Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Scarlet Pimpernel – Baroness Emmuska Orczy

imageBook Description (Amazon): An irresistible blend of romance, intrigue, and suspense, this timeless historical adventure recalls the Reign of Terror following the French Revolution, when ruthless mobs ruled the streets of Paris and hundreds of royals were condemned to face the guillotine each day. The only hope of many was a courageous leader who spirited aristocrats across the Channel to England and safety. Known by the name of the wildflower he leaves as a calling card, the Pimpernel becomes the darling of the people and is particularly admired by Marguerite Blakeney, who scorns her foppish husband as ardently as she esteems this gallant hero.

My Review (Spoilers):

Executive Summary: cunning

This is one of my mom’s favorite books, and recently a girl in my book club brought it for a swap. She was raving about it, and I thought, OK, it’s time to actually read it. Since it’s a classic, it’s available for free download through the Project Gutenberg which I love. This book has something that I hate, and it’s not anything to do with the book itself. I hate when I read a book that was amazing and creative and totally new…a hundred years after it was amazing and creative and totally new. So by now, people are familiar with the idea of a hero who has a disguise. And because of that, I guessed who the Scarlet Pimpernel was very early in the book. And that was disappointing to me.

The book is set in the midst of the French Revolution when all aristocracy and anyone who might even be remotely aristocratic are being sent to the guillotine. Savage frog eaters! Meanwhile in England, a man known only as the Scarlet Pimpernel and his league of heroes have been running wild operations including dressing as old ladies to rescue as many of the aristocracy as possible. No one knows the identity of this man, but of course the French would love to know.

After the intro in France, we go to a pub “The Fisherman’s Rest” in Dover and are introduced to Andrew Ffoulkes and Antony Dewherst, two members of the league. They are waiting for some recently rescued aristocracy to arrive. Eventually the Comtesse de Tournay and her son and daughter arrive. Shortly thereafter, the most clever woman in the world, Marguerite St. Just Blakeney arrives and a fight occurs between the Comptesse and Lady Blakeney. Lady Blakeney is accused of being the one who turned the de St. Cyrs, another aristocratic family, into the authorities and the husband is still in France and will probably be executed because of her. (Marguerite was a French actress and moved to England and got married to Sir Percy Blakeney, a rich, but foolish man.)

Percy then arrives and the Comtesse’s son challenges Percy to a duel (since Percy’s wife insulted his mother). Percy continues to decline Vicomte until Marguerite steps in and basically mocks them into stopping. Marguerite then steps out to bid farewell to her brother, Armand.  During her goodbye to him, she tells her brother that Sir Percy knows about the situation regarding the Comtesse. But he doesn’t know the full story and that is why they are estranged. He leaves to go to France.

Percy leaves and Marguerite thinks back on the situation with the Marquis de St. Cyr, the family she turned into the authorities. When they were younger, her brother Armand loved one of the de St. Cyrs, but he was a mere plebeian. Despite that, he sent her a poem, and the next day he was beaten within an inch of his life for even considering the idea. After the Revolution began, she thoughtlessly mentioned the story to some people who then conveyed the story to those in charge who promptly arrested him and his family. Once they were arrested, there was nothing she could do. She was unaware how much this would upset Percy when she told him.

Marguerite heads back to The Fisherman’s Rest and runs into Chavelin, a Frenchman she was familiar with. He tells her he is there to discover the identity of the Scarlet Pimpernel and take him back to France to the guillotine.  He asks Marguerite to help him, but she laughs it off.

Later that evening only Ffoulkes and Dewherst are hanging out in the coffee room of the pub. Once they are alone, they begin to reveal that they are both working for the Scarlet Pimpernel. They are reading the instructions on how to proceed on rescuing Comte de Tournay when they are attacked by Chauvelin and his men. And in the process of searching him, they find a letter from Armand. Now Chauvelin has some blackmail to make Marguerite help him.

