Book Reviews

[review] Divergent – Veronica Roth

Beatrice “Tris” Prior has reached the fateful age of sixteen, the stage at which teenagers in Veronica Roth’s dystopian Chicago must select which of five factions to join for life. Each faction represents a virtue: Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, and Erudite.

To the surprise of herself and her selfless Abnegation family, she chooses Dauntless, the path of courage. Her choice exposes her to the demanding, violent initiation rites of this group, but it also threatens to expose a personal secret that could place in mortal danger.

Veronica Roth’s young adult Divergent trilogy launches with a captivating adventure about love and loyalty playing out under most extreme circumstances.

Discovery: I’d never heard of this book before May, which was a pleasant surprise. I like actually discovering new books without having previous opinions in the back of my mind.

+     Narration. Tris’s voice was perfect for the book, her different attitudes reflecting the characteristics she values. I was immediately engrossed in her worries, her problems and her joys. I liked the focus on family and her relationship with her brother and mother. Tris is clear-headed, which makes it easy to follow her journey from Abnegation to Dauntless. Her handle of the actions scenes is impeccable and never confuses or loses the reader.

+     Romance. While I’m on the fence about Four, I will admit that the romance in this novel made me giddy more than once. Taken at face value, Four is sa-woon worthy, as Sarah Dessen would say. It’s very clear from the start that Four and Tris have an inexplicable chemistry between them, but the events of the novel seem to work against them more than they should. I’m not sure if that was deliberate or if it’s just how things worked out. That said, there were a lot of cute scenes that will make any girl want a Four of their own, just maybe without the emotional baggage.

–     World-building. In the last few weeks since reading Divergent, I’ve read a few reviews that talk about how it’s a dystopian that functions on the absolute bare-bones of the genre. It’s true, and while I enjoyed the rollicking ride this novel gave me, I can’t quite get past that. The five factions are interesting to be sure, but does the whole world function that way? Human beings can’t be boxed into certain factions, because we have all of those traits. To disregard them in favour of just one characteristic is a disservice to our own potential.

–     Divergence. To be quite honest, I never really felt like this was a bad thing. Usually dystopian societies are able to rationalize their rules or commands–in The Giver, memories were considered dangerous because they complicated the people and the world around them. It’s the desire for a simple life, free of complications, that serves as a driving force for those governments to do what they do. I didn’t feel like that was a priority for this particular government. If anything, with Abnegation people running it, shouldn’t they be pushing for people to live freely as themselves? After all, they’re the selfless ones. Tris seems capable and if there are other divergents, they don’t seem to be doing much harm to the people around them, whether it’s the government’s definition or not.

Recommendations: Regular dystopian readers may find a lot of issues with this novel, but the entertainment and romance factor is high. I would definitely pick up the next book, if only to have a bit more information.

Rating: Very good.

Go check out Veronica Roth’s site, read her blog and follow her on Twitter @VeronicaRoth.

Next review: Haunted Violet, Alyxandra Harvey


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