Book Review: Divergent

Be warned, spoilers lie ahead!

2937303Title: Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Date of Release: May 3rd 2011
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Summary: “In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, 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 to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating 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 a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves… or it might destroy her.” – Goodreads

Aside from a few nit-picks I have with Divergent, I enjoyed it, managing to finish it in under a week despite my jam packed schedule. This book has everything from interesting characters, a rather strong protagonist (both emotionally and, eventually, physically), romance, action, and conspiracy.

As the book begins and the central plot is laid out, things are exciting, fast paced, and fun. I would argue that that’s one of Divergent’s best qualities; being straight up fun. The tension stays high throughout much of the beginning as Tris makes decisions that change her life forever, and, to my surprise, stayed. I’m used to many books having an engaging beginning, sort of plateauing off half way, then bringing that back just in time for the ending climax. But not with Divergent. It keeps it constant, whether that be with training or romance.

Whenever Tris wasn’t learning how to beat someone’s face in, and doing quite well in come cases, she was drawing closer to Four, the main male lead and one of her instructors. One of the things I liked most about this couple is her deliberate attention to the fact that Four isn’t particularly kind, handsome, or anything that would draw one to him like a moth to light. In YA fiction, the main male lead is usually super attractive, insanely witty, (or super creepy, and yes, Edward Cullen, I’m looking at you). It’s refreshing to have a more, well, realistic guy enter the scene.  Their relationship is cute, and I also like the idea that he sees her as being strong and smart in her own right; that he doesn’t feel the constant need to protect her, because she can manage herself. (Which I also feel does not show up enough).

My few gripes are this. As much fun as this book is, it didn’t draw my attention away from two things. One: the audience isn’t actually told why being Divergent is dangerous until way late in the game, and even then I don’t recall anyone saying it out loud. It was more implied than anything. Since it’s such a big part of the premise, I had expected an explanation sooner. Second: the writing is both basic and at times awkward. I couldn’t find anything even moderately difficult about the text, and by that I don’t mean it flowed beautifully (though there were occasional patches where things felt awkward), but more like it was aimed at a 7th grade reading level. There are plenty of other YA novels that use more complex vocabulary and syntax only to be enhanced by them. I wish Divergent had done the same. That being said, the writing was not bad. Merely simple.

Through and through, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was pure fun, drawing both adoring ‘aw’s and ‘ouch’es from me with each page. Now, to anxiously await it’s sequel Insurgent!

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