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Divergent Series Four-Book Paperback Box Set: Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant, Four Paperback – January 19, 2016
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About the Author
Veronica Roth is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant, and Four: A Divergent Collection. Ms. Roth and her husband live in Chicago. You can visit her online at www.veronicarothbooks.com.
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Living in dystopian Chicago among one of the five factions, Beatrice Prior is at the age where they must take a test which will reveal her true faction. Born in Abnegation (the selfless) Beatrice wonders if she is in fact Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), Erudite (the intelligent) or simply still Abnegation? However when her results come back inconclusive and read as Divergent, Beatrice is told to keep it a secret and choose for herself or else . . . Yet during Faction initiation Beatrice chooses a new faction no one expected, the Dauntless. A new faction means a new family and new name, she becomes Tris. It's in Dauntless that Tris finds out more about herself and learns the truth of how the system everyone trusts is failing. Tris eventually leads a group of friends to help stop the corruption of the world they live in and the world around them, while learning and showing what it means to be Divergent.
Overall, you'll love the trilogy then hate it. The first two books are great but the last book makes little to no sense. Allegiant basically needs another book to explain itself, but the first two are worth reading again and again, hence the conflicting feelings about the trilogy. Tris as a character is relatable being constantly different and yet willing to be strong, plus when the time comes she doesn't just rely on her hot BF, but takes action herself. The sad thing is in the last book you lose some of that strength of character as Tris looked to others too much and ended up making rash decisions in the end. Plus there are a few other issues, but I'll not spoil too much. Divergent and Insurgent were told only from Tris' perspective, but Allegiant was split between Tris and Four which wasn't executed properly since their voices ended up sounding the same and Four lost all his manly appeal. There is also a HUGE controversial plot point in the end of the trilogy which I'd actually be okay with IF the scene had been better crafted and the rest of the story better explained to give meaning to the huge moment. So if you haven't already dove into this series I suggest its worth a read even if the ending isn't at all what everyone and I mean EVERYONE expected.
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I didn't enjoy "Insurgent" quite so much as I did the first volume of Veronica Roth's dystopian trilogy. Although there was plenty of action in "Divergent," it was on the whole a much more thoughtful and character-driven novel. The first few chapters were concerned primarily with exposition, worldbuilding, and Tris's soul-searching as the day approaches when she must choose her faction. There are hints fairly early on that there's some kind of trouble brewing on a societal level, but most of the novel concerns Tris's initiation into Dauntless and her relationships with both other members of her chosen faction and the family she left behind. "Insurgent" is much more plot-driven. That's not to say it's a mindless sequence of action scenes; Tris finds herself struggling to live with the aftermath of all that she witnessed and performed at the end of the previous book, and it takes its toll on her relationship with Four. Guilt, grief, and sacrifice are recurring themes, and Tris rarely makes it through more than a day or two without facing a new devastating ethical dilemma. However, the characters feel a bit more contrived and manipulated here, occasionally acting in ways that contradict everything we know about them so far when it's convenient to the plot.
One of the central conflicts of "Insurgent" - certainly the one most important to Tris - concerns the possession of a dangerous, potentially devastating, piece of information. Unfortunately, Roth commits the authorial sin of building suspense by openly withholding information "just because." At least two major characters know exactly what the big secret is, and a third may or may not know everything but certainly knows much more than Tris. She is told again and again just how crucial this piece of information is. A character she has no real reason to trust seeks her aid in recovering the information from what he insists are the wrong hands, but refuses to tell her what it is - "but not because I don't want to. It's because I have no idea how to describe it to you. You have to see it for yourself." No character even attempts to tell Tris anything substantial, no matter how desperately they wish to persuade her of the rightness of a particular course of action. Even worse, Tris, usually so determined and resourceful, never once puts her foot down and says "Tell me what it is or I won't help you." By the time I started the last chapter, I figured Roth was going to carry the mystery over into "Allegiant." I was wrong. The final three pages of the novel are devoted to the Big Reveal, which was pretty much the kind of thing I was expecting it to be based on the few hints other characters had dropped. There were still a few surprises in store, but they would have had much more of an impact if there hadn't been such a huge buildup to something so utterly ineffable even the person who knew it best couldn't find a way to describe it.
My favorite thing about "Insurgent" was that, whereas "Divergent" took place almost entirely within two factions, the sequel finds Tris and Four spending time in each of the factions, and even passing a few chapters in the company of the factionless. I don't think a dystopian novel could ever contain too much worldbuilding for my taste, and I set down "Divergent" longing to learn more about the other factions and their values and ways of life. Of course, with society descending into chaos, "Insurgent" doesn't offer quite the pure slice-of-life descriptions I craved, but there's definitely enough to get a feel for each faction, to understand its strengths and weaknesses, and to confirm my suspicion that Roth never meant to portray any faction as entirely virtuous or entirely villainous. Probably what tipped this book firmly into four-star territory for me, however, was Roth's venture into the relationship between neurology and personality, long a favorite subject of mine, when Tris submits to a series of medical scans and tests in an attempt to learn more about her Divergence: "I did not know that my entire personality, my entire being, could be discarded as the byproduct of my anatomy. What if I really am just someone with a large prefrontal cortex . . . and nothing more? . . . I feel like my mind is cracked open, its secrets spilling over the floor for me to finally see."
"Insurgent" ends with a plot twist that, upon reflection, raises more questions than it answers. Although "Divergent" was written to be able to stand alone (Roth knew better than to expect any publisher to commit to an unfinished trilogy by an unknown author), "Insurgent" wasn't: readers who plunge in without having read "Divergent" are likely to be pretty confused, and the ending is a cliffhanger. Just how well "Insurgent" succeeds in its purpose, therefore, is probably impossible to say without knowing where things go in the third book. I'm willing to give Roth the benefit of the doubt because I enjoy spending time with her characters in the world she has created, but there's going to need to be a little less nonstop action, a lot more explanation and backstory in "Allegiant" if the trilogy as a whole is going to work as anything but a charming contrivance.