Book Review : Divergent (Divergent, #1) by Veronica Roth

Divergent (Divergent, #1)
Hardcover, 487 pages
Published May 3rd 2011 by Katherine Tegen Books

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.

Finally, I've read Divergent. After hearing so much about it, and even seeing bloggers comparing it to The Hunger Games, you can guess how anticipated I was. The story was interesting, and the author's writing is perfect, but I did not love it.

The Good:
  • A new, refreshing concept of various Factions, though I think it's a bit overrated. But it seems a little similar to the 13 districts in The Hunger Games, where people are grouped according to the main economic activity in the respective districts.
  • Divergent offers a hard-to-resist premise. When you see the slogan One Choice Can Transform You on the front cover and after you've read the synopsis, you're most probably going to pick up this book.
  • In some parts of the story, we observe Tris' cleverness and courage. The action is always there, but only towards the end of the novel does it reaches a crescendo. This guarantees a constant attention towards the story.

The Bad:

  • Most of the characters seems flat and one-dimensional. I couldn't really relate to Tris and Four, though I'm betting for their lives.
  • Loopholes are a big problem in this novel. The author probably never thought much about it, but logical readers will sense the mistakes at a glance. I'll not point out what are the loopholes, just in case you haven't read the book.
  • Divergent does not grip my emotions so forcefully like The Hunger Games. Sorry I'm doing this comparison again, but I just can't think of any other book that garnered so much praise as Divergent.
  • Pointless violence. Dauntless initiatives are instructed to punch each other as hard as they can to get into the top 10 rankings. These are real bloody fights, man. No compassion and all virulence. What's the point of that, seriously?
  • What looks like an attempted murder doesn't get any attention from the big bosses. When one of the initiates (the top scorer) is physically harmed by the jealous second-place scorer, no action is taken. The top scorer, who is mercilessly stabbed in the eye in the middle of the night, is evacuated to the factionless group, which, according to the story is worse than dying, and the evil second-place scorer gets moved up a notch to claim his throne. Well, that's plain ridiculous.

In A Nutshell:

Divergent is good, but not great. It is interesting, but not amazing. You might love it, like it or hate it. It's all up to you - one choice can transform you.

Rating: 3

Malaysian readers: If you're interested in buying my lightly read copy of Divergent (US Hardcover version), it is available at my Books For Sale album HERE.

Veronica Roth

Veronica Roth is only 23, so her bio will be short. She’s from a Chicago suburb. She studied creative writing at Northwestern University, and wrote DIVERGENT (Katherine Tegen Books, May 2011). The second book in The Divergent Trilogy, INSURGENT, will come out in May 2012. In the meantime she will spend endless hours browsing Wikipedia in her pajamas as she eats corn flakes. (Or some other kind of bland breakfast cereal.)

5 creative remarks:

Dana - Let's Book It said...

I've heard so much about this book that I hesitate to read it. I'm afraid it won't live up to the hype. Great interview.

Dana - Let's Book It said...

oops - meant review. I was half listening to my daughter talk about her job interview and my fingers got mixed up.

Alexa said...

I still have yet to read this book. It has been sitting on my shelf since it first released. I guess I'm just a little scared to read it because of all of the hype surrounding this book.

I'm sorry the hype did not live up to it for you but maybe if you stick around for the second book some of the things you didn't like will get cleared up.

Thanks for the great review. :)

Book Filled Blog said...

I read Divergent when it first came out. It wasn't what I had expected but I still enjoyed it! I thought it was new and different in it's own way.

You are right about the flat character's though and the needless violence!
Great review!

Aik said...

@Dana: Just give it a try. Who knows if you'd actually love it?

@Alexa: Yes, I think I'm going to give the second book a try.

@Book Filled Blog: I was horrified by the stabbing-in-the-eye part. I almost puked my guts out. Literally.