716 of 819 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling, Riveting Must Buy Novel!
Divergent was definitely a new riveting tale that had me rapidly flipping the pages in a reading frenzy! It starts off with the reader getting to know the lifestyle of Beatrice, a sixteen year old girl, in a dystopian or controlled world, where there are five factions of people: Abnegation who put others before their own needs and where Beatrice is currently from, the...
Published on April 3, 2011 by Lee
60 of 66 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Seriously - what is going on?
I rarely write book reviews, but I felt the need to step in here based on all of the glowing reviews for this nonsensical book. This book reads like a high school creative writing assignment - there's a few moments of promising prose in here, but the overall story just requires too much suspension of disbelief. People don't fit into black and white boxes now, they never...
Published 3 months ago by James J. Rank
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716 of 819 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling, Riveting Must Buy Novel!,
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Divergent was definitely a new riveting tale that had me rapidly flipping the pages in a reading frenzy! It starts off with the reader getting to know the lifestyle of Beatrice, a sixteen year old girl, in a dystopian or controlled world, where there are five factions of people: Abnegation who put others before their own needs and where Beatrice is currently from, the Dauntless who are brave and fearless, the Erudite who are studious, the Amity who are peaceful, and the Candor who are honest. Before Choosing Day, where each sixteen year old will decide which faction they wish to devote their life to, is a simulated aptitude test that will tell Beatrice which faction she would fit in most with...but for her life will never be simple. Instead of having just one of these traits as is normal, Beatrice possesses at least three, which makes her a dangerous person for reasons she doesn't understand, and answers are not forthcoming as she has to keep this information to herself or risk being killed.
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. She does have her moments where she seems a little cold like when she wishes one boy would stop sniveling, and you see why Abnegation didn't suit her. But then the next minute she is putting herself in danger for someone else, and you understand why she has a bit of a split personality. She's been born into a society that believes you can only have one quality, and she has to figure out on her own that being brave dosen't mean that she has to give up being selfless as well. As she fights to stay in the competition, for only ten initiates will be able to call their new faction familiy, I couldn't help but root for her. Beatrice has a lot to learn, but it's through obstacles and the friendship's she makes that she ultimately finds herself. This is one book that I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone who loves action, bravery, a little romance, and a ton of adventure. Be forewarned that it will have you sitting on the edge of your seat and eagerly anticipating a sequel!
314 of 363 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is there a faction for those who love this book?,
When I finished 'Divergent' I sat thinking about it and feeling a lot like I did when I finished 'The Hunger Games'. It was a similar reading experience...a fast-paced story in an other world situation with a strong female character. The story transported me and I had a hard time pulling myself out of the book in order to continue with my every day things. In fact, when I closed the book after finishing it, I was struck by the desire to start over from the beginning because I didn't want the experience to stop. It was THAT good.
(I'm not giving a plot overview...many others have already done that)
The world Trice lives in is fascinating. I was gripped at first learning about the society and the factions and I found myself enjoying the story more and more as she chose a faction and went through the iniation process. In fact, I think the initiation (which takes up most of the book) was my favorite part.
The ending contains a twist I didn't expect. I thought the story, despite little hints of the Erudite mystery, would end with whether or not Trice would be accepted into her faction. It doesn't. It suddenly takes an unexpected, over-reaching twist that changes the entire landscape of the story. It goes from a story set mainly in one faction to one that deals with the beginning of a societal fray. It was unexpected, but enjoyable. It was something the author had built up to, but in a subtle way. I also liked that while this is going to be a series, the book ends without a cliffhanger. I hate cliffhanger endings that leave you wondering for months. While there are many things left to discover in this world, you do get an ending with this book.
The characters are believeable, lovable and, at times, scary. I love the evolution of Four (though I hate his other name...but that's a personal thing) and Christina. Actually, I really just love Four.
The story is written in first person from Trice's perspective. She's a good narrator, though first-person does make the action/fight sequences a little clunky. 'Divergent' also has plenty of action, humor, mystery and a little bit of romance.
