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Divergent Paperback – February 28, 2012
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A Q&A with Author Veronica Roth
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.--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-In the dystopian Chicago setting of Roth's novel (Katherine Tegen Bks., 2011), the population is divided into five factions. Upon declaring allegiance to one of them, 16-year-old Beatrice will decide her future. Beatrice and her brother, Caleb, grew up in helpful, unassuming Abnegation, always putting others first. During her aptitude testing, a simulation probes her suitability for Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless, and Erudite. Rather than getting a clear reading of her strengths, Beatrice's result is disturbing and dangerous: she is Divergent. At the choosing ceremony, the teenager impulsively joins Dauntless, the tattooed "hellions" whose value is bravery, and who protect the community. Beatrice, now called Tris, finds she feels brilliantly alive in Dauntless, even during the brutal training. She enjoys seeing her muscles harden, testing her courage, protecting the underdog, and working her way up the ranks of recruits. Making both friends and enemies, she moves through simulations tailored to trigger her Fear Landscape. Gradually, her Divergence shows itself, allowing Tris to see that the faction-dominated world isn't as wonderful as she has been told. The likeable characters, excellent pacing, and blooming romance will have listeners hooked. Emma Galvin's youthful voice has a twinge of huskiness that lends itself to voicing both young men and women. The audiobook will be very popular, so library patrons will have to be careful considering the packaging: a lightweight box and foldout sleeves. You might want to purchase the audio download instead.-Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley School, Fort Worth, TXα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Author: Veronica Roth
Publication Date: April 25, 2011
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Amazon Book Blurb:
One choice can transform you. Beatrice Prior's society is divided into five factions—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). Beatrice must choose between staying with her Abnegation family and transferring factions. Her choice will shock her community and herself. But the newly christened Tris also has a secret, one she's determined to keep hidden, because in this world, what makes you different makes you dangerous.
Review: Published in 2011, Divergent is Veronica Roth's first novel. The first of a series by the same name, Divergent reflects the voracious appetite readers at the time had for post-apocalyptic literature.
The story is entirely from the viewpoint of sixteen year-old Tris who's forced to undertake a social sorting test that separates them into separate and distinct factions—not unlike the houses of Hogwarts—that dictate their members' roles in society. These factions come complete with initiations and manifestos that emphasize their respective ideal virtues. It's discovered during Tris's sorting test that she doesn't fit neatly into any one group. In other word's, she's special.
I'd heard of this book when I came across it on Amazon but I was immediately snared by the potential the world setting offered. An entire society formally divided into factions by their values? I could just imagine the possibilities. Unfortunately, I found that potential to be largely wasted.
I was quickly bothered by the facile nature of the world Veronica had built. Perhaps I've been spoiled by the likes of J.R.R. Tolkien and George R. R. Martin, but I expect my fictional worlds to survive the most cursory of internal logic tests. In this, Divergent fails.
The characters tended to be fairly shallow and predictable in the extreme. Their goals rarely extended further than than the scene that contained them. I found the dialogue to be similarly shallow and unrealistic.
The plot twists were predictable. The writing was often as subtle as a Leslie Nielson movie. Maybe I'm giving the young adult genre too much credit but the characters and plot were about as surprising as a form-fittingly wrapped Christmas present.
I'm genuinely surprised at the praise this book has received. There wasn't anything exemplary about the book except for the setting's concept which turned out to be poorly developed despite its potential. I'm fairly certain that the reason Divergent obtained such an impressive level of success can be narrowed down to its impeccable timing. Publishers and readers alike were hungry for another Katniss Everdeen story. Another story about a young women who had more handsome romantic prospects than she knew what to do with.
Now, don't get me wrong. I try to support new authors. I wish Veronica the best in her writing endeavors. It could very well be that I'm not a fan of the simplistic style she uses, a style exemplified in her website's biography:
"I’m Veronica. I write books for young adults. Specifically, I wrote the books Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant, and Four: A Divergent Collection.
I like things. Some of those things are (in no particular order): Harry Potter, rain, YA, books, puns, cute animals, tea, sitcoms, grammar, writing, Chicago, Doc Martens, trains, flat stretches of prairie land, cold weather months, and so on. "
It's very possible I'm missing something that her fans are picking up on. After all, her books are adored by millions. They can't all be wrong.
There is a great deal of similarity between this series and Hunger Games. Teenage coming-of-age adventure story in a post-apocalyptic dystopian society. I could go further into the premise, but it really does not make much sense outside the context of the book.
Again, like Hunger Games, I found the first book gripping and devoured it quickly. The second book did a good job of keeping up that pace.
Then the third book comes up, and, once again like Hunger Games, it takes the "Us vs. Them" story and throws in "oh look, These Guys Too! Bet you didn't see THAT coming!" plot hook, and things go off the rails for me. The first two books seem to be building your hope for the characters and the world they live in and the ability for them to make the world better. Then they expand the world, and the third book goes about crushing your hopes of a happy ending.
While reading the first two books, I was a little bummed that it would be over in three. By the time I was about a quarter through the third book, I was ready for it to be done. I was looking forward to Four during the first two books. After reading the third, I don't have any real interest in reading Four anymore.
The real world does not have happy endings for everyone, but this isn't really about happy endings. It is more about building up these characters to great heights with the implication that they will usher in a new age. Then, it turns out in the end they are a cog in a machine in the end. Important, sure, but used to an end just the same.
I would actually rate the first two books at five stars, but the third book is such a letdown that it brings down the whole series for me, and this book is useless without the other two. If you read Hunger Games and loved it, this scratches the same itch. In the end, I didn't hate it, but it lost a lot of luster quickly in the end.