Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

"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 threatens to unravel her seemingly-perfect society, she also learns that her secret might be what helps her save those she loves . . . or it might be what destroys her." - Shelfari's Summary

I agree that the summary makes Divergent sound like just another Hunger Games knock-off. A bunch of teenagers thrust into a highly-competitive situation, with the bottom scorers being eliminated? And ooh, romance. That's what I thought when I started reading it, too. But no. Not at all.

I realize that over the course of the year, I've said "Oh, I loved this book so much!" for every dystopian novel I've reviewed, other than Delirium. Divergent was way better than Matched, Delirium, and XVI. I'm choosing not to compare it to Wither (which I apparently didn't write a review for-- I loved it to pieces), since they're both amazing in different ways.

I have another post in the works about the world in greater detail, so I'll just say that it wasn't just an "Ooh, creative idea!" sort of dystopian world. This was a "Ooh, creative and engrossing and fascinating idea!" sort.

The love interest, despite sharing some physical traits with Mr. Paranormal Romance (blue eyes, dark hair, long-fingered hands-- and I got to the part about the hands a few days after I wrote the post), is not annoying. He's not Mr. Perfect, and he's not Mr. My Flaws Make Me Perfect. He really is, well, flawed. And it's that, ironically enough, that made him my favorite fictional love interest in a long while. If it weren't for the fact that I don't want to spoil his identity for you (who am I kidding- it's obvious from his first scene), I would refuse to call him The Love Interest, because while that's his role in the plot, he seems way more real and...complete... than just that.

To quote from another review of the book, "Tris never had some sudden, life-changing experience and then suddenly became sure that she was in the right place making the right choices. She had terrible doubts through to the end, and her success throughout the book was to keep ploughing on through her uncertainty." That's true, and I love it.

Reading Divergent, while completely enjoyable in and of itself, also made me realize some of the flaws in my own novel, and has inspired me to get started on another set of edits. (It may help that there are two short scenes in Divergent that are pretty much identical to two short scenes in mine, and Divergent did it better.) That, I think, is one of the marks of a great book, though: it makes you want to do great things yourself.


  1. I really loved the main character of Divergent Tris. She is such a strong, fierce character. I loved that Tris was not afraid to stand up for what she believes in and was willing to make choices based on her heart and decisions even if they were unpopular decisions. Tris was everything you want in a strong female character. Not only was she willing to make difficult decisions she could also kick ass, physically. I loved that she was such a strong female character, making decisions based on what she thought was right, not what society deemed right. And then there is Four. I loved Four. He was awesome and just as strong as Tris.

  2. I completely thought it was a knock-off. The teens being forced to make life changing decisions in a dystopian, districted environment that has gone awry. The love interest in a character that *** spoilers *** turns out to be from the same faction. The brutality and competition between the teen contestants. The weak female character having a skill that makes her the strongest in the end. The destruction of the "home" faction and needing to retreat to the friendly faction... setting up a battle with the power hungry government in the next book. A slightly different breakout of the districts and the challenge, but otherwise, exactly the same as HG.


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