The worst part about this book is that the sequel isn't out yet! If you enjoy the feel of Hunger Games, I recommend this for you. I also recommend it to anyone who loves a good story.
60 of 66 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Seriously - what is going on?,
I rarely write book reviews, but I felt the need to step in here based on all of the glowing reviews for this nonsensical book. This book reads like a high school creative writing assignment - there's a few moments of promising prose in here, but the overall story just requires too much suspension of disbelief. People don't fit into black and white boxes now, they never have before, and there's no reason to ever believe that people will - the entire premise of the book is just too stupid of an idea to take seriously. The lazy and uninspired "testing" mechanism used to determine a human being's entire personality is equivalent, in my mind, to claiming that you could know everything about a person based on their responses to a simple Rorscach test. It's nonsensical. The heroine of this story is thrust into her heroic role because she happens to have the amazing and unbelievable trait of - having a normal personality. No, seriously, that's what makes her a hero according to this tale - she has a normal personality, of the kind that nearly every human being you will ever meet does. People having multiple traits and affinities in their personality is not "divergent" of anything - it's the normal state of human affairs, and this book does nothing to convince me of it's premise that human beings have somehow been transformed into robotic, single-personality beings.
Making the book worse is a poorly developed overthrow plot that employs mind control (the technology for which is never explained in any way - for all the reader can tell, it's no different than magic,) a caricature of a villain, and a character development arc for the heroine that appears to consist of getting tattoos. No, I'm not being facetious here, that's pretty much the character development arc.
Like I said earlier, it reads like a high school creative writing assignment, based on daydreaming about being part of the cool kids clique, that went long and somehow got published, more than it does a fully formed and mature story. Give Ms. Roth 5-10 years to hone her craft and I believe she'll be writing some interesting stories, I just think that the current success and high book sales for this story has a lot more to do with Hunger Games mania and the coattails effect than any inherent quality of the work.
1,434 of 1,688 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars It's Like "The Hunger Games", But More Complicated!,
This review is from: Divergent (Paperback)
If you liked Hunger Games but thought it needed more rules, you're going to love Divergent!
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.
146 of 168 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible. Just Terrible.,
This review is from: Divergent (Paperback)
I just got this for Christmas and was so very, very disappointed. Reading this book was like watching a train wreck. I couldn't put it down, but not for good reasons. Inconsistency = willpower, wanting multiple things never happens, and the character is somehow special for doing things that any idiot would do. Think of the most predictable things you can think of and then you can skip reading this book. Seriously. I got enticed into thinking I wanted to read this because (mild spoilers) I thought there was something interesting in the idea that a bunch of people selected for their 'selflessness' could either a) still be evil and just pretending to be selfless b) selfless people form a really terrible government. Nope, the selfless people are good! And they administer government perfectly! It's Syltherin that's evil because...they're Slytherin.
The author doesn't know how to create atmosphere at all. People are getting their eyes stabbed out, thrown over cliffs, and what does our brave, selfish girl main character do to protect herself? She sits passively and listens to jokes about putting the bully's hand in warm water to make him pee himself in his sleep. Yeah, that's totally the way I'd react to DEATH THREATS. Oh, and some crap about how she needs to pretend vulnerability so that people will like her more. Sigh.
And (mild spoilers) when Mary Sue learns her specialness means that she can totally control their illusion serum (because willpower can overcome chemicals being shot into our brain, because that's totally how the brain works!) and that it will lead the instructors to kill her if they discover how well she can control it, what does she do? She decides her only strategy going into the final test where she's being watched is to control the simulation as much as possible! Is there any consequence to this decision? If you say yes, you are under the mistaken impression that this author understands the concept of plot!
And the love interest admits his deepest desire is to see her afraid all the time. And cuts her ear deliberately for...reasons. Because he loves her or something. Yeah, that's my dream guy right there. I love being stabbed. It's so sexy.
And the evil woman is evil because she wears glasses when she doesn't need them and has stretch marks. Because WTF? Randomly throw in fat = evil in a book sure to be read by teenage girls. THAT'S A GOOD IDEA.
