I LOVED The Hunger Games. It was one of those books that roped me into the YA genre and one that has shaped my reading life a lot! And everyone has been squawking: “Oh Divergent is the new Hunger Games!”, “You enjoyed The Hunger Games then read Divergent!” etc.
And so because I just needed more Hunger Games goodness (err that isn’t an appropriate word for killing children but you know what I mean), I picked up Divergent with sky-high expectations. I mean, I could see the obvious similarities of districts & factions and all but I think that is where the similarities ended. I was really disappointed. (who is surprised now, ugh hyped books)
DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Dystopia | Age: Young Adult
Series: Divergent #1
Published: 26 April 2011 | Read: 11 April 2020
No. of Pages: 487 (Hardcover)
Click here to view Trigger WarningsChild abuse, Murder, PTSD, Violence
In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.
In Divergent, the society is divided into sections according the the qualities that one posses. Abnegation for the selfless, Amnity for the peaceful, Candor for the honest, Erudite for the intelligent and Dauntless for the Brave. At 16, everyone must make the choice. And it could mean betraying their family. Our protagonist Tris, makes a brave/foolish choice which leads to everything that happens.
Cruelty does not make a person dishonest, the same way bravery does not make a person kind.
It was a typical YA dystopia.
The first book was interesting, getting to know the new setting, new characters. I really enjoyed the world building taking place, especially the Dauntless compound and all the cool facilities.
But the third book was dreadfully dry and the 2 POVs, I am sorry to say, failed. Though it was cool finally finding out what mysterious Tobias was thinking about, what was the point when Tris and Tobias sounded exactly the same? A more distinct tone for each would have greatly improved the understanding of the characters, and not making it so factual sounding.
Throughout the trilogy, the plot had many sudden secrets and many abrupt and unexpected turns.That was exciting. But it was a bit on the surface. I feel that it was fast-moving, which is great, but very brief and having hardly any depth at all. Some crucial events were described only across the span of a few pages as if they were very trivial. This touch-and-go style did not really suit me and greatly hindered my enjoyment of the books as I was unable to connect and be fully immersed.
“People, I have discovered, are layers and layers of secrets. You believe you know them, that you understand them, but their motives are always hidden from you, buried in their own hearts. You will never know them, but sometimes you decide to trust them.”
There was also not much character interaction between the characters other than Tris and Tobias. Sure we did have interactions between Tris and her family, Tris and the other candidates but it was alwasy Tris and who, Tris and who. I do understand that she was the main character but how everything was focused on Tris with nothing happening outside of her felt quite bland. Where were the other relationships between the minor characters? Furthermore, apart from the interactions between Tris and Tobias, the rest were developed at supersonic speeds and used merely to push along the plot – which is okay but I would like to have seen.
Well, according to the quote, perhaps it as because I didn’t trust many of them who seemed sketchy and thus could not understand them hm.
I understand that this is a YA novel, perhaps meant to entertain young teenagers who want to be shocked and kept on the edge all the time with crazy revelations… but without more elaboration and details (though yes, a slower pace), there is no sense of relationship between us and the book, there are no emotions felt… I mean, in Divergent, I read about blood splattering and people dying with much nonchalance – how can that be? Though with crazy plots, many YA novels have managed to capture the hearts of the readers. This is what Divergent is missing.
My criticism aside, I did love the characters, just wishing they were more defined and distinct and explored more in-depth especially our many minor characters. To add on, I’m not saying that fast paced novels aren’t good. In this case, I found Divergent to be highly entertaining. Purely entertainment. Not those kind of fast-paced impactful novels I was looking out for.
“Becoming fearless isn’t the point. That’s impossible. It’s learning how to control your fear, and how to be free from it.”
Now that I have gotten all of that off my chest, I want to end this review on a (somewhat) positive note.
I think the only thing that impacted me was the theme of fear. I loved how it was explored. We have the Dauntless who seems to want to be rid of fear. They compete for the least number of fears. Do crazy things like jumping onto trains. But in actual fact, it was about understanding the fear, how it came about, how it works etc and in the end control the fear. There will always be fear but whether or not one lets it destroy them is their choice.
And I deeply appreciated that exploration. In fact it reminded me of a quote from the Renegades trilogy by Marissa Meyer which goes “One cannot be brave who has no fear.” The Dauntless are often associated with words like brave and fearless and in this series we explore how they are actually complete opposites. That was especially meaningful.
These are just my (albeit controversial) thoughts, hardcore fans please don’t take offence! To each their own opinion!