BOOK REVIEW: Four – by Veronica Roth

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Title: Four – A Divergent Collection
(Divergent #0.1-0.4)
Author: Veronica Roth
Genre: YA, Dystopia, Fantasy
First published: July 8th 2014
Finished reading: July 8th 2015
Pages: 208
Rating 3,5

“I want some kind of reminder that while wounds heal, they don’t disappear forever- I carry them everywhere, always, and that is the way of things, the way of scars.”

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To be honest, I wasn’t going to read this short story collection any time soon. But I’ve made a promise to myself that for every new series I want to start I need to read a book belonging to a series I’ve already started first… And then my eyes fell on my copy of Four. I’ve always liked his character and it’s nice to learn more about his past and see things from his perspective. I think I actually liked these novellas better than both sequels! Veronica Roth‘s prose is easy to read and the fast pace makes you speed through the four separate stories in record time. Warning: read at least Divergent before reading the novellas because there are some spoilers. I don’t think this collection is a must-read, but it’s still an entertaining read for those who have enjoyed the series (or at least the first book like I did) and want to revisit this dystopian world.

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WARNING: do not read this summary if you haven’t read at least Divergent! It will most likely contain spoilers, even though I’ve made sure to keep it short.

Tobias didn’t have an easy childhood in the Abnegation faction. When he is sixteen he decides to take over control of his life and transfer to the Dauntless faction. Starting over isn’t easy, but he finds a way to adapt and with him having only four fears he wins himself a new name: Four. He still struggles to fit it, but is determined to claim his place as a Dauntless… And it seems to work. But he also discovers secrets he isn’t supposed to know and doesn’t know what to do with the information. His decisions will affect both his future and those of his friends and other factions alike…

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Four is basically a collection of four short stories where we first learn more about Four’s past, then read about his initiation training and later on about his two years as a Dauntless before meeting Tris. The last novella is about his time with Tris during her initiation, but told from his point-of-view. There aren’t any shocking new facts, but it is quite interesting anyway. All in all an entertaining read for those who’ve read at least Divergent and like Four as a character.

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BOOK REVIEW: Allegiant – by Veronica Roth

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Title: Allegiant
(Divergent #3)
Author: Veronica Roth
Genre: YA, Dystopia, Fantasy
First published: October 22nd 2013
Finished reading: February 6th 2015
Pages: 526
Rating 3

“There are so many ways to be brave in this world. … Sometimes it is nothing more than gritting your teeth through pain, and the work of every day, the slow walk toward a better life.”

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It took me a very long time to finally pick up my copy of Allegiant, mostly caused by the fact that Insurgent was a complete disappointment for me. I don’t like romance novels in general, and I wasn’t expecting Insurgent to be full of romance instead of action. I’m glad I finally did pick up the third book anyway, because it is definitely better than the second. I did start reading with low expectations and prepared for the ‘bad’ ending a lot of people mentioned, so I was pleasantly surprised Allegiant did have a lot of action and interesting information on the experiments and outside world. The ending is fitting for the trilogy, although I see why a lot of people wouldn’t like it. I guess the exact same thing happens when George R.R. Martin readers become too attached to their characters… Speaking of characters, the chapters are split between the point of view of Tris and Tobias. Luckily, some focus on their relationship is shifted to more important matters and that takes away some of the drama. Good enough to read this last book by Veronica Roth, especially if you already read the first two!

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WARNING: do not read this summary if you haven’t read the books yet! It will most likely contain spoilers, even though I’ve made sure to keep it short.

The society Tris and Tobias once lived in doesn’t exist anymore and the five factions have lost their importance. Their world is now stained with violence and power struggles; one tyrant taking over from the other. Tris wants out, and when the rebellion group called Allegiant offers her and Tobias a way out she grabs the opportunity with both hands. They go past the limits of the city she grew up in, exploring what’s out there beyond the fence. She wants to start over and find a new life without complications, but it’s not that easy… The people on the other side of the fence reveal a lot of very shocking information that will change everything. Their past, their future… Suddenly they don’t know who they are anymore and who is the bad guy in all this mess. Tris, Tobias and the others will have to find out on which side to fight and what to believe… But that doesn’t come without sacrifices.

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Like said above, I’ve kept the summary very short in order not to reveal too much of the story for those who haven’t read Allegiant or the previous books yet. It was so hard to keep it spoiler-free! Veronica Roth reveals a lot of new information about the dystopian world Tris and Tobias were living in that will change everything. Allegiant is a fitting ending to the Divergent trilogy and better than the second book. Worth reading if you haven’t finished the series yet and enjoy reading YA dystopian novels mixed with romance.

