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Divergent (Book 1) by Veronica Roth
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Divergent (Book 1) (original 2011; edition 2012)

by Veronica Roth

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8,194808382 (4.12)575
Member:edspicer
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)

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When I first read the novel, Divergent, I thought the plot was interesting, even if the imaginary country was somewhat reminiscent of the divided states in Hunger Games. All too often, young adult novels involving political ideas tend to oversimplify their characters’ experiences, in order to satisfy a good versus evil paradigm, so I was willing to allow the oversimplification in Divergent to pass and focused on the character development as I read the novel.

After I finished the novel, I noticed a question-answer piece in the back, wherein the author discussed her Christian values and how much she enjoyed working them into the novel.

I had not noticed any blatant Christian values in the novel, other than an occasional reference to depending on God from some of the Abnegation faction’s leaders. Interestingly, these same Abnegation leaders are some of the more complex characters in the novel, since there are rumors from some of them about one of their leaders—rumors that turn out to be true. So, while the Abnegation faction are all supposed to be selfless, non-violent, and morally incorruptible, it turns out that even their leaders have these faults.

The movie, however, highlights the tensions between the Abnegation (symbolizing Christians) and the Erudite (symbolizing science and reason) more strongly than the novel did, even though the movie does not mention religious beliefs at all.

Instead, the movie follows the idea that “knowledge leads to a lust for power,” which is political spinning of the maxim that “knowledge is power.” My mother once reminded me that I should appreciate my education because no one can take what I learn away from me.

In the Divergent world, however, those with the will to learn are also the power hungry, and the main conflict of the novel centers around the Erudite faction using their knowledge to manipulate the Dauntless faction, which is the city’s police force, into becoming an army for them to take over the city government from the Abnegation faction.

Following the symbolism through the movie’s action, then, Christians believe that science is lying about what we know about the creation and powers of the universe in order to undermine Christian beliefs and to gain power over everyone. Furthermore, the only way science can prevail is to use technology to manipulate the military into rounding up and killing all the Christians.

What is not clear in the movie is why only the Abnegation faction has members that are so diverse—Tris’ mother was formerly Dauntless, and Four’s father really did beat him in his attempts to make him a better, more selfless person—reliving those moments is one of Four’s four fears. Tris herself chooses Dauntless and her brother chooses Erudite, both choices are seen as a condemnation of the Abnegation faction.

It is possible that Roth’s inexperience with other kinds of people left many of her factional characters flat, while her experiences with her own Christian community became the foundations for the more complex people we encounter in the Abnegation faction.

