Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent is a 487 page, young adult, dystopian fantasy. It is the first novel in a trilogy, also called Divergent (creative, eh?), and is on the verge of being released as a feature film. A few of my friends really enjoyed this book so I added it to my reading list. As my computer has been out of commission these past few weeks — I lost my power cord in the move and didn’t have the ambition to get another — I decided to get started on it.

Divergent is about a 16 year old girl named Beatrice Prior. Every year, the 16-year-olds are given an aptitude test of sorts that places each person in their most fitting faction. A faction is a sort of society of people who all value a similar basic trait, and there are five such factions: Candor (truth), Erudite (knowledge), Abnegation (selflessness), Amity (peace), and Dauntless (bravery). Each year, all 16-year-olds are given the aptitude test and are allowed to choose the faction they will spend the rest of their lives in.

Our main character, Beatrice, was born into Abnegation, but she has never felt that she was selfless enough to truly fit in. Even her brother Caleb, who is also 16, has always seemed infinitely less selfish than Beatrice feels. When she takes her test, the results are astounding. While most young adults are suggested one faction, Beatrice comes out with three. The tester, a Dauntless female with tattoos, demands that Beatrice never tell anyone that she got an almost impossible result–Divergent. I won’t give away what this means, but I will say that it’s a deadly secret, and creates agony for a 16-year-old on the verge of making her first life changing decision.

While training for her initiation after choosing her faction, Tris (the newly coined Beatrice) meets some new people, including our second main character, Four, and a few malevolent characters as well. From here, the plot of Divergent moves incredibly fast; I finished the book in two sittings. I devoured this story. Even though some of the writing was a little too fresh for me (I believe this was Veronica Roth’s first novel), I enjoyed getting to know about the factions.

However much the factions seemed to make sense in the world Roth created, I thought it odd that everyone showed such essentially good traits. Maybe I’m also just not cut out for Abnegation or maybe the factions seem a little too idealistic. Although the story says it is dystopian, I wonder how long after the fall of what I can only assume is the original government that this book takes place. How long does it take a society to stop being primarily scavengers to figure out an entirely functional (if not completely benevolent) government that works enough to have someone who is Divergent be considered different and dangerous? I really hope this gets hashed out in the following books. Dystopian novels are a thrill for me, as much for the new world as for the destruction of the old.

I loved most of the characterization in this book. Beatrice was, even fresh out of Abnegation, a strong female lead. Four was probably my favorite character — an instructor of the Dauntless — does it get any more dangerously attractive than that? Thanks to the idea that people can learn to hide their original factions, it became interesting to learn whose parents started out in different factions than you might expect. I believe Roth succeeded in building a lot of character intrigue. Although, to be honest, there was some mushy happenings between Tris and her male lead, I believe that was to be expected in a YA novel about 16-year-olds. Even with the cute romance, the dystopian story still shines through.

Overall, while I had some squabbles with the writing, Divergent is a pretty strong debut novel and a good start to an interesting world. After finishing the book, I started Insurgent, the second in the Divergent trilogy. I am eager to learn more about the world Roth created, and maybe see the characters shake things up in their factions. The future of this series is exciting, and it doesn’t hurt that the third book in the series, Allegiant, is due out this October.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. AmandaPandaDuh
    Sep 09, 2013 @ 15:34:31

    I had a similar experience with the first book, though I didn’t love it enough to read the second. I’ll see the movie though. And will review it on my blog as well.


  2. Adam
    Sep 10, 2013 @ 18:47:02

    I rambled on for a while in my review of this book talking about why it didn’t work for me, I can sum it up quickly and say that the psychology of the different factions didn’t work for me, and I also can’t think of any realistic way in which the world would be divided into the 5 factions that they have.

    The story in and of itself was very fast paced and interesting, but I couldn’t get past the worldbuilding enough to be interested in the second book.


    • hannahrose42
      Sep 11, 2013 @ 09:39:02

      That is understandable. I liked the characters enough to give it a shot. I actually borrowed the books from my roommate, and she wasn’t too hot on the first book either. She says the second one is a lot better — and I’ve enjoyed it so far. But hey, I’ll have my review up eventually if you want to know what I think.


  3. Trackback: Allegiant by Veronica Roth | Realm of Reviews

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