BOOK REVIEW: Insurgent – by Veronica Roth

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Title: Insurgent
(Divergent #2)

Author: Veronica Roth
Genre: YA, Dystopia, Fantasy
First published: May 1st 2012
Finished reading: February 26th 2014
Pages: 525
Rating 2

“People, I have discovered, are layers and layers of secrets. You believe you know them, that you understand them, but their motives are always hidden from you, buried in their own hearts. You will never know them, but sometimes you decide to trust them.”

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I wasn’t too sure about reading the second part of the Divergent series, but curiosity took over and I decided to get my hands on a copy of Insurgent. Unfortunately, the story didn’t get better than the first novel. No, it got a lot worse… To be honest, I was rather disappointed by lack of action throughout the story combined with the focus on the relationship between Tris (Beatrice) and Four (Tobias). I wasn’t expecting feeling those things after having read Divergent, and I must say I didn’t like it at all. Insurgent isn’t about the problems between the five factions anymore, it is more about the complicated relationship between Tris and Four and about the exaggerated fears Tris faces on a daily basis. And that was exactly what I didn’t sign up for: a romance novel. Such a shame since the series really had a lot of potential.

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In Insurgent things become more tense and Tris and the other Divergents have to rely more and more on their special skills. Everybody suffers from the war and the factionless become more powerful every day. The Erudite still maintain the power and try to control the population by improving their simulation serums. But they need a guinea pig to test if they work on Divergents, and here Tris ‘the suddenly selfless’ shows up to save they day. Later she betrays her boyfriend and the rest of the Dauntless by working together with his father Marcus in trying to recover valuable information from the Erudite. I must say I honestly don’t understand she did that without even knowing for sure Marcus wasn’t lying…  And we are not even talking about the ending.

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 Maybe I my expectations were set too high. Maybe I should have opened myself to Roth‘s new way of writing. But I just couldn’t get myself to like Insurgent I might still read the third and final part, but I doubt it will be any time soon.

BOOK REVIEW: Divergent – by Veronica Roth

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Title: Divergent
(Divergent #1)

Author: Veronica Roth
Genre: YA, Dystopia, Fantasy
First published: April 25th 2011
Finished: February 20th 2014
Pages: 487
Rating 3,5

“Becoming fearless isn’t the point. That’s impossible. It’s learning how to control your fear, and how to be free from it.”

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Described as being a mixture between Brave New World and The Hunger Games, I knew this first novel out of a trilogy would be interesting. I must admit I enjoyed it. But still, I couldn’t stop thinking of the many similarities with the Suzanne CollinsThe Hunger Games trilogy. Even the main heroines are too similar to be a coincidence. Both Tris and Katniss have the same characteristics and act alike. It seems like Veronica Roth copied the basic ideas of Collins and changed the story setting to create a ‘new’ bestseller. I understand her wanting to recreate the previous successful formula, but still I would have liked something more innovating. And although I liked Divergent, I must admit I prefer The Hunger Games. Go Katniss!

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Divergent is set in a world which is separated in five different factions, each with their own characteristics. We have Abnegation (selflessness), Amity (peacefulness), Candor (honesty), Dauntless (braveness) and Erudite (intelligence). Our heroine Beatrice Prior, later to be called Tris, is born into the Abnegation faction, but feels she doesn’t belong there. There is something special about her, something dangerous: she is Divergent. She actually has traits of three different factions and could belong to any of those three. People who are Divergent are seen as a threat to the delicate balance of the five factions and Tris is forced to keep her true identity secret.

At sixteen, every teenager has to do a test and then choose their faction. Tris chooses to leave her family and join the Dauntless faction. With the other iniciates she struggles to complete the difficult Dauntless training, where not all iniciates are intended to survive the training stage. She manages to adapt quite well, but is in constant danger of exposing her true identity. One of the trainers, Four (or Tobias), tries to help her and they fall in love…  Just as the training programme ends, all hell breaks loose and the Abnegation faction is attacked. The Erudite brainwash the Dauntless with a special serum so they attack, but the serum doesn’t work on Divergents. Together with a few others Tris escapes and the try to stop the simulation the serum causes… With serious consequences.

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This one makes a nice read if you don’t mind reading a lesser version of The Hunger Games and enjoy young adult novels. It is easy to read, and although sometimes a bit tacky and unbelievable, in overall enjoyable.