Divergent by Veronica Roth
Genres: Action/Adventure, Dystopia, Young Adult
Maturity Rating: 3 1/2
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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, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.
I enjoyed Divergent, and it was an extremely well-written book. However, it did not live up to the hype surrounding it. I was expecting something as good as the Hunger Games, if not better, but it just didn’t seem to meet that standard.
I think for me there were two main problems. First, that the book spends the vast majority of the narrative in the Dauntless faction, which I fundamentally disagree with and dislike. So they’re basically Gryffindors, except tattooed and idiots. Their one goal in life is to overcome all their fear, and apparently anyone who would want to do that would be military, or something. Anyway, as a person who is perfectly happy being afraid (and a bit of a pacifist), I found their combat training and adrenaline junkie behaviors stupid. Some of it was cool I guess, but an entire book of it was a little much for me.
Also, in a “perfect” society, what do they need with GUNS anyway? What are they protecting the city against? I was really expecting zombies or monsters or something, but what’s on the other side of the fence ends up being the biggest disappointment in YA literature, in my opinion.
Second, I found the concept of the factions to be a bit unrealistic. I find that Dystopian books are at their finest when the political and social structures develop from our current way of life. But the factions were like nothing we have. Besides that, they don’t make any logical sense. More amazing than the fact that they were breaking down by the end of the book was the fact that they ever worked in the first place!
However, I really liked Tris, and all the other characters for that matter. Even though I was bored of the dauntless faction, I was really drawn in by plot. And somehow, even though their relationship is pretty immature (and the reason for the 1/2 in that maturity rating!), I was rooting for Tris and Four. Most of all I just had to know … WHAT IS DIVERGENT? Roth dangled that in my face like a very effective carrot.
So while I enjoyed Divergent, and while I found the concept interesting, this book did not blow me away like I expected it to.