Monday, 12 August 2013

Divergent - Veronica Roth Review

Synopsis: In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue--Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is--she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are--and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, Tris also learns that her secret might help her save the ones she loves . . . or it might destroy her
Ah, Divergent. So, so much hype and yet I still didn’t read it until long after the sequel came out.  I could say that I was just trying to ease the pain of a cliffhanger but that would be an utter lie. It has just been something that I took far too long to get around to buying.
Fortunately, I did really enjoy it when I got it eventually. You probably know the drill by now: society split into five factions according (officially) to what a person believes stops war and (unofficially) to personality. Sixteen-year-olds must choose the faction they wish to devote their life to, and here our protagonist Tris comes in. Never mind that that wouldn’t actually make a safe society.
Tris, or Beatrice, is not actually a very likeable main character – which is why it’s so commendable that I liked reading from her perspective anyway. Born in Abnegation, she’s never fully fit in with their selflessness. So, of course, she goes and makes the choice with all the excitement and danger and explosions. Way to conveniently pull the plot forward, Tris!
Then there’s the romance. I hate romance most of the time, and in parts this relationship just annoyed me, but it’s grown on me. And by the sequel I was very afraid that they’d separate, purely for the fact that it added so much necessary tension.
It fell down on the world-building, especially when compared to, say, Matched. It gave all of these interesting details so that I badly wanted to find out more, and then it wouldn’t tell me. Like, for example, what the initiation is for Erudite. It was just bare on that kind of details.
Okay, cynical as that sounds, I did really really like the book.
Divergent won its way onto my Favourites shelf (where it resides alongside such worthy specimens as Artemis Fowl, Harry Potter, Slated, Partials and The Hunger Games) by being so damn entertaining. And quotable, very quotable.
A clever thing done by this book is letting fans interact with it. Like Harry Potter, where you might declare yourself a Gryffindor or a Ravenclaw, you could be Dauntless or Erudite. (I have always been Ravenclaw/Erudite, by the way).
Roth seems to have a truly brilliant imagination in dreaming up the different simulations and trials. They’re engrossing and entertaining –even if they don’t have much substance.
At this point I didn’t even care much about the (wait for it) dystopian set up, because I waited until the market was supersaturated with dystopians to read one of the best of them. I just loved the reading experience, and I can assure you now that that’s not objective at all.  
It’s actually a difficult one to analyse. I do think it lived up to the hype, but it’s not exactly one I’d find much pleasure in discussing. That privilege goes to its sequel , Insurgent. I liked Insurgent for all the reasons I didn’t like Divergent, and I will of course be reviewing it soon.


  1. Ah good, glad you liked this one despite the crazy hype for it! It's funny, I felt the same way about Tris in that I liked her character despite her not being particularly likeable, haha. And I also really liked that it was one of those books you can interact with! I'm totally Amity (and Hufflepuff :)). Great thoughts, Rose!

    1. Thanks :D Yeah, I love those. If I was Divergent I think it'd be for Erudite and Amity, but I think Erudite will always be my best match. and yay. Hufflepuff pride!


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