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Divergent Hardcover – May 3, 2011
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100 Young Adult Books to Read in a Lifetime
Amazon's editors chose their list of the one hundred young adult books to read, whether you're fourteen or forty...Learn more
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Q: What advice would you offer to young aspiring writers, who long to live a success story like your own?
Roth: One piece of advice I have is: Want something else more than success. Success is a lovely thing, but your desire to say something, your worth, and your identity shouldn’t rely on it, because it’s not guaranteed and it’s not permanent and it’s not sufficient. So work hard, fall in love with the writing—the characters, the story, the words, the themes—and make sure that you are who you are regardless of your life circumstances. That way, when the good things come, they don’t warp you, and when the bad things hit you, you don’t fall apart.
Q: You’re a young author--is it your current adult perspective or not-so-recent teenage perspective that brought about the factions in the development of this story? Do you think that teens or adults are more likely to fit into categories in our current society?
Roth: Other aspects of my identity have more to do with the factions than my age. The faction system reflects my beliefs about human nature—that we can make even something as well-intentioned as virtue into an idol, or an evil thing. And that virtue as an end unto itself is worthless to us. I did spend a large portion of my adolescence trying to be as “good” as possible so that I could prove my worth to the people around me, to myself, to God, to everyone. It’s only now that I’m a little older that I realize I am unable to be truly “good” and that it’s my reasons for striving after virtue that need adjustment more than my behavior. In a sense, Divergent is me writing through that realization—everyone in Beatrice’s society believes that virtue is the end, the answer. I think that’s a little twisted.
I think we all secretly love and hate categories—love to get a firm hold on our identities, but hate to be confined—and I never loved and hated them more than when I was a teenager. That said: Though we hear a lot about high school cliques, I believe that adults categorize each other just as often, just in subtler ways. It is a dangerous tendency of ours. And it begins in adolescence.
Q: If you could add one more faction to the world within Divergent, what would it be?
Roth: I tried to construct the factions so that they spanned a wide range of virtues. Abnegation, for example, includes five of the traditional “seven heavenly virtues:” chastity, temperance, charity, patience, and humility. That said, it would be interesting to have a faction centered on industriousness, in which diligence and hard work are valued most, and laziness is not allowed. They would be in constant motion, and would probably be happy to take over for the factionless. And hard-working people can certainly take their work too far, as all the factions do with their respective virtues. I’m not sure what they would wear, though. Overalls, probably.
Q: What do you think are the advantages, if any, to the society you’ve created in Divergent?
Roth: All the advantages I see only seem like advantages to me because I live in our current society. For example, the members of their society don’t focus on certain things: race, religion, sexual orientation, political affiliation, etc. I mean, a world in which you look different from the majority and no one minds? That sounds good to me. But when I think about it more, I realize that they’re doing the exact same thing we do, but with different criteria by which to distinguish ourselves from others. Instead of your skin color, it’s the color of your shirt that people assess, or the results of your aptitude test. Same problem, different system.
Q: What book are you currently reading and how has it changed you, if at all?
Roth: I recently finished Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma, which I would call “contemporary with a paranormal twist,” or something to that effect. It’s about a girl whose sister has a powerful kind of magnetism within the confines of a particular town, and how their love for each other breaks some things apart and puts other things back together. It was refreshing to read a young adult book that is about sisterhood instead of romance. It’s one of those books that makes you love a character and then hate a character and then love them again—that shows you that people aren’t all good or all bad, but somewhere in between. Imaginary Girls gave me a lot to think about, and the writing was lovely, which I always love to see.
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Top Customer Reviews
The debut novel from Veronica Roth, Divergent imagines a future after a great war. The only way to restore peace is to divide humanity up into 5 Death Frats named after SAT words. People join them by having only one personality trait: brave people join Dauntless where they jump off trains and punch each other. Smart people join Erudite where they wear glasses. Amish people join Abnegation where they don't eat hamburgers. And the other two are both Hufflepuff.
