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Book Review: Divergent (Veronica Roth)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Harper Collins UK

Pages: 487

Release Date: May 3rd 2011

Summary (from Goodreads):

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.

Review:

This is a series that I’ve always meant to read eventually, despite not hearing brilliant things about it from my younger sister. When I saw all three on NetGalley I thought this was the perfect opportunity to finally read and review them.

Overall, I did enjoy this as a book. It’s a pretty interesting story and I liked Tris as a protagonist, even if I didn’t enjoy some of the others. She had clear conflicts and wasn’t Little Miss Perfect, which is always appreciated. You could see the contrasting nature fighting within her and, especially when she thought on her Abnegation life, how she tried to be selfless as she should be but struggled, and wondered if that made her a bad person.

I found a lot of the other characters just didn’t stand out to me. I felt like I was thinking of them as ‘cannon fodder’ y’know, expecting them to be killed off quickly so not getting very attached to what I saw of them. In fairness to me, I was right in a lot of cases! As for Four, and the relationship there, it was a little insta-love for my liking and I just didn’t see what was that attractive about Four – he seemed moody and rude, a proper Brooding YA Hero! I did enjoy his back story though, and didn’t see it coming.

There’s a lot of action in the story and it moved along pretty quickly. It does have a Hunger Games feel about it and I can see why it took off so well and has followed the classic 4 movies for 3 books thing that keeps happening a lot lately.

Those are my positives (mostly, I did slip into negatives a bit there). Now here’s my rant.

I just could not get my head around the factions. It felt silly. I like a good dystopian story, I’m normally on board with seeing different functioning societies, but this one just did not make sense to me. I’m writing this having finished the trilogy, and it makes a little more sense now, but I don’t think it’s really justified if you have to wait until book 3 to understand it.

In The Hunger Games I can understand the districts that people are split into, mostly because it sounds geographical more than anything. But in Divergent people are split into factions based on personality traits. Honesty (Candor), bravery (Dauntless), selflessness (Abnegation), knowledge (Erudite), and peace (Amity). They’re raised in whatever faction their parents are in, then get a chance to choose their own when they’re 16, based on an aptitude test and basically what they want to be. Which again, is silly to me. In this book, a fair few choose Dauntless and are clearly not cut out for it. And then they find out that only 10 of them are going to make the cut anyway, and the rest will have to become factionless (basically homeless).

I just didn’t get it. It felt silly and contrived and kind of ruined the story for me. It’s just so jarring having them talk about people as if they only have one element to their personality, when so many clearly don’t (but aren’t even Divergent, as Tris is, which actually didn’t seem like the big deal I thought it would be). Them having their own clothes and things just felt like a step too far as well.

Okay, rant over.

This is obviously a popular series, whatever I say, and despite my massive problem with the factions I did enjoy reading it. It’s just not going to rival something like Hunger Games in the dystopian YA world for me.

3

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