Friday, November 22, 2013
I think the new world created in the book is very believable and engaging. It is set in a future, post apocalyptic world where society is trying to recover form some devastating events (which are never explained). There are five Factions, everyone on their 16th birthday has to choose to be part of one faction. It can be the one they are born into or they can go to another, and be absorbed into a completely different lifestyle and role in society.
The Factions are:
Erudite (The Intelligent): they are dedicated to knowledge, education, technology, research.
Amity (The Peaceful): they are the ones who nurture relationships, the pursuit of love, life and freedom. Their role is to grow the food for all the factions,
Abnegation: (The Selfless): they are all about being selfless in every act they do, thinking of others only, never themselves. Their role in society is to govern.
Dauntless (The Brave): they are the defenders, the aggressors, warriors and are fearless.
Candor (The Honest): the truth matters above all else. They provide society with law and it's keeping.
The main protagonist is Tris, who chooses to become Dauntless. She's a strong, credible heroine and the story is worth reading. Movie coming out soon.
You can also impress those teenagers around you by asking what faction they would belong to...Interesting conversations!
The story is that of Philip Hutton, a half-Chinese, half-British boy living with his wealthy family on a beautiful estate. He meets and befriends a Japanese man who becomes his sensei. Philip struggles with his identity and place within his family and society as tensions mount between the Chinese, British and Japanese at the time of the Japanese invasion of Penang, Malaysia and Singapore.
The main thing about this book and Eng's later book The Garden of Evening Mists is the beauty of the language and the gentle way he tells a story full of conflict and tension.
I thoroughly recommend both these books as insightful, beautifully told stories.
Saturday, October 12, 2013
This story is essentially a very English story. A man sets out to post a letter to a long lost friend, but he keeps on walking rather than posting it. He doesn't know why, he just begins a journey. As he walks he starts to remember things he didn't know he had forgotten and tries to make sense of the last twenty years he seems to have lost. We are drawn in to his discoveries and thoughts, his piecing together of his marriage and what has gone wrong between him and his wife Maureen.
I read this in a couple of days and really enjoyed it.