I’m late to the party, but I finally read “Divergent”

divergent picI know I’m late to the party, but I finally read the “Divergent” series.

Even more annoying than that, I actually watched the movie before reading the book. I absolutely hate doing that.

Why did I make this regrettable decision? Let’s just say, I had been judging a book by its cover for far too long.

When the “Divergent” series first hit the shelves I had heard that it was a knock off Hunger Games, and of course, I believed it.

Fast forward to March 2014. It’s my birthday weekend. I always go see a movie on my birthday. There were very few things I was interested in seeing though. I read a few reviews and decided “Divergent” was probably my best option. images Long story short, I loved it. I thought divergent was an excellent film, and completely underrated. I put it on the list of about 599 other books I wanted to read.

Fast forward to about a month ago, and my husband had purchased me the entire “Divergent” series from Costco. So here I am finally getting into them and I am pleasantly surprised.

To go back to my first point, “Divergent” is not a poor man’s “Hunger Games”.

Are they both about young strong girls living in a dystopian society? Sure, they are. That doesn’t mean they are anything like each other though. If that were the case, I wouldn’t have seen any Tom Cruise movie that’s come out in the past five years. I’ve probably seen them all and enjoyed each one of them even though they basically have the same concept. He’s fighting aliens and/or saving a civilization. Similar yet entertaining and original—that’s how I see the two book series.

While you can find many similarities throughout (like the concepts of factions and districts), there are also a lot of differences. Those differences are what makes each story worth reading.

But we’re not here to talk about “The Hunger Games”.  “Divergent” deserves to be discussed on its own.

The story follows our hero Beatrice Prior who is living life in a dystopian society.  In the beginning of the book she must take an aptitude test to decide which faction, or society, she will belong to.

Ultimately the choice is hers, but most people choose the faction the test tells them they were made for. If you leave the faction you’re raised in, you must leave your family behind and take on a new identity and faction.

When Beatrice takes the test, though, her results are inconclusive and she finds out she is among a group she never ever heard of—the divergent. To stay alive she must join another faction and pretend to be someone she is not.

Of course, things are not as easy as she hoped. I’ll stop right there when it comes to synopsis. You should pick up the book if you’re interested in finding out what happens next.   This book has a lot to offer a variety of different readers. There’s action and suspense. There’s blood and there’s gore. There’s even love and romance.

My favorite thing about the book, however, is the vulnerability within the main character. When reading “The Hunger Games”, I never once questioned Katniss Everdeen’s ability to do anything. She’s a beast.

Beatrice is a whole different kind of animal. She’s fierce, but she’s vulnerable. It’s an endearing quality for a hero to have. Telling the story in her voice was great choice on Veronica Roth’s part. Because you get a look into Beatrice’s thoughts, you can see that she isn’t as tough as she may put on to everyone else. Her life may be completely different than every person reading the book, but she has the same thoughts an insecurities we all deal with.

I really enjoyed the first book and have already started reading the next one. Despite what I’ve heard, I’m looking forward to seeing how this series ends. It’s gotten some negative criticism, but that only makes me want to read it more. I think I learned my lesson this time around going off of what other people said.

This year I’ll be spending my birthday the same way I did last year—seeing the newest installment of the “Divergent” series, “Insurgent”, in theaters. The difference is, this year, I’m super excited about it.

 

*Photo courtesy of Summit Entertainment

What I learned in 2014

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When you think of life’s milestones, you generally think about the obvious milestones everyone experiences. At 16 you can legally drive a car, at 18 you can buy yourself some cigarettes, and at 21 you can head to your local liquor store and buy some PBR. You think about going to college, getting a job, buying your first car, getting married and having children.

If we’re being honest, though, while most of those things are a huge deal, so many milestones happen along the way that teach us a heck of a lot more.

For me, 2014 was full of life lessons and sticky situations that have taught me to see the good and bad in human existence. I am grateful to look back on the last year in my life.

I learned that to accomplish something beautiful, you have to put in an insane amount of work. You have to lean on your partner in life to hold you up when you feel like breaking. You have to trust each other in those moments you feel like the stress is too much to handle. I also learned some things take a lot of paperwork.

I learned that when life gets too busy, you have to take a break. Take time for yourself, get a massage, go see a movie or bake a pie. I learned sometimes I need to put “date night” in my schedule so that I actually make the time to do it.

I learned sometimes you just have to put yourself out there. Do something absolutely insane. You just might win a sweepstakes and be that one in a million statistic.

I also learned sometimes going after something with everything you have doesn’t actually mean you will get it. It doesn’t matter how badly you want something or how much effort you put into it. There’s always a chance someone will be more talented or more lucky than you. It’s okay to grieve and feel sorry for yourself for a few days, but eventually you have to forgive yourself for just being you and embrace the qualities you do have.

I learned that death can bring people together and break them simultaneously. The death of my grandma left me with a void like most deaths do, but being with her, my mother and my aunt when it happened was beautifully tragic. Spending her last week of life living in her home with her was challenging but also something I will cherish until the end of my own life. I learned in a way I had never before how family really is the most important thing I will ever have. Sometimes you just have to drop whatever is going on in your life and be with the people you love most.

I learned to cherish the lives of my family through both health and sickness. I learned to be thankful to God when health scares turn out to be treatable. I learned to not take the lives of my family for granted.

I learned that your family doesn’t have to be through blood or through marriage. Your extended family can be the people you work for, believe it or not. They can have your best interest at heart. I learned that the smile of two little girls can put me in a better mood than anything else can.

I learned that people you worked with and considered friends can be incredibly caddy, delete you from Facebook and “talk smack” for absolutely no reason. I also learned how to not give a damn about it. Girls will be girls, but I am a woman and I can rise above.

I learned that relationships are fragile. You must be careful with the words you say and how you say them. You have to be willing to apologize and even more willing to forgive.

I learned that sometimes people really are just plain horrible, and there are people out there who truly just want to hurt you. They will lie and deceive to bring you down. Usually these people are the ones that are closest to you. Heck, they may have even been a bridesmaid at your wedding. But I learned life is too short and fragile to hate anyone. You just have to move on. I learned how to do that—to move on and to leave the toxic people behind but do so in a graceful way.

I also learned how beautiful my remaining friendships are and how each and every one of my close friends is special in her own way. I learned no one is blessed with more loving friends and that none of these women are replaceable. In all honesty, I’ve learned who my true friends are.

I learned that being a perfectionist is hard work, and I need to stop trying so hard. I’m not perfect, no one is. I’ve learned to relax and not care so much about the way people perceive me. (If I’m being honest, I’m still working on learning this one).

I’ve learned holding the hand of my husband is one of life’s most fulfilling things. I learned that our relationship is most important one I have here on earth, and I need to treat it as so. I learned no matter what, he’s going to be there for me. I learned how pure and unconditional the love he has for me truly is.

The most important thing I learned, though, was that through all of the good and all of the bad, God never left me. I learned that even when I felt alone, His presence was there, I just didn’t see it. I learned that not every prayer gets answered, but in your desperation, many will be. I learned that what they say is true, it is always darkest before the dawn. I also learned that the dawn always comes though—you just have to wait for it patiently.

This past year was far from perfect, and at times, 2014 was tough. While there were many tears shed, there were also more moments of happiness and laughter than I can comprehend. Sure there were heartbreaking times, but there were even more beautiful times that I cling to. You must take something positive from the bad times and the injustices you’ve felt and not put anything negative into the innately good and wonderful things that have come your way.

I don’t know what you learned in 2014, but I learned a lot. This was my life. This was my year.