Monday, July 13, 2015

Monday Excerpt: In All Ways Unremarkable

Now Playing: Gustavo Santaolalla - Leyendo en el hospital (The Motorcycle Diaries OST)
Here's another YA dystopian I don't hold in high regard. And once again, another YA dystopian that does deserve to be successful because the writing is pretty solid.

There's no denying it: there's a lot wrong with Divergent, and a ton of talented book bloggers and critics discussed that at length when it came out and are still discussing it at length now. Its biggest failing is the worldbuilding, but there's a lot of other things that don't really hold up well.

Thankfully, there are moments in the writing that are actually pretty good. And I can talk about them and praise them without the slightest hesitation.

I was already pretty apathetic toward the series when the finale happened, so I was equally apathetic at the giant plot twist of all plot twists that happened at the end of Allegiant. It's why I can't help but feel a bit of admiration toward Roth when I read this passage and actually felt a bit torn up. I wasn't invested enough in the series to feel it wholeheartedly, but I could easily imagine why it'd be the moment where a lot of fans felt the most emotion.

I think it's the framing of it. That first line carries the next two pages and it helps steer them with just the right amount of grief. I've been guilty of doing the one-line paragraphs thing, and I learned in workshop that's not really needed. But here, I think it's a bit justified. It slows everything down, makes the thoughts feel more spaced out. An unknown amount of time can pass between them. This is almost in the same way the "let's praise the MC's personality traits" feels justified. Generally, you get drilled that you should show, not tell, so having your characters stand around and think about how the protagonist is such an angel of beautiful awesomeness is not recommended. But once again, in this tiny moment, it feels justified because this is how someone might think when grieving.

Overall, it works, so I'm including it.

Spoilers for the end of the book.

Also, quick note: this is technically two chapters, both about a page in length, but I combined them here for easier reading. In the book, the break is done to pace them out.

When her body first hit the net, all I registered was a gray blur. I pulled her across it and her hand was small, but warm, and then she stood before me, short and thin and plain and in all ways unremarkable--except that she had jumped first. The Stiff had jumped first. 
Even I didn’t jump first. 
Her eyes were so stern, so insistent. 
But that wasn't the first time I ever saw her. I saw her in the hallways at school, and at my mother’s false funeral, and walking the sidewalks in the Abnegation sector. I saw her, but I didn’t see her; no one saw her the way she truly was until she jumped. 
I suppose a fire that burns that bright is not meant to last.
- Allegiant by Veronica Roth


  1. Anonymous9:00 AM

    But... but what's wrong with one-line paragraphs? ;-; You mean it isn't totes awesome when an author ends every single chapter with one of them?

    Although... I also tend to like paragraph-length sentences @_@ My opinion may not be trustworthy.

    1. I do too...@_@ apparently they're a cheap way to add tension or highten the pace or idk wat.

      One sentence ending of chapters reminds me of fanfiction >.> same with cliffhanger endings of chapters. Soooo good. (But, lyk, probably not the literary way to do things).

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"Science and science fiction have done a kind of dance over the last century... The scientists make a finding. It inspires science fiction writers to write about it, and a host of young people read the science fiction and are excited, and inspired to become scientists...which they do, which then feeds again into another generation of science fiction and science..."
- Carl Sagan, in his message to future explorers of Mars.