Chauvelin corners Marguerite at the opera, revealing her brother’s letter. She agrees to help him with his plan. She is to watch everyone who Ffoulkes and Dewherst speak to at the party they are all going to the following evening. If she succeeds in helping Chauvelin discover who the Scarlet Pimpernel is, he will return Armand’s letter to her and set him free. When Percy joins her in the booth, she doesn’t tell him anything.

At the party, she is the real belle of the ball. She manages to read a note of Dewherst’s from the Scarlet Pimpernel and uses her acting skills to evade his suspicion. She relays the information to Chauvelin. “I start tomorrow. If you wish to speak to me, I shall be in the supper room at one o’clock precisely.” Chauvelin goes into the supper room and finds Sir Blakeney napping. He waits and sees no one else until Blakeney is awakened for Marguerite to go home.

Percy and Marguerite leave the party late and head to their house on the river. Her great moral dilemma with her brother or the Scarlet Pimpernel brought her to tell Percy the full story about the de St. Cyrs. He does not seem to change his opinion of her. Eventually the story leads to her confessing that Armand is in trouble. He promises to help.

Marguerite goes to bed and awakes suddenly to find a note slipped under her door. Her husband is leaving (presumably to rescue Armand) and he is leaving immediately. She runs out to catch him, but he reveals little more.

While Percy is gone, she goes into his study, which she rarely does. Suddenly she realizes that Percy cannot be as foolish as everyone thinks since he flawlessly manages the vast fortune that he inherited. As she is pondering this, she finds the ring of the Scarlet Pimpernel (to no one’s surprise). Shortly thereafter, a runner brings her the letter that Armand wrote (which means that Chauvelin knows who the Scarlet Pimpernel is). Marguerite is completely gutted, but she keeps her senses. She goes immediately to Ffoulkes and tells him what has happened.

He agrees to help her. She sets off in her carriage and he meets her at The Fisherman’s Rest when he arrives. The intention is to sail to Calais the following day and hopefully arrive before or near Chauvelin. The weather is stormy, so it takes a while to set off. They are hoping that Percy survived in the storm. When they arrive in Calais,  they head to Chat Gris, a dirty pub. They find that Percy has been there and is expected back for dinner. Marguerite agrees to stay at the pub well hidden while Ffoulkes heads to find Percy to tip him off.

While they are both gone, Chauvelin arrives with some of his henchmen who he sends away on orders. While they are away, Percy comes in, pretending to be his idiot self, eating dinner and chatting with the spy. But at the very end, he gives Chauvelin some snuff that is filled with pepper, rendering him immobilized while Percy slips away. The men return and say that the tall Englishman talked to a nearby farmer and borrowed his cart. They are sent back to retrieve this person and come back with one of the farmer’s friends, this Polish Jew who offers up his cart for payment. Chauvelin agrees.

They head out to Pere Blanchard’s hut, and Marguerite follows. I don’t really understand how she managed to keep up with a horse cart but perhaps they weren’t going very fast. They arrive at the hut with no sign of Percy, but his ship is parked nearby.  Marguerite sees the boat and plans to go alert the people (her brother and Comte) inside the hut, however she is seen and captured. Chauvelin’s plan is to wait outside the hut for Percy to arrive and the soldiers are not to do anything to the fugitives inside until Percy arrives and Chauvelin gives the orders.

Eventually Percy in his “typical” fashion is heard down the beach singing “God Save the Queen”. Marguerite realizes that her brother is about to be killed so she screams and tries to make it to the hut. She is stopped and the soldiers go inside to grab the fugitives, but they are gone. One of the soldiers saw them sneak out but his orders were not to do anything to them until Chauvelin gave orders. The soldiers eventually realize that the fugitives have headed out to Percy’s boat and are getting away.