What is apparent is that Roth wanted to highlight the paranoid fear being experienced by many Christian communities in America—many are constantly acting in abhorrent ways, so earn other Christians bad reputations. If this is case, then Roth’s decision to create separate factions in her novels is to highlight the errors of these stereotypes, even as her novels commit them. ( )
1 vote hefruth | Aug 24, 2014 |
Divergent Shelf Notes Review
Dear Reader,
Here we go again, another dystopian young adult adventure novel. I'm pretty selective about which young adult books I pick to read since it's become a genre itself. Divergent has been out for awhile now and I've heard good things from by brother and friends. I decided this was one I would commit to (commit meaning read the entire series). The movie will be coming out soon and the 3rd book is in the works, so I thought this would be the perfect time, giving me just the right amount of time to read both the 1st and 2nd books before the movie and then finishing the 3rd after the movie comes out. From the hype I've heard from my loved ones, most enjoyed it just as much and if not more than The Hunger Games. I will try not to go straight to that comparison though since the books are different enough and it wouldn't be fair to Veronica Roth who has come up with her own very imaginative world and story.
The story follows Beatrice (nicknamed Tris) during her vastly important year of testing and training in a faction that she selects. This dystopian world is divided into factions, each one relying on a certain virtue. Candor is honesty, Abnegation is selfless (this is the faction Tris was brought up under), Dauntless is brave (this is the faction Tris picks to become), Amity is peaceful and Erudite is intelligence. Every sixteen year old goes through a test that determines which faction they would be good in (kind of like the sorting hat in Harry Potter) but this does not determine the faction they'll be in... No, they get to choose whichever one they want! After they choose, they might not even become part of that faction. They have to go through a series of tests and training to determine if they'll be a member, if they don't pass they become factionless (which is not an ideal outcome). What if the test is inconclusive and can't place someone in just ONE faction, they are called divergent (wink, wink... book title!). My thoughts on all of this? I like the ideas of factions even though I think most people would be considered divergent, but maybe in this dystopia people are more linear? I know for a fact that most people in OUR world wouldn't be placed in just one virtue, but can I see this happening if forced upon us? What if we were brought up in a certain faction and this now brings up the nurture vs nature argument. Are we born with those virtues or is it something we learn through our experiences growing up. I really enjoyed the idea of this world but didn't quite fall in love with the aligning yourself with any one faction, it's too linear and simple for me. Also, looking at the age someone is forced to select a faction, this seems way too young for me. Almost like how we have to choose a major WAY to early to know what we want to do with our entire life! Teens are head-strung and rebellious by nature and I feel more of them would switch factions just to be get away and do something more adventurous. Why wouldn't Dauntless be more compelling than Abnegation?! Maybe that's just me though.
My biggest problem with this book had to do with Tris, the main character. She was infuriating throughout the entire freakin thing! She has all these people who seem to care about her (mother, friend, and potential boyfriend) who keep telling her to be careful and not tell anyone about her test results and how dangerous it could be. Does she listen to them? NOT AT ALL! She goes around like a dummy, extremely careless and you just know she'll be getting herself into deep doo doo at some point. I know this makes for good drama but I absolutely hate it when the Author does it at the main characters expense. We're suppose to like her, not hate every move she makes. Overall the book is exciting, action packed, suspenseful, and really original (even though everyone is comparing it to other dystopian books). I look forward to reading the next one and can only hope Tris has smartened up a bit and won't keep making dumb mistakes.
Happy Reading,
 
AmberBug ( )
  yougotamber | Aug 22, 2014 |
For review see my article on Roth and "Divergent": http://evanstonroundtable.com/main.asp?SectionID=4&SubSectionID=4&Articl... ( )
  NatalieSW | Aug 20, 2014 |
Somewhat torn on this one. And now I'm finished with it I'm still not sure how to review it as I didn't entirely like it all that much. There were some parts I liked, there was a lot about it I didn't like.

On the one hand, the book was fast paced enough that I read the first half in one afternoon. But it was a month later before I picked it up again and read the rest. While it was an interesting idea, different factions with different properties for people to live in, and one girl who doesn't really fit into any of them, despite her efforts to fit into the most active and dangerous one.

The whole world building and characterisation felt a little flat for me. There was no explanations as to how all the factions came to be in place. And most of the characters felt flat and two dimensional. Triss had some friends and some enemies in the Dauntless and a potential love interest. While there were times I liked Triss, there were times when some of the things she managed to do in her training amazed me, there were a lot of things I didn't like. She lied to her friends, and kept chopping and changing wanting to be in one faction and then go back to her original faction and then a page later she's back to thinking one way to try and be strong and fit in again. It got rather annoying, but on reflection I suppose this was the whole point about being Divergent. I will say that towards the end she was pretty bad ass.

And some of the training things the Dauntless did I just didn't get at all. They're supposed to be brave - but to me some of the stuff just felt reckless and completely stupid. Yet there were some interesting bits - like the whole face your fears and control yourself reaction - that was a good part.

I didn't particularly like the romance between Triss and Four, for the tone of book to me it felt unnecessary but I suppose there has to be something to make these people feel and seem human and towards the end of the book it did pay off quite well.

The last two hundred pages of the book were really the best part of it.

Over all and 2.5 star rating. ( )
  sunset_x_cocktail | Aug 20, 2014 |
I enjoyed the story, the way it was told, and the characters. The premise was interesting and I have spent some time wondering what faction I would choose. I loved that for a YA novel, it was pretty "clean" as far as language and content goes. It had a little more action than I typically prefer to see in my reading, so I think that is why I didn't LOVE it. Now I think I will watch the movie :) ( )
  booksniff | Aug 20, 2014 |
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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
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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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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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