Bookish

Why I Disliked “Divergent” // A Book Review

*sigh* So I read Divergent.

As I mentioned in this post, I’ve heard many mixed reviews about the Divergent series by Veronica Roth. Some love it, some hate it, some don’t really have an opinion. After hearing sooo much about Divergent, I finally decided to read the first book to see for myself what it’s like. (Shout out to Diamond for helping me get a copy!) Was it great? No. Was it the worst book I’ve ever read? Also no.

In my opinion, Divergent was cliché story with poor world-building and shallow characters. In other words, I strongly disliked this book for several reasons. Let me explain.

THE STORY

Beatrice Prior is (you guessed it) a 16-year-old girl living in futuristic Chicago – a dystopian society where its citizens are categorized into five different factions based on their personalities. There’s Dauntless (for the brave people), Amity (the kind), Erudite (the intelligent), Candor (the honest), and Beatrice’s current faction, Abnegation (the selfless).

The book opens near the day of The Test™ which will determine which of the five factions Beatrice really belongs in. However, Beatrice’s test results are *gasp* inconclusive. This is because