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Divergent (Book 1) by Veronica Roth

Divergent (Book 1) (original 2011; edition 2012)

by Veronica Roth

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9,704911298 (4.09)642
Title:Divergent (Book 1)
Authors:Veronica Roth
Info:Katherine Tegen Books (2012), Paperback, 576 pages
Collections:Your library

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Divergent by Veronica Roth (2011)

  1. 781
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I'll carry over the way I review Divergent with the way I read it; as fast as I can. From the beginning I realized that the author, Veronica Roth, had conceived an ironclad excuse against any accusation of bad writing that can be leveled at her. Everything can be simplified to the dystopian society that is the stage for Divegent. E.g Tris doesn't seem to miss her family. Defense? She doesn't because the faction is not a loving one. But, we see, in the very first scene, that Tris and her mother are being loving and caring in front of the mirror. How does that fit in? Response? It's a dystopian future and appearances deceiving and love is only skin deep.

The worldbuilding in Divergent is the definition of paucity. The infrastructure is hazily hinted at, the technology is erratic, little things like the training of the Dauntless, where the militarism is sketchy at best(people are taught to shoot a gun before learning how to clean or load them). And the characters in the book fall flat to me. To generate the illusion of development, the first half of the book gives us a heroine who says quite boring things, like a slightly challenged person. Tris becomes more normal and outspoken in the second half, but it's too late. The book has lost me as a reader. Funny thing is, if you take a paragraph where Tris both thinks and speaks, and you reverse those two things (i.e put quotation marks on her thoughts and vice versa), you see that she doesn't really change.

There are many books that I don't like. Among them are many that I don't 'get'. I'm fine with that. I'll never say that I have great taste in books. Many books that I don't like are incompatible with me. Divergent, however, belongs to another category. Divergent is the kind of book where the story is a kind of placeholder. You, whoever you might be, must need to invest and project your own emotions and experiences onto the book to make it meaningful and familiar. We do that with most examples of art, to some extent. But here, I feel that we are taking the pieces of our own thoughts and cutting them to fit the jigsaw picture of Divergent. What is healthy is to try to fit existing pieces of the story together. The writer must not make us do his/her work for her. I can't explain it better than that. Divergent is 100 % escapist fare, and I can be no more damning than that. ( )
1 vote Jiraiya | May 10, 2015 |
This is a re-read for me. The first time I read this book, in September 2012, I rated it three out of five stars. After reading it for a second time, I don’t understand how that could possibly be! I’m beginning to think that I clicked the wrong star rating when I first read this book.

The plot of this story is amazing. There is a lot of world building involved with the world Roth created for her readers. It is very unique; very original. The characters were awesome, for lack of a better word. Tris could be annoying at times I’ll admit, but for the most part, I loved her. Four, in my opinion, was probably one of the best developed characters in the story. He’s a very strong male character that I’m sure a lot of girls will be swooning over for a long.

With that being said, I couldn’t put this book down and I am looking forward to re-reading Insurgent in preparation for Allegiant. ( )
  Wonderland_Books | May 2, 2015 |
i love this book and all the others books by this author :) ( )
  tallyyoungblood | Apr 29, 2015 |
I really like dystopian books so it was pretty obvious that I was going to like this one. I must say though at first it was kinda difficult to keep track of who was who and all the different factions. After I got the swing of things though it has proven to be a excellent read and I can't wait to read Insurgent. ( )
  AngelaFries | Apr 29, 2015 |
Well, I’ve learned something from all this – I picked up the Hunger Games and read them, thinking it was okay, not bad, but not great either, and everyone immediately said, “Oh, you’re reading The Hunger Games? You should read Divergent next!”.

And because I’m a pushover, I did, and I’m noticing a definite trend after reading the two back-to-back.

Remember when “dystopian” meant this plausible, totalitarian future that we could see happening one day and that’s why it was scary? When Bradbury said there was more than one way to burn a book, and it was all metaphorical for how people don’t read or think for themselves anymore and censorship is awful? Or 1984 gave us a world where your every action/word/thought is monitored by the government? Those things that are kind of germane to modern culture?

