I have FAILED as a book blogger this week and apologize profusely. Not a single post has gone up since Sunday. I have no excuse other than complete laziness. Anyway, I was reading! So many people have recommended Divergent and I finally got around to reading it – very late to this particular party, I know.
For those who don’t know (and do those people even exist anymore?), Divergent takes place in a dystopian Chicago where citizens are separated into 5 factions – Amity (for the kind and peaceful), Dauntless (for the brave), Abnegation (for the selfless), Candor (for the honest), and Erudite (for the intelligent). These five characteristics were chosen as ultimate solutions to war and once a child turns 16, he/she must choose which faction best suits them (aided by a diagnostic test). Our main character, Beatrice, receives inconclusive results from her diagnostic test which makes her ‘divergent’ – something that she’s told is extremely dangerous and she must never tell anyone. All she knows about being divergent is that she fits into more than one faction, three to be precise – Dauntless, Erudite, and her home faction, Abnegation. On Choosing Day, Beatrice decides to join the Dauntless and begins the initiation process where she learns not only truths about her new home, but also about the city as a whole. Crazy action ensues.
Did Divergent live up to the hype? Mostly. Without a doubt, I turned these pages at an impressive clip unable to break away from Tris and her Dauntless initiation tasks. They were so brutal and the action was absolutely non-stop. Initiation sequences, training montages, mind games – these sorts of things suck me in without fail. Roth’s novel is paced impeccably and if you are a fan of action/adventure you will not be disappointed.
Tris, herself, is a refreshing female lead. She’s complex, not always easy to connect with or even like, and has deep character flaws that are just a part of who she is. Thank goodness for a little ugly truth in humanity. She can be cold, vindictive, and utterly unapologetic. At the same time, she’s filled with self-knowledge, bravery, strength, and a moral code I wholeheartedly respected. My only gripe is the whole overplayed ‘I’m so ugly’, but she’s really beautiful cliche that needs to go away.
The love story is not a triangle!! I’m almost afraid to say that since there are two more books and this could change at any moment, but I appreciated the single love interest. As a couple, Four and Tris are believable, if maybe a little flat. Their story is hardly new or original and learning Four’s true identity was far from shocking. But I was just so happy to avoid choosing a team that I forgive Roth this minor flaw.
Many readers have stated that the world building was a little lacking and that we don’t learn enough about how Chicago became a city of factions. This didn’t bother me as I assumed the next two books will fill in all the plot holes sprinkled throughout Divergent. I like being kept in the dark a bit since Tris is also in the dark about so many things. Others have bemoaned how implausible separating people into 5 single personality traits is and feel that leads to a very shaky foundation for the plot to stand on. But that’s the point. The book is called Divergent which essentially means that people aren’t any one thing – we are complex, varying, evolving animals who change on a constant basis. This world was doomed from the very beginning. This is a world where people were so desperate to avoid or stop war that they made a very rash, illogical decision and I can’t wait to see what event led people down such an incredibly stupid path. I also love exploring the idea that war is inherently a part of human nature and will never cease to exist.
While incredibly enjoyable, Divergent isn’t perfect. There are plot holes, the back story is lacking, the villains are a bit one-dimensional, and the ‘twists’ were predictable. At times, I also found myself a little emotionally un-involved. Many characters die (Roth is not afraid to eliminate anyone), but I found myself not caring too much – even when the reader was clearly supposed to care. So, if I have one wish for Insurgent which is being released next month – make me care!!!! Give the characters a little more depth and help me as a reader connect with them better. If Roth can manage this task, this series might become one of my all-time favs.