Saturday, February 9, 2013

Double Review: Insurgent and Quiet

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World
That Can't Stop Talking
 by Susan Cai

Today I am doing something I have not done before: reviewing two books in one post. The reason is that I have a lot of books to catch up on as I was reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain and Insurgent, the second book in the "Divergent Trilogy" by Veronica Roth, I kept drawing connections between the two. 

Insurgent by Veronica Roth
The two books are very different. Quiet is a non-fiction book about, well, the power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking. What initially drew me to this book is that I am an introvert, and I often feel that my extroverted peers are going to be more successful than me simply because they talk a lot. Cain does reinforce that yes, talking loud and fast is important in our culture, but there are many successful people who are introverted. Also, many times introverts are more productive and become more successful than their extroverted co-workers. Some amazing people that I share my introvertedness with are (in no particular order):

J.K. Rowling
Bill Gates
Sir Isaac Newton
Those guys who created Google
Albert Einstein
Rosa Parks
Mahatma Gandhi
Al Gore
Eleanor Roosevelt

Pretty prestigious company, I think. But Cain does so much more than remind readers of the many introverted leaders in out society, although that did make me feel good. She also gives tips on how introverts can fit in and be heard in an extroverted society without becoming someone they are not comfortable with. Even better, the advice Cain gives are well within the introvert (or at least my) skill set, and are usually things that introverts (me) do naturally. Things such as leading through listening and then using what you learned to make informed decisions. There is even a chapter on raising introverted children.

Quiet was not the most exciting read, and I don't see myself reading the whole thing again. It was definitely interesting, though, and a book I would recommend to intro and extroverts alike.

Insurgent continues the story of Tris and the crumbling society she lives in. The Dauntless, Tris' faction, are divided. Half of them are fighting for the Erudite, the faction that was responsible for the Abnegation massacre in Divergent. The battle between factions eventually goes beyond Dauntless, Abnegation and Erudite, and all five become involved in the war. It even goes so far as to involve the factionless, those people who are not members of any faction.

After witnessing her parent's deaths, Tris seems to have a problem with a death wish. Unfortunately, this puts a damper on her relationship with Tobias, who prefers her alive. Playing with death drives much of Tris's decisions throughout the book. Although her recklessness is often to benefit and save others, but also hurts those she is close to. Tris must face her fears and herself (really) to reveal the truth and find out what is driving this war. Is it to find and destroy all people who are divergent, or is it something bigger?

I really enjoyed Insurgent, and cannot wait for the next book. I did get annoyed at Tris, but I'm pretty sure that was intentional. I mean, who doesn't get annoyed at a protagonist with a constant death wish? This book is filled with twists, turns and betrayals that will keep readers on their toes and wanting more.

So, now for the reason why felt these two books were connected. Readers of the "Divergent" trilogy know that there are 5 factions: Dauntless, Erudite, Amity, Candor and Abnegation. Readers of Quiet, as well as people who study personality psychology, will be familiar with the Big 5 personality traits: Introversion/ Extroversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, and Openness. Not all of the factions directly correlate with the Big 5 traits, though some are close (Amity and Agreeableness, anyone?). However, I do feel that Roth had some of these traits in mind when planning and designing the traits of her factions. Whether it was conscious decision to relate to the Big 5 or not, I don't know. However, there is definitely something there.

When Cain was discussing learning styles of introverts and extroverts, I kept thinking about how Erudite would be a perfect environment for both types of people, even though their leader is evil (?). There are opportunities for people in the faction to work in groups and share their ideas, but there are also restorative nooks where people can work solo and without being disturbed. Makes sense, since the goals and values of Erudite are learning and gaining knowledge. The Dauntless compound, on the other hand, is a introvert's worst nightmare. The main room is open and everyone can see everyone else. Dauntless pride toughness and bravery, and will fight things out, verbally and physically. Definitely extrovert traits. These were the types of connections I was thinking of while reading, Quiet, and wondering if Veronica Roth is introverted or extroverted.

Did I mention that Roth is speaking at the Book Expo of America and that I'm super excited to go?

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