I hope the movie tanks horribly. This tripe only got lots of notice because it combines the dystopian action of Hunger Games with the 'which house do I belong to' speculation of Harry Potter. Avoid at all costs.
151 of 174 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Weak story with a bad moral,
This review is from: Divergent (Paperback)
I haven't read the Hunger Games books but I've saw the first movie in the series and enjoyed it. When I heard that Divergent was getting adapted into a movie I was eager to pick up the book and went into it with high expectations. I was seriously disappointed. There are so many things that are so wrong to me in every aspect of the book but I'll try to keep this review focused on how the book failed on two levels - first, how the constructed universe's lack of all logic and consistency blotted out any hope of an interesting plot, and secondly, for the book's completely warped and morally questionable message about human nature.
First, the universe. I'll start with the government. Nothing about it makes any sense - how it came to be, how it held together, who runs it and how, and what it does. The backstory to the Divergent universe is that following a great war, society divided into five factions based on their opinions of what started the war (ignorance, selfishness, cowardice, aggression, or deception). Now it should be obvious that wars get started from a combination of all of these, but I'm willing to take that on its surface because I thought that having factions based on personalities had the potential to make a good story. But the layers of illogic keep piling on. These five factions, despite their differences in core values and their deep mistrust of each other (which is made clear throughout the book) all agree to cede political power to one of the factions, which makes up less than 20% of the population. This faction, Abnegation, is composed of religious pacifists who do not desire power and whose existence is centered on serving others. In other words, it is the polar opposite of the type of group that usually rises to power in the wake of a devastating civil war. This power structure might make sense if Abnegation were a kind of zealous religious cult who also controlled the military, but that's not the case. The only members of society with any martial training reside in one faction, Dauntless, leaving the purported governors with no police or military to enforce their decisions, or any ability to prevent the other factions from seizing power. Later in the book, one faction does undermine the government (what a surprise) but this still leaves the open question of how the government managed to exist for the long time period that is suggested in the book. I wouldn't have such a problem with the weak origin story if this same combination of laziness and cluelessness about how people work didn't carry through into the rest of the plot.
The whole book, after all, revolves around the factions - the characters choosing which one to join, training to become a member, and figuring out how to fit in. That's fine, but the author's constructed world is so hollow that it is not even clear what the Factions do that is worth caring about. Abnegation runs the government but the government doesn't seem to do much other than pave roads (and that only occasionally, since we are told early on about their state of disrepair). They proudly provide charity to the underclass while maintaining the political system that perpetuates the underclass, so this is just sort of confusing and contradictory. The Candor faction seems to consist exclusively of lawyers, but there is no mention of this society having a legal system so this doesn't figure into the story at all. The Amity faction and their members similarly have no impact on the plot. The Erudite is the only faction to do something that finally drives the plot (starting on page 400), but I'll get to that at the end of the review.
Finally, Dauntless - the military faction that provides the backdrop to almost the entire story, and the faction that the protagonist wants desperately to join. If there is one faction I would think the author would bother to flesh out, this would be it. And by "flesh out", I don't mean "describe the clothing, tattoos, and piercings of" - the author dwells on those elements to the exclusion of anything that could actually develop the story or the characters (I suspect she had a suppressed goth fetish as a teenager). From what I can see the whole purpose of Dauntless is to 1) train new Dauntless members and 2) run a tattoo parlor. They are supposedly society's police and military, but, bafflingly, there is no mention of what threat it protects society from. When the Dauntless trainees travel out to a security fence circumscribing the city, I thought the reader would finally get a chance to see what the whole point of this faction is. For example, the author could introduce veterans who speak ominously of some external threat (think the Night's Watch in Game of Thrones) that could lend some urgency and excitement to what the trainees are trying to do. Yet all we see are Dauntless members aimlessly milling about - seriously. The author repeatedly and in melodramatic language explains that Triss wants to join so she can prove how brave she is, but it doesn't seem to occur to her that there's more to being brave than proving to your friends how brave you are. And it is precisely because Dauntless has no worthwhile purpose that the story collapses down to the protagonist's purely selfish quest of being liked.
