Guys, sometimes life stands up and smacks you in the face with it's craziness. June has been one of those months when I really want to read...but I can't. There simply hasn't been time. I just got a new job, had my bridal shower, and I'm in the process of moving...So I would no sooner pick up this book than be interrupted. To say I had some difficulty getting immersed is an understatement. Take my review with a grain of salt.
This is book two in a planned YA dystopian trilogy (I feel like YA dystopian trilogies should get their own category on this blog, there are so many). It focuses on Tris, a teenage girl with a unique brain that makes her courageous, selfless, and intelligent--a combination that makes her resistant to simulations, i.e. mind control. This book deals in large part with the aftermath of the first book, with Tris and Four trying to decide who to trust and what to fight for.
I felt that Roth did a great job with Tris in terms of character development. Countless times in the book, Tris makes decisions that you could only describe as reckless. She's trying to figure out what it means to be self sacrificing, what it means to be a survivor. She struggles with her conscience after having to take a life. After all of that, I can see her growing into something awesome. I'm emotionally invested in her journey, and it's that more than the dystopian world building that makes this book worth it for me.
Four/Tobias is a big part of her emotional journey, and I find their romance...passable. I like the fact that it is still a love story and NOT a love triangle story, and I don't have to bring Tippy into this. I enjoyed the fact that Roth built up a conflict between them based purely on issues of identity and choice, and not on big misunderstandings or, God forbid, another guy.
It's long. It's hard for me to accurately describe to what degree it drags because, as I said above, life made reading this book an ongoing struggle for me. But I feel that even under the best of circumstances I would have found certain portions unnecessary or too drawn out. Again, don't let this particular complaint stop you.
Here's the thing with dystopians...with some of them, it's easy to imagine a possible future or other world where life really could be this way. Dystopians are "what if" boxes with a lot of stuff inside. But the more I think about Tris and Four's world, the less sense it makes, and the less I'm able to immerse myself in that "what if" box. It doesn't make sense to me that people would divide themselves into factions based on prominent virtues and live by them to the letter--that's like Hogwarts Houses on steroids. It would never work, not even for a short period of time. I have to really shut my brain off in order to accept the world building of this particular book, and frankly I'd rather keep my brain on.
Do I like this series? Yes. I do think you should read it, if you like dystopian YAs and if you go in knowing that the world building is flawed. And I think it's fair to say that this book was a solid addition to the series, though I wasn't thrilled with the pacing. Overall, it's a good book. 3.5 stars.
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