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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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on July 16, 2017
It took me two tries to finish Divergent. As a big fan of the Hunger Games, a friend of mine recommended that I try out the Divergent series. So, heeding this advice, I purchased the e-book version of Divergent. My very first impression was that I liked the concept. Despite a real backstory for the ‘dystopia’ that Roth created, I still found it an absolutely compelling world. I liked the concept of keeping “control” of people by dividing people into factions through which they can contribute the most to society. In the story, a young girl named Beatrice Prior, member of the Abnegation faction. When it comes time for her to take her Aptitude test, the test through which she will find out the best faction for her, her test comes out that she has qualities appropriate for all factions, a condition known as Divergent. This, according to the government, is dangerous. They want people to fit into molded groups, not to be free thinkers. Honestly, not knowing that happens in later books, I couldn’t help but wonder why this wasn’t a more prevalent condition. Human nature is ultimately hard to contain. Beatrice can’t be Divergent, which must be kept a secret, so she elect to join the Dauntless faction. Dauntless are the protectors... the soldiers, the police, the fearless fighters. It’s a long road for Beatrice, who changes her name to Tris. Predictably, Tris becomes the most powerful of the new initiates and gets the hottest guy in the Dauntless faction: Four. It took me two tries because I felt like the romance between Tris and Four took away a lot from the plot. Something about the constant kissing just put me off because I wanted more than that. I wanted action, conflict more than just “is it okay to like this guy” and to learn more about the world in which these people live. Of course, I will read the other two books because now I feel invested in the series and I hope that with the romance out of the way and established, we can get on to things more deeply plot driven.
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on November 12, 2015
I generally don't like books written in first person...not because I don't like first person, I have just found in my experience that telling a story from entirely one person's point of view is a challenge. And, a lot of authors haven't mastered it...yet. That being said, I really liked this book, rather because of the first person, not in spite of it. The central character, Tris, is multi-layered and quite unpredictable in her reactions to the situations going on around her. She doesn't do what I think she will do. She is intelligent and she approaches the world around her in a unique, intelligent way. She's also a strong female figure which I like. And she holds her own with Four, an Alpha male...with very little softness to him. But its good. Four is a good guy, he just doesn't always come off that way. Still waters run deep though...Underneath the seemingly indifferent straight-laced trainer is a kind intelligent heart. His and Tris' coupling plays out realistically and very sweetly. The Dystopian faction-based society is intriguing...raising alot of questions in my mind. I was thinking about it long after I finished reading the book. Also, a plus, the movie version of the book actually does the book justice (quite shocking these days.) Read the Book. Watch the movie (near perfect casting!)
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on April 7, 2014
So.

So much hype surrounding this book and I just don't get it. The characters aren't likeable. We have no idea why the factions exist. What happened to make them that way?

Nothing happens in this book except for Tris' initiation into Dauntless. And that had to be one of the most ridiculous things ever. Her initiation. The training. I'm still not sure what she was supposed to get out of any of that.

While I didn't really like any of the characters I found others to be way more interesting than Tris and would have loved to learn more about them instead of her. Like Four. Or Uriah. Or Tris' mother. Or Caleb.

Tris was just an awful person. I couldn't stand her. By the end of the book I still didn't like her. She was a terrible person who passed judgment on everyone. What made her better than all of them? Not a darn thing.

What even happened in this book? I just don't know.
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on July 16, 2014
About half-way through this book, I just had to give it up. I love YA literature (especially Harry Potter and The Hunger Games), but I did not like this book at all. There was way too much senseless, pointless violence for my taste, and I couldn't bring myself to identify with or even like the narrator. (You know, there are narrators that you love to hate which is fine, but an unlikable narrator that the author intended to be likable is just miserable to read about.) I hate to give up on a book that so many people love, but I just couldn't bring myself to waste the time that it would take to finish this one. Bleh.
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on April 7, 2016
I thought this was a pretty good sequel to Divergent. I thought Insurgent went pretty smoothly and had no real issues. Tris was somewhat annoying in this one though. All her whining about the fact that she killed Will, even though she had no other real options at the time. Or the fact that she was willing to get herself killed because her parents had risked their lives for some unknown reason. Yet, she had no idea what the reason was until the very end.

One thing I couldn’t figure out, was why Tris was questioning Four as to why he beat Marcus up. Did she suddenly have amnesia and not remember what he did to Tobias when he was younger? Or maybe she forgot that a lot of the Dauntless members had been antagonizing Tobias because of his ‘cowardice’, due to the fact that he chose Dauntless to get away from his father?

Another aspect that I was lost on was how Tris seemed all eager to help Marcus. Huh? I thought she hated him? Apparently not that much. It was just very strange since she was willing to ruin her relationship with Tobias for his father.

Either way, I’ll be reading the next book in the series, Allegiant.
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on September 23, 2015
Insurgent

The novel picks up where the last novel, Divergent, leaves off, but as another reviewer pointed it, it's as if you've discovered an entirely different person as Tris was portrayed in the first novel!

The Tris in Divergent is a girl on the cusp of womanhood, growing up in an Amish-type group called Abnegation and they have very severe laws of behavior.

Through a rite that looks suspiciously like Harry Potter's Sorting Hat ceremony, she goes to Dauntless, the military-style faction in post-Apocalypse Chicago.

Anyway, Insurgent does not stand on its own. You have to read the first before reading the second. The second does little to catch the reader up so if you're new to the series you're about as screwed as Will was under simulation – but I digress!

Comments:

I like the world Veronica Roth built, but not how she wrote it. She dives so much into the teenage angst of Tris, and what she thinks about certain things, her fear of being a liar, deceiving all her friends and having a major guilt trip during the first 300 pages of the novel.

