Book review: Divergent

Veronica RothI wonder what percentage of Young Adult [YA] fiction currently published features a dystopian world. Are our teens so disenchanted with their own real world that they only want to read fantasy? Certainly Suzanne Collins and Stephanie Meyer have a lot of responsibility for this, their two series have dominated the bookshelves and cinema screens for the last six years. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the feistiness of Katniss, though I was not so keen on Bella who was a bit too sulky for me. So to Divergent by Veronica Roth, a book that had passed me by until I read online reviews, reviews which prompted my Kindle purchase of the trilogy. The story is set in a city which was once Chicago where every citizen belongs to one of five factions. Each faction represents a human virtue: Candor [honesty], Amity [kindness], Dauntless [fearlessness], Abnegation [selflessness], Erudite [searching for knowledge]. At 16, teenagers are assessed for their affinity to the factions and can choose the faction they will be for the rest of their life. Anyone whose test results are inconclusive is labelled ‘divergent’. Tris, the protagonist, is divergent. This is her story and is the first of a trilogy.

The key thing I did like about Divergent:-

… Tris embraces her non-conformity. She is brave enough to be true to herself even though at times she is not sure what that is. She learns to be suspicious of labels, not to pre-judge people.

But there were quite a few things I didn’t like about Divergent:-

… the factions are cliches;

… the fearlessness of the Dauntless verges on stupidity, danger for the sake of it. It is that particular computer-game type of violence that doesn’t hurt on the page but would seriously damage/kill you if you tried it in real life;

… the characters are under-developed, none of the depth here of The Hunger Games.

… the story is predictable, I’d worked out the ending before I got there.

That said, I bought the trilogy so will read books two and three. Don’t mis-understand me, it’s not that I didn’t enjoy these books but just that they seem superficial in comparison with The Hunger Games, every page of which gives you the sense of the deep back story.

If you like ‘Divergent’, try:-
‘The Queen of the Tearling’ by Erika Johansen
‘The Magicians’ by Lev Grossman
The ‘Twilight’ series by Stephanie Meyer

‘Divergent’ #1 by Veronica Roth [UK: Harper Collins Children’s Books] Buy now

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
DIVERGENT by @VeronicaRoth http://bit.ly/1VdnrDV #bookreview via @SandraDanby

Comments

  1. “characters are under-developed, none of the depth here of The Hunger Games” Yes! My thoughts exactly. I didn’t really connect with any of the characters and actually liked a few of the minor characters better (well they were more interesting at least like Peter and Johanna from Amity). Great review! Totally agree 🙂

  2. Thanks for the review. I’ve been meaning to read Divergent. What did you think of the factions? Were there any explanation as to why they needed to exist?