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on December 7, 2013
Title: Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth
Publication Date: April 25, 2011
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 487

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.
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I have been eagerly awaiting Insurgent by Veronica Roth along with many other people after the startling and thrilling first book, Divergent. That book introduced us to five factions of a dystopian society, and one brave girl named Tris, who decides to join the Dauntless. It's clear by the end of the book that she belongs to the group of Divergent, meaning that she could have belonged to any one of these factions with her personality traits.

This book takes off immediately where the last one ended. At first it's a jumble of confusion, and I may have made more sense if I had reread the first one right before this one. The factionless have more of a story, and we get more fleshed out characters. I have to admit I was a little disheartened by the first half of the book. To me, it seemed like we were drifting around in Tris's bizzare guilt trip. I understood she was working through her issues but I was almost overwhelmed by the amount of pages dedicated to this. Overall, the story has a darker tone and almost gets too heavy.

However, things change when secrets start to be revealed. My absolute favorite part of the book was when we are introduced to some Erudite characters who end up being more three dimensional than Tris ever imagined. The last secret revealed made the whole book worth reading.

While I had some reservations, I thought overall this book was well written and ramped up heavily at the end. The last 25% of the book was really terrific. Just personally, I think that I liked the first book better because we are first introduced into this world that is so completely different than has been created before. However, the second book is a solid companion to the first, and I am excited to see how the story ends.
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on March 29, 2014
Alright. First and foremost, I will compare this book to The Hunger Games.
Both have sixteen year old female characters. Both girls are strong, independent, unwilling to be controlled by their situation and tough. "Tough as nails" as the dimensionless love interest in Divergent called "Four" says. Both are set in a post apocalyptic world where the government is the end all be all of existence, maintaining 'peace' by dividing people into factions that value completely different things and are discouraged from mingling.
But the Hunger Games has real characters, touching, poignant scenes of hardship and desire, sadness but on top of all, hope. Divergent has none of this. Beatrice, or Tris, as she changes her name to, is a character so odd and so meaningless that the reader barely wants her to come out on top throughout everything. She is a girl set in a very quiet, selfless community, with a kind family. She quickly turns into a ruthless, brutal girl who will do anything to make it into this special division of people that are described, basically, as rude scene kids with free reign on tattoos, alcohol, and weapons. Her trainer, (and love interest) Four is a character so flat that Roth has to continuously allude to his rippling muscle and beautiful eyes to get the audience connected, because the reader simply has no connection to him, from the first moments. As persons, neither Four nor Tris seem to have reasons for the huge, brutal motivation they have to do what they do, which is all over the place. Does Tris want to win? Oh yeah. Win what? We don't really see. Does she want her friends? Um, sure. But what if they get in her way? Then she'll just leave them to rot away. Does she want to see her family? Of course! But does she care what they think, does she care at all? Hell if we know.
Without spoiling anything, the book basically goes nowhere, leaving the reader a cheap cliffhanger by simply....not resolving anything at all. Do we figure out what Divergent means? Why do we care again?
Roth weaves together a script of lots of violence (to keep the plot moving, why else?) Kissing (because otherwise girls wouldn't read it altogether) scathingly bad dialogue:
"Something about him (Four) makes me feel like I am about to fall. Or turn to liquid. Or burst into flames." ~Tris
and finally....lots of blushing, and stammeringly awkward innuendo. Seriously. The amount that all the characters cry, blush, or get knocked out would basically fill up a smaller, better book.
So folks, save your money. Don't buy the book. Go find a better one, The Hunger Games, The Fault in our Stars, or something akin to that. Divergent isn't something urgent to read.
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on October 19, 2016
It felt like every other page she was commenting about his eyes, or something like that.

The basic premise of separating people into personality factions seems kind of irrational. Furthermore, divergent people would seem to stabilize the system since they could best act as a bridge between factions, so one would think they would be celebrated.

Why on earth would anyone hold animosity against abnegation - they immediately care about anyone else who has hostility towards them. One would think they would have long since worked to bridge the gap with the Erudites. Oh, and the fact that the Erudites hate them in the first place seems pretty irrational as well - lots of pretty smart people in there, and yet they all seem to drink in the same silly baseless arguments. It was just more than I could accept.

