Fear is a powerful thing, and creatures that terrify, from the Nazgul of Lord of the Rings to Septimus Heap’s magogs and the Sidhe of The Call, are ubiquitous throughout fantasy literature. The characters who face these creatures don’t simply stroll onto the battlefield and take them down; they are afraid, and in overcoming their fears are able to defeat their monsters.
In many series, magic is used to help characters face their fears without necessarily having to face down the actual thing causing the fear. Consider the boggart in Prisoner of Azkaban, for example: while it takes the shape of the things it senses that Lupin’s class fears, it doesn’t progress past that. A boggart-turned-dementor cannot Kiss away a soul, for example. While learning to face a fear does not always remove a character’s fear entirely, being able to recognize and acknowledge what they are afraid of can help them grow and develop as characters. Genre fiction is ideally placed to allow characters to do this because of the magic involved, and in doing so, it can offer us important guidance for dealing with our own fears.
Since I’m taking an extended break from my True Blood reviews for reasons I’m not going to get into right now, I’ve decided to review the new CW show The 100 instead. I’m only four episodes in, and thus far, The 100 is frustratingly predictable, even if it does have a very interesting premise and a lot of potential. The 100 takes place in a future dystopia—which is awesome since I love dystopian societies—but that dystopia so far seems to have similar problems in its portrayal to something like The Hunger Games or Divergent. That is, it comes from a very privileged viewpoint of how dystopias actually work in terms of racism, heteronormativism, and rape culture.
Trigger warning for rape and potential spoilers for The 100, The Hunger Games, and Divergent after the cut.
Dystopian futures featuring teenagers seem to be the new craze when it comes to young adult fiction and movies. I am extremely happy about this turn of events; the vampire romances were getting old. The Hunger Games is currently making a crapton of money, Divergent is also making a buttload of money, and now it’s The Maze Runner’s turn to have a go at box office gold. But how will it stack up next to these other successful dystopian movies?
Since the Divergent movie came out this weekend (Luce reviewed the trailer here), I figured now would be a good time to discuss the trilogy’s religious implications. And no, I’m not going to go on about how the main character Tris is a Christ figure, because once again, that’s too obvious. But it’s well-known that Divergent trilogy author Veronica Roth is a Christian, and her beliefs come through in her books more clearly than they do for a lot of other authors. Specifically, while reading the second book Insurgent, I found a lot of references that sounded Protestant to me. Let’s take a look at how the whole trilogy holds up against a specific Protestant framework, the Five Points of Calvinism. Spoilers for the entire Divergent trilogy after the jump.
Look, they’re making a movie of another wildly popular YA series! Yes, following the path of successes like The Hunger Games and not-really-successes like The Mortal Instruments, Veronica Roth’s Divergent series is also hitting the big screen.