Beatrice isn’t cut out to be part of her parents’ faction: Abnegation. She isn’t selfless. She doesn’t even want to be.
At sixteen she decides which faction she will spend the rest of her life in. After that choice there is no turning back. Survive or become factionless.
But picking a faction is only the beginning. Survival will take every ounce of strength and skill and wits Beatrice has.
In My Opinion…
Author: Veronica Roth
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Ages: 14 +
Deciding what to rate this took a long time. To be honest: it totally stumped me. I spent half the book loving it—then hating it—then deciding it wasn’t so bad—then thinking it wasn’t good enough—then deciding I loved it/hated it all over again. But it wrung a four-star rating out of me. Because I have a weakness for fresh, zinging, snappy, excellent writing. And Divergent wins that hands down.
They style is fresh and brisk, with snappy dialogue and crisp details, all flawlessly woven into a flowing story. It’s written in first-person (I love that) and present tense (my new weakness). As seems the trend, it’s told by Beatrice (mostly know as Tris), our coming-of-age teenage girl, thrown in a dystopian world that she doesn’t quite fit into and ends up dangerously rocking the boat. The writing is amazing. Fullstop. Amazing. I loved the way the author played with words, crafting them into beautiful, flowing sentences with what felt like perfect ease. There’s no awkward mincing of words here. I love the style and the prose and, after glimpsing the first few lines, that’s the main reason I picked it up. Another reason is it’s on the “what-to-read-if-you-loved-the-Hunger-Games” list. And this time, I agree one hundred percent. If you’re life begins and ends with The Hunger Games, Divergent will not leave you disappointed.
The characters…Ah, the characters. There’s a few scathing things to be said about our main character, Tris. Flatly—she’s not very relatable. Tris is a complicating tangle of ignored emotions and feelings and wants. She doesn’t know who she is, and I think we as the readers, end up feeling that too acutely. I can’t honestly say I like Tris. She’s a deep and complex character and, on the most part, she is excellently portrayed. But I just felt she was a little too callous and cruel and sometimes detached from what we’d consider normal feelings. That said, I don’t loathe her. At times I quite loved her. I know Divergent is the beginning of a series, and I’m eager to keep reading and see how Tris progresses. I think it’s going to be interesting…and stunning.
The other characters came across real and poignant, with a hint of originality and freshness that kept you on your toes. It took me a while to sort everyone out in my head. There are the other initiates, training with Tris to become members of the Dauntless Faction. Will. Christina. Peter. Molly and Drew. Edward. Then there’s Eric (the Dauntless leader). Four (a Dauntless trainer). Tris’ family, Caleb her brother and her two Abnegation parents. And the underlying antagonists that you meet as the story unwinds. I find these characters excellently portrayed, with just the right amount of depth and feeling. Four is definitely the best here, though. From the beginning he’s a complicated, twisted, mysterious character, with hidden secrets you’re dying to find out and an abrupt, shut-off manner. He turns into Tris’ love interest by the end, though it takes a while for her to figure that out. But I find Four’s character intriguing and I like how the author portrayed him—not a soppy, bedazzling boy, but someone tough and gritty, with a painful past and an interesting outlook on life. These characters are definitely crafted by a master.
It’s a typical dystopian story-line. The world is nearly destroyed, so the people try to “fix” it by making everything as perfect as they can. In Divergent, they separate into factions that all (supposedly) work together to make the world run smoothly. There’s Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave), Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful) and Erudite (the intelligent.) Of course, all is not as it seems, and a conspiracy theory is unravelling before Tris’ eyes. At the beginning of the book, I was a bit doubtful of how the author was weaving the story line together. I thought the Dauntless came across as rather insipid, empty-headed, arrogant daredevils. Not impressed at all. As the story progressed, though, I started realizing that was what the author wanted. Corrupt leadership was sliding through Dauntless and Erudite, and everything was changing. Morals. Values. Reasons. Beliefs. That’s one of the points of the book.
The story arched in an effortless wave. I loved it. I loved how the difficult training process took up the majority of the story (and it never lagged or went dull for a moment), how the romance wasn’t the main focus, how the conspiracy theory and government plots developed without becoming boring or tedious. The ending is magnanimous. Perfect and epic. There are a few predictable spots, but they’re written well enough to pass a dark scrutiny. There are some shocks at the end, so sorry, but you’ll never once be comfortable while reading this book. There’s something unexpected at every corner.
Violence is a big part of the Dauntless’ lives and training process. While the writing doesn’t get too graphic, it isn’t covered up. But the real reason I wouldn’t recommend the book to younger readers is because of the deeper dystopian and often leadership corruption themes. You can get caught up in the violence and even the romantic side if you want, but that isn’t the point of the book. I think selflessness is a huge point of the book. Facing your fears. Learning to deal with your hate and past and things that scare you. Learning to control aspects of your fear. Learning who you are and what that means. Those are some of the themes. I think the author has brought them out strongly enough so that the violence and romance is just a back-story, something to flesh out the novel. That saying, I don’t think either were terribly or untastefully over done or dramatized to a graphic degree, though there is blood and there are kissing scenes.
An electrifying dystopian thriller, Divergent is an epic tale. I think it’ll become big, though I don’t think it was as powerfully told as The Hunger Games(excuse my comparison, but it does follow the same “thought”, though the story line and points of the book are vastly different). I might have been divided as I read it, and there were many drawbacks in the characterizations (and I admit, I’m no fan of romance), but once I closed the cover and sat back to consider, I realized the truth. I did like this book. It deserves those four stars.