Chicago, he can do it again. He can reset all the experiments at any time.”
Hey, this just reminded me that we’re on page 269, exactly halfway through the book, and we still don’t have a primary antagonist yet.
Nita says tersely, “Their entire lives erased, against their will, for the sake of solving a genetic damage ‘problem’ that doesn’t actually exist.”
I get that this would be a bad thing to have happen, but they’re already living a lie for the sake of this very same problem. This is like watching The Matrix and siding against Trinity and Morpheus because sometimes they have to let people die during their fight to save all of humanity from enslavement.
Suddenly I don’t care what Nita’s plan is, as long as it means striking the Bureau as hard as we can.
Just like this book is desperately hoping its readers don’t and do care about, respectively.
Nita describes her plan to break into the Weapons Lab and steal the memory serum from the Bureau. I guess it’s presumed that they only have whatever serum is there, it is located nowhere else, and no one knows how to make it.
Tris also thinks this is a dumb plan, and furthermore tells Nita that she doesn’t believe her.
“Whatever you intend to do, I think it’s far worse than stealing some serum.”
For some reason, literally no one reacts to this seemingly severe accusation.
“I never said this was all I was ever going to do. It’s not always wise to strike as hard as you can at the first opportunity.”
Four agrees to help them out, unsure why Tris doesn’t “feel the same desperation inside her”. When they leave, Tris continues to insist that Nita has some nefarious purpose.
“She’s lying. Why can’t you see that?”
“Because it’s not there […] I think your judgment might be clouded by something else. Something like jealousy.”
“Remember what happened last time you didn’t trust my ‘snap judgments’?” Tris says coldly. “You found out that I was right.”
“now you’re going along with this because you’re desperate not to be damaged—”
The word shivers through me.
“I am not damaged,” I say quietly.
I start toward the door, and as my hand closes around the handle, she says, “Just leaving so that you can have the last word, that’s really mature!”
“So is being suspicious of someone’s motives just because she’s pretty,” I say. “I guess we’re even.”
Question of the Day: Who do you think the primary antagonist in this book is, whenever they eventually show up? David? Nita? Evelyn again? The concept of conspiracies themselves?