Chauvelin leaves the Jew to be beaten and leaves Marguerite just because as he and the rest of his men try to cut off Percy from where he is heading (a note was found in the hut). Once the soldiers leave, Marguerite realizes that Percy is the Jew and the Scarlet Pimpernel has once again evaded capture. The boat was given orders to return to get him, and Ffoulkes appears to help Percy and Marguerite get to the boat and return to England. Percy and Marguerite end their estrangement and happy endings all around.

Verdict: 4 stars.

I wasn’t entirely sure how to rank this book. If I were being completely honest, I’d have given it 3.5 stars, but I bumped it up the remaining 0.5 because of its literary influence. I suspect that the Scarlet Pimpernel might have implanted the idea that created such characters as Superman. I felt the first half of the book was a bit slow, but I did enjoy the second half. And in terms of classics, I’d prefer this to a Dickens any day!


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Paper Anniversary

So yesterday was my first wedding anniversary. And each anniversary has a specific thing associated with it. The first anniversary is paper. I looked online for suggestions and they were things like stationary or notebooks. How…romantic.

Luckily my husband is a keeper and the best ever and bought me BOOKS! But not just any books. He bought me these:



The collection includes H.G. Wells, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jane Austen, Sir Richard Burton, Homer, The Brothers Grimm, Leo Tolstoy, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Mark Twain, Edgar Allen Poe, and Jules Verne. The books have really amazing covers such as this Jules Verne one which will probably be the first I’ll read. I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I have probably only read a handful of these classics, but be prepared because I intend to read most all of them! (The Dickens may prove a fair adversary!)



Amazing, right? Happy anniversary to me!


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Insurgent – Veronica Roth

photo-5Book Description (Amazon):  One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

My Review (Spoilers!):

Executive Summary: more divergent than Divergent

So I was going to hold out for the library book but I was at Target a few weekends ago, and the book was on sale so I picked it up. It will probably be a little while before I get to the 3rd one though. I actually liked this one slightly better than the first one.

We left off book 1 with basically a non-ending. The motley crew of Tris, Tobias, Caleb, Peter and Marcus head to Amity where some of the remaining Abnegation members are. They are hospitably welcomed by Johanna and the rest of the Amity. Marcus and Johanna have a somewhat secret meeting which Tris follows and overhears. Marcus tells Johanna that the Abnegation leaders who died were protecting a secret. Tris later confronts Marcus but he will not tell her the secret (which is kind of understandable as she is a 16 year old). Eventually the Dauntless traitors and Erudite arrive to look for the missing Abnegation. Tris destroys the simulation data that she took from the Erudite computer (why she did this I have no idea especially after she fought Peter when he took it.) The Abnegation try to hide by blending in with the Amity but one of the guards sees Tobias’s tattoos and their cover is blown. During the ensuing fight, Tris inadvertently saves Peter (important plot point for later) and they scatter managing to get on a train to escape.

The train happens to be full of Factionless including eyeless Edward from book 1 who take them to a Factionless  area. When they arrive, Tobias is acting strange and it turns out that it’s because the Factionless leader is his mother, Evelyn (who is not dead but was kicked out of Abnegation for having an affair).  Tris overhears (does she overhear everything?) a late night conversation between Tobias and Evelyn in which Evelyn tells Tobias that the Dauntless and Factionless should join together and create a new government, overthrowing the Erudite. Because of his terrible relationship with his father, he wholeheartedly believes his mother although Tris is much more wary of Evelyn. Eventually Susan and Caleb move to an Abnegation safe area whereas Tobias and Tris head to Candor because they believe that the Candor will have the answers.

When they arrive, they are immediately taken to do the truth serum (as they are on film seemingly controlling the simulations that controlled the Dauntless). During the truth serum, the final question is “what are you deepest regrets?” and Tris blurts out that she killed Will. (Christina is in the room as she returned to her Candor family after the attacks.) Tobias is upset with Tris about this revelation because he doesn’t feel like she trusts him. Simultaneously he hasn’t told her about his conversation with his mom so there are trust issues all around.

