Allegiant (Divergent #3) by Veronica Roth

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This is the first book I ever felt where the author became more invested in flipping the bird to her readers than actually writing a sensible story. I’m more amazed that people actually like this story for the content itself. Whoever you are, you’re made of a sturdy material than me to withstand all the Nazi science bullshit Roth had thrown at you. Yeah, I said that right. She’s more adept at WW2 eugenics than writing actual genetics.

I didn’t ask so much from an author especially with no background in science to write science except to research about the topic first before you want to create a half-hearted attempt to write around flimsy world-building of yours. I know from the start that the personality faction thing is plain stupid.But using shoddy genetics to write around flimsy Faction logic because it make your story to have some form of sci-fi theme, why bother to put random words “genetic” and “serum” together which doesn’t do you any good when you don’t even make an attempt to make enough bullshit that its believable enough for someone who actually know genetics or even chemical pathology or who can google.

Genetics is just like a general phrase like science. The actual word for it was Molecular Biology because it involve the biology at its molecular level. You even have to study chemistry and pathology topics of it to scratch the itty bit of general knowledge that constitute as genetics (on its own, its the study of hereditary science rather than the actual biology of it). Add to that, you learn the wonderful things with some DNA materials you get from a drop of blood. You learn the structures of nucleic acids, the hydrogen bonds, the codes sequenced in the DNA strands, how it function with all the jumble of DNA enzymes like ligases, polymerases, helicases, how the DNA divide and replicate itself in different cells in mitosis or meiosis and depended on its uses; the protein each codes stand for and how a chain of protein emerge and how DNA send its signals etc. Add to that, you also learn how DNA can sometime have mistakes and when it happen and how it happen and how to fix it or how to suppress it or how to manage it and etc. Other than DNA, you also learn about mRNA, ssDNA, dsRNA, PCR, Electrophoresis, Northern blotting, Southern blotting, Proteomics etc.

Above all, you also learn that genetic defects are completely within the natural order of life which not just us humans, but animals and plants and microbials and even organelles that constitute to a form a cellular structure itself. Molecular biology is also what made evolution works and not just a theory and even that was proven as a class of science itself. The study of Genetics also made us aware of diseases and defects which some can take on a lot of features depending on severity and the way to study it and understanding it.

You know how it was played in Allegient?

“Divergent” means that my genes are healed. Pure. Whole.

‘Divergent’ is the name we decided to give to those who have reached the desired level of genetic healing,”

Genetically damaged people who have been conditioned by suffering and are not taught to live differently, as the factions would have taught them to, are very destructive.

“She’s a GP—genetically pure. So she can’t understand that—well, it’s hard to explain. Just trust me, okay? She’s better off staying away for a little while.”

After all those nice things you can google online, the only thing genetics take precedence in this book was the whole bad experiments going on. And that word again, “genetically damage,” the one that’s been surfacing throughout the book since the infodump genetic test scene.

Its a society of people where everyone was perfect and pure that they dont suffer any other diseases that faulty personality defects basically upend the government to create seeds of authoritarian societies where they’re subjugated enough to be even more fascist way of life than the other. They segregate people into factions and build large experimental cities because their genetically modified personality quirks was horrendous enough they have to be isolated and inbred enough just so that they can have “genetically pure and undamaged” lineage. Honey, it doesn’t work out that way. Nope. Besides ‘pure’ lineage isn’t always the best genetic lineage, nobody learn about dog breeds?

Roth just pasted on the whole idea in this book about factions with ‘damaged’ genes and Divergents with ‘pure’ genes as if WW2 never happen where there were thousands of thousands of people killed and those who are experimented on because they’re do not fit into the idea of “pure” and assume they have damaged gene. Hence, the Nazi thing. Yes because clearly thats their sick version of scientific genetic logic and to me, this book totally ace that.

Genetic mutations can normally occur in any living creature. It can be also expressed in certain population have different hair colour or eye colour or the ability to roll your tongue or to have flexibility than another. Some mutations created species or variances within gene pool. Some is benign and hidden while others is expressed in physical appearance. Microbes evolved being less pathogenic or more pathogenic. Some have genetic defects that was rarer than another which interfere their normal body system and sometimes it affect mental states and sometimes its just a physical features. Point is, calling a person non-Divergent as genetically damaged is like calling a person with hereditary blindness or deafness or even diabetes or cancer as genetically DAMAGED as person. That’s not helping at all when you insist on using these labels. Active discrimination on people with genetic defects isn’t fictitious. It is real and considering its a Young Adult novel where supposedly the large demographic was the younger audience, you don’t think it was not harmful?