Oh, and let us not forget the end. Injecting people with a serum that makes them susceptible to mind control rays? Really? I picked it up curious and hopeful, but I don't think I could make myself read the sequels.
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on April 25, 2014
First off I just want to say don't read this book DO NOT COMPARE IT to the Hunger Games. They are two totally different stories and end quite differently. There is no need to compare two great books and to insult the book. You shouldn't insult any book but rather say that you don't like. You wouldn't like if I insulted a book that you loved. I just thought I would warn you.
I ABSOLUTELY LOVED this book and the other two books. I just feel like Tris Prior is such an amazing character. This book shows that it's okay to be different, it just makes extra special. Through out all three books, she is such a strong character that I love. She is a very relate able character and so are a lot of things in Veronica Roth's book. First, Tris is relate able because she has fears, she's scared, small, not strong but she's brave. The point of the fear landscape is to learn what your fears are and face them. Learn how to handle them. She was weak but she kept working at it, and look at her now. The love from her parents made her stronger and braver. Factions: they represent human nature, how we act or think. The Choosing Ceremony represents making decisions but also living with those decisions you make. Sometimes you may make decisions, that you can never change and you live with that. We all deal with that everyday. Tris, throughout the book, had to deal with that.
The last thing I want to mentions is a warning to Allegiant, the last book. I don't want you guys to get turned off by this but please take to heart when reading it. The ending of Allegiant is not your typical ending. Before you read the ending, keep in mind that, don't get mad but understand why Veronica Roth made it end like that. There is a reason and accepted that but I also wasn't mad because I just loved this character as much as I love Harry Potter. They are both amazing brave people, that I could never get mad at. Please do not get turned of from what I am saying. Read it because you learn so much from that book and really love all three of these books.
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on May 18, 2014
The last installment of the Divergent Saga, Insurgent manages to underwhelm me even after two terribly written and boring prequels.

Without going into details let's just say, that while Divergent comes up with a promising new world and two great main characters that is all it does. From there it is completely downhill. First the world seems a bit narrow and naive but the end of Book 1 gives the impression that through Tris - the female protagonist - the author is gradually introducing an intricate and layered universe. However Book 2 fails to broaden the horizons while Tris and Tobias suffer in their relationship, as does the reader.

Tobias loses all credit by repeatedly forgiving Tris for her recklessness even though he tells her Chapter 1 that he wants to be with someone who is dauntless. Not insane.

Insurgent seemingly explains all our questions but it is unsurprising, unconvincig and really-really lame. In regards to main characters it basically repeats the emotional events of past books, with Tobias becoming more and more single-minded and easy to decieve, while Tris know best.

Tris knows better than everyone else, but Book 3 is still trying to make us believe that we are equal. Except Tris is a bit more equal.

And then she dies. Why on earth does she die? What is it supposed to mean? What is the conclusion of the story then?
I mean The Hunger Games series doesn't exactly end on the happiest note but it still says something about the world. However Tris dying only says that Veronica Roth tried and failed two discover a novel closure for a dumb and badly written Saga
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on January 31, 2014
My daughter is making me read this in preparation for going to see the movie with her. I was against reading it for so seemed like just another YA Dystopia with heroine who bucks the political system riding the Hunger Games Popularity wave.

And yeah, much of the "system" feels a bit forced. And to anyone with some reading in YA speculative fiction under their belt, some of the "surprises" are pretty heavily tipped off when their first clues are presented. (Like when Tris is all like "hey mom, how did you know about the intimate details of Dauntless initiation?" and the mom is all like "what? what are you taking about? Silly girl, everyone knows about the intimate, secret details of Dauntless initiation")

But despite the predictability and artificial flavoring of the political's so COOL. I mean, really? What adolescent or young adult (or mature adult for that matter) wouldn't love to live in such a stratified, accessible, practical, everyone-knows-their-place and everyone-has-their-homies kind of factioned world?