The author blows another opportunity to create an interesting plot in her treatment of the Factionless, a marginalized, outcast group of citizens who do not belong to a faction, hold menial jobs, and have no political or economic rights. I don't have a problem with the fact that the Factionless exist per se. On the contrary, dystopian novels often contain an underclass that is beaten down by the status quo. The problem with the Factionless in Divergent, however, is that for such an oppressed group of people, we don't see anyone actively oppressing them. It would be simple and logical to mention that one of the jobs of Dauntless is acting as a Gestapo-like police force, keeping the Factionless in their place, but the author cannot even muster this level of imagination, leading to the big question of how and why the Factionless exist in the first place. We are asked to simply accept that once someone can't pass the initiation test into a Faction, they voluntarily exile themselves into an impoverished ghetto. We also have to accept that the family members of the Factionless are complicit in the arrangement, even though at least one faction, Abnegation, has strong family ties. We are also asked to believe that they never organize or agitate for any rights, despite the fact that a good portion of the society is Factionless and, unlike the Factions, they actually hold productive jobs (bus drivers, construction workers, etc).
And when the author does have Faction members interact with Factionless, she only accents how unrelatable and casually immoral all of the characters are. The Abnegation spend much of their time providing charity to the Factionless, which the author would like us to accept as a sign of virtue. But as the ruling Faction, Abnegation is responsible maintaining this two-class system to begin with! Does it not occur to anyone to extend rights to the Factionless, allow them to work for wages, give them seats on the governing council? The stated reason (which again, we must simply accept based on no clear logic) is that giving the Factionless rights would somehow lead to another war, a premise that everyone, even our protagonist Triss, accepts. So the character that we are supposed to believe has strong moral values unquestioningly accepts an immoral apartheid system. Triss' only thinking about the Factionless is that she doesn't want to be one, which ties back into how self-centered her goals are.
Ultimately, the premise that the Factionless pose a danger to the government turns out to be flat wrong - what leads to political unrest at the end of the book has to with a conspiracy hatched by a faction. Yet consistent with the moral cluelessness that pervades the rest of the book, none of the characters stop to think that maybe their disdain for the Factionless was wrong. This certainly never occurs to our protagonist, who is far too wrapped up in her concerns with her own likability amongst her peers. It doesn't take much imagination at all to think of how the Factionless could be used to build a plot worth caring about. For example, Triss could get kicked out of Dauntless for not being willing to conform and be cast into the Factionless. Once there, we could learn about the injustice of the Faction system, about how all Factions over time became insular, arrogant, and corrupt in their own ways and started purging dissident members. Triss could then use her training to organize an uprising. I'm sure there are plenty of other possibilities.
Finally, I can't convey how lacking in imagination this story is without discussing the simulation/mind control serum, a plot device the author uses as not so much a crutch but as life support. Depending on the story's need at a particular point in time, this serum can either be used to create a virtual realty (VR) simulation in the injected, or to turn the injected into a mindless drone subject to remote control. The author uses the simulation serum as a vehicle for much of the Dauntless initiate training - creating virtual worlds in which Triss and the other initiates can overcome their fears. The author makes the serum so central to the training that it deprives the characters of meaningful interactions the real world, where they could deepen their relationships and learn to work as a team to overcome challenges, and where failure has real-world consequences. Her overuse of VR also conveniently frees her from having to think up plausible situations in which to develop characters. The real-world situations during initiation, meanwhile, are either hopelessly trite (playing capture the flag, sailing down a zipline, gossiping around a cafeteria table) or gratuitously violent.
While the VR serum merely weakens the plot, the use of mind control serum actually makes much of the prior plot totally irrelevant to the story. Two thirds of the Dauntless training consists of initiates fighting their inner fears in a VR simulation. The whole premise behind this is that to become a Dauntless you have to control your fears. But to build to the climax of the story, the author has all the Dauntless injected with a mind control serum so they could be used as unthinking, unfeeling drones on behalf of the antagonist. So my question is, if the Dauntless could always be mind controlled into undertaking whatever mission they were instructed to, regardless of how cruel or suicidal, what was the point of the simulation training to begin with? They never needed to learn to control their fears, since they could just be injected with a drug that would do that for them! I know that part of what makes the Triss special is her immunity to these serums, but couldn't the author give her another special power that doesn't negate so much of the plot?
