Problems with Characterization

So, a good friend of mine encouraged me to read the Divergent and Insurgent books by Veronica Roth. I was a bit skeptical at first, considering they were touted as being the next Hunger Games and I had only barely managed to enjoy the first of those, but I was game and borrowed the first one.

This is the story of a girl shoe-horned into an artificially restrictive human collective where the population is divided strictly along moralistic lines, depending on what you value most highly, be it courage, or truthfulness, or selflessness, or amicability, or intelligence. And each faction values these selected virtues to a ridiculous degree.

Therein lies the problem. The world building is fantastic, the characters are believable enough for a YA novel, but the society…as a psych major I cannot in good conscience recommend these books. They feel like one of those philosophy mind games that they call ‘experiments’ wherein humans are given choices that no sane human would ever choose between; options that aren’t even a possibility with human nature such as it is. I wasn’t going to pick up Insurgent after finishing Divergent but my friend insisted that it all made sense by the end of the second book and I gave in and read it.

It did not get better.

There is absolutely no way a human society would be able to function in such a fragmented way. It would crumble much faster than a single generation. Hitler’s Nazi Germany lasted for less than a generation, Roth should have taken that as a lesson in human tolerance to stupidity. So, regardless of how well it might actually be written, or how strong the characters an world building actually are, I just could not stomach one more moment in that distastefully false universe. Needless to say, I will not be picking up the third book, Allegiant, when it hits shelves next year.