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on October 12, 2014
This set includes the trilogy, along with the extra book titled, "Four". I actually recommend reading Four first. It's the comets set. My 13 year old triplet boys started reading this series in school. They couldn't stop talking about it, so I bought this series for them, and I even read it myself. It's very, very good. The movie is pretty good too; although, the books are a lot more detailed. I highly recommend this series. I would caution for younger readers as the two main characters have some heated moments. Nothing that heavy, but on the line. I wouldn't want my 8 year old reading something like that. I hope this review has been helpful for the parents out there. All in all.. Definitely a great series! A Must Read!
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on July 24, 2015
Wow, what a twist and disappointment. After reading the first book, I was impressed how closely the movie followed along, and I could see why. It was well written, perfectly paced, and for the movie to stick so closely was a testimony to how little room for improvement was left with Divergent.

I came into Insurgent expecting more of the same. Man was I grossly disappointed. I actually saw the movie first and thought it was very well done, so I was excited to dig into the book expecting a similar storyline but some deeper character insights and the juicy bits you get from the book that just don't translate onto film. What I got was a ragtag, at times completely nonsensical, rambling, all over the place mess. It left me scratching my head wondering if these were even written by the same author. Anyway, here is the breakdown, as always Pros first.

Pros:
1) The best pro was a carryover from the first book. The worldbuilding in this series is brilliant and innovative. I really like the deeper look inside Candor, and to see the dichotomy even between those houses like Amity and Candor who should have been allies in standing up for what was right. This really was the only high point in the book.

Cons:
1) Inconsistent characters. It was like some of the characters from Divergent developed multiple personality disorder. Tris turned completely unlikeable in this book, and given that readers are trapped in her head due to the 1p POV, that is not a good thing. Other characters seemed to act in ways contrary, or at least inconsistent, with how they were written in Divergent.
2) Story. Things sometimes happened for no reason. Characters acted in unfathomable ways. Sometimes obviously courses of action were ignored by otherwise brilliant strategists. All in all this felt like a REALLY BAD fanfiction written in the Divergent setting.

Since reading and expressing some of my displeasure at the drop in quality between Divergent and Insurgent, I have heard rumors that the third book drops even further so I should go ahead and lower my expectations. I think I will pursue another course. Given how much quality stuff there is piling up in my reading queue, I think Insurgent was bad enough for me to do something I rarely do...leave the series unfinished and give the third book a pass.
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on April 2, 2013
Divergent is a straight-forward young adult drama-turned-action utopian story set in the near future. It has been oft compared to The Hunger Games, and that is a fair comparison if only for the fact that it involves a supposedly-perfect society in the future and centers around an adolescent girl with blooming, previously unknown potential.

The story takes place at some undefined time in the future in a `fallen-and-restored' version of Chicago, Illinois (this is never expressly clarified, but the hints are there. Plus, it's the author's home city). In this society, there are five factions or sub-cultures within the culture, each with their own traits and chosen ways of life. The factions each have elders that make decisions for all the people as a whole, though there is no president or sole person in charge. When a child turns sixteen, he or she is tested for what faction they would best fit into, which may or may not be the faction they were born in. The test results are only for evaluation and reference, as the child still has the option of staying in their home faction or moving on to another, regardless of suggestion.

The book opens with Beatrice on her testing day, and the faction-choosing day that follows. This, if you hadn't guessed, is where things take a turn from the norm. It's also where this `Divergent' term comes in, but I shan't ruin that part.

To be honest, the plot takes a little while to get moving, even after Beatrice chooses her faction and begins training. If the book has one flaw, it is the author's lack of detail. When I sit down to read a `sci-fi' novel describing a version of humanity's future that differs greatly from our present, I want to know, in at least moderate detail, how things are different. What advances have been made technologically to improve life? What does the architecture look like? How do people dress? A small amount of this information is revealed as the story progresses, but I failed to get an accurate, overall picture of what this future really looked and felt like because the plot is largely dialogue-driven. Through the speech, one gets hints of the surroundings and situation of life, but the scenes are frustratingly acute in their focus.

I realize that this is, after all, a novel written primarily for teens, so you may perceive I'm expecting too much from a young adult novel and feel tempted to suggest I go read some Tolkien. I understand that; I'm saying the lack of detail is blaring in this story, and it was a bummer because it could have been stellar. Other readers may not be so bothered by it.