In the EXTREMELY RARE situation where somebody has two personality traits ("I have glasses AND don't eat hamburgers!" -or- "I play baseball AND football") they are "divergent" (a Latin word meaning "too cool for school").
"But wait," you say. "How do they figure out which frat to join?" I'm glad you asked. Pledge week in Dystopian Chicago consists of a hallucination where you have to choose between a knife and cheese with no other instructions. Then a dog attacks you. If you choose the knife, you are Dauntless. If you choose the cheese, you're not. Isn't that cool? That's all it takes. You either want a knife or you want cheese, and that decision confines you to a single Death Frat for the rest of your life. That's their NEARLY FOOLPROOF system. Knife or cheese. Maybe I'm not Divergent, I'm just lactose intolerant!
Eventually the smart people use the brave people to kill the Amish people and only a teenage girl with two different interests can save them all. With her boyfriend. And something about a hard drive that controls humanity (presumably connecting via USB 27.0).
Anyway, it doesn't make much sense but expect a million more books about dystopian futures where kids kill each other, because Hunger Games sold faster than a grey tunic in an Abnegation camp.
From there Beatrice has to make her own mark in the world, and ultimately makes a decision that will change the rest of her life. No more does she portray the meek, silent girl with no spirit, but instead forces herself to rise up to the challenges she faces in both the initiation and in her life. For if she lets her guard down, she faces becoming factionless, without friends or family, but what she doesn't expect to find along her new path is what she yearned for all along. To understand who she really is.
Divergent is one novel that had me jumping out of my seat, biting my nails to the quick as I was drawn into Beatrice's world, cheering her on one minute, and wanting to cry with her the next.Read more ›
Every character was either one dimensional or died prematurely and for no reason. I get it, sometimes you need to kill a character. Sometimes it suits the story. This didn't.
(Spoilers) Part of the problem is the inconsistent writing. Such as, "there's no way I am capable of killing anyone, so I can't pull the trigger on Tobias. Oh wait, I just killed Will. Two minutes ago I was capable of the murder of a close friend with almost no reaction. Nor reaction to the violent deaths of my loving parents.
Another problem is the dauntless faction seems to be totally sociopathic with brutal initiation rituals and little to no empathy. And like, what are we doing here anyway for over 300 pages??? Making friends that we will later murder? Fight to the top of the class in a faction that won't exist by the end of the book?
Needless to say I won't be reading the next two books. I find it hard to be invested in characters when I can see the author has no control over them whatsoever. I've already embraced the two remaining characters' imminent deaths and everyone else I was invested in is already dead so there's really no point.
The plot of this book did have potential, and at times I was riveted. But the dialogue between the main characters (love interests) was straight from a book of cliches, the writing was at best inconsistent and at worst, confusing and unclear, and the result is an author, characters and story that I can not trust or feel comfortable investing more time in.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I absolutely loved this book. I previously saw the movie, but I couldn't remember much of it, so it didn't have a crazy impact on my opinions of the book. Read morePublished 13 hours ago by Amazon Customer
I loved this book. I read it right after The Hunger Games. I would say it probably wasn't quite as good as The Hunger Games, but it had a lot of similar themes as far as dystopian... Read morePublished 20 hours ago by Amazon Customer
My full review can be found on my blog, Reader Rayna, as well as Goodreads.
I thought that this book was very enticing. Read more
This book has everything. Action. Adventure. Romance. It's unique and creative and beautifully written. I couldn't put it down. Read morePublished 3 days ago by Amazon Customer
Besides Harry Potter, this is my fav series hands down. You will not regret reading this series. Movies were pretty good as well.Published 4 days ago by Rachel
Fast, designed to relate tow everyone's fears as they grow up. Points for making parents sensible. Predictable because it's teens and only teens who can save the world.Published 4 days ago by Donna Riley-lein