The Divergent series existed with the idea that we – the free-will and self-thinking people aka the readers – as “Divergent” from Tris’s POV. It was also written in the intention to make you as a reader to feel like you’re more ‘special’ than the non-Divergent side characters. Naturally, it made sense why the narrating characters are Divergent themselves (or at least one of them) in the series. But in a way, Roth was discriminating her readers with the way she’s writing as if she can escape writing shoddy derogatory things by creative licenses. Oh hail, another version of Jay Kristoff where you could appropriate everything even a foreign culture.

It was written in the future, ‘of course’, she can write like that. But honestly, I never seen anyone who was ignorant to come up a bullshit worldbuilding that called a person “genetically damaged” just because they have “wrong sequence of genes”. The quarter of the book was on discussing about how damaged someone was because they’re not Divergent. She even didn’t write the issue good enough that made it less offensive either. No, in Allegiant, being GD is bad enough that its a bad word that leads to a form of depression because the character isn’t human enough. Really?

I get that all of these are necessary for angst and more “oh, I’m not special as her and my life suck” drama and the subsequent convincing of “you’re perfect just the way you are” conversations and also the part where “everything is going to end badly if we didn’t stop it” plot that was inserted out of nowhere. Why does she kept reinforcing her flailing world-building with even more plot holes?

If that wasn’t bad, I listen to the audiobook version of this book just to feel the differences between the narratives and there was no improvement at all other than levels of sycophancy and occasional weird creepy sentences that made me reevaluate the necessity to listen to this on audiobooks.

I’ve read the last section with author’s notes and there’s a lot of people involved in this book and nobody think it was bad that she’s being discriminatory to everyone or how things get predictable or whether something could work out right between characters to even the flow of the story?

I know that there’s that issue with the ill-fated ending which I’m sure everyone was spoiled to the brim about. But no, my gruff with this book was mostly about the story structure. In fact, what most of the dual POVs in this book did was focusing too much on drama aspect (I like you, I hate her, I hate him, I want to be you etc) and the infinitesimal amount of two-to-three-syllable characters in this book rather than providing a form of clarity toward the story. I expected it as such since my issues with Insurgent and the whole stream-of-consciousness that was going on in this book. I tolerate the style but for someone who (sort-of) dislike it when it was written badly and pointless, I never understand how on earth someone could stomach all these unfiltered paranoia, feelings angst etc in YA Dystopia. Stylistic literary preference? Does it help strengthen its flaws? Was there even any thought given in this book without everything in shambles?

Another thing I don’t understand about is the constant repetitions to reassert the idea of factions – again and again. The political situation had changed from the rigid faction to factionless society. There’s a lot of repetitive bits of how a person of *insert faction* should think, wear, behave, customs which was completely redundant in the third book. The author can totally skip writing about her character’s characterizations, descriptions and plot but she couldn’t stop herself from writing and expressing in her narrative character’s from inner prejudices and emo thoughts and lust-filled thoughts and shallow thoughts on others.

Plus, what was the point of writing a damn huge loads of character if you just spit names and expect people to memorize that and get into the drama? There’s always somebody coming around to the narrating character. Talk about something and leave and rinse and repeat for several hundred times to get to this length. I don’t know who is who by third chapter alone. There’s a thing called character dumping, Yes, that pretty much sum the whole situation up. Too many characters, too little deaths.

Besides, all those talk about consistency and clarity, I can’t even make sense the plot with the summary of the book in its wikipedia article.

Another thing, what was up with these “memory serum virus”? I swear, the author made random deus ex machina out of the whim just to make the situation slightly more intense for the characters. Seriously, since when was a virus have that big memory to cause amnesia? Should it even be called a virus? Why not use nanotechnology or self-induced amnesia or some noisy screwdriver. In fact, serum spore dispersion made more sense than spray-able amnesia viruses. What a waste of technology.

