Monday, June 3, 2013

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent by Veronica Roth
487 pages
Published by Katherine Tegen Books, 2011
Source: Scholastic Book fair

Goodreads Description:

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, 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 alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are -- and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating 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 unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her. 

My Review:
I know I'm way late on reading and reviewing this, but this was one of those books that was so talked about I was conflicted with varying reviews and decided it give it time before I read it. I've been recommended this book over and over, so I finally had to know what all the fuss was about. 

I really don't know where to begin with this review. 
There are so many things I liked and didn't like about this book. I'll start with what I didn't like, so I can end this on a positive note. 
What I didn't like was the amount of plot that just sorta happened with little reason why or any decent explanation. The worst bit is the actual christening 'Divergent'. The story really doesn't delve into this idea or why it is so dangerous; there were too many gaps for my liking. 
Another element I didn't like about this story was the whole idea of the factions. Honestly, I thought their set-up was based on stupidity. I really couldn't believe the factions could have lasted in peace for as long as they did - they segregated themselves based on beliefs, yet expected to all get along? Sure, its very dystopian, but I couldn't suspend disbelief for this one, not really. They set themselves up for war and I had no sympathy. 
And lastly, how does getting pummeled and tortured with one's own fears make one brave? I don't see how Tris learned anything in those caves. Or any of the initiates for that matter. Anyway, I won't carry on this negativity. this is just a brief overview of some of the book's shortcomings that I personally felt could have been crafted much better. 
What I liked about the book is that despite my scoffing at some of the dystopian set-up, I really couldn't put the book down. I stayed up through the morning hours to finish it, and there was certainly some satisfaction I felt when I finished it. I enjoyed reading the struggles Tris had with friendship. Even under her and the other initiates extreme circumstances, they still sought friendship with each other (well, some of them did anyway). Tris and the others really struggled with who to trust, and I think this was the best, most gripping, heartbreaking element of the story - not overcoming one's fear, that did nothing for me. 
I also loved Tris' mother. She was by far the bravest character. She had the depth and strength that I wish to see in more dystopian novels - a good parent figure. 
The plot was fast-paced and the 487 pages were a breeze to get through. The story was gripping, mostly because I was insatiably curious what would happen to Tris next. I couldn't put the book down, so I really do encourage other dystopian readers to read this. Of course, most probably already have. 

Okay, so I really had the hardest time rating this book. It may be the hardest decision I made all day (which isn't so bad actually). As you other book reviewers know, book rating can be unfair. I try not to let my other book ratings influence my current one, but I couldn't help thinking of giving This Dark Endeavor three foxes AND Divergent. Their just not the same, yet I've given them the same rating. And I don't give half foxes because I don't like to... and foxes can't survive when cut in half anyway, so what's the point? 
Okay, so given my little rambling, I've decided to rate this book 3 out of 5 foxes. I had difficulty indulging in the fantasy world of Divergent, yet the story was very fast-paced and gripping. If I could have, I'm sure I would have read it in one sitting. 

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