Yes, I know this purports to be a nonfiction blog. But I find this year that I have been in something of a fiction place. This is okay but not really working out--I've read a lot of fiction so far that has been "okay"--but certainly nothing special.
Another case in point of this phenomenon is Veronica Roth's super-hit Divergent. It's a Young Adult novel, written and published (I would guess) largely to cash in on the Suzanne Harris/Hunger Games popularity. This is another futuristic dystopia story, also featuring a female main character. In this society, people are organized into five factions: Abnegation, Erudite, Dauntless, Candor, and Amity. The factions represent what their members think are the answers to society's problems: Abengation, for example, thought people were too selfish, so they practice selflessness; the Erudite thought people didn't think things through, so they focus on intellectualism; and so on and so forth. (A more thorough synopsis can be found at the book's Wikipedia page, but watch out for spoilers, of course.)
Beatrice, the main character, is born into the Abnegation faction, but when tested as a teenager to see which faction she might fit in with and choose, she learns that she is something considered "Divergent"--a person who could fit in several different factions. This is, evidently, a dangerous thing to be, so the woman testing her helps her keep it a secret, and she eventually chooses the Dauntless faction (which prizes courage above all else).
So she learns the new Dauntless ways, makes friends, is faced with the challenge of being accepted by the group so she doesn't have to wander "factionless," she falls in love*, blah blah blah. Perhaps it's because I have read The Hunger Games trilogy, as well as Lois Lowry's The Giver, too recently. This seemed like familiar territory. And that's really not what one is looking for in one's speculative or science fiction, is it? It was an okay read, but it really left me with just the one overwhelming impression: how hard would it be, I wonder, to pound one of these YA dystopian trilogies out? And make big bucks on the sales and movie rights?**
*Although, I must say, I thought the love story here was done better than the one in The Hunger Games. I was totally bored by the two male choices in that series, but the male protagonist here actually holds his own against the strong female character.
**I know, still pretty hard. But it does make one think.