Dauntless traitors led by Eric attack Candor headquarters and shoot them all with transmitters and then send in what seems like some sort of mind controlling smoke which works on all but the Divergent (so Jeanine has figured out how to do long range control but still hasn’t figured out how to control the Divergent). Tris and Uriah, who turns out is also Divergent, try to rescue the other Divergent but are caught by Eric. Tris manages to stab him with her knife and Eric, Uriah and another Divergent get away.

Tris removes the transmitter from her arm revealing a blue dye. Eric has been taken to Candor jail where he is to await trial. When she goes to hear the announcement from Jack (the Candor leader), she runs into Caleb. He explains that he came with Marcus who apparently survived the Amity attack. He and Peter, who has now joined the Erudite, escaped together and walked to the city. Uh ok.

Marcus reveals he’s Divergent. Tori and Zeke (Uriah’s brother) return, and it turns out that they had implanted themselves as spies with the Dauntless traitors but were eventually found out. Jack reveals he is going to meet with Jeanine to determine if there can be a peace treaty. The Dauntless decide to eavesdrop (again, do they overhear everything?) and they find out that Jeanine sent her minion Max because she was too important to come herself. The demands are to relinquish Eric, all the Divergent, and a list of everyone who did not receive the serum. Tris realizes that Max doesn’t talk that way and that he is being controlled by Jeanine who must be somewhere nearby. As she is about to go try to find Jeanine, Lynn shoots Max in the chest and mayhem occurs.

Back at Candor HQ, the Dauntless decide that they cannot let Jack agree to Jeanine’s terms. They hold an election and elect new leaders including Four and Tori (Tris is nominated but lets Four have the ballot instead. Obviously she has never read Lean In). They decide that Eric should be executed for his crimes against the Dauntless, and they, specifically Four, kill him. They return to the Dauntless headquarters and agree to pair with the Factionless.

That night, an Erudite simulation occurs causing 3 Dauntless to climb to the roof and jump off. Luckily Christina and Tris are there to save 2 of them. Unfortunately Marlene is not saved. Through the simulation, they find out that this will continue to happen every 2 days until the Divergent are delivered to the Erudite HQ.

This is where the book pisses me off. I know it’s a young adult novel but come on! Tris decides that she should turn herself into the Erudite HQ alone to save all her friends. She doesn’t consider that Jeanine will continue to kill people whether or not she turns herself in. She doesn’t consider that Jeanine is going to use her for testing to figure out everything about the Divergent and then kill them all off. It’s one thing to be selfless to help others. It’s another thing entirely to be selfless out of sheer stupidity.

So yeah Tris sneaks off to Erudite HQ where she is so not surprisingly tested again and again with brain scans and simulations. To her surprise, Caleb is there (he got there shockingly quickly and this is not really explained at all. What happened to Susan?) and is helping Jeanine. Peter is also there and he is essentially her personal guard. Tobias shows up to save her but he is also obviously captured and tested upon. After test upon test with no results, Jeanine orders Tris to be executed. Peter, repaying his debt from way earlier in the story, switches the serum so that Tris is only paralyzed for a short time and she, Tobias, and Peter escape to Abnegation.

Marcus has been kicked out of his house so that Evelyn can set up there. She and Tobias (and the rest of the Dauntless and Factionless) agree to join forces and attack the Erudite and erase all the data. Tris while wandering around finds Marcus who convinces her that there is more to this than she knows (yet again not really telling her anything). Tris decides to betray Tobias and join with Marcus because she believes that her mother did not die in vain. Christina also agrees to join in. The three go to Amity to speak to Johanna.

While at Amity, they join with Erudite refugees and decide to infiltrate the Erudite HQ to get the secret information back from Jeanine. They encounter Caleb again who suggests that the data they are looking for will be on the lab’s computer. They go to the lab but Tori is already there and kills Jeanine before they can get the information from her. Tori takes Tris into custody because she is furious that Tris disobeyed them. During the chaos of the fight, Evelyn sneakily takes all the weapons from the Dauntless and unsurprisingly takes over. Somehow Tobias realizes that his Dad was right and his mom was wrong and with Caleb finds the data they were looking for. As Evelyn is trying to instate her new government, a video is played for everyone.

