Veronica Roth’s “Divergent”

I finished this book on Sunday morning. I liked it well enough but, based upon its wild popularity, I admit I was hoping for more.

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Divergent is a novel centered in a Chicago of the future. Civilization – as it is known to us in the present day – has broken down (the reasons are not fully explained in this book) and a new civilization has replaced it. In this new civilization, the populace is divided into five groups or “factions,” and when children come of age they must choose which faction they want to identify with. Most choose to remain in the faction they were born into, but some choose to transfer during a kind of “sorting-hat ceremony” (no, there’s not really a Harry Potter-esque sorting hat, but that’s what I was reminded of) called the Choosing Ceremony, carried out after “aptitude tests” are administered.

Two siblings, Caleb and Beatrice (or “Tris” as she chooses to be called later), abandon their parents and their faction (“Abnegation”) and choose new factions. Caleb chooses “Erudite” while Tris, the main character in this book, chooses “Dauntless.” The other two factions are “Amity” and “Candor.” The factions got their names based upon the values each thought would have prevented the original civilization’s breakdown. Candor values honesty; Abnegation values selflessness; Amity, friendliness; Dauntless, bravery, and Erudite,knowledge. This novel, the first in a trilogy (“Insurgent” is already published and third installment is scheduled for October 2013) follows the adventures of Tris as she goes through her training as a Dauntless initiate and begins to discover all is not well in this five-factioned society.

I enjoyed the camaraderie and the rivalry amongst Tris and the other initiates, and also enjoyed seeing Tris grow into a more independent and confident young woman. I didn’t so much enjoy the typical YA romantic plot lines. I also have to say that I had a lot of trouble accepting or believing this post-apocalyptic? (not even sure it is) world. Too much is left out, as if this future world was hastily or incompletely constructed by the author. We don’t know the fate of the rest of the world, but we do hear that it is the job of the “Dauntless” to guard the fence around the city (from what?). Also noteworthy is that the trains still run, even though the infrastructure, for the most part, appears to have fallen apart. And somehow there is still power and moving parts enough in the John Hancock building for the Dauntless to use the elevators in order to participate in a harrowing zip-line ritual from time to time.

I loved the cover art of the book, and I have to admit it was a page turner which I completed in just a few days. I liked the Dauntless faction’s style, which included wearing black and multiple piercings and tattoos. I didn’t like that (*very minor spoiler alert*) the Erudite faction are the “bad guys.” Knowledge is evil! Haven’t we had enough of that these days? Will I read on in this series? Probably. A movie version is in development and may have started filming already. So, it might be “worth it” to keep up with this one. It’s no Hunger Games, which it somewhat reminded me of, but it should make an excellent and very popular film.

What about you? Have you read Divergent or both it and its follow-up, Insurgent? What did YOU think?

(below: author Veronica Roth – from Chicago herself, oddly enough 🙂 )

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10 Comments

  1. Literate Indy said,

    May 6, 2013 at 8:41 am

    Agree. Seemed as if the author was hitting outline points for a succesful YA novel rather than creating a world.No real depth. I drifted from Hunger Games somewhere in the second book; I’m not sure I’ll even bother with the follow up to this one.

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    • Jay said,

      May 6, 2013 at 12:15 pm

      Thanks for the comment. You may be right about fitting it to a YA novel outline. One other thing i noticed but didnt mention was that one of the factions, Amity, is hardly mentioned (though the other four are) at all until the end, when the main characters decide to go there. It felt like an afterthought…

      I made it through all three books in the Hunger Games series, but there did seem to be a drop-off in quality from the first book. In that series, the momentum from the strength of the first one made it easy to continue.

      -Jay

      Like

  2. Dee said,

    May 6, 2013 at 9:08 am

    Hi …… Haven’t read it myself, but have been in the presence of my 12 – now 13 yr old grand daughter who could not put it down and has re-read it and is now on the sequel! I am glad to have your synopsis …..

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    • Jay said,

      May 6, 2013 at 12:16 pm

      I probably would have enjoyed it a lot more if I’d read it at that age!

      Like

  3. Cherie said,

    May 6, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    Karen just finished that series. Was disappointed that the final book is not out yet. She really liked it. Not sure I would though….

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    • Jay said,

      May 6, 2013 at 1:13 pm

      Hi Cherie,
      I think I read that October of this year is when the last one is due to be published. Divergent was a fun read; you’d probably enjoy it. I liked it too, just was hoping for more…
      -Jay

      Like

  4. Dale said,

    May 6, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    My two oldest daughters have read these. The oldest’s response was something like “ugh…another dystopian series”. My 12 year-old seemed to like it but didn’t seem as enthralled as she has with other series.

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    • Jay said,

      May 7, 2013 at 10:26 am

      It wasn’t so bad. 🙂 A “grown woman” here at the office also just finished it – and the sequel – and really liked it. So, it may be a matter of taste also…

      -Jay

      Like

  5. May 9, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    I listened to this audiobook at a very bad time in my life (my dad had just died) and it delivered what I needed then: page turner that didn’t ask too much from me. I also finished it really quickly and immediately started the second. However, the romance in that one was too full of drama and angst (oh me oh my!) even for my bruised brain… I don’t think I’ll even try the third.

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    • Jay said,

      May 13, 2013 at 9:22 am

      Hi Alex,
      I think I remember you being one of those bloggers who I follow that helped ‘break the tie’ and made me decide to try this one. My reactions were similar to yours. I enjoyed it partly because I was ready for an ‘easy read’ and this one was a page turner, if imperfect.
      -Jay

      Like


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