Alright, on to the good stuff: the plot is pretty original, or at least it tries to be. It would be hard to be completely original in the wake of books like 1984 or Brave New World, as most books of this sort of kind of trickle-down copies of one of those, including The Hunger Games. But Roth still makes it fun to read, and once you really become familiar with the different factions and what they stand for, their society (and it's flaws) start to gain some depth. The characters are enjoyable and diverse, especially the chemistry between Beatrice and a faction trainer named Four.

This book has been criticized for it's violence, but I did not find it to be excessive or unnecessary. There is no more violent content than can be found in the later Harry Potter books or Hunger Games. Plus, it's presence in the story is tasteful and makes for compelling action. Additionally, the `simulation' scenes, in which characters literally face their fears in a virtual-reality type setting, are among the most creative and exciting sections of the book. They are intense, widely varying, and some are undeniably creepy.

I got the feeling that there is something big and weighty buried beneath the subtext of this book; something larger than the lives of these kids in factions, something that could shake their reality forever. This is the first of three books, so I reckon that the author is building up to something epic which will unfold later. Divergent does have an ending of it's own with an exciting climax, and while it doesn't exactly end on a cliffhanger, there are definitely some threads intentionally left unconnected. Also, the villains (the ones who aren't blatantly obvious) are being hinted at all through the book, but never fully acknowledged, so I'm sure they will come into play later as well.

For what it is, Divergent is a good book full of interesting ideas, a writing style that is easy to read, and events that keep one tearing through large chunks in one sitting and coming back for more. A fun little piece of escapism with promise of greater things to come.
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on January 21, 2017
This book is the first in a popular dystopian young adult trilogy. Dystopian societies are not my favorite setting. I had read very little about the series, so for me it was interesting to gradually realize that the described crumbling world was Chicago. The story begins with our heroine at 16 making a momentous choice of her faction. It has elements of The Hunger Games with young people fighting to the death and malevolent political powers. The violence is unrelenting. The picture of humanity is repellant with our heroes and heroines hard to admire. Obviously, no one would want to live in this world. The dominant character trait of each faction (truthfulness, fearless bravery, selflessness, studiousness, etc.) is carried to extremes. At those extremes, the traits become perverted, cruel, and unbalanced. The society certainly seems beyond redemption. Our divergent heroes are not much more balanced than the faction members since they have been so damaged by the society in which they were raised. There is some romance among the teenagers, but it is of a chaste and innocent variety. They are more timid with sex than with brutality. Katness Everdeen is a more interesting and more sympathetic character than Beatrice. Because the bulk of this book was so violent with little in the way of strategic thinking, grace, or kindness, I am less inclined to read on in the series. Nevertheless, congratulations are due to Ms. Roth for writing such a successful book at such a young age. I am not her target audience so perhaps it is not surprising that the book did not capture me.
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on February 12, 2017
The premise and world-building are flimsy, the plot has got some pretty glaring holes in it, and while the characters themselves are somewhat run-of-the-mill, it's the character arc that really captured my attention and made it an enjoyable read. I find a lot of main characters, particularly females, are encouraged to find compassion and forgiveness even for their hateful enemies. (Think of all the times you read some version of "I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy" and couldn't quite relate to that sentiment). I think authors are afraid not giving them those qualities would make them less likeable and be openly criticized for their lack of compassion. But Tris's arc is the opposite. She was born into a world of humility and selflessness but doesn't feel like she can live up to that, so she chooses instead a world of bravery, recklessness, and physicality. Sometimes she feels annoyed by weakness and so enraged by bullies that she wants to physically lash out, and in her new faction, she's allowed to feel that way, even encouraged to. She pushes her limits and learns a different perspective. She tries to purge some of the self-deprecating values in favor of confidence and self-esteem but learns it's not that easy to change everything you ever knew. Ultimately she realizes she doesn't naturally fit in to her new faction either. And, as usual, what makes her different saves the world... or in this case the lives in her old faction and the psyches of those in her new one.
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on December 28, 2013
Okay...let me begin by saying that I had hoped to really love this book... I was, however, frustrated by most of its pages. Tris' character became someone I eventually hoped would die so I could be saved from her stupidity and the huge holes in the plot that forced me not to "suspend" my disbelief, but to completely "shut down" my disbelief, in search of this "truth" that was constantly being dangled over my head. OTHER THAN THAT, I honestly was entertained by it, so, if you do not mind your intelligence being insulted in exchange for a little entertainment, go ahead and buy this book.

