Book Review: ‘Divergent’ and ‘Insurgent’

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One of my favorite parts of my commute is getting lost in a good book. After finally finishing Gone with the Wind and rereading Anne of Green Gables, it was time for something a bit more…contemporary. At my friend Nancy’s recommendation, I downloaded Divergent, a teen dystopian novel.

The Divergent series is probably compared to The Hunger Games a decent amount — both are set in the future United States, with some sort of postapocalyptic government installed that is facing rebellion, in part led by a teenage heroine. In the Divergent universe, instead of districts there are factions, each based on one personality traits.

We meet Beatrice on the day before her Choosing Day — at sixteen, it is time for her to decide whether to stay in the faction she was born into, Abnegation (the selfless), or defect and leave her loved ones behind. Once she makes her decision, we follow Beatrice as she undergoes the Initiation process, meets new friends, enemies and even love interests. It’s a process that’s more dangerous than she could have imagined.

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Like The Hunger GamesDivergent is also the first book in a trilogy. The second, Insurgent, picks up literally where Divergent leaves off. (And I’m using the real definition of “literally” here.)

While Divergent is fast-paced, entertaining and gripping, Insurgent may be too fast-paced for its own good. Taking care to avoid spoilers, some conflicts develop and are resolved so quickly it’s hard to keep up and really understand the significance of it all. I wasn’t necessarily less invested in the two main characters, but it was like, slow down.

The premise itself is a bit contrived, but it’s still interesting. Occasionally, some theological themes do feature prominently in the plot, and it was certainly more noticeable than any Christian imagery that may have been in The Hunger Games, so it was caught me off guard.

Overall, this is an entertaining, suspenseful series to start reading. These are quick, won’t-put-down reads. The last novel, Allegiant, will be released in October 2013, so now is the best time to catch up. (P.S. The movie adaptation of Divergent will be in theaters next March.)

Have you read the Divergent books? Let me know what you think!

~ Sarah

Fashion Inspiration: Shakespeare’s Ophelia

Fashion Inspiration: Shakespeare's Ophelia
Dress – River Island; Cardigan – Uniqlo; Rings – Etsy, 1928; Sandals – Charlotte Russe; Lipstain – Pixi Beauty in “Radiant Rose,” Nail Polish – Essie in “Very Structured.”

Nerd alert: The character of Ophelia, from Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet, has been on my mind after recently revisiting Queen Gertrude’s soliloquy Queen Gertrude about the young woman’s death. It’s regarded as one of the most poetic deaths in theatre, and an unlikely source of fashion inspiration. The scene as described by Gertrude, however, includes vivid descriptions and is the inspiration for many artists, as seen in the nineteenth-century painting Ophelia (pictured above).

The scene: the fragile, and possibly insane, Ophelia drowns in a river after falling from a tree while collecting flowers for a garland. The flower motif is seen in the floral print maxi dress and the various flower cocktail rings. Shakespeare describes her clothing “spread wide” and “mermaid-like,” and is reflected in the loose silhouette of the maxi dress and draped cardigan. (A long necklace or bangles would weigh down the look and make it too bohemian.)

For a beauty look inspired by Ophelia, wear your hair in relaxed mermaid waves. The colors in the painting are primarily muted neutrals, like forest green, with the exception of the flowers which are almost a cranberry shade. Slick on berry lip color (Pixi makes my favorite lipstain), and paint your nails an interesting neutral (Shakespeare refers to Ophelia’s “muddy death,” so I choose this brown shade) to tie the color palette together.

Would you wear this outfit (if it was warm enough)? Have you ever been inspired by literature or theatre, fashion-wise?

~ Sarah

Link Love

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It’s been a really really long time since I did one of these posts, but hey, here are some links to start off your Monday:

From Hello Giggles, life lessons from Anne with a “e”.

ESPNW talks about the marketing of soccer players like my girl Hope Solo after the World Cup.

A compilation of editorials inspired by Marilyn Monroe.

Tips from Clothed Much on how to maximize your wardrobe.

A hilarious new Tumblr: Kim Kardashian is the worst.

~ Sarah