September 13, 2014

Divergent?! More like "Detergent"!

A good friend of mine recently mentioned the film "Divergent"  during a discussion we were having about real life, present day dystopian society; after watching about 35 minutes of the film I began to seriously doubt his opinion as it pertains to good film.   I didn't even make it to the 60 minute mark before I was forced to turn it off; anything to stop the bombardment of insipid saccharine that was anything but, Divergent.

That film made "Twilight" look like a Sundance Audience Choice Award Winning masterpiece it was so bad. In fact after an hour of Divergent, I find myself looking back with fond memories of being held hostage by my 12 yr old niece, who upon finding out I was studying film made special plans to show me what she was sure was the best film ever made; sparkly vampires, le sigh.

As I sat, still reeling from the effects created by Divergent's  brain pummeling mediocrity, I found solace and reprieve by climbing into the book of the same name.

Literary Lithium brought to you by "DIVERGENT"

I will not tell you that Divergent is an amazing book, because it isn't. It is written in the simplest English available after the 5th grade and is exactly the kind of easily approachable, homogenized fiction that makes the NYT Best Seller List every week.  The book is built on a strong foundation of  cultural co-dependent social structures that reek of potential. And like the sudden hunger inspiring aroma of an unknown meal being cooked, enticing you to discover the source, it then  reveals itself as a TV Dinner in the microwave..

The words roll off the page in a constant stream of bland interior monologue and unimaginative descriptions. Don't worry though, even though it feels like a child recounting an uneventful camping trip in a monotone voice, there is so little time spent on describing or discovering the details that you will hardly notice how bland they are.

  Don't get me wrong on this, I obviously found something in the content worth sitting down and reading it for 4 and a half hours straight; but it isn't the story that held me. The story is as engrossing as a 1987 Daytime TV Movie of the Week drama.  I assume the target audience is young adults (13-17yr old),  As a teenager, I would have been offended if someone this book to me based on the assumption of my age groups intellectual development thresholds. Then I would have bopped them with my ragged copy of

Luckily at the seasoned age of 42 I rarely feel umbrage towards the painfully misguided society I live in,, well not as much as I would have at 17 at least. I was an angry young philosopher, activist and counter culture subversive, from 16-21. At 21 I got married. I traded my personal freedoms and lifestyle to the gods of consumerism and capitalism. They gave me some shiny trinkets and a nice corporate job with my own little cubicle to whore myself from in exchange for a salary and a 401k.

Enough about me, lets get back to this fantastic display of dystopian Sci-Fi Literature before it is put to proper use as a recycled toilet paper product.

 I found myself plowing through one obvious mystery, and its (WTF How did you not know that shit?!) reveal, hoping to find more details of the social structures and their history. Do not be fooled, there is no deeper history or details to be found, the author has erected a shield of laziness to protect her from the fine and incredible details that make all worlds, real or fiction, breathe with life. It wasn't  the characters that inspired me to continue along with them through their experiences either. The protagonist and her supporting crew of cardboard friends, as well as the villians show about as much depth as the psychoanalysis of childhood abuse victims from the 1960's>  all just plod through the story acting surprised, angry or confused when facing the painfully predictable situations they encounter; much like watching a fitness trainer desperately struggling for his life against a ordinary sized piece of Plastic Wrap.

The book did throw me for one loop, one shocking twist. It wasn't because it was an unique idea or mind blowing at all; it was because I just couldn't believe it was happening. I was in total disbelief that this author, or any world best selling author for that matter, would use a sledgehammer on everything she had created, and right at the end too! I kept reading for two chapters before I finally had to admit to myself that the main character was not either, in a dream, or within a simulation; 2 surreal chapters that felt entirely alien and unrelated to what I had been reading all night. Like the book was suddenly being finished by an 8th grader who won creative writing contest as an unpaid intern!

 WHAM, POW!

