Saturday, September 10, 2011

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Title: Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth
Genre: YA, dystopian, action, romance
Perfect for: older YA readers who like dark dystopian reads
Star Rating: 3/5 stars

Taken from Goodreads, "Beatrice "Tris" Prior has reached the fateful age of sixteen, the stage at which teenagers in Veronica Roth's dystopian Chicago must select which of five factions to join for life. Each faction represents a virtue: Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, and Erudite. To the surprise of herself and her selfless Abnegation family, she chooses Dauntless, the path of courage. Her choice exposes her to the demanding, violent initiation rites of this group, but it also threatens to expose a personal secret that could place in mortal danger."

Oh, 'Divergent'... What do I say about you? 'Divergent' delivered in terms of being an addictive, thought provoking debut. It's one of the better 'present tense' books that I've read-- up there with the 'Uglies' trilogy. I can see why people have been hyping the title, because it is overall a well rounded, entertaining dystopian novel. However, there are a few things that bugged me about 'Divergent', too, that stand out too much to skip over.

'Divergent' has one of the better 'present tense' voices that I've read-- and I don't usually get into books written in 'present tense'. Tris has a specific voice that comes across well, making this quite an addicting read. 

At over 400 pages, 'Divergent' is a long read. Normally, a book that is 400 pages takes me three or four days, but 'Divergent'? I felt compelled to finish it in two. Be warned now that 'Divergent' is one of those books that will keep you thinking about it even when you're not reading (like, when you're supposed to be shelving books at work and you're instead thinking about the crazy factions and their values!!!).

Debut Author Veronica Roth clearly defines her dystopian world and does a good job of making it stand out among other dystopian worlds. I can't say I didn't find any (whats the word?) issues with the world, but in terms of getting what it felt like across to readers, Roth did well. I wish Roth would have gone further into the setting outside of Chicago or, if it is the same system everywhere, mentioned that somewhere. 

Also, the factions never made sense to me-- I never understood why Chicago (or the entire world) separated people as they did. Yes, Roth had a line or two about it in the book, but more would have been nice. Usually I can pick out a trait about whatever dystopian society I'm reading that makes sense or seems to fit an aspect of our lifestyle, but this dystopian Chicago just seems wrong to me.  Granted, for all I know, we could be getting more of this in the sequels.

One other thing that didn't come across to me-- why do people fear being faction-less when being faction-less seems to be the best option? I can't believe that all the faction-less people in the streets of Chicago are sad, depressed, shadows of people. There must be some factor-less (like Divergent factor-less) that see the lack of one specific cast as a lifesaver. As I mentioned before, Roth might address something like this in future books, so maybe she is just saving this morsel for later, but as far as 'Divergent' is concerned, I just couldn't wrap my head around the factor-less.

The characters in 'Divergent'? I liked *most* of them. Four, Will, and Christina were great characters that really helped bring me into Roth's world. Four, in particular, really stole the show for me.  The character I had the most trouble with was, ironically enough, the main character Tris. I didn't hate Tris-- I mean, how can you hate the main character in a novel told in first person-- but she got on my nerves. The best way I can describe it is that while reading Tris, I was reminded of reading Tally from the 'Uglies' trilogy. Tally was hardly a like-able character in the beginning of the novels (and the sequels, for that matter), but even so, the novels ended up on my list of favorites. Some of Tris' characteristics, especially when it came to violent/mean spirited tendencies frustrated me. You can shrug it off by saying 'well, that's her factor', but for a Divergent, I would think that she would have acted differently. Don't get me wrong-- I liked Tris as a character, but I would be lying if I said she didn't irritate me, too.

The pacing of the novel was done well and I think you'll find yourself hard pressed to not make a marathon of reading 'Divergent'. I enjoyed Roth's romantic storyline in the novel between the two leads. It wasn't exactly the typical 'lust' at first sight thing that we're seeing now a days. The romance had time to develop. The best part of the romance was that, unlike other novels, the characters in this novel weren't blinded by love, but they had the typical concerns, doubts, fears that couples in real life tend to have. It was nice to read. The action was paced well and, I'm happy to say I didn't get bored or feel the need to skim over it! The ending was a little quick for me and I was worried that it was going to be one of those 'stop in mid thought' cliffhangers at first, but it turned out to have a proper (fast) ending. Thank goodness!

'Divergent' gets 3 out of 5 stars. I'll be recommending this read to fans of darker, slightly more violent dystopian novels. Even with the problems I had with the novel, none of which are deal breakers, I am looking forward to seeing what happens next in Roth's world. 'Divergent' is available in stores now!

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