And just as with the Factionless, it is so easy to think of a way to create a more interesting story. A quick skim of 20th century history tell us that you don't need a truth serum to convince armies to murder innocent people - just a charismatic leader and a bad economy. The author could have shown the initiates becoming more brainwashed and fanatical over time as a result of their training. Triss, however, could have recognized this for what it was and left the Faction. This decision, taken through her own agency, is what should have defined her as Divergent. It would represent a real choice that the reader could relate to and learn from. Instead, what defines Triss as Divergent is holding the winning ticket in the genetic lottery.
What all this boils down to is that the author has no clue how to use the elements of her universe to create a compelling story. The result is a shallow teen angst novel layered under enough "sci fi/dystopia" elements to ride the coattails of Hunger Games.
In YA literature you could always make the point that creating an airtight plot shouldn't be the top priority. Fine - I agree that if a YA book can only do one thing right that it say something important about the world the reader is just starting to grow into. Convey a moral that is worth conveying, however clumsily. And while I have qualms about the author's treatment of the Factionless, this is actually not the book's greatest moral failure. It is this: The author chooses to say to her readers, many of who are young girls, that the desire for knowledge is dangerous. This is made abundantly clear when the Erudite, the Faction valuing knowledge, and the Erudite-born leaders of Dauntless, conspire to overthrow the Abnegation-led government. Throughout the book, Erudite leaders and members are portrayed as elitists whose insatiable and unmitigated drive for knowledge causes them to devalue human life. The other factions, despite having what one would think are equally strong (or stronger) tendencies towards arrogance and moral corruption have no such downfall. Is it an accurate portrayal of human nature to say that it is only the drive for knowledge, as opposed to, say, military prowess or religious zeal that is corrupting? Let me ask a few more rhetorical questions. Throughout history, how many brutal, authoritarian governments have been headed by the military? By religious zealots? By research scientists? How may wars have been fought in the name of God? Of science? Historical accuracy aside, why would the author even want to make this point? Why would she tell young girls to be suspicious of the desire to learn? There is one passage in the book where an Erudite begins to describe the workings of a solar-powered car. With some degree pride, Triss states that she got bored and stopped listening after a minute. Great character.
71 of 80 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars How the heck is this rated so well?,
I've not read a book this bad in a long time. First of all, the writing feels like a middle school kid wrote it. Second, the premise (everyone has to live exemplifying only one virtue) never made sense. Third, the author's idea of what those virtues entail is retarded.
Apparently, being brave means risking your life every second you can, having tattoos and piercings, and murdering people to get ahead. Being selfless means feeling bad for looking in a mirror because for just a second you thought of yourself instead of others. Valuing truth means having tourettes because you just spurt out exactly what you're thinking every time instead of holding back. Those are how flat the factions in the series are.
The main character, Triss, is also completely bland. She's forever reminding you how she's totally not pretty, but apparently there are still guys who are totally into her. The whole book's full of young adult romance BS of "I don't know why I feel funny whenever he looks at me" stuff.
Then there's always the whole anti-intelligence spin on the book that annoys the heck out of me. But to go any further would require spoilers.
494 of 587 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dynamic, but shallow entertainment,
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
We all know why "Divergent" was written. There is no doubt 99% of dystopias published during the last year or so have been trying to at least partially replicate the success of the trilogy. Public wants to read more dystopian stories, publishers want to sell them, authors want to write them. Everyone is happy.
I have read a few new dystopias recently and liked or disliked them to various degrees. There are dystopias for any taste, dystopias that emphasize separate aspects of the trilogy. There are dystopias that bank on romance ("Matched" or "Delirium"). There are dystopias that take the shock value route ("Wither"). And then there is "Divergent" that caters to the crowd who wants more action in their dystopias. And action this novel delivers!
