Veronica Roth – Divergent
Length: 492 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian Sci-Fi
Started: 12 June 2011
Finished: 13 June 2011
Where did it come from? From Harper Teen for review.
Why do I have it? I’m a sucker for YA dystopias, so how could I resist?
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 15 May 2011.
Being brave is great,
but is it the only thing
that really matters?
Summary: In the world of Divergent‘s future, humans have identified which vices causes mankind the most problems (selfishness, ignorance, dishonesty, cowardice, and aggression), and divided themselves into factions, each of which promotes the opposing virtue to one of these vices. Beatrice Prior was born into Abnegation, whose rules promote extreme selflessness, but she often doesn’t feel as though she belongs. On her sixteenth birthday, before she undergoes the ritual in which she must choose which faction to belong to for the rest of her life, she undergoes the routine test to determine which is the best fit. However, her test results are unclear; rather than fitting neatly into a single category, she shows aptitude for several factions: she is a rare aberration known as a Divergent. Warned to hide her test results at all costs, she chooses to join Dauntless, the faction that values bravery among its members, and to shorten her name to Tris. Life as a Dauntless initiate is no picnic, however, and only the strong survive. Tris may look like the weak little girl from the spineless Abnegation, but she’s determined to make it through the initiation… but will her hidden Divergent tendencies be a help or a hinderance?
Review: I absolutely tore through this book. It’s not short – almost 500 pages in the hardcover – but I devoured the whole thing in less than 24 hours, and that’s including a full day of work and a good night’s sleep. The book is almost non-stop action, and it’s fast-moving enough that it’s damn near impossible to put down. Added to that, Tris’s story sucked me in completely. Amid all the action, there’s a definite thread of romance, complete with a swoon-worthy leading man, although – refreshingly – the book is concerned with Tris’s personal journey in all its facets, rather than focusing exclusively on the romantic angle. She’s a great heroine, strong and independent but still human and relatable, and surrounded by interesting (although not always particularly multidimensional) secondary characters.
The only real issue that I had was with the structure of the dystopia. In terms of worldbuilding, it’s fine, and it was easy enough to get immersed into the world that Roth has created. My problem was that it felt a little arbitrary, with no logical path on how we got from here to there. I don’t need my dystopias to be likely (I’d rather they weren’t, actually), but I do need them to be plausible, and the five-faction system of Divergent just seemed a little silly when I stopped to think about it.
…Which, as I mentioned, wasn’t often, considering how well this book sucked me into its story and didn’t let me go. I’m hoping that as Roth has a little more space to flesh out her world in the next book(s), a deeper and less arbitrary structure and history will start to emerge.
Oh, and did I mention that it’s set in a post-apocalyptic Chicago? I love reading stories set in locales I know, and now I’m dying to read Roth’s next book if for no other reason than to figure out what the heck happened to my hometown. Riding the El will never be quite the same again, that’s for sure. 4 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: Although this book isn’t quite the revelation that The Hunger Games was, it’s definitely poised to capture the attention of fans of that series, and should be a fast, exciting, and enjoyable read for fans of YA dystopian novels more generally.
Other Reviews: This one’s gotten crazy blog exposure already. Check it out on the Book Blogs Search Engine.
First Line: There is one mirror in my house.
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