When I finally reached (struggled is more the term) near the end with the confrontation with Jeanine, the conversion of Peter (a religious angle? Nah!) and a convoluted ending, well let's just say I was not rewarded by what I read.

Book to Movie: This is not a review of the movie, but I did like the movie better than the book. That's like saying I liked spinach better than liver.

The movie cuts to the chase and leaves out all the teenage angst nonsense, and brings the ending to a fast conclusion (changing Roth's plot liberally). But with speed it loses its interest, and so it too is not really worth the time.

Conclusion:

Divergent is a novel that is very derivative of other Young Adult novels of a similar genre. The author must have read Hunger Games and Harry Potter and morphed them into a dystopian novel of sorts.

I could have worked regardless. Unfortunately the Tris character being changed from a tough as nails warrior to a whiny, suicidal teenager was too much to bear.

Not recommended!
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on May 6, 2015
First Impression: The Movie was Better!

***

Divergent, a book review

I picked up Divergent on the recommendation of a friend of mine. I had already seen the DVD of the story of the same name so I thought I’d give it a try. Actually, the movie was better!

Story & Plot:

Basic themes of family, groups, betrayal and self-sacrifice pepper the story. Unfortunately you have to also put up with the main character’s whiny self-deprecating, clueless dialogue throughout much of the story.

But I Digress:

A city in the Midwest, Chicago perhaps, is a remnant of its former self. To survive, a large wall was built around the city and a civilization was built based on four merits that cancel each other out. They’re divided into factions: Dauntless, Abnegation, Candor and Erudite. The words speak for themselves.

Beatrice belongs to the selfless group Abnegation and wants to be free of restrictions and go with Dauntless, which seems to be having all the fun. Airhead that she seems to be, she chooses Dauntless rather than the family group Abnegation, thus upsetting her parents and her brother (who also abdicates Abnegation and goes with the smart guys, Erudite.).

Faction before Family is a slogan that is also strewn about the novel and as in the movie is cause of tension between the factions.

Beatrice (Tris) is just a clueless 16 year old in this book. She falls for one of the leaders, “Four.” Yep, that’s his name and don’t give him a hard time about it, darn you!

He falls for her too, but when they see each other in the Dauntless cafeteria, he ignores her. She gets all introverted and wonders why he did that and then comes up with a wrong conclusion.

She does this a lot. Makes a bad call and acts on it.

This character is more frustrating than Bell on “Twilight”! (Actually, I take that back: No one is as bad as Bell on Twilight!).

Movie & Book

The movie is better. In the movie, Tris is naive but not clueless. We get to the end with her in conflict with the bad girl who wants to raise an army of Dauntless mind-controlled zombies. Tris handles it. The end, with a door open for the next film.

In the book, Tris does NOT handle it, but runs away on a train. Oh boy.

I’m leaving a lot out. The point is, you won’t be missing much by skipping the novel and watch the films. Way more entertaining.

And you don’t have to put up with the clueless conclusions of one dizzy Dauntless dame!
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on May 25, 2014
seriously, get some new ideas. are there no writers out there anymore with original thoughts?
lets see - chapter one - children of a certain age are divided into 4 different groups...hmm, how ever did they manage to do this without a sorting hat? children then learn the art of combat and later turn out to be pawns in the political wars of corrupt leaders...I feel like I've read this before - but wasn't the corrupt leader named Snow?
Awful. had to force myself to finish. will not reader the rest of the series. gag.
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on September 15, 2013
I'm a bit behind the times when it comes to reading Divergent by Veronica Roth. However, I'm finally starting to get caught up with all these awesome 2012 books! It's funny that I finally got around to Divergent when I saw it on audio from the library. I hadn't been able to find time to read the physical book I bought a year ago (one of my first book blogger inspired purchases :D), but I have been so short on audiobooks that it worked out perfectly in the form! In any case, I know that some of my opinions on this one are likely to be disagreeable with many fans, but that's why they are opinions right, hehe.

Strengths:
I am a huge fan of slow burn romances, those relationships that you start getting an inkling about in the beginning, but the characters certainly don't realize it. Divergent did this wonderfully from Tris' perspective since she starts annoyed and put off, but slowly gets to know Four and finds she likes who he is when he freaking relaxes!
The premise of five factions that focus on only one trait is quite interesting. I found myself thinking quickly about which faction I would end up in (Erudite) though it also seems likely I would have been born into it ;-). What faction do you think you'd choose? Do you think you would have been born into it based on your parents' personalities?
The plot twists of Divergent are delicious :D. I saw this book going in a very different direction, so it was pretty awesome to see how things developed.
I thought the questions that Divergent brings up in terms of who should make up the government were really fun to think about and actually a good thing to consider. In the beginning there seem to be very good arguments for Abnegation, but is it really fair/good to have only one faction control government?
The narrator did an excellent job. I highly recommend you check out the audiobook version if you are interested.

Weaknesses:
There is only so much sadness and innocent death that I can take, and Divergent pushed up against that limit. I really didn't think all of the bad things should have happened to some of the side characters. I understand some of it was necessary to show how cruel select candidates were, but it just went too far for my emotional health ;-).
I'm not a fan of the "saving the world with love" conclusions and Divergent definitely felt like one.
Just a generally word of caution that Divergent has abuse and assault situations at several occasions that might be more than unpleasant for some people.

Summary:
Divergent definitely brought the grittiness of dystopias to the table in addition to a fascinating premise and strong characters. While I wish it hadn't been nearly so dark at times, I thoroughly enjoyed the brewing romance and developing character of Tris. Now that all of that has gone down, I'm excited to see what Insurgent has in store! I've heard it's just as depressing, so I'm holding off reading it until I'm filled up on happy fantasy books, but I won't be able to resist the questions long ;-).
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