Now, on to ** SPOILER ALERT ** my venting...
First of all, since the first book, I think I can safely assume that every reader knew something was up since she mentioned the gates to the city locked from the outside and it looked more like they were being "kept in"...so, all this tension building to this "magical truth" was quite unnecessary.

Here are all the ridiculous things I forgave in order to find out what the heck was happening outside the city:

-Tris' inability to hold a gun was silly, just silly. I get it, she shot Will, she feels bad, but honestly, she only knew the guy for what? 3 weeks? maybe a month? yeah...no. Then to add insult to injury, she leaves her stun gun... in the bathroom...and although she realizes it shortly after, she doesn't bother to go grab it, seeing as you know, they're on enemy territory and all. Pft.

-Caleb? Okay... No. Peter's sudden change of heart, and apparently sudden mastery of intelligence by switching out death serum (haha) for paralysis serum (hahaha) with a little dye and then figuring out the heart monitor with things that apparently Tris wouldn't understand..but Peter does. Yeah okay, just better off saying that there's no way this could have happened. Oh yeah, and how about just shooting the girl in the head? was that not a proper execution? did Jeanine really risk everything and start a revolution to have a guy like Peter ruin it? Please... But seriously, I keep reading, bc I need an explanation as to what's outside the city.

-Four's reluctance to believe Tris, after he compliments her for being so intuitive..he takes her with him to see his mom, but the doesn't take her opinion into account...and am I to believe that he suddenly is okay with killing a bunch of innocents just because they're Erudites?? No...way to destroy his character. Someone smack this boy upside the head, or better yet, someone give the writer a "clarity" serum.

-The security system for Jeanine's room is a simulation...even though she is trying to keep it from the divergent...and the divergent are capable of beating the simulations... but she went ahead and formulated a gas simulation that would adapt to the person's brain, instead of installing a machine gun that would shoot divergents... Okay. Stupid stupid stupid...my patience is running thin, but I paid $6 for this book and I'll be damned if I don't find out what the heck is outside this city.

-Also, are the divergent "immune" to these simulations? Or are they just really good at solving little riddles?...because if they were immune, that means they wouldn't take part in the simulation at all, like the attack simulation, even though that was more advanced than the Dauntless simulations...but those didn't affect her at all, however the little crappy aptitude test did? I don't know...smells like someone doesn't know what they're talking about.... *cough* writer *cough*

-More than half of the "loyal" divergent had the blue simulation needle thing going, but Jeanine only used it once, stupidly, even though she's a mastermind....okay. Never mind using them to carry the divergent out to them... but now, forget logic! let's be theatrical instead! let's have them jump off a building! Yes! Even though they are told they have two more days until another attack, this stupid girl runs out that moment....um.. perhaps handcuff the ppl with the blue dye, seeing as you know the exact time the simulation will start? Nah! Forget about that, just have Tris run back into that building unarmed. sorry, but too many stupid things happening here. My head is beginning to tick...you know, as if someone has given me an explosion serum.

FINALLY the end, I will get to satiate my thirst for knowing about this city, what terrors lie outside the fence?? Why is Jeanine's motivation so intense?! Tell me how the divergent can save the world!!

No...it's just woman showing ugly pictures. We don't know why, we don't know how...we don't know what that has to do with being divergent...and we don't even know why divergence is so important, seeing as Tris only seems to be a tad more perceptive than the others, and she's the "best" divergent apparently...And the lady is a prior... oh good, so is she her mother? is her father the prior or the mother the main prior? Are all families in this city just sharing one last name even before they meet each other or marry? Who cares, it's just another unanswered question. Oh no, Oh no... I've been fooled. I've been fooled fooled, and I will be fooled even more because now I have to read the third book in order to have some peace of mind. I know I will not get it, because...there's no way this story line can be saved, but still. I have 3 more days off and like I said, this is entertaining enough.
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on March 9, 2013
In a word, this book was fantastic. It quickly made its way onto my favorites shelf. I stayed up all night reading it, and finally around 6am I decided I needed to sleep, and it physically pained me to have to put the book down. I slept for a few hours, only to wake up and begin reading again immediately. I have never read a book like this before and I doubt I will ever find anything else like it. The world Roth has created is original and a little bit frightening. The idea of factions and the way this world is run shows how the need for order and control can quickly turn to turmoil. Words cannot express how much I loved this book.