It is of a woman named Amanda Ritter who explains that the world outside the fence became evil so the faction system was created to fix things (doesn’t seem like it quite did that). The idea, she explains is that when the Divergent became abundant, the Abnegation leaders are to tell the Amity are to open the fence forever and the population should re-enter the world. And then Amanda reveals that her name will be Edith Prior as she enters the new society.

Verdict: 3.5 Stars. I actually liked this one a little better than the first one but that section where Tris goes willingly to Erudite annoyed me enough to give both books the same rating. I thought that it was great to experience a little more of Amity and Candor (and even Erudite) as most of Divergent focused on Abnegation and Dauntless. I also thought the ending was significantly better to this one. Even though it’s not an “ending” per se, it was a big enough bombshell that I felt closure. The idea of the fence actually crossed my mind in book one but I sort of forgot about it. The whole “what’s going on in the rest of the world” thought. I’m looking forward to finishing the series despite my sister telling me that the ending is terrible (and the Amazon reviews suggest the same thing).

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Divergent – Veronica Roth

divergentBook Description (Amazon):

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

My Review (Spoilers!):

Executive Summary: Hunger Games mixed with Enders Game.

This is our book made into movie category for this year, and we are going to go see the movie in the theater as a group. I’m pretty excited as the movie looks pretty good, and for the most part, I felt the book was pretty good too.

We meet the main character, Beatrice, her brother Caleb, and her parents at the start of the book. They are part of a group called Abnegation (think Amish) who value selflessness. They wear grey clothing and put others’ needs before their own. Children from Abnegation are teased, called “Stiffs”, and Beatrice has a hard time fitting into the group. She (and her brother who is an Irish twin of hers) are nearing the day for their aptitude test which will tell them which faction they will go to. There are five factions–Abnegation, Erudite, Dauntless, Candor or Amity. It seems most people end up in the same faction where they began, however, we get the sense that Beatrice is considering leaving, and that she will choose to go to Dauntless.

The test is a virtual simulation where they inject the students with a serum which leads them through a series of events. Based on the results of the test, the Faction can be determined. When Beatrice takes the test, there is an anomaly. Instead of ending up with one faction, she has three potential options–Abnegation, Dauntless or Erudite. The test proctor, a woman named Tori from Dauntless, deletes her results and enters her manually as Abnegation. She then explains to Beatrice that if someone ends up with multiple options, they are considered Divergent, and it is considered a dangerous threat. On her way home after the test, a Factionless man comes up to Beatrice asking for food, and we learn that there is this segment of society that does not belong to one of the five Factions and has fallen through the cracks–something that no one wants.

When the day comes to pick their Factions, Caleb goes before her and to everyone’s surprise, he chooses Erudite. This is especially a surprise because the Erudite and the Abnegation are currently having difficulties. Abnegation rule the land, revealed to be a futuristic Chicago, as it was thought that the best leaders are selfless leaders. The Erudite are uprising because they have begun to believe that their knowledge makes them more capable leaders. When Beatrice picks her Faction, the reader is supposed to be surprised when Beatrice chooses Dauntless but no one but her father is. Her mother even seems happy.

Knowing that she has a lot to prove being a new initiate and coming from Abnegation, Tris (renamed to suit her new cool self) tries hard at the early stages of initiation. She makes it onto the moving train, and is the first to jump off the building (into a net but she didn’t know there was one there). She goes into the Dauntless headquarters and begins initiation. The initiates are split into Dauntless-born and not for the first round of initiations. If the candidates do not end up in the top of their class, they will be exiled and Factionless (and their ranking helps determine what position they will hold). Tris is small and not used to fighting but she learns quickly. She makes a few friends (Christina, Will, and Al) and a few enemies (Peter, Molly, and Drew). Tris also meets some of the instructors and it becomes quickly clear that there is a romantic interest in the instructor, Four (hey, it’s a young adult book) and there is something sketchy going on with the instructor, Eric.

