*hangs head* I have been slow on the uptake... again. Divergent, the debut novel by Veronica Roth, came out last year and I heard nothing but positive things about it. I’ve kept it on my TBR pile for a solid year but with the highly anticipated release of Insurgent, the second book in this series, I knew I had to pull this book out and read it now. (I can’t stand to be THAT far behind the times, BtCers.) And I do love a good dystopian novel. *winks*
This book has been previously reviewed on BtC by Christin. *does a happy dance for baby sis being back on the blog temporarily* I'm posting both my review and hers so you can see what we each thought of this book. I hope you enjoy the different perspectives we tend to bring to our reviews. *laughs and blows kisses*
Though this book has been out for some time and has been discussed to 'nth' and back, I am holding true to my 'spoiler free' review policy.
by Veronica Roth
Genre: Young Adult, YA Dystopian, YA Science Fiction
Pages: 487 (hardcover)
Publication: May 2011
(Katherine Tegen Books)
Goodreads Summary: In a future Chicago, 16-year-old Beatrice Prior must choose among five predetermined factions to define her identity for the rest of her life, a decision made more difficult when she discovers that she is an anomaly who does not fit into any one group, and that the society she lives in is not perfect after all.
The world of Divergent is a world divided. Operating under the premise that character traits were the cause of the strife and warring in the world, and in an attempt to rid themselves of those qualities, the people divided into groups which sought to promote the best attributes of human nature and created five factions: Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave) and Erudite (the intelligent). At the age of sixteen each person undergoes an aptitude test which tells them which traits they exhibit, and they must choose which faction they will devote the rest of their lives to. But life among the factions isn’t perfect and the ideals each was created with are being tested. Strife is returning as the factions begin to bicker among themselves...
Beatrice (Tris) has grown up learning and living the values of Abnegation. And though she has tried, she has never felt that she lived up to the ideals of her faction, never felt that she was truly selfless. As she faces the biggest decision of her life, she is forced to look deep inside herself and determine what her greatest strength is... and what kind of person she wants to be. A very complex character, Tris develops and grows enormously over the course of the book, maturing dramatically as she finds herself facing situations few other faction initiates ever do. And one most teenage girls do... fascination with a boy.
Four is an instructor to the initiates. Eighteen years old, tall, dark haired, blue eyed and handsome, he is enough to turn most girls heads. Add to that his strong sense of self, his code of honor, his intelligence and mystery of his past, and you have a package guaranteed to cause teenage girl swoonage.
Four and Tris together are a dynamic duo, a solid team who seem to understand each other and compliment each other well.
I enjoyed Divergent greatly. It is a fast paced, exciting read. There is a suspense to it that kept me on the edge of my seat wanting to know what was going to happen next. The characters are well developed, and unlike many young adult novels, I felt the voices sounded more authentic, more like the teens they were supposed to be than an adult shoved into a sixteen-year-olds body. I liked the development of the multiple groups within the story, felt they also lent an air of legitimacy to the overall picture of a group of young people struggling to identify themselves in some way.
And that is what I got from this book, what I took to be the underlying meaning and message: that within us all is both good and bad, positive character traits and negative... some Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless and Erudite. It is what we do with those traits, what we make of ourselves, that determine who we truly are.
Like most dystopian novels I’ve read, Divergent has an concept in it which I struggle to understand. The motto of the society is ‘Faction before blood,’ the idea being that each person will find their ‘purpose’ within their faction, not within their family. Over time each faction has come to view their specific values and beliefs as correct, viewing the other factions with varying degrees of disapproval. So, when a person chooses a faction other than the one they were born in, their families must be forsaken. As the mother of three minions... and an obnoxiously involved mother, at that... my mind shuts down at this. It immediately rejects the idea that I could view my child as having betrayed me, as basically being dead to me, that I could not want to ever see my child again if they chose a faction other than the one I did, other than the one they were raised in. This ‘societal norm’ gave me a great deal of trouble. I also felt that there were a couple of scenes which seemed rushed.
Overall, Divergent was a very good read, one I can recommend with a clear conscience. *bounces in seat* And I can now look forward to reading Insurgent, book two in this trilogy. *laughs*
Rating: 4 stars
I always say that new books get so much hype for a reason, and Divergent is definitely no exception. I picked up this book late one evening and couldn't put it down until I had read the last word. In a market quickly becoming flooded with dystopian novels, Divergent is engaging, compelling, and fresh, unique spin on the genre.
"Faction before blood." Beatrice has heard this motto before, but it takes on a new meaning after her sixteenth birthday. On the appointed day, after taking an aptitude test, she will have to choose which of the five factions she wants to devote her life to. And while she is not sure she fits in Abnegation (the selfless), she's also not sure that she wants to leave her family. However, she has to make a choice, and once she does, she is immersed into initiation rites. As if this isn't enough to handle, outside of training she has to deal with those who don't like her, the one who likes her a little too much, and the one that she likes even though she shouldn't. But as Tris learns more about herself and those around her, she comes to realize that the faction system isn't as perfect as she thought - and it may not be able to last much longer.
In this great debut novel, Roth provides not only a riveting story but also complex characters and vivid descriptions. I don't want to give too much away, because part of the experience of this book is living in the moment with Tris. There were some definite surprises in the story, and each one just kept me reading faster to see what would happen next. In addition to this, the characters are completely memorable. Tris is a strong female protagonist who comes to have not only physical strength but also intelligence, wit, and compassion. She is able to make her resolutions and follow through with them. Standing opposite her is Four, and with the air of mystery surrounding him, one cannot help but be intrigued. Their developing romance and journeys of self-revelation and self-discovery added yet another dimension to the story.
Despite all of these great elements, something about the story was still missing for me. Perhaps it was simply all the hype, or perhaps it was the present-tense style with sentences that felt short and almost rushed. I did love this book, just not as much as I was expecting to. That being said, I know that I am in the minority on this opinion, and most others will say that this was the best dystopian novel of the year and follows in the footsteps of Hunger Games.
Divergent is a fabulous debut novel and will certainly take its place among the great dystopian novels. I cannot wait to read what happens in the rest of this trilogy!
Rating: 4.5 stars