And the whole initiation where basically Tris has to do wild and crazy things to be accepted and push the envelope on competition with her friends to the point of helping or hurting them? Yeah, that's not straight out of modern high school life, is it?

So I am enjoying the book. I'm about halfway through. We're now getting out of the fun initiation games/death-matches and more into Tris' relationship with her mysterious instructor, Four, and the real reason its so dangerous to be Divergent. We'll see how the second half holds up.

**edited on 1/31 as I have finished reading the book. The action ante gets upped in the last third of the book where all of a sudden all the evil plans go into action. I like how Tris' Divergent nature is the key to her ability to fight back once the evil Erudite plans go into effect. I didn't like how the villains were characteristically Bond Villain about dealing with our heroine (hey, instead of just shooting her in the head like we just did everyone else, let's set up an unnecessary scenario where the death comes slowly enough for the hero to somehow get out). And the contrived nature of Tris' execution (and I can't say anymore without spoilage) to mirror another event kind of turned me off as well.

Okay, one more gripe. Disconnect between levels of tech. I get this is a post-apocalyptic world in the sense that there are abandoned and ruined buildings all over Chicago and society is majorly disrupted. However...the trains all run on time all the time? And there is the level of sophisticated technology that allows microscopic transmitters to be injected into people so they can experience a controlled virtual reality? But people don't drive cars? No cell phones? And the evil villain who wants to take over the world contrives a dastardly and complicated plan instead of just using aforementioned serum on the leaders?

Hmmm......a bit too much of cool ideas being forced into plot instead of plot flowing naturally from world-building for me.

But again, at the end, what Tris has to do is awesome. Her relationship with love interest is multi-layered and involving emotional depth that only this level of contrived plot coulif you're jonesing for some YA Dystopia Angst with the same kind of "cool idea" factor as Hunger Games, this one is totally worth your whiled allow, and so I forgive the book for that.

Can't wait to see the movie with my sixth grader. However, I'll have to ask her if its worth reading the next book in the series. If there's more contrived plot, I might skip it. But .
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on August 14, 2013
Why have I put off this book for so long?

I can see now why Divergent is so loved my many. It's a story of self-discovery, change, and romance.
Veronica Roth creates a dystopian world, which is divided into five fractions - the Abnegation, Candor, Dauntless, Erudite, and Amity -- each with their own set of rules and beliefs.

As all sixteen-year-old has to, Beatrice and her brother Caleb are off to choose their futures - what fraction they would like to become a part of for the rest of their lives. No turning back. Followed by the initiation in which all those whom has chosen that particular fraction will have to undergo a competitive competition and training.

Gah, this book was insane! I was immediately drawn by the system and the characters. You have to admit, to have the people divide themselves by a certain aspect -- in which rules a majority of their personalities is, well, unheard of and creative.

As much as I have seen good reviews on Divergent, I have also witness some negatives ones. And I may have a theory as to why. Although it does not bother me, it seems that the whole book was revolved around the initiation, and I believe there must have been many readers whom have pictured the book going towards a different direction. Ex: maybe half the book is on the training, and then the other half transiting somewhere else.

Regardless there was still a lot going on, and personally I see it as the perfect introduction and preparation for the following books to come.

I am going to talk about the characters a little.

Beatrice - also known as Tris -- even though she is physically smaller than the other characters, her personality and will is much stronger. Her role plays a major part in the fractions coming together, and I am looking forward to reading Insurgent and witnessing her changes and development as a character.

Ugh, Four. A guy that seems lethal yet holds a humane touch is always a treat in YA fictions! For those who has read Divergent already, come on, let us all be honest, who didn't fall for him?! You can witness the changes in his character already, here in book one; and you'll love him more and more. As much as the protagonists, the supporting characters are all as well rounded. Christina and Will are just adorable! They both made the story more light and fun; it wouldn't have been the same without the bickering of those two.

The ending was well done. The angst and emotions that I imagined must have been radiating from Tris, was electrifying, and it leaves you wondering what will happen to this group in Insurgent.