In a few words, "Divergent" is a one long initiation trial. Beatrice Prior is a member of a society that has been maintaining its peaceful existence by separating its citizens into 5 distinct factions. These factions are formed on the basis of virtues they cultivate in their members - Candor values honesty the most, Abnegation - selflessness, Dauntless - bravery, Amity - peacefulness and Erudite - intelligence. At 16 all citizens take a test that is supposed to help them decide if they want to stay with the faction into which they were born or transfer to another faction forever. Beatrice's test results are inconclusive and puzzling. Ultimately she decides to abandon her own faction (Abnegation) and her family and enter another (Dauntless). But of course, the transfer is not easy. The initiation trials are grueling. "Divergent" is essentially a depiction of Beatrice's road to becoming a Dauntless, both physically and emotionally. Beatrice's unusual test results come to play too, and in a major way.
This emphasis on multiple trials and exercises is the strongest and the weakest part of the story. Veronica Roth has a special talent for writing great fighting scenes, pulse-raising and adrenaline-pumping scenes. Her imagination in terms of inventing different tests and challenges seems to be limitless. Something exciting happens to Beatrice every day of her trials. But that is also the weakness of the story. About 85% of the book is dedicated to action and exercises. The actual story starts only around page 415 of this 500-page book. Only then stakes are raised and real action begins. If you ask me, 400-pages is a lot of prep to finally get to the meat of the story.
Don't get me wrong, I liked the book Ok. "Divergent" is good entertainment. I liked it, I was engaged in the story, I was even excited quite often. But something was missing for me. The novel has good characters, but they are not quite as interesting and compelling as they could have been; it has a lot of action, but the justification for the amount of violence involved is not quite adequate; it has a cute romance, but it never quite makes your heart contract in that sweet, painful way (you know what I am talking about, don't you?); the concept of factions is a unique one but not quite plausible; the explanation what a Divergent actually is is not quite climactic; finally, except for one plot twist (p 415), the story takes a rather predictable road.
I liked "Divergent." I liked it more than "Matched," "Delirium" or "Wither." I liked it less than "Blood Red Road" or "Ship Breaker." It entertained me. It promotes all the good things - bravery and self-sufficiency, friendships, honesty, determination. It is all about girl empowerment. But as the same time it isn't particularly thought-provoking or chilling. It never truly touched my heart. It is a write-by-numbers dystopia.
The verdict? I guess, you'll have to see for yourself?
128 of 149 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Divergent Opinion,
This review is from: Divergent (Paperback)
I set out on this review carefully, and in hopes that people will not hate me too much for it. I did not love Divergent; in fact, I wavered between a rating of 2.5 and 3. Part of the problem, I suspect, is likely the hype. The fandom did such a good job of convincing me that this dystopia was flipping awesome that I bought it at full price without having read it, something I pretty much never do...for good reason, apparently. To my mind, Divergent does not deserve the crazy amounts of hype, and definitely is not one of the better dystopias I've read.
My problems, though, are much more widespread than just expectations set to high because of the blogosphere's immense love for this book. Let's just go in order as I experienced my big three issues, shall we? First off, there's the writing. I realized on the first page that Roth writes in the stereotypical YA style that I loathe: short sentences that are rarely compound, mostly simple words, and lots of dashes. The writing in Divergent is only marginally better than the writing in Twilight. I make this comparison not because it's common to compare every YA book to Twilight, but because that really is the book Roth's writing reminded me of.
Next up is the world-building. Maybe it's just me but this society does not make one lick of sense. You probably know, if you follow YA fiction at all, that this world is divided up into five factions based on a personality trait: Erudite (intelligence), Dauntless (bravery), Abnegation (selflessness), Candor (honesty), and Amity (kindness). Lol whut, right? How did this happen?
"`Decades ago our ancestors realized that it is not political ideology, religious belief, race, or nationalism that is to blame for a warring world. Rather, they determines that it was the fault of human personality--of humankind's inclination toward evil, in whatever form that is. They divided into factions that sought to eradicate those qualities they believed responsible for the world's disarray.'"
