Top critical review
2 people found this helpful
down and down and down... too bad
on June 16, 2015
I read and liked the first volume in the series, Divergent.
While not particularly original, it has grit and pace,
and some of its scenes are rather memorable.
The main characters are a bit shallow -- the heroine has some
substance, but the hero is a bit less fleshed out, and Eric,
the main villain, with his ever-increasing piercings, seems
mostly robotic. However, the plot and setting do not require
subtlety and the action carries the book along nicely.
I'd give Divergent four stars.
The second volume, Insurgent, is a reprise of the first, but
at a consistently lower level. The new arch-villain, the
leader of the Erudite faction, is a cardboard cut-out without
even a notion of being driven by anything in particular --
she's just malware, not a person.
Our hero and heroine drift around, in pain and combat,
but without any underlying goals. The writing is on par with
the first volume: serviceable, but too anodyne to make up for
defects in the storyline. In particular, the various characters
all speak in the same manner -- none of them has any distinguishing
speech mannerisms or any specific way of expressing certains
thoughts or desires.
This may be deliberate on the author's part to make a point
about the smallness of the world they live in, but it does not
feel right: with the factions at great pains to differentiate
themselves, one would expect different speech patterns in
If you still have momentum from reading Divergent, it will
most likely carry you through Insurgent, hoping for the text
to become more interesting. So I'd give Insurgent two stars.
The third volume, Allegiant, is a complete disaster. The plot
(well, whatever passes for one now) is getting stretched far
too thin, well into complete implausibility, not to mention
that it makes a complete hash of basic genetics. What really
kills the volume, though, is the author's lack of skills
in distinguishing her characters. In this volume, unlike in
the first two, the author chose to write the book in the
first person, some parts from the point of view of the hero and
others from the point of view of the heroine. (Keep in mind
that the two are a couple.) The problem is that, most of the
time, the reader has no clue who is the narrator and has to turn
back to the beginning of the chapter to find out. More than anything
else, it painfully illustrates that the author could not (rather
than decided not to) differentiate patterns of thought and speech
between her two main characters. To make matters worse, each of
the two narrators ends up retelling much of what the other told,
since their lives and actions overlap much of the time. This would
not be a problem if each had a distinct point of view on the events;
in fact, many famous authors have used this literary device to great
effect. But the two characters are pretty much interchangeable
and so are their descriptions and observations. Unsurprisingly,
the result is an unreadable mess. I'd give Allegiant zero stars,
which, with four stars for the first volume, two for the second,
and now zero for the third, averages out to two, my rating for the
My advice is to stick with the first book, Divergent, and call it
quits before you get disappointed. Divergent is a fun and easy
read; the others will just spoil the fun.