There is not much to say. Many have read Divergent already, but to those who have not, GO Get It!
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on January 12, 2015
I read this book and absolutely LOVED it. The second one was even better! I read them both within 3 nights! However, after reading the third book I can honestly say I wish I could un-read the entire series. The author completely destroyed an amazing story... I have never been so disappointed about a book/series. I hate to offer up a SPOILER but I truly wish I would've seen one so I wouldn't have wasted time and emotional investment in these wonderful characters... Tris dies. In the most unnecessary, unsatisfying, ridiculous way. The end of the story doesn't make sense and will make you wish you'd never read it.
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on May 1, 2012
First Impressions: I had been looking forward to reading Insurgent ever since I finished reading Divergent (for the millionth time) last year. One morning I woke up and before I even had my morning coffee, I heard a nice thud outside of my front door. I kind of feel like there should have been fireworks and confetti when I opened up the package and laid my hands on my pretty proof of Insurgent. I hugged it. I stroked the cover, and it gained its place at the top of my review pile. My precious..... If you haven't already read Divergent, you need to go get a copy NOW! You are missing out on reading an amazing trilogy and trust me; you don't want to miss these books.

First 50 Pages: The beginning of Insurgent picks up right where Divergent left off, luckily. I was hoping there wouldn't be any gaps in time between the first book and the second, and there wasn't. I was also worried that Insurgent would suffer from Sophomore Slump, but it didn't. If fact, I think I enjoyed Insurgent more than I did Divergent because this book has a ton of action and more character development. However, the world-building in both books is phenomenal. I would love to know how Veronica Roth comes up with the things that she does, because even though this world she dreamed up is crazy (and awesome), it never seems too far-fetched. The Young Adult market is so flooded with dystopian novels right now that aren't plausible, with the exception of a select few, including the Divergent/Insurgent novels.

Characters & Plot: I'll do my best to keep this part as spoiler-free as possible so I don't ruin anything for anyone, but there might be some minor spoilers, so readers beware.

Like I stated above, Insurgent picks up right where Divergent left off. Tris is heading back to the Amity headquarters, not to mention being devastated from having to watch a good majority of her family murdered and from murdering one of her best friends, Will, while he was under a simulation. All of the consequences of the events that happened in Divergent begin to truly take its toll on Tris and she has a lot of feelings and emotions she has to work through.

Four, Caleb, and Marcus are also accompanying Tris as they travel to not only Amity, but Candor as well. They need to let everyone know about the war against Abnegation and that they have teamed up with Dauntless and Erudite. Unfortunately, they gain no support from either faction. A lot happens in Insurgent and it is easy to get confused on what exactly is going on. Jeanine Matthews is still on the loose and is collecting Divergent people for a purpose that isn't fully known. Four's mom also makes a comeback as the leader of the Factionless, and all sorts of other sub-plots and hell break loose. Veronica Roth makes it increasingly difficult to be able to choose sides and to be able to see which factions are the real villains, compared to the factions that have made bad choices. It is an incredibly complex story that somehow just works and I'm not sure any other author would have been able to put together so many different ideas that flow together so well.

Another relief of mine was the fact the Roth decided not to include a love triangle when it comes to Four and Tris' relationship. I was really worried that she would, because it seems like the thing to do in Young Adult novels, but she didn't. However, there are some personality issues that are going on in Insurgent that has changed from Divergent, and the couple endures their own struggles because of the varying feelings and emotions they are experiencing. Tris feels very helpless and is depressed for the majority of the story and it comes across in her recklessness. Four, or Tobias as he is called more often in this book, is a little more edgy in Insurgent, and does his best trying to do well for Tris, but he has his struggles and you can't help but to feel bad for him. Tris doesn't always make his job as the good boyfriend, easy.

Final Thoughts: There is a HUGE revelation that takes place in the final half of Insurgent and the book ends with a cliffhanger that is going to drive me absolutely insane until I can read the last and final book. Insurgent surpassed my expectations and I foresee it ending up on every single "Best of 2012" list later this year. Without a doubt, I very highly recommend picking up your own copy of Insurgent when it comes out May 1st!
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