review · young adult

Divergent Thinking – Edited by Leah Wilson

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Blurb: “Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy has captured the hearts and thoughts of millions of readers. In Divergent Thinking YA authors explore even more of Tris and Tobias’ world. With a dozen smart, surprising mind-expanding essays on all three books in the trilogy, Divergent Thinking provides a companion fit for even the most Erudite Divergent fan.”

*I was sent this book by the publisher but this in no way affects my review*

The last time I read a book like this was Shadowhunters and Downworlders and I loved it. There’s something truly wonderful about reading essays from a bunch  of authors about sections of a series you’ve come to love talking about. Here we have Divergent Thinking where the series of focus is… you’ve guessed it. Divergent.

There will be some spoilers in this review as the book itself has spoilers. So if you haven’t read the whole series, I would wait before reading this book… or this review if you fancy coming back to it in a later time.

I’ve decided that the best way to formulate this review is to do a breakdown of the contributors and their chapters. So here we go!

“From Faction to Fire Signs” by Rosemary Clement-Moore

“We like books that put our heroes into boxes so that we ca enjoy watching them break out.” 

This chapter focuses on the faction system and why we, as readers, love stories where people are sorted into groups. She talks about how she thinks it is the reliability. I’m sure all of us have read a book/series with groups and matched ourselves accordingly: “I think it’d be in Erudite because I value knowledge”, “I think I’d be in Hufflepuff because I’m kind”, “If I was in the shadowhunter world I’d be a warlock.” We love to attach labels  to feel more involved in the world, to bring it even more to life.

“Divergent Psychology” by Jennifer Lynn Barnes 

“Psychology can explain the significance of the five factions, what it really means to be Divergent, and why, as readers, we’re faced with the same challenges that Tris confronts: to look beyond the simulation, to carve out an identity, to find the place where we belong.” 

Divergent raised the question of who we are, what we are and where we belong through the use of the faction system. Are we too selfish for Abnegation? Too afraid to be Dauntless? Not passive enough for Amity? In this essay, Jennifer examines the personality traits linked to each faction and talks about how they affect our open-ness to experience new things.

“Mapping Divergent’s Chicago” by V. Arrow 

Sadly I don’t have a quote for this one, but this was definitely one of my favourite chapters in the whole book. V. Arrow basically, as you’ve guessed from the chapter, looks at the Divergent Chicago and compares it to real world Chicago as we know it and maps out where she thinks the different factions would be located, where the Erudite headquarters would be, the Ferris wheel used in the capture the flag game.

I have never been to Chicago but I found it really interesting to read this chapter.

“Choices Can Be Made Again” by Maria V.Snyder and Jenna Snyder 

No opening quote again but in this chapter mother and daughter Maria and Jenna discuss something we all have to face countless times in our lives: choice. Whether it’s deciding what university to go to, whether we want to go at all, or deciding whether to order takeaway. We all have to make choices.

The discussion focuses on how real world choices are fluid. If we decide we made a mistake, most of the time we can put it aside and start over, but those in the world of Divergent who attend the choosing ceremony don’t get a second chance to start over. There is no trial run. The only choice you have is to pick where you want to go and stay there. They don’t get to say “actually I don’t mind giving Abnegation a go.” Once Tris chooses Dauntless, she has to go through jumping off moving trains and getting beaten to a pulp in order to fit in.

“Ordinary Acts Of Bravery” by Elizabeth Norris 

“Fear isn’t an enemy of bravery. Driving people to free themselves completely from fear doesn’t necessarily mean their actions will be brave. Fear is what makes people brave – feeling afraid, yet acting in spite of fear.”

This chapter tackles the different kinds of bravery: acting in spite of fear, standing up for one another, the need for the truth and being honest all the time.

As we all know, Tris likes to keep hold of her secrets, mainly, her Divergence. She stands up for Al and takes his place in front of the target so Four throws knives at her instead. She doesn’t tell anyone that she killed Will until Candor’s truth serum forces her to. Does this make her brave?

“Fear And The Dauntless Girl” by Blythe Woolston 

“If fear can be learned through conditioning, it might be possible to unlearn it.” 

Naturally fear plays a big part in Divergent in the form of the fear simulation test. Blythe discusses how if we can learn to fear things from seeing others afraid, it may be possible to unlearn this as we see when Four allows Tris into his landscape and tells her to react logically “the way a Dauntless would.” This chapter also discusses how we may see someone’s fear as irrational but to them it’s completely rational. For example, Four’s fear of heights: if you fall from high up, you will go splat.

“They Injure Each Other In The Same Way” by Mary Borsellino 

Mary brings up a very interesting point that I overlooked when reading Divergent : Tris views her parents as just that, parents. However, when she changes factions, she begins to see them as individuals.
“Secrets and Lies” by Debra Driza 

“While it’s obvious that Divergent makes a case for more truth in politics, what does the series have to say about truth in personal relationships? Does it make a case for the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?” 

Debra tackles the topic of lies and how they are handled: Abnegation lying by omission since its considered selfish to talk about yourself and (as I touched on earlier) lying about her Divergence.

“Bureau Versus Rebels: Which is worse?” by Dan Krokos 

“Tris argues that the bureau doesn’t want to stop the revolution in the city to save lives, but to save their experiment.”

As you’ve probably guessed, this chapter deals with that pesky bureau. Bad people. But are they worse than those rebelling against the faction system?
“Factions: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly” by Julia Karr

“The faction system was flawed, but it helped people feel secure in the knowledge of who they were and what their purpose was. Losing that is never easy.”

This was another really interesting chapter to read. Focused on the various sides of the factions and the slurs they have for each other: Erudite’s are a “nose”, a Dauntless is an “adrenaline junkie”, a Candor is a “smart-mouth” and amities are “banjo strumming softies.”

“The Downfall of Dauntless” by Janine K. Spendlove

“Dauntless was founded by those who blamed fear for the world’s problems.”

I think we all know that Dauntless has a few problems *looks at the animosity between Four and Eric* okay, maybe more than a few issues. When Al fights against Will and is getting beaten pretty badly, Tobias says that Al can concede, then Eric steps in and says they must fight until one of them can’t continue anymore.

Also, while some Dauntless initiates are Dauntless born, some are not. They are not fighters so it is not their instinct to automatically/ willingly “kill the enemy.”

“Emergent” by Elizabeth Wein

“Though Tris doesn’t know it yet, there is a large Divergent population among the factionless, which is subtly foreshadowed in their multicolored clothing.”

What better way to finish off this book by discussing the factionless? They’re almost like a sixth faction, the place that all the outcasts go to. While a seemingly scary group, it’s a very interesting insight.
This is a MUST for any Divergent fans!
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