Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Book: Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release date: May 3, 2011
Source: Bought from local bookstore
Series: Divergent #1


Summary from Goodreads:

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtueâ??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 isâ??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 areâ??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 lovesâ?¦ or it might destroy her.

Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent seriesâ??dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

First impressions: 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: 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: I spent too much time wondering A) why more people weren’t Divergent; and B) what was so bad about being Divergent. 

Overall impressions:  A well developed world is the key to success where dystopians are concerned. As a reader, I need to know  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? Roth does a fair job at trying to answer these, and some were more satisfactory answers than others. 

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 stars 

Click the stars for a description of my rating system



10 thoughts on “Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

  1. I had the same problems with book 1 that you did. I wanted to know what was a)so bad about being divergent b)why there weren’t more divergents and c)why we didn’t learn more about the other factions.

    We even rated it about the same!

    I loved book 2 because it answered my questions from Divergent 🙂

  2. Hmm. I liked this book quite a bit more than you did. I assumed that diverging from the set categories was a problem in such a rigid society. Some people already had a bent for 2 different groups, but chose one under an either/or mandate. And family pressure made the choice harder.
    Tris was blended and I understood that by what happened in the initiation. The initiation also served to set out just how wrong the society had become. Trying to solve the problem of war by extreme control is just making the pendulum swing.

    • My point is that wouldn’t everyone have more than one tendency for a group? It would have made more sense if the entire society had to choose a faction and remain completely loyal, and then showing Tris’s struggle to conform – especially if everyone else seems to conform easily. But to tell us that a simple test puts you in a category, but then you still get to choose your faction (whyyyyy?) makes me expect Divergence to be fairly common. The concept of a girl struggling to find her place in this rigid society was a good one, but executed in an overwrought and ineffective way.

  3. Aw, I’m sad that this one wasn’t a mind-blowing one for you, particularly because I absolutely LOVED this book. It’s so amazing to me. But I’m really anxious about the sequel. Still haven’t read it despite the fact that I totally pre-ordered it :O

  4. I think that there are more divergents than the world thinks there are. It’s been a while since I read this, but from what I remember it’s more that the divergents are in hiding. I haven’t read book two, though. Maybe we get some answers there?

    • People keep telling me there’s a lot of information that comes to light in book two. I plan on reading it, if only to satisfy my curiosity.

  5. I was surprised how much of Divergent was taken up by the initiation process after expecting it to be done and over with in the beginning. So I can see where you’re coming from. I think Insurgent may have a bit more of what you’re after – lots of politics and answers about how the factions work. So hopefully you’ll like that one more if you plan on continuing with the series!

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