Training begins quickly. The initiates learn to fire guns, throw knives and general skills for hand to hand combat. Tris and her friends decide to go get tattoos (all the Dauntless have them) and when they arrive, Tris realizes that Tori (from the aptitude test) is a tattoo artist as her normal job. Tris gets a tattoo of three birds – one for each family member she left behind and presses Tori for more information about being Divergent (but doesn’t get much out of her). Interspersed in between their bracket of hand to hand combats, the initiates travel to an abandoned section of the city to play a game of capture the flag. Tris uses her head (and some bravery) and climbs to the top of a ferris wheel to see where the other team has placed their flag and her team eventually wins the game  when she lets Christina grab the flag. Eric, the leader of the other team, is furious.

On visiting day, Tris’s mom appears. She tells Tris that the issues between the Abnegation and the Erudite is escalating, so much so that she will not be allowed to visit Caleb’s visiting day. She asks Tris about her ranking and about her aptitude tests. Tris tells her that her aptitude tests were inconclusive, and her mother tells her to keep it a secret and never use the term divergent. She asks Tris to try to find a way to see Caleb and to ask him to investigate the serum for the aptitude tests (which Erudite develops). And her familiarity with the initiation customs and area reveals that she had been born Dauntless!

The results of the first round are released–Edward comes in first with evil Peter coming in second. Tris comes in at sixth which  is good enough to move on. Edward’s girlfriend Myra is dead last for the non-dauntless born. During the night, Edward is attacked and stabbed in the eye, presumably by Peter. He and Myra quit and become Factionless as Myra was going to be cut anyway.

Tris spends the night zip lining down the abandoned Hancock building with the Dauntless-born initiates so she has some friends there which is good because the transfers and Dauntless born initiates come together for the second stage of initiation. This stage involves fear simulations. When Tris comes in, Four hooks her up for her simulation. They talk a little about fear and the fact that Dauntless used to be about bravery and standing up for others. Now it has become more about cruelty. Tris’s simulation is being attacked by birds (this would be my mother’s simulation), and when she finishes, Four tells her she has made it in record time.

Back in the dormitory, Peter taunts Tris with a newspaper going into some slander exacerbating the situation between the Erudite and Abnegation. It turns out that Molly has told a reporter that Tris talks in her sleep about her father being an evil person and no wonder both Caleb and Tris left Abnegation. Tris storms out and is calmed by Will, Christina and Al. They head to go get new tattoos when they stumble across drunken Four who tells Tris that she looks good. Then Al picks her up and carries her off. (Why do boys think that’s acceptable?!)

For her next simulation, Tris is in a glass tank that is filling with water. Again, like in the aptitude test, she manipulates the situation and breaks the glass. Four realizes what she has done and deletes her results. He warns her (like everyone else has) to be careful with her divergent powers. Tris heads to go speak to Tori. Tori reveals that her brother was also Divergent and was found in the chasm at the end of the simulations. It was touted as a suicide, but of course Tori knows better. She believes that the Dauntless leaders killed him, but she does not know why being Divergent is such a threat to them. Tris realizes that because Four recognized her manipulation of the simulation, he’s either Divergent or knows someone else who is.

The Erudite continue to release articles about the Abnegation. Tris continues to go through her fear simulations, trying not to manipulate them. She’s in the first position at the end of stage two (even though her mother told her to keep her head down and stay middle of the pack). Peter is pissed and threatens her. Al is devastated because he’s last in the list (which is not surprising because he’s just a wimp. I get that he has trouble beating up his friends, but I’m not that sympathetic for someone not being able to handle simulations.) Tris tries to comfort Al but doesn’t know what to say. That evening she gets out of her room to get a drink and hears Eric talking to a female about the simulations revealing who are the Divergent rebels. She starts to sneak back to the room as she’s obviously nervous when she is attacked by Peter, Drew, and…Al. They take her over to the chasm and hang her blindfolded over the railing. Luckily (and predictably) Four rescues her.