Remember when the politicians threatened to segregate us into factions based on unreasonably narrow facets of our personality?

Oh, wait… wait, no, that one doesn’t make any sense at all, does it? I mean, that’s kind of really ridiculous when you think about it and people would never go for that. People are really complicated, and capable of feeling more than one thing at once, or even overwhelming. Some people commit selfless acts of bravery or are honest friends…

But in Divergent, for some nebulous “war is bad” reason (not a specific war that has been mentioned, mind, just in general, apparently, people one day decided this and were able to get together and come up with a Plan to Solve Things), the government somehow convinced people that they would have to divide their families and friends to choose the one aspect of their personality they think represents them best when they’re sixteen. This in no way can go wrong.

The problem is that this is so baffling – it’s a neat idea, sure, but it would almost have to be played out as a parody or satire. It’s nearly impossible to picture as a serious thing that could happen. What, you mean no one ever said, “Hang on a mo’. It turns out that while I was a reckless, sociopathic lunatic when I was sixteen, I’m really not anything like that now that I’m thirty and my knees have started giving me trouble from jumping off all of these trains for no reason”? Or, “You know, I think it’s possible to be selfless and friendly? That these two things go sort of hand-in-hand?”. The “Divergents” are supposedly super-special because they don’t conform neatly into one of the factions. Really? These people are rare? I’d imagine a lot of people would not conform so neatly into this pattern.

But apparently not. We’re given very little information as to why/how/who enforces these decisions, why they were made to segregate in the first place, why they came up with the idea in the first place, and what they were on when they decided it’d be a good idea. Well, we are, but again, it’s just “war is bad”. Well, thank you for the update. Apparently there was a miscommunication somewhere along the line, however, as the factions are actively encouraged not to fraternize. As we all know, actively isolating sections of society based on arbitrary decisions has historically gone very well in preventing wars. This rule, by the way, manages to not make sense within the context of the world itself, even if we do buy its premise. Nevertheless, the main character keeps repeating that this solution apparently worked, eliminating murders! There are still people, the “factionless” who starve in the streets, but who cares about them? Kids die periodically when joining Dauntless, but that’s expected! It worked!

… why? It seems to have done nothing but breed contempt for other factions and those without factions, self-segregated societies, and it takes one faction to fall apart to ruin the entire system they have running. They’re worried about the Divergents, what they really need to worry about is one discontent Amity who sets fire to the farms and sends the entire city spiraling into a full-fledged famine.

Look, I get that this is a very deep and meaningful metaphor for the struggle of adolescents to find themselves and all that, but metaphors only work if they work on both levels. They have to work on the surface (for instance, a totalitarian government monitors their citizens’ every move) as well as the deeper meaning (*coughStalinismcough*). It’d be like a simile where camels.

Without the surface level working, you’re left with a very impressive society that was apparently solely built as a symbol of the tangle of youthful identity. I say impressive because generally societies that work only as symbols don’t do very well in terms of, say, representation in government or a stable economy. Funny, that. To paraphrase Monty Python, “Deep symbolic metaphors for adolescent angst is no basis for a system of government!”.

Anyway, the story ignores all the logistical and practical problems with this and races on. Beatrice, a member of the Abnegation (a faction that values selflessness, wearing grey, and not looking in mirrors), chooses Dauntless and must endure their brutal initiation rites. In the book’s defense, many characters do point out that the factions have changed from their original purpose. Dauntless, whose main character trait is fairly easy to guess by their name, used to believe that bravery was more something from the heart, but now equates bravery with ruthlessness and physical strength. I actually liked these insights, because it showed the problems with the system, which was a little paradoxical (the best part of the book being where it pointed out the problems with the book) – namely, that even supposed virtues can become vices if left unchecked. The Abnegation faction is known for its selflessness, but it takes too much pride in being selfless. The Dauntless value bravery, but bravery can easily cross into violent idiocy. The Erudite thirst for knowledge, but that knowledge leads them to be discontent with their current system (are we supposed to cheer them on? Because I was. No representation in government? Go get ‘em, Erudites!).