Oh, there’s also this scene,

“The fluid is packed with microcomputers. They are designed to detect specific genetic markers and transmit the data to a computer. It will take them about an hour to give me as much information as I need, though it would take them much longer to read all your genetic material, obviously.”

Mathew injected these into a person and it can check the “genetic materials” from the inside of the body. I did say in the paragraph way above this that you can get strands of DNAs from a drop of blood. A vial of blood is perfect for a lot of genetic testings but injecting someone with microcomputers into your vein just to detect something a drop of blood will do was plain waste of time, energy and resource. And it took an hour to completely encode your whole genome to readable form. DNA are heat sensitive and thats why its time consuming to isolate, put enzymes and wait for it to work and purify it etc. There’s also a need to check for a control just in case it read something other than DNA. Plus, if data interpretation of a DNA was that easy that a person could glance through it and announce they know everything. Most of the time I guarantee you that they’re all bullshitting you. It took me a couple of hours of triplicates and weeks of sleepless nights for me to even read data, analyse it, check it with other sources and test it with SPSS to make it read alright for average people to understand and all everyone read in the end was the p-value. At least, realistically, the reaction of the said tester wouldn’t be a series of info-dumps. Oh, its science fiction and its a post-CSI verse, I can let that slide and wish as if it was all that easy.

Technically, by that GP and GD logic, I am GD as well considering my family history and all. I’m sure I have bad genes somewhere. So am I damaged, Roth? Because the way you write it, it sound very convincing that you have your own prejudices and set discrimination with your idea of genetic purity that worried me. Because nobody in right their mind, would consider using limited vocabularies on a topic that have a lot of variant to choose from considering its a field of study and have its long history and all. At least, know the differences between Eugenics (practice of improving genetic quality) and Genetics (study of heredity).

I was slightly looking forward to some improvement since “Insurgent” was plain disappointing and considering the massive fanbase it had, I expected that the editor are be paid more before publishing this but Allegiant is still just as bad as Insurgent. With messy prose and dialogues (it was more apparent if you read out loud and there was so many contradictions in a same sentence and weird descriptive imagery and choice of words on sentences and I’m not even a native English user to notice that there’s something really wrong with this phrase “I think you are the only person sharp enough to sharp someone like me”. Does it make sense to you because I don’t get it.), there’s also all these terrible stick characterizations from Tris and Four, then the influx of unnecessary characters and the illegible series of nonsense masqueraded as plot. I hardly see anything that reminded me of the first book. “Divergent” which by itself, isn’t that bad but its sequels was the definition of monstrosity.

And honestly, all the things that made reading the book a chore made me feel fine with the ending. Since I expected it from all the spoilers everyone gave, but I never expected to feel the ending completely justified. I don’t care for the character enough that I was all rooting for it.

But was the ending well-done? Of course not, it was plain tasteless. Frankly, its all for the shock value which probably to seed resentment among the existing fanbase. Was it unpredictable? Yeah. The denouement lost its steam. I couldn’t wait for it to end.

Overall, I guess, the book does serve its purpose. Was it fulfilling, meaningful or deep? Nope, nah, no. Dead negatives. I did say Roth was giving her readers the finger because that exactly what I felt from her book.

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Champion (Legend #3) by Marie Lu

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There were many ups and downs within the dystopian genre throughout these recent years but The Legend series was more right up to the alley where The Hunger Games had left me. “Champion” is a difficult book even for me. It was written with the intention of crafting a very adult story to a younger audience that even I’m not sure it would interest those demographic. The story was heavily political. The book began with the republic in a much different place than the previous book. A new elector was assigned which leads to citizen rebellions and chaos. After a plot to assassinate Elector Anden fell through by the help of Day and June, the republic began another chapter of change except that it will get worst before it get better. A year after Prodigy, the Colonies of America and the Republic of America was conflicted between one another. When the biological weapon crafted by the former Republic had mutated in the Colonies, they were threatening the Republic with an all out invasion if they don’t give up Eden, Day’s brother who survived the plague virus previously.  Pressurized by this, Anden asked Princeps-Elect June to bring Day back to the capital without revealing the bad situation. June was still broken-hearted after Day left her but she was still unaware about the truth about Day dying. Currently he suffered heavy migraines from the complications that was revealed in the last book. Day’s condition had worsened and he was having troubles with the drugs and the doctors weren’t all too positive about him surviving the months to his surgery. But nobody anticipate that the peace between two country will break apart and time is running out.

