What I’m Reading | ‘Four’ by Veronica Roth

Earlier in the year I read the Divergent series, following the story of the character Tris Prior on an adventure through a divided Chicago as she comes to terms with what, and who she is. My review on the series was a bit mixed, but I have actually came to the conclusion that I do actually really like the books, which is great (because I’d hate to have wasted my money)! It is for this fact that when I walked into Waterstones, the book shop, yesterday and discovered that Veronica Roth has released a new book I was ecstatic and bought it immediately. 

‘Four’ by Veronica Roth is a ‘prequel’ to the Divergent series, set two years in the past, however is not written in the voice of Tris Prior but in the voice of ‘Four’ or Tobias Eaton, a former Abnegation citizen who, on the date of the choosing ceremony, decided to transfer over to the Dauntless faction. The background of the story, as I read in the introduction, is that Veronica Roth started writing Divergent in the voice of Tobias but stopped thirty pages in because she didn’t think it was right, and then chose to write in Tris’ perspective for the most part (apart from half of Allegiant). Tobias is perhaps my favourite character in the series which is why I was excited to read it. I am currently halfway through. 

The story of ‘Four’ is written in four parts, wonderfully enough, as Four in the series only has four fears, hence his name, so it is only fitting to write it in four parts (and I do like a good play on words). After the story of Four, however, there are also three deleted ‘scenes’ which Veronica had changed or omitted and this intrigued me to see how these scenes may have played into the story. Great, my curiosity is held. The names of the four sections are:

The Transfer

The Initiate

The Son and

The Traitor and essentially follow Tobias as he chooses to leave abnegation, go through the initiation stages in Dauntless, settle into his new life and then find his place in Dauntless and become one of the most powerful members of the faction. The final quarter, The Traitor, then documents meeting Tris, though is not the first moment they meet as that is contained in the deleted scenes under the title ‘First Jumper, Tris’. Ah, it seems confusing. 

Reading it I am currently halfway through ‘The Son’ which the name itself intrigues me (I won’t say why that will spoil everything) but judging from the other titles I can only take a guess at the contents on the pages. The story itself is great. As I said, I adore Tobias Eaton and his voice as he is a strong and well developed character which comes across well in these short stories, which may be due to being the earliest developed character that Veronica Created. He almost, almost puts Tris to shame. At points the voice of Tris and the voice of Tobias sort of blend, as they compete with the authors own writing style but they’re still distinguishable enough to see them as separate characters. 

The story itself is a little bit repetitive as the training processes and initiation are just the same as Tris’, only less detailed and in a slightly different order, however that is understandable given the background to the story, it therefore is not quite Hunger Games repetitive with the multiple games. Also, the story sees behind the scenes of Tobias starting a career which is not talked about as much which is where I am at the moment in the book, and this is roughly where the repetitiveness ends and Tobias becomes more his own. I can only assume there will be a little bit more repetition as we here about him meeting Tris, as obviously both of the characters were there at the time, but of course they lead different lives and talk to different people so it won’t be too samey in the end. I would call this book ‘un-put-downable’ but I have been doing other things since I last read this book. 

I can normally testify how good a book is when I choose it over sleep, and last night I was battling with my eyelids into the early hours, just to keep reading, despite the similar early plots. If you are a Divergent fan then I truly recommend this book (but if you are a fan you most likely don’t need my instruction). If you are a fan of Dystopian futures (like me) and have not read the Divergent series yet, but want to, I also recommend it. Four’s character is more dramatic and developed than Tris, and is therefore a good way to introduce yourself to the fandom. You could also play around with the chronology of the stories and read Four before you read Divergent, and so forth, in an almost Star-Wars-esque fashion, or not. Just a suggestion. If, however, you have already read Divergent and was not a huge fan at all then I would not recommend it as the repetition may irritate or bore you a bit. However I personally love it and would solidly rate this book a 7/10. 

Advertisements

Paradise Found

It pains me when the sun is out to be stuck inside. I love being outside in the summer but here in Reading it’s hard to find a decent place to bask in the sunlight. There is a park just down the road, but it isn’t all that pleasant as the field is scruffy and the only only nice place to sit is a lonely bench in the middle of a playground. My step-dad also told me that he thought two teenage girls were murdered in that park the other year, which makes me less inclined to sit in it on my own. Since living in Reading I’ve missed Norfolk and the endless green we seem to have. I’m desperate for fish and chips on the beach, or to take a stroll through the forests with my friends, or to lie idly in the grass between Ed’s home and mine and watch the hours float by with the clouds. 

Today I was walking through town and I looked down a street I don’t normally look down and I saw a river snaking its way through the city, and in the distance I saw an old looking wall and a lot of green so I followed a path down to where a few barges were and found a very peaceful area of town. It wasn’t huge, but there was a canopy of trees shadowing a path, there were swans and geese moving in the water and people sitting on their barges in the day light. In the middle of a city I found a spot of paradise. 

Image

It turns out that the old looking wall was part of a medieval abbey built in the 1100’s under the rule of king Henry I, and he founded it to be his place of burial, and the abbey was then dissolved by king Henry VIII in 1539 along with thousands of others across the country at the time when England was split from catholic Rome. The abbey was turned into king Henry VIII’s palace and then over the years has slowly become abandoned. There’s tours around it in June that I might go to to have a proper look at the building and learn a bit about the local history. 