Tris awakes in Four’s room (um, what? take her to the infirmary, you creep!) Four tells her that the reason that Al betrayed her was because her strength made him feel weak (because that’s an excuse). She sleeps in his room another night and does weird things like smell his pillow and watch him sleep. Young love, I guess. She returns to the others and tells Christina and Will that Al was one of the ones who ganged up on her. Time to begin the third stage of initiation. All the initiates climb to this glass room above the pit where they will eventually complete a simulation comprised of all of their fears from stage two (sounds fun). Apparently this simulation is somehow different though because everyone will be aware that it is a simulation (like Tris is in all the simulations). They return to the dorm and Al tries to apologize to Tris. She tells him to get away and never talk to her again.

Tris is awakened by Christina. Al has committed suicide. Tris feels bad (I didn’t). Eric begins to speak and comments about how Al was brave for committing suicide because he is now exploring the unknown. Tris is annoyed because she believes that pride is what killed Al (I think it was cowardice but maybe that’s just me) and she walks away from the funeral. Four finds her. She starts to complain to him, and he stops her and tells her that she is being watched (presumably by the leaders). He also tells her something that is obvious but she hasn’t realized–she is at her most dauntless when she is being selfless.

Tris, Will, and Christina decide to go get new tattoos. Tris gets a tattoo of the Abnegation symbol, which seems a little foolish after Four tells her she is being watched. For some reason, Tris has all of the Erudite reports from the last six months and throws them into the chasm (this seemed very disjointed). She talks to Will about the Erudite leader, Jeanine. Will and Christina head back to bed, but Tris wants to go speak to Four. He takes her to the glass room and shows her his fear landscape. He’s afraid of heights, confinement (due to being locked in a closet as a child and Tris realizes he was born in Abnegation), shooting a woman, and facing his father who beat him as a child. Tris recognizes Four’s father as Marcus, the Abnegation leader. And that means that Four (whose nickname comes from only his four fears when most people have somewhere around ten) is actually Tobias, the son who left (understandably). He tells Tris that his aptitude results were for Abnegation but he chose Dauntless, and she is upset that he is not Divergent. And then they kiss.

Of course in normal young adult novel fashion, the next day, Four ignores her. The initiates go to the glass room and are supposed to navigate Lauren’s (one of the trainers) fear landscape. Unfortunately, her landscape is kidnapping which reminds Tris of being taken by Peter, Drew, and Al. She freaks out, Four tells her to stop being pathetic and get herself together and she smacks him. She storms out and decides she’s going to go try to find Caleb.

She goes to the Erudite library, which is a bit surprising because it seemed like you weren’t allowed to just go visit other factions. Inside is a massive picture of Jeanine. Caleb conveniently is also in the library. He tells her something is going on but he doesn’t know what. She tells him to investigate their serum (like her mom told her to do). Two men come up and tell Tris that she needs to come with them, and she is taken to Jeanine. She realizes that is the woman’s voice who Eric had been talking to about the Divergent rebels. It is apparent that Jeanine is trying to get Tris to spill that she is Divergent but Tris manages to lie fairly convincingly.

She returns to the Dauntless compound and is in big trouble by Eric. Four kind of stands up for her by justifying her leave because she was embarrassed. They have a little spat about him ignoring her, but he tells her he has something to tell her and to meet him at 11:30. She returns to the dorm and Christina tells her that Will kissed her *swoon*.  When Tris meets Four later, they take a train to see the Erudite headquarters whose lights are on despite there being some ordinance against that. He tells Tris that he found some info that suggests that Erudite and Dauntless are pairing to start a war on Abnegation.