Its not hard to draw a comparison between Suzanne Collins’ Mockingjay and Marie Lu’s Champion. Personally, The Legend series had the worldbuilding done right than The Hunger Games series. The world is a larger place in this futuristic America rather than Panem. The Republic of America initially drew a similar vein and feel to the military state of North Korea but before the police state became oppressive, the other richer states isn’t looking that well either.  The Colonies of America was entirely a corporation fantasy where the social divide was run on wealth and consumerism. But what seemingly appealing to another is a nightmare for someone else. For all that was, this kind of world-building was more realistic than The Hunger Games which does have unevenness with the narratives and limited expansion with the political aspect of Panem. It made more sense in this book because of the role of both main characters who held the position of power unlike Katniss who merely function as a symbol.

Due to the dual narratives, the political aspect of the story was explored even further via June who became one of the Princeps-Elect in Prodigy while another part of the book show Day’s uneasiness with the power he held among the people of the Republic as a symbol of hope much like Katniss does. But while Katniss unintentionally drove the people of Panem to a coup from her defiance in The Hunger Games while Day had a more selfless motivation to help his family and the people around him. When he help the people to support Anden’s rule, who prove to be a better person than his father, Day was more involved as the representative of the people than Katniss does. Both Katniss and Day was willing to fight a war for their family but Day was the essence of the rebellion from the start unlike Katniss who only participate in it at the end. In a way, the differences made the books 

 

But for all its worth, the relationship between Day and June was explored even deeper than they had before. Despite part of everything that was bad from the beginning of the trilogy came from Commander Jameson’s plot with the senate to overthrow the Elector, the facts remain that June was the one responsible to several deaths of Day’s family members even if she wasn’t the one who held the trigger. Thomas was also the main focus in this side story but the existing situation still drove a wedge between them despite their feelings for one another. On the other hand, I do like Anden as a character in this book and even if he function as a third wheeler between Day and June. His role in the story was crucial rather than an unnecessary filler character which I usually see in Gale. Same goes with Tess too. In a way, Marie Lu manage to round out the three book together around the characters and the plot and made the story paced linearly with the burden of several hard subjects.

And someone finally write a story about medical-related something that was realistic to a biomedical scientist and made a story neatly around it without trying so hard to sound too smart that it was too difficult for readers to understand about it. I’m looking at you Veronica Roth.

Cress, Chapters 1-5 by Marissa Meyer

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I receive the first chapter a couple of weeks ago as an ARC but how on earth does one review a chapter? Then I found four more additional chapters released as a free ebook on Amazon and it provided more material than the ARC I received. Which was great considering from the first chapter I kept thinking that Cress was more and more as Sailor Moon than Cinder did. Or Sailor V. Yep, it is the hair.

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In “Cinder”, Cress who gave a warning about Lunar Queen’s nefarious plan on Earth from the broken android Kai had send to Cinder for fixing. In this short chapters, Cress have been trapped inside a satellite for seven years that was orbiting around earth by her captor Mistress Sybil. She was also the one who was responsible for most Lunar infiltration from space  and was deeply guilt-ridden with her role in the lunar werewolf massacres in “Scarlet”. The stakes are getting higher since the Queen Lavena and Kai was engaged to be married to prevent an all out invasion. But the engagement was merely a facade as the queen intend to murder the emperor to usurp the Commonwealth and conquer Earth. It was up to Cinder to claim her rightful place as the true heir of the Lunar throne and defeat Lavena.

I do like the much shy and timid version of Cress and she’s really cute with her crush on Thorne. Cinder on the other hand was increasingly being stressed by the deadline of the royal marriage and was preparing physically and mentally for the war she’ll face head on against her evil aunt, Lavena. Scarlet and Wolf’s relation seem to pick up from the last book although they’re still being awkward with each other. It wasn’t much but if you love the first two books and want to read the continuation of the series, you’ll probably pre-order the book  already. From the excerpts, Cinder, Thorne, Wolf and Scarlet will be coming for Cress for her help in their revolution to save Earth and its people including Kai. But February is just a couple of months away.

The first chapter was an ARC supplied by the publisher via Netgalley. The first five chapters of the book was published on December 5 and is available for FREE on Amazon.