First impressions:Â I picked this one up, read through the first few chapters, and then put it down for months. I did not find the beginning of this book that compelling.
Lasting impressions:Â However, once I got into the story, I had a hard time putting it down. The plot moves swiftly and it’s easy to get swept away in this one.
Conflicting impressions:Â I spent too much time wondering A) why more people weren’t Divergent; and B) what was so bad about being Divergent.Â
Overall impressions:Â Â A well developed world is the key to success where dystopians are concerned. As a reader, I need to know Â the rules of the current society and why they were created. Why are there factions? How do they function to protect the people? How important is their existence to the ruling powers? What is at stake if they fail? How does Divergence factor into this all?Â Roth does a fair job at trying to answer these, and some were more satisfactory answers than others.Â
Beatrice (Tris) is a pleasant enough protagonist. I appreciated that she wasn’t the best at everything. In several scenes we actually see her overpowered and humiliated by her fellow faction-mates. She’s not helpless, though, and she certainly proves her value as time goes on. Four, the love interest, is somewhat bland, but I found the supporting characters to be interesting and vivid. While Tris is completing her faction’s initiation, there is a Hunger Games-like feel to things, where this group of young people is going through hell together, but also competing against one another. It makes for a great dynamic.
As much as I liked the initiation process, it took up too much of the plot for me, to the detriment of the development of the larger conflict. Only after initiation is nearly complete do we start to understand the bigger issues at play in this world, and the climax of the book seemed cramped into too few pages as a result. I wish we had gotten more insights into the inter-faction rumblings beyond some seemingly benign animosity between Erudite and Abnegation. Perhaps it’s my own interest in politics that had me craving more of this, but I think it would have been helpful to know.
I can see why this series has inspired so many rabid fans. It’s heavy on action with an exciting setting, and there’s a nice romance that I can appreciate (even if it wasn’t my favorite). For me, however, this one failed to live up to the hype.
Rating: 3/5 starsÂ