The second problem I have with this book came to me around page 300. This is a very long book, and I have no problems with that. I love long books. But not pointlessly long books. Beatrice – or “Tris”, as she is now known – is admitted to the Dauntless faction fairly early on, but the initiation goes on ad nauseum. Quite frankly, it feels unfocused and padded. It’s not strictly repetitive, but it’s not really moving the plot forward either; or if it is, it’s at such a glacial pace that empires have been built, fallen, and sacked twice by the Visigoths before the book reached something interesting that actually moved the action forward. The author pretty much establishes Tris’s and the other initiate’s characters early on, so all that’s left is the action of the three stages of initiation and the Big Plot. Instead, we’re treated to every time they go to lunch, or every time Tris goes to bed, and I was half-expecting to read a detailed monologue of how she missed her family, but by God, she was determined to be a Dauntless! while brushing her teeth determinedly. Seriously, we get it. Move to the actual plot, please.

Then there’s the love interest, Four, who is pretty bland. He’s pretty and a special snowflake and decides he totally digs sixteen-year-olds with the bodies of twelve-year-olds because the plot demands it (seriously, this is a recurring theme, because when you leave your family behind, you’re in constant danger of dying from an accident or being murdered in the night by your dorm-mates, the fear that most preys on your mind is whether or not people think you look like a child).

Finally, the last 100 pages or so get to the plot. Huzzah! Quick summary, Erudite (because knowledge is terrible) develops a serum that turns the Dauntless into a zombie army who begin executing Abnegation faction. Because Tris is super special, she doesn't turn into a zombie. A bunch of people get unnecessarily killed, Tris shoots one of her friends in the head but only shoots one of the big bad's in the foot, whatever, and after the plot is resolved, our heroes escape on a train to Amity.

The book tries to end on a cliffhanger, but the problem is that the Dauntless have woken up and are probably really rightly ticked that they were being mind-controlled. Pretty much anyone would assume that these mind-controlled sociopathic mercenaries, as soon as they woke up and had their own volition again, would summarily execute the people in charge of it - and would easily do it. After all, Dauntless is an army, and the Erudite leader flat-out says that her intellectuals aren't exactly meeting the minimum standards of Badassery. But apparently when the Dauntless-zombie-army awakens, they shrug and decide to let bygones be bygones. At least, that's the impression Tris has.

All in all, it’s not a bad idea. If the world had been fleshed out more and a tad more realistic (by which I mean made any amount of sense whatsoever), about 100 pages had been excised, and the love interest been either non-existent (oh, YA, when will you write me a story with a strong female protagonist without having to force a teenage romance to bloom?) or more interesting, it could have been great. The writing is nothing exceptional, but it’s solid and enjoyable enough when it doesn’t get bogged down on every single detail of the protagonist’s day and thoughts and how muscular Generic Romance Interest’s arm is.

I would like to add that I do intend on reading the second one, as I like to complete series, and maybe I’ll feel more charitably disposed to the series as a whole after – however, since authors must catch the attention of readers in the first book, this review will not change. ( )
  kittyjay | Apr 23, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Veronica Rothprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Galvin, EmmaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Koob-Pawis, PetraÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tippie, JoelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my mother,
who gave me the moment when Beatrice realizes how
her mother is and wonders how she missed it for so long
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There is one mirror in my house.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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In a future Chicago, sixteen-year-old Beatrice Prior must choose among five predetermined factions to define her identity for the rest of her life, a decision made more difficult when she discovers that she is an anomaly who does not fit into any one group, and that the society she lives in is not perfect after all.
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In a future Chicago, sixteen-year-old Beatrice Prior must choose among five predetermined factions to define her identity for the rest of her life, a decision made more difficult when she discovers that she is an anomaly who does not fit into any one group, and that the society she lives in is not perfect after all.… (more)

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