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Book Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth (4/5)

18 Feb

I know this book wasn’t due on my To-Read list, but I was able to get my hands on a copy without waiting on the library list for two months so I read it. I wanted to make sure I read it before the movie comes out next month. You can probably expect a movie freak-out when that happens.

Cover Image via

Cover Image via

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Sixteen-year-old Beatrice Prior lives in a world where people are divided by the values they hold most dear. Beatrice’s faction values selflessness and giving but she sometimes feels at odds with this. Lucky for Beatrice, everyone gets a chance to choose for themselves at age 16 if they want to join a different faction. It means leaving her family, but Beatrice decides to change factions and joins the Dauntless, those that value bravery. She enters the faction and begins a rigorous initiation where her physical and mental strength is tested by her initiator, Four. Tris does well, succeeding in mental bravery and begins to associate herself more and more with the brave around her. She develops a fondness for Four and for a few of her fellow initiates. The day after her final initiation, things start to go south.

I wasn’t sure what I would think of this book when I started. I’ve been a fan of some YA series and critical of others. This book reminded e a lot of The Hunger Games because of the dystopian future setting and female protagonist. However, I felt that Tris’s government fight had a lot more depth behind it than Katniss’s. The government system oppressing Tris had a lot more layers to it than Panem.

This book was a really fast read. I started it Monday evening and finished it Friday at lunch. With how busy I was last week, that’s really surprising to me. The first few chapters or so had me thinking a lot about what I was reading, thinking that the language was a bit simple and that the character development was a bit shallow. After about seventy pages or so, I wasn’t thinking of this at all and was enjoying the ride. As I’ve said, very engaging.

The copy I read had a bunch of bonus material in the back, including interviews with Roth. She said that she thought of the Dauntless training while studying exposure therapy for phobia patients and that the world developed around that. Another interview she had said that anyone’s utopian world is another’s dystopian nightmare. Those in Candor where happy to speak openly and be honest, while for an Abnegation that would be grueling. Roth is showing us that there is a different idea for everyone and we have to become happy enough with what we’re dealt.

I write a while ago about how dystopian worlds can reflect what we see is wrong in our society now. In applying this to Divergent, I’d say that Roth is commenting about how those in power have a singular outlook on the priorities of our world and how the minority do not believe in those same ideals and will start to riot. I think she’s also saying that it’s hard to change the hand you’re dealt in life, even when presented the opportunity to do so. I also think she’s trying to say that prejudices and hatred can stem from our ideals as much as from socioeconomic categories. I personally think this is a much more educated way of being, if we must be prejudiced at all. Ideals define a person better than skin or nationality anyway.

Tris’s biggest choice in the book is what faction she will join. I don’t think teens today are given the ability to change who they are the way teens of Tris’s world are. For Tris and her brother, they could, in one day, alter the rest of their lives. They would have to leave their families and endure a hard initiation, but they could take control and change things for themselves. I think teens today feel very stuck in a path that their parents have set out for them. The children of doctors and lawyers feel pressured to measure up to their parent’s success while those whose parents are waitresses and baristas feel that that’s what their future holds. I like the lack of economic barriers in Tris’s world but I think there’s still a lot of pressure to follow in one’s parents footsteps.

Writers’ Takeaways: I felt that the minor characters were a bit underdeveloped, but in a trilogy, that wasn’t surprising. I felt that I knew Tris very well and Four pretty well. However, Caleb and Tris’s friends from Dauntless were not as flushed out. I look forward to reading on and seeing what else I can find out about them in the next two books.

Overall, this was a highly entertaining read and I really liked it. I can’t wait to read Insurgent. Four out of five stars.

Until  next time, write on.

This book counted for the time period ‘The Future’ in my When Are You Reading? Challenge and for Illinois in my Where Are You Reading? Challenge.

Related Posts:
Divergent by Veronica Roth | Book Monkey
Divergent, by Veronica Roth | The Incurable Bluestocking