Author: Veronica Roth
Series: Divergent #1
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Date Published: May 3rd, 2011
Genre: Dystopian (YA)
Source: Won from Confessions of a Bookaholic!
In a future Chicago, 16-year-old Beatrice Prior must choose among five predetermined factions to define her identity for the rest of her life. Will she remain true to her family and stay part of Abnegation, a self-less, self-sacrificing life of gray? Or will she decide to split from her family and join another faction? There's the kind, giving, and loving Amity, the honest, abrupt Candor, calculating and brainy Erudite, and the fearless, daredevils in Dauntless. Of course, Tris's decision is 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.
With the release of Insurgent earlier this month, I felt that it was finally time for me to crack open Divergent and see what everyone's been raving about for the last year. I am not a person who likes to follow trends and listen to the hype when it comes to my reading choices. I hate to admit it, but any book that is on the best-seller list, I tend to shelve for a while, just because I hate reading what people tell me to read...(I'm a rebel at heart I suppose...) All I can say about Divergent, is that it is a truly spectacular read that has you staying up until the wee hours of the morning to finish it, and I probably shouldn't have waited this long to give it a go. I'm not sure if I can even contribute anything that hasn't already been said about the book, because so make people agree with me that it is a really great read. It's definitely a unique and creative Dystopian in the flood of "the next Hunger Games" books out there, and I think it is one of the only ones that live up to that title.
I have never met a main character that was more similar to me (mentally) than Tris. Some people find Tris hard, unsympathetic, and kind of flat, but to me she is everything that she needs to be. She's like a silk glove that's hiding a dagger: beautiful on the outside, but deadly and strong on the inside. One of my biggest pet peeves in Young Adult fiction is when the main character whines about how unfair it is that some things are happening to them. Tris has all the right to be complaining about all the crap that she has to experience, but she is stronger than that. She doesn't show fear, or disgust at what she has to do, even when it is something that could be considered morally wrong. She has her own set of moral codes and she follows them even if it means deviating off the path of "right and wrong". She has the guts and the courage to just do what she has to do in order to survive and keep her family and friends alive and she isn't squeamish about it. She is literally my character soul-mate and I absolutely love her for it.
A lot of bloggers and other reviewers are in a full-bodied swoon over Four, but to be honest, his and Tris's relationship fell flat for me in the beginning. There just wasn't enough cute, meaningful, breath-catching moments for me in the first 3/4 of the novel to get me to fall in love with him. He's an older, gorgeous, bad-ass guy...and of course he falls for the nobody who doesn't even seem like she's going to pass her tests. They have a few "coulda been cute" moments, like on the ferris wheel, but then they succumb to the YA relationship disaster. feigned disinterest. Why is it that at some point in almost every YA book, the love interest acts like he hates the heroine, or at least doesn't like her in a romantic sense? Then we have to endure the fifty agonizing pages of the "WHY doesn't he like me? I thought we had something special, he is SUCH a JERK" phase, where the heroine cries about her lost love only to find that he really did care, but was ignoring her for her own protection... I could have definitely gone without that pointless, yet seemingly inevitable section, because without all the angst, I feel like I actually would have fallen in love with the two quicker. The ending though, gave me that heart-squeezing moment I was looking for.
As far as the Dystopian-type government goes, this one is interesting but flawed. I appreciate the detail involved in maintaining the different groups: Dauntless, Abnegation, Amity, etc. but they also don't make too much sense when you think about it logically. People wouldn't allow one class to rule (governmentally speaking) because they would feel like they are being underrepresented. Abnegation also doesn't seem like they should control law anyways, because they aren't even the "smart-class"...sure they are supposed to be self-sacrificing and keep everything fair, but wouldn't you want smart people, whose whole lives revolve around finding knowledge, making decisions as well? I feel like the society could have been better developed and more believable with the creation of a high council of sorts with one member of each class, or something similar. Still, the classes and society in general were very interesting. It was fun to see the way the different classes acted and tried to stick to the guidelines that designated each member to their class. I loved seeing how all the Dauntless initiates who came from other factions reacted to things differently and all struggled to shake off the chains of their old faction to become a Dauntless.