Image

This is what I love about Reading, it keeps surprising me with these little places. The bookshop in town also used to be a church that was built in the 1300’s and the original stained-glass window and doorway remain, which is beautiful. There’s another medieval church and another small park near the train station which is pleasant and peaceful. The walk to university passes through a field and crosses a river and right now in spring it’s over flowing with flowers and birds, and there’s the place I found today.

Image

While the sound of the cars and the buildings that surround these areas destroy the peacefulness of these places it’s nice to know they’re there. Of course, I still miss Norfolk and all of my favourite memories include Norfolk in the summer, from standing on a beach amidst a storm, or filming Reprieve in the fields and forests and rivers and lakes that are abundant in the countryside outside of town, but while I live in the city I will grasp at the spots of paradise for all that it’s worth. 

No Pressure Then?

Today I had my last lecture until midway through June, and while it feels nice to wake up before 8am for a little while, the celebration about study leave was a lot less than what it was when I was in sixth form. Perhaps it is because university has seemed a lot less stressful, workwise, than the GCSE and A-level exams I did from the age of 16-18.

For me I always remember the last half of high school being jam-packed with pressure. Every lesson I got the lecture about how these grades were the only thing that would ever get me anywhere. Apparently if you want to work in McDonalds you still need qualifications! I was told countless times about the success stories of people going to Cambridge and getting 5 A*’s at A-level yet still found time to study to write extra essays for competitions, start a debate club and be a leading player in some sport activities. School made us feel like if we weren’t like this person we would be homeless and jobless. No pressure then. I remember A-levels seemed incredibly hard and daunting as the exam dates approached and walking to the building with pen in hand felt like a prison sentence. There may as well have been a guard shouting “dead man walking” as we approached the hall, a long excruciating death drawn out until we got our results. Somehow I managed to get in, someone stopped my punishment.

As I said, things seem a lot stressful. My lecturer in an Augustan Rome module told me I never even had to study the whole topic, just pick two parts on the period and focus on them, as a choice of twelve essay questions means there’ll be something I can answer. My lecturer in my Archaeology modules told me that half of the exam (in three modules of the six) were going to be multiple choice and all we required was a basic knowledge and a bit of common sense. The question may as well have been “Who lived in Rome a) Romans b) Polar Bears c) Aliens” since the practice tests were so simple. And my Latin, which is the one I had been panicking about for the entire year seems simple. Having looked at practice translations it is just the same as GCSE. Sure I got a D at GCSE, but a D is far more than the pass grade at First Year standards here. All it seems to require is a basic knowledge of the grammar- in one of the practices the last sentence literally was “and then he died”- and a basic knowledge of Ancient History. Regarding the fact that I have been interested in the ancients since the age of six suggests that I have it down pat.

Of course I will still be studying, and making sure everything is remembered correctly, but for once I’m not too stressed. The whole place seemed relaxed, which is why it now seems boring to take time off from lectures, especially when I’m going to spend most of the time in my room reading a Mary Beard book I have been meaning to open and re-reading Paul Cartledge (these people are the saints of classical civilisation and ancient history). Things are looking up. Things are also looking up because I am going to the estate agent in the next couple of days to enquire about a room available for rent at a price even a basic student loan can afford. Things are on track. I am no longer a dead man walking.

(So)Phie’s World

I don’t think I’m going to be saying all to much today because, quite frankly, I haven’t done very much. We all have lazy days. I didn’t wake up until 12:45 in the afternoon and I have no clue what the time was when I actually moved out of bed. Getting milk was the main motivation for even getting dressed. I did however start to read a book.

Sir Arthur (of the Didymus sort) had mentioned this book to me in a comment, and it is called Sophie’s World. I had never seen or heard it until he said it, but today I glanced upon it on the bookshelf. I say “glance” I was looking at the shelf for a few minutes. Still, I saw the book there, where before I hadn’t. Perhaps it was fate, perhaps I was meant to read this book- after all, the protagonist does have the same name as me. So I picked it up, and I started to read it.

sophies world

I must say that I haven’t gone very far into it. Only page 70 odd which infuriates me, as I very much like to bury myself into literature and only emerge after I have finished it (I read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime in five hours on boxing day and totally blocked out the surroundings) but there have been too many distractions to allow me to read that far. It is, however a very good book. It has brought up many questions I have asked and attempted to answer myself in the nineteen years I have been alive, such as “Where did the universe come from?” “Is there a life after death?” and more, so in some ways the book speaks to me, and not just because Sophie receives a bunch of letters addressing her by name. It also brings up mythologies and characters I have came across in my education (Plato, Oedipus, Socrates, Thor etc.) which is cool, and again..speaks to me, in some way. It always helps to have a knowledge of the subject when reading it. I can’t explain it truly, but currently there’s a familiarity with the book, and the literature has made me more interested in philosophy and science. It is therefore a good thing that I study archaeology and Ancient History as the subject allows me to dabble in those fields if I so choose.

Incidentally E’s mum read this when she was my age and also in her first year at university, which is why it was on the bookshelf in the first place. This generally has no significance in my life (or at least nothing pertinent) but I did find it very coincidental. I look forward to reading the rest, though perhaps won’t be doing tomorrow as it is Easter and I will probably have a fair bit of chocolate to get through. Never mind. Perhaps when I read further on the links to my life will go away, maybe not, who knows.

But, Arthur, perhaps you were a little bit right when you said you had read a book about me, though the book isn’t about me at all. This is quite a good read you have fated me to stumble upon, and now maybe you know me a bit better (if it is possible that all Sophies are the same as Sophie Amundsen) as I feel I know myself better.

I am very sorry if I make very little sense in this post, that’s the problem with trying to put your thoughts into coherent words.