Right. Because the obvious way to remove disarray and prevent people from fighting is to break them up into groups. They'll be separate but equal. In fact, each faction is responsible for a different aspect of making the society run. Abnegation, since they're so selfless, run the government and mete out resources. Amity farms. The Erudite think things and make technology. Candor run the judicial system. The Dauntless defend from any possible external threats. Am I the only one who thinks this is the worst idea ever? Who would ever have agreed to this plan?
Not only that, but a big part of being in a faction seems to be hatred of certain other factions. How is that healthy? To eliminate evil, we will separate into groups and resent one another. This is supposed to come off as a recent development, I think, but I really can't see how it could ever be any other way, since certain personality types just won't necessarily mesh well. If this were the real world, the Dauntless would probably have overthrown everyone as soon as they were unhappy with a governmental decision, since they're THE ONLY ONES WHO KNOW HOW TO FIGHT AND THEY HAVE ALL OF THE GUNS.
Oh, and I need to say a little bit more about those factions they developed. I've heard the factions in Divergent compared to the houses in Harry Potter, but that's not what I thought of as I read about them. I like to think of the factions as 'fratorities,' a word I made up to describe a gender neutral fraternity or sorority. At the age of 16, the kids of this world have to essentially rush a faction/fratority. Then they go through initiation, and if they don't pass they can be kicked out. Just like the fraternities and sororities on my college campus, each of these has a different mentality: the friendly ones, the partiers, the smart ones, the trustworthy ones, the ones that do community service for their job applications. Perhaps it was because we so few older individuals in the book, except for some parents, but there was a very childish, fratority feel to the whole thing.
The other nigh insurmountable issue with Divergent to my mind is Tris. At the best of times, I just could not believe that she's particularly special. At the worst, I wanted to throw her off the cliff more than Peter did. Since she was divergent, she was supposed to basically fit into each faction equally, but I just didn't see that. She did not strike me as especially brave, honest, kind, intelligent or selfless, despite all the attempts to prove her so. She struck me, in fact, as very average. This is fine and could have been a good thing, except that I was constantly told how unique and amazing she was. I feel like is she's divergent, than probably about half the population should be.
The other thing that really bothered me about her was her inability to be a good friend, and how incredibly mean she was. The perfect example of this is in her treatment of Al. On the very first night in Dauntless, she's in her cot, trying to sleep and resisting the urge to cry. Then she hears Al crying and thinks: "I should comfort him---I should want to comfort him, because I was raised that way. Instead I feel disgust. Someone who looks so strong shouldn't act so weak." Wow, really, bitch? It would be okay if he was an itty bitty girl like you, but big, masculine men aren't allowed to cry? This just makes me so incredibly angry. She later befriends Al, but always secretly thinks of him as a wussy baby. This is not okay.
However, you may notice that I went with a 3 rating, so I didn't hate it, even if I did flirt with a meh. Well, the 3 is because I think I will be reading the next book, because I would like to know what happens next. I do kind of like Four, and I hope he'll have more of a personality in the next book. I also liked Christina and Will and, assuming their both alive, might enjoy Insurgent more if they had a larger role.
To conclude, I think this book has been vastly over-rated. I recommend it in the same way I would recommend The Selection: with caution and to people looking for a fun, fluffy read. This one has more darkness and violence, but is ultimately satisfying to me in precisely the same unhealthy way.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Taco Bell of books,
Reading this book feels like eating lousy fast food: The writing is just smooth enough that you keep reading, but the actual content sucks, so you don't actually enjoy it. The characters are irritating and unlikable (imagine an annoying high schooler who's constantly trying to ditch her nerdy friends to get with the popular kids and you've got the main character. The others are even shallower). The actual plot might be more interesting if they ever got to it, but the focus is all on the characters - which would be great if this book actually had interesting characters. I got this book because I felt like something simple and random, and it was on top of the kindle store list. Bad decision.
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Divergent by Veronica Roth (Paperback - February 28, 2012)