Friday, 7 September 2012

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

I feel divergent.
In my opinions, I mean. I'm not on the "hate, kill it with knives and spoof it to death" side, like I am with some YA fiction, but I'm not raving, flying flags in the streets, spamming Tumblr with joy notes, or falling out of my chair like I sometimes am, either. I'm somewhere in the middle.

The following review contains spoilers.

On team "this was epic", I felt extremely engaged in Divergent. Maybe it was just that I was wondering whether I'd make it through Dauntless initiation the whole time, but I felt inordinately connected to the story world. Not the characters, not the setting, but the challenges. Jump of a roof? Could I do that? I don't know, could I? It was really interesting and I think back on the reading experience as a startlingly interactive one, and vivid despite the fact I feel like we didn't get enough description. Because yes, I sort of felt like the story skimmed a little, and not enough description was given. It took me a while to figure out things about the city, and most of the time I could never quite picture the setting.

There weren't a horrible number of Hunger Games similarities, but … is it standard to use the name "The Hob"? And when Tobias "confused enemy with friend" under the power of an injection, I was forcefully reminded of Peeta in Mockingjay.

As for characters, I just feel like they could have been clearer, faster. Fears were confronted before Tris, the main character, had struggled with them, and everyone's worst-fear simulations - well, they didn't seem unique, except for Tobias'. Anyone at all would be scared of crows pecking your face off, right? And these fears didn't seem to carry out into the real world; I never saw Tris being scared of water outside of the simulations and one life-and-death situation where she's wishing for anything else. She was held over the chasm, sure, and that involved water,  but again, anyone would be terrified if you dangled them over a river at the bottom of a cliff. So I didn't feel like that was support for that particular thing. Also, sex was one of Tris' biggest fears, but she never expressed that when she and Tobias were kissing up a storm all over the place, before. And right after that revelation, she and Tobias went to his room and she asked him to take off his shirt, and they kissed some more, and then chilled on a bed for a while. Like … I don't know, it didn't seem real.
Tobias was terrified of heights in one section, and in the next he walked up precarious stairs backwards. Tris scorned Al for crying, then cried a lot, herself, all over the book (or was always on the brink of tears) - and then claimed that she wasn't the crying type. Tris was supposed to hide the fact that she could manipulate hallucinations - in fact, wasn't supposed to be able to manipulate them, at the last test - and then goes ahead and blatantly relies on her manipulation anyway. Just small things like that, but they added up to make the characters feel a bit vague.
Tris never felt like a really sympathetic character. She was both selfish and brave, and while those can balance out beautifully - I've seen it done in my favourite fictional character of all time - her sadism when she fought Molly, her thirst for revenge, that brutal refusal to forgive Al, a refusal she didn't really ever repent of, even after his death - they were off-putting. I'm not saying that a character shouldn't be flawed. But when the biggest thing I remember about them is their flaws, when even their best trait - bravery - feeds their pride, they're not sympathetic.
As for secondary characters, I did appreciate Tris' mother, and her death was really sad and well-done. Christina was great except that little moment with the flag in Capture the Flag. Like … what was that, anyway? It made her feel untrustworthy, was it supposed to be that way?

Pacing? The ending cut off really fast. The build-up of 500 pages, then 80 of substance and life-and-death, and then … and then it's over? Everything went fast except for the training, which went on for a very long time. I feel like this could have been more balanced out. The romance rushed ahead at full speed, and I'm not going to yell about that, because I'm a teenage girl and deep down I don't actually mind all that much. But I did feel it was strange that Tris and Tobias were so together, and then only began to figure out that they loved each other at the end. Is it just me, or do you normally love someone before you kiss them in public, defying what might be seen as right, before you can't bear to shoot them even when they're crazy, before the sound of their voice wakes you up from zombie mode?

To get really annoying, I found a few typos. Nobody likes a nitpicker for punctuation, so I'm sorry. *ducks head*

I have to admit, having just finished Divergent minutes ago - I want more.  But not in that I'm-going-to-slowly-die-if-I-don't-get-the-sequel-NOW way that I wait for a book that's fed my soul. Do you know what I mean?

Monday, 3 September 2012

7x01 {Extreme Asylum of the Daleks spoilers}

Snape kills Dumbledore, Darth Vader is Luke's dad, and Oswin is a Dalek.

Moffat's done it again. Basically, that sums up the episode: whether you liked it or not probably depends on what you think Moffat does. If you are of the opinion that he's a terrible writer and can only look at the flaws of an Eleven episode, then you aren't going to enjoy Asylum of the Daleks, whereas if you worship the ground the current showrunner treads on, you'll love it. But it can't be denied: this episode went out with a bang.

The plot? A big pair of fuzzy socks that made your toes feel warm; there were some holes, but they weren't very noticeable and you enjoyed the experience regardless.

The characters? The Doctor was the Doctor, with a good dark line thrown in about him by the Daleks that made me fall off my chair. Rory and Amy's relationship could have had more time to stew, and besides feeling slightly rushed (to me), was very human and realistic. Oswin, though your traditional snarky Moffat girl, pulled it together at the end when her character got more pressure.

The Daleks? It was very satisfying not to have "and we fell back through time!" again, I just have trouble with that explanation. In this episode, they're the creepiest I've ever seen them. In what was definitely their most satisfying role since 2005's Dalek, they once again played the villains, not the comic relief or ridiculous pepper-pots.
They weren't even rediculous once.
Not once.

The plot twist at the end, though. When the Doctor walked in and saw what Oswin was. That was delicious. The claustrophobia-inducing shot of Oswin screaming I AM NOT A DALEK - just brilliant.

My one main problem with the episode is that all the Daleks have forgotten about the Doctor. (I didn't even know they had a hive mind, is that Classic, or just added?) I don't want the Daleks written out of the show at all, and it seems to just squash fifty years of history like a cockroach. Smush! Hopefully there are a couple that still remember him, somewhere else.

Anyway, those are my thoughts! What are yours?