For What It's Worth

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent (Divergent Trilogy)

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, 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 to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating 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 a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves… or it might destroy her.
Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance. (YA Dystopian)

I have no idea why but it seems that dystopian novels leave me rather speechless when it comes to writing reviews. I have so much to say but no idea how to express all the OMG feelings.
It took me over 6 months to write my review for Ann Aguirre's Enclave and I didn't even touch the surface of how I really felt about that book. 
So here's my rather lame attempt to once again try to put into words how I felt about another book that is definitely at the top of my list for fave reads of 2011, along with Enclave.
To be honest Divergent started a little slow for me. I was able to walk away to do other things and come back to it when I had a chance. I was interested but not riveted. Divergent takes place in a post apocalyptic Chicago but to me it didn't feel very dystopian, more like a differing political system in a neighboring country perhaps. The world building is excellent but I never quite understood the full reason of how Chicago came into their situation. 
As a result of a previous war it has been decided that people will be divided by personality traits and then these factions will each have a voice in ruling the government. The thought is, that people will do what they are best at thereby avoiding conflict and another war. (I hope I got that right)

Candor represents honesty
Abnegation represents selflessness 
Dauntless represents courage & bravery
Erudite represents knowledge
Amity represents peace

Children are raised in their respective societies with their families but once old enough they can choose which group they would like to belong to. Most choose to stay with their families. Beatrice was raised Abnegation and although she is selfless at times, she has always felt the call to Dauntless, courageous and fearless soldiers that help protect the citizens. Once she turns 16 and is given the choice she realizes that she must follow her heart even if that means leaving her family behind. Once you choose a faction they become your new family and you cut off ties with your past. After she is accepted into Dauntless society she leaves the Abnegation side of herself behind and renames herself Tris.
Once Tris enters the world of the Dauntless I was hooked. Yeah - yeah it's dystopian….but to me it was the 1999 movie Fightclub - YA style. 

"Welcome to Dauntless. The first rule of Dauntless is: you do not talk about Dauntless. The second rule of Dauntless is: you DO NOT talk about Dauntless! Third rule of Dauntless: if someone yells "stop!", goes limp, or taps out, the fight is over. Fourth rule: only two guys to a fight. Fifth rule: one fight at a time, fellas. Sixth rule: the fights are bare knuckle. No shirt, no shoes, no weapons. Seventh rule: fights will go on as long as they have to. And the eighth and final rule: if this is your first time at Dauntless, you have to fight." 

Obviously I'm borrowing and changing up the famous quote from Fightclub there - but it's eerily fitting.
This society and the recruit initiations are so incredibly brutal and fascinating. I just could not get enough and found myself engrossed in every fight.
The Dauntless are not the fearless protectors of the city and its residents as they had always appeared to Tris. She sees a whole new side of them but can't back out now. To fail the initiation is to become Factionless which is a fate worse than death in these parts. No one will claim or help you except maybe the Abnegation's with food rations. 
Tris is more than Abnegation - more than Dauntless….she is Divergent. (This makes me deliriously happy that the title actually makes sense to the plot! ) Being Divergent is a threat to this carefully thought out society so no one must find out. Tris doesn't know who to trust or go to for help. Luckily she can rely on one of her instructor's - Four.
Here's where I lose my train of thought and just get all blah blah READ IT….blah blah…..OMG I LOVED IT!
Holy cow can Veronica Roth write kick ass action scenes dripping with danger and suspense! Seriously! She also does something that very few author's do these days. She breaks some rules. Not only can anything happen….it does….to anyone. LOVE that. It was the first book in a very long time that had me chewing my nails and had my heartbeat kicked up several notches. I believe the last 100 pages or so where among the best I've read in a very long time. What a thrill ride!
The characters are just amazing. Tris and Four are fantastic, multi layered protagonists. Tris sees a problem or a weakness and addresses it. If she doesn't know something - she asks. She is curious about Four so she goes for it! Words can't express how much this makes me happy (see I'm deliriously happy again - this book just does that to me). Four is just as great. He has feelings for Tris but he lets her get her ass kicked, knowing that stepping in only shows weakness for both of them and that won't help her survive. He questions authority, he does the right thing. He's a great guy! Whoop and three cheers for good guys! These two have a lot to deal with but it is so refreshing to see two young adults without ridiculous angsty hormone issues when all this stuff is going on around them. The romance is played perfectly.  
The supporting cast are essential to the story and what's on the surface may not be the reality. Every character is fascinating. There wasn't enough time to get into everyone's story and that may be the only weakness I could detect. You just don't learn about all the factions and the politics of this world even though trouble is brewing. This is a story mainly about Tris, Four and the Dauntless so I felt all that groundwork laid in the beginning didn't necessarily pan out for the overall story but it wasn't that big of an issue. As this is a trilogy, I'm sure it will all make sense in the end.
There are just soooo many things I want to say about this book but one of the great things about it is that it really is a roller coaster ride and almost anything I would add here would be spoilery - so I will shut my mouth now. 

Rating: 3.5: Roth created something unique here. If you like dystopian this is a must read.

Find Veronica!
Read the first 100 pages of Divergent

Published May 3, 2011
Katherine Tegan Books, Harper Collins

Thank you to Julie from My 5 Monkey's for letting me borrow her copy of Divergent. I will definitely be buying my own copy for the keeper shelf!


  1. I liked your play on fightclub!!!! This books was amazing, I'm so glad Julie hit you up with a copy. I need to order my keeper copy to, because I passed this one on the moment I finished it!

  2. Yeah you liked it a great review. I too also got a keeper copy too.

  3. I've read and heard so many mixed reviews of this that I'm not sure if I want to read it or not. Perhaps I'll click on your link to the first 100 pages before deciding.

  4. Sounds great :D The cover alays made me think pass (I know I am really stupid! *bangs head in the wall*)

  5. Love your review. It sounds like an awesome book. Like your blog very much. New follower.

  6. The first rule of Fight Club is....

    I don't know why your fret. Your reviews are OMG Awesome. LOL

    If Roth is a rule breaker, then I must check her out. Don't know why I haven't yet!

    Thanks for sharing your take, Karen.

  7. Yeah, I totally agree, your reviews are great ... and you ALWAYS set out the good points and the bad points and the *SQUEE* points, hehe ... but I totally know what you mean about some reviews just taking FOREVER to write!! :o I wouldn't be able to work on a review for 6 MONTHS, though, because I'd just have it niggling at the back of my head the entire time and - sheesh - I'd forget EVERYTHING!! :P Oh, yeah, I also love it when book titles actually correlate to what happens in books; it's very much Happy Making. I have Divergent, but I've also read some so-so reviews ... and my latest dystopia efforts have failed ... so I'm just going to leave it for while.

  8. I just got this from the library and will be reading it soon! Thanks for your review!

  9. Haha thank goodness I'm not the only one who rambled ;)