I started reading again.
While this is not worthy of fanfare, this is something of a big achievement for me. I was a voracious reader up until a few years ago. In testament to this, I have a shelf in the living room groaning at the weight of books piled in it two which I slowly keep adding a book here and a book there. But, sadly, I have not touched any of those books in a long while. At most, I have read three books in the past 12 months. Pathetic.
I still love to read. I love the excitement of getting list in someone else’s world so much that it becomes my world too. At least only while I am reading. Which brings one of the worst feelings in the world – when you finish the book and you have to go back to reality. Not even that! When you finish a really good chapter and you have to stop because it’s past midnight and you have to go to work tomorrow. Or when you have to stop reading mid-chapter because your train stop is coming up next. So frustrating.
I tried audiobooks for a bit. David Tennant’s Doctor Who audiobooks are hugely entertaining! Highly recommended if you are a Whovian. I admit I was listening to Twilight for a while, but it got old too quickly. The Time Traveller’s Wife was another good one. My only problem with audiobooks is they made me sleepy and once you doze off you cannot hit pause so when you go back to listen you cannot find your place! Apple surely must be able to design a device that will automatically pause play when it senses that the person is in a sleep state and basically bookmarks it for you? Maybe in the next few years, huh?
Picking up a new hobby or doing marathons of my favourite TV shows has really cut back on my reading time. I can’t knit and flip book pages at the same time. I wouldn’t want to miss crucial scenes in my show, although I can always repeat it whenever I want. The last two books I read took me months to finish even though I enjoyed them both tremendously. It meant, however, that my knitting progress slowed down during those months and my TV-binge was restricted to the weekends.
This brings me to the present time. I finished reading an entire book in one week. On my iPhone. It’s not the easiest thing in the world to do but this book, this series has gripped me so tightly that I just had to keep going. Okay, it may have something to do with the fact that I have just seen the film version of the first book and friends have all been raving about the series.
I’m talking about the Divergent series by Veronica Roth.
When I saw the film version recently, I didn’t know that it was a series of books until my friend, Ruth, mentioned that she picked up the set from Borders right after seeing the film. I tried that with the Hunger Games series but the style of writing did not appeal to me. I still plan to finish reading it before the rest of the films come out. For Divergent, I decided that I wanted to get an e-book instead of paperback so I looked online and managed to find the entire series.
It was good to have seen the film first, because I then have a visual not just on the characters (some of which didn’t match the book description at all) but also the futuristic dystopian world they inhabit. This way, I would have less reason to put my expectations high because I have already been given much of the layout of the environment. I had to fill in some of the scenes on my own which matched what I have seen in the film and what my mind could draw out from the book.
The words flowed smoothly. I could “hear” the characters talking in their distinctive voices in my head. I could see them walking, talking, fighting, jumping off of moving trains and dodging bullets and punches. It was amazing! It was great to get this excited again about a book and immerse myself into another world. I finished that first book in one week. I started the second book rightaway because I was dying to find out where that train was going to take Tris, Tobias, Caleb, Marcus and Peter. Was I worried that it would spoil the second film for me? Of course I was! Almost all book-to-film adaptations fall flat on the film version. The film gives you an exact, 2D manifestation of what in the book is open to as many interpretations as there are readers. Did readers of the book picture Tobias’s tattoos to look like they did in the film? Probably not. Christina was described as taller than Tris and Tris has always been referred to as a “little girl” so why was it in reverse in the film?
I have a rich picture of the Amity compound in my head, esp Johanna so I cannot wait to see how they translate that onto film. The second book had a lot of slow moments, and the introduction of new characters was always a delicate moment for me. Yet someone new to remember, not only how they appear but also how they interact with the main characters and what their back story was. And that final reveal towards the final chapter is so worthy of a cliffhanger! I think I have already seen this film. In my head!
Apparently a lot of people were disappointed with book three. I am in the middle of chapter 23 right now so still a way to go. My verdict so far? It’s confusing! Ms. Roth, the first two books were written from Tris’s perspective. It had her voice throughout the books so changing things up in book three and have each chapter change from Tris to Tobias’s voice is so confusing! I think, however, the main problem I have here is that I have never “heard” Tobias in the book until now so I do not know how he thinks and speaks and acts apart from what Tris has observed so far. Halfway through a Tobias chapter, I read a line that says something like “I set my hand on her arm” – what now? Tris is holding a girl’s arm? Oh no. Of course it was a Tobias chapter so it’s him holding Tris on her arm. Doh. Switching from Tris to Tobias from one chapter to another is Allegiant’s downfall. I won’t even go into the whole massive plot twist that seems a little forced to me, like the author has run out of ideas and basically pulled this out of a hat. It just doesn’t grab me like how the first two books have. I am hopeful though that Allegiant will redeem itself by the time I finish reading it.
All in all, the entire series is a very good read. It’s a well-constructed world with characters that stay with you and that make you laugh and cry and feel mad and happy and hopeful. Give it a try. If you don’t want to dive in for the full set, there are free samplers of the first chapter available on the internet.