 I was like, "MIND CONTROL BROADCASTING?!,,,Get the fuck out of town, you're messing with me, really!?" You are actually trying to make me believe that 1/5 of an entire population, a culture of people who have been tempered in the fires of physical combat, strategy, emotional and mental conditioning as well as overcoming fear, pain and doubt so they can be allowed an opportunity of citizenship; are secretly ambushed and enslaved en mas. An entire paramilitary organization of born and breed peacekeepers and soldiers who control the bulk of all surveillance equipment for their entire society, subverted practically overnight from within and MIND CONTROLLED. How can anyone swallow the a pill this big?

We are supposed to wash it down with the antagonistic plot lubricant named, Eric I suppose. He is 18 and comprises 1/5th of  the leadership in the faction; with little more than a year and a half  in that job. Well of course, that makes perfect sense. That this man/boy could facilitate this massive hostile takeover of the bodies and will of his faction with the help of  evil scientists; godless worshippers of progress for progress's sake.

These scientists who value knowledge over all,yet seem to have absolutely no grasp of historical consequence and who have all forgotten the fate of dictatorships. Supposedly the brightest and most brilliant researchers and intellectual thinkers within their society. Yet their justification for total mental domination of 1/5th of people is to facilitate the necessary execution of a another 1/5th faction in the society. Systematic genocide of entire christian culture of public leaders and civil servants, dedicated to selflessness and charity; all they might be an obstacle to the pursuit of luxury and personal gain. It seems quiet obvious by the commonplace extravagances of the Erudites lifestyle that such a threat has never surfaced before, but what the hell, Genocide, just in case.

 This group of scientists must have their own shark tank. They go from lobbying for an equal voice in  government and little mudslinging, to the total submission of all other factions and peoples driven only by greed and distorted self worth. That's like the Fonz, jumping his motorcycle over a tank filled with negative reality and teaming with mutated cyber-ballistic monkey sharks, with laser eyes!

This was a shock for me, much like searching for your car keys for an hour just to realize they are in your hand. It also has the added effect of lowering the creative bar and standards for good fiction in the United States.

I picture her looking at her ragged copy of 'The Heroes Journey". The story progression stage, "The Worst Possible Moment" presents her with a possible way out of this crisis of direction. Now she just needs to come up with some cataclysmic event, which will cause her hero to lose faith, gain hope, immediately overcome the obstacles that have been deemed impossible tasks by supporting secondary characters.

I seriously wonder if the author just found herself looking at the story progression, realized she was reaching a crucial point of character development moment and then froze. Then, overwhelmed with the many possible roads and directions available, she loses her fucking mind..

Possible interior monologue, "Oh, what am I going to do, what, what? Should Tris make into Dauntless leadership and begin a long campaign of social reconstruction of her faction from within; thereby creating a tool to bring balance and justice to all the factions by example? Yeah, lots of adventures there with all the evil elements and covert betrayals, interpersonal difficulties with her friends and love life as well as the problems involved with faction related agendas?! OOh, or Divergence blossoms into the next stage of human evolution and psionic abilities and how the people are brought together by the gift of shared human experience through telepathy?
Damn it no, my Church would be bored by the first , and if I promoted the idea of evolution without divine intervention they would all hate me on FaceBook and twitter.

OOH, I got it!! The evil  scientists use their science to mind control the soldiers and hunt down and slaughter all the selfless, humble, Christians who provide sound and reasonable government for their society!, Brilliant?! Uh, just need on thing to make it all realistic, hmmmm, OH! Erik was an Erudite transfer, That makes perfect sense, because obviously the majority of them are all evil scientists at heart!!!"

Of course this fantasy interior brainstorming session was made to point out a serious flaw in this point of the conflict. The entire book espouses the belief that people can choose who they want to be and that society and even birth cannot dictate who you are or what you will become.

So when the author then contradicts everything she  has spent 2/3 of her book establishing, it makes the titanically horrendous ending to this book  kind of like the experience of being date raped by your imaginary friend.



THIS HAS BEEN MY WAY OF SAYING: The book was way better than the movie. But neither is really worth the time they consume. It consumes your time left to be alive and then deficates in your brain.

No comments: