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Customer Review

518 of 617 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dynamic, but shallow entertainment, April 25, 2011
This review is from: Divergent (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
We all know why "Divergent" was written. There is no doubt 99% of dystopias published during the last year or so have been trying to at least partially replicate the success of the trilogy. Public wants to read more dystopian stories, publishers want to sell them, authors want to write them. Everyone is happy.

I have read a few new dystopias recently and liked or disliked them to various degrees. There are dystopias for any taste, dystopias that emphasize separate aspects of the trilogy. There are dystopias that bank on romance ("Matched" or "Delirium"). There are dystopias that take the shock value route ("Wither"). And then there is "Divergent" that caters to the crowd who wants more action in their dystopias. And action this novel delivers!

In a few words, "Divergent" is a one long initiation trial. Beatrice Prior is a member of a society that has been maintaining its peaceful existence by separating its citizens into 5 distinct factions. These factions are formed on the basis of virtues they cultivate in their members - Candor values honesty the most, Abnegation - selflessness, Dauntless - bravery, Amity - peacefulness and Erudite - intelligence. At 16 all citizens take a test that is supposed to help them decide if they want to stay with the faction into which they were born or transfer to another faction forever. Beatrice's test results are inconclusive and puzzling. Ultimately she decides to abandon her own faction (Abnegation) and her family and enter another (Dauntless). But of course, the transfer is not easy. The initiation trials are grueling. "Divergent" is essentially a depiction of Beatrice's road to becoming a Dauntless, both physically and emotionally. Beatrice's unusual test results come to play too, and in a major way.

This emphasis on multiple trials and exercises is the strongest and the weakest part of the story. Veronica Roth has a special talent for writing great fighting scenes, pulse-raising and adrenaline-pumping scenes. Her imagination in terms of inventing different tests and challenges seems to be limitless. Something exciting happens to Beatrice every day of her trials. But that is also the weakness of the story. About 85% of the book is dedicated to action and exercises. The actual story starts only around page 415 of this 500-page book. Only then stakes are raised and real action begins. If you ask me, 400-pages is a lot of prep to finally get to the meat of the story.

Don't get me wrong, I liked the book Ok. "Divergent" is good entertainment. I liked it, I was engaged in the story, I was even excited quite often. But something was missing for me. The novel has good characters, but they are not quite as interesting and compelling as they could have been; it has a lot of action, but the justification for the amount of violence involved is not quite adequate; it has a cute romance, but it never quite makes your heart contract in that sweet, painful way (you know what I am talking about, don't you?); the concept of factions is a unique one but not quite plausible; the explanation what a Divergent actually is is not quite climactic; finally, except for one plot twist (p 415), the story takes a rather predictable road.

I liked "Divergent." I liked it more than "Matched," "Delirium" or "Wither." I liked it less than "Blood Red Road" or "Ship Breaker." It entertained me. It promotes all the good things - bravery and self-sufficiency, friendships, honesty, determination. It is all about girl empowerment. But as the same time it isn't particularly thought-provoking or chilling. It never truly touched my heart. It is a write-by-numbers dystopia.

The verdict? I guess, you'll have to see for yourself?
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Showing 1-10 of 27 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 27, 2011, 11:04:38 AM PDT
Tabitha says:
I also liked it better than Matched and Wither, but less than Ship Breaker. It's certainly fast-paced and engaging, but there were also aspects that were a bit clumsy. It's an entertaining story, but I'm not sure it lives up to the hype.

Posted on Aug 1, 2012, 6:03:45 PM PDT
Dewi says:
I felt the same way. I loved the first few hundred pages. Around 450 pages in, I put it down simply because the romance was awkward... so awkward in fact I found myself completely disengaged from the story, and in the end, I just didn't care what happened.

Posted on Aug 10, 2012, 8:11:36 AM PDT
Allison says:
Thank you for putting to words exactly what I was thinking. I did love the story but just felt that something was missing and I just wasn't emotionally invested in the story. Will I keep reading the rest of the books - yes. Will I recommend this book to friends as a must read - probably not.

Posted on Aug 11, 2012, 7:28:25 AM PDT
This is the same way I felt. And I agree with Allison too that I'll prolly read the other books but won't recommend them to friends. I really enjoyed the Maze Runner trilogy. Definitely better than this, Matched and Unwind.

Posted on Oct 7, 2012, 12:52:30 PM PDT
Thanks for the review. I probably won't bother with this. The premise doesn't sound feasible, and I hate poorly written romances.

Posted on Oct 12, 2012, 1:14:04 PM PDT
A. Dennis says:
Thanks so much for the review. While I thought Hunger Games was good, I wasn't sure I wanted to get into yet another dystopian series. I don't think I will bother with this one.

Posted on Oct 14, 2012, 5:47:53 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Dec 10, 2012, 12:50:43 PM PST
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Dec 31, 2012, 1:31:59 PM PST
Dzug says:
Thought the book was very good with the next one Inception also.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 31, 2012, 1:33:09 PM PST
Dzug says:
I liked the book also.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 6, 2013, 5:50:25 PM PST
LilaGreen says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]
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