Tris and Four are great characters, who show a lot of growth throughout the course of the book, Tris in particular. Tris is a great heroine, she is strong, brave, smart, and selfless. She cares for others, but also knows when to put herself first. She will always do what needs to be done, even when those choices are incredibly hard. Four is also a wonderful character. I LOVE HIM. He is an incredibly strong male lead, who seems fearless, but can also be very kind. The best part is, he never treats Tris as if she is weak. He knows from the very beginning that she is strong and is capable of taking care of herself. He helps her rather than holding her back in his efforts to protect her.

I said it before, and I will say it again, I love this book. I kind of want to pick it up and read it all over again and relive every great moment that is this book. I am grateful that I only have to wait until May for Insurgent to be released. I want more of Tris and Four and this great dystopian world. If you haven't read this book yet, stop what you are doing right now and go read it. You will not be sorry.
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on January 11, 2014
This book starts out kind of slow, I really wanted to put it down, but something told me that I need to continue to read it! I am glad I did!! It is set in a time that is in the future (I think) and there are different factions that people are split up in, I look at it as cult type groups that these people live in. They each have their own rule that they have to abide by. When they turn 16 they choose to either stay with their faction, or go to a new one.

Beatrice Just turned 16, she knows she doesn’t belong with her faction, she can feel that she needs to be somewhere else. When it is her turn to choose, she chooses the Dauntless faction. She gets sucked into a world of dangerous stunts, and daily battles, with not only what she is learning, but with the other initiates as well. She looks to a group of 3 other initiates, and they bond quickly.

Four is one of the leaders of the Dauntless. He oversees everything with the training of the initiates. He knows there is something different about Tris, but he can’t put his finger on it. When he does, it is almost too late

GET THIS BOOK NOW!! It is also going to be a movie!
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on March 16, 2014
Always interesting to see how a story will play out when it is told from one perspective and this time it's from Tris. But man if this story had come from Tobias, it would have been something to RAVE ABOUT. Mind you Divergent to me, is a five-star story for the ability of Ms. Roth to engage the reader. She is a gifted writer. Truly out of this world on many levels. If I had one criticism it comes from the way Tris thinks about herself. The self references as being small and childlike were speed bumps. I kept getting the impression she was about four feet tall and underdeveloped. A strange way for a sixteen-year old to think about herself but given the arc she is following, I understand the "why." Thank goodness there is Tobias or Four. Mega character to wait and watch as he comes into the story, then takes over and is magnetic. Chicago was amusing to read about as a setting into the future. I was entertained enough to buy the whole series so I guess that says it all insofar as a recommendation. Reading book 2 now.
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on March 20, 2013
Veronica Roth's writing style makes reading Insurgent easy while the emotional impact the story holds is such more significant. Insurgent didn't feel weighted down with a heavy reminder of every detail from Divergent, something many sequels do to help you remember the story. Instead, by Insurgent picking up right where Divergent left off, the story seemed to flow easily together.

In Divergent, Tris not only was tested but was forced to witness and defend herself against those she considered friends. Though they weren't under their own control, Tris has to come to accept what has happened and struggle with the truth as any character would.

Roth reminds us that Tris is real. Her emotions are genuine and although she is often conflicted at times, it is what makes her human. Her actions aren't always honest to those she loves and it's the flaws that make her someone we can relate to. She's also grown as a character, from the beginning of Divergent through the end of Insurgent. I'm curious and looking forward to seeing where the next book goes with her character.

Insurgent was a quick read and a constant page-turner. The story offered many twists and turns as it unfolded. The romance between Tris and Four offered a few much needed happy moments (in both Divergent and Insurgent).

With some heavier subject matter I'd recommend Insurgent for ages fifteen and up.
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