It’s initiation day, aka the day that all the initiates face their fear landscapes. Some of the fears we have seen before–the tank filling with water, the crows. There are also some new ones like a fear of being intimate with Four (how embarrassing!) and being forced to shoot her family, which, in true selfless fashion, she shoots herself instead. At the end of the simulation, she gets an injection with a tracking device (cue the foreboding music). Four comes up and tells her that he heard she only had seven fears but he didn’t watch the simulations. She tells him about her fear about him and they have an awkward conversation about sex and their relationship. They show each other their tattoos. Four has a tattoo of all of the factions’ symbols. He goes on to say that he believes that the factions are a mistake and that having the virtues of all the factions is actually what should be aspired to (duh).

They go to the initiation party, and of course Tris is ranked first. Will and Christina are ranked high enough to stay in Dauntless, but so is Peter (not surprising). Luckily Molly and Drew end up Factionless but we had kind of forgot about them. Tris realizes how Erudite is going to get Dauntless to fight, and she tells Four to meet her later so she can tell him. But it’s too late. She falls asleep and awakes to everyone zombie-like getting ready. Tris realizes that if she doesn’t participate, she will be found out, so she plays along. They get on a train where she finds Four, and he is Divergent too (no one is surprised). They get to Abnegation and council members start being killed. Eric reveals that the transmitter that all the Dauntless were injected with is being controlled by the Erudite. Eric points his gun at Four and although it reveals her as Divergent, she can’t let her love be killed. She shoots Eric in the foot. Tris and Four make a run for it but Tris gets shot in the shoulder and they are captured.

They are taken to Jeanine who tells them that she suspected them both. She doesn’t understand why most of the Divergent come from Abnegation and goes on about how society would be better if a bunch of self-righteous idiots weren’t running it. She gives Four a new injection that she has specifically developed for the Divergent, and it seems to work. He goes to the control room and Tris is taken to live her fear landscape–she is trapped in a tank (and it’s being recorded supposedly so the Erudite can study it). She can’t manipulate the simulation. Luckily her mom comes to rescue her. And we find out that her mom is also Divergent (which goes against the theory that they come from Abnegation). They go to meet Caleb and Tris’s father, but on the way, they are seen. Tris’s mom sacrifices herself so that Tris can make it to warn them. Along the way, she has to shoot zombie Will. It’s getting real.

She finds Caleb and her father as well as a few other Abnegation people including Marcus. After having the bullet removed from her shoulder, Tris meets with them. She explains what she knows and then realizes how to stop everything. Four was taken to the control room because of his computer skills. And that is where the Dauntless soldiers are being controlled. Tris, Caleb, dad, and Marcus decide to go try to stop this.

They head to Dauntless headquarters. Once they are inside, Tris finds Peter. He’s not a zombie. He was taken out of the simulation presumably because they thought he would be like Eric and do it on his own but they surprisingly guessed wrong. Tris reluctantly agrees to take him with them. Peter tells them where to go, and Tris and her father head that way. Unfortunately they encounter some guards and Tris’s father sacrifices himself so that Tris can hopefully make it. (Abnegation really are selfless.) She makes it to the control center and finds that it is only Tobias in there.

Tobias doesn’t recognize her and tells her to drop her weapon. She tries to fight him, but that doesn’t work. She thinks that maybe if she treats it like her fear landscape that it will work, so she turns over the gun she has re-grabbed to him. He realizes through her selflessness that it is her and he beats the mind control and recognizes her (and of course they kiss). He shuts down the program and copies all the damning information onto a jump drive. The Dauntless are now awakened but Tris realizes that things are not going to go back to the way they were before. The group gets onto a train and heads toward Amity. Tris & Tobias say “I love you” and the book ends to be continued.

Verdict: 3.5 Stars

This book is fun. I liked the story and it was well-written. However, it was a bit predictable at points, and I did not feel like the ending was as satisfying as I would have liked. However, the next two books will hopefully make up for the mediocre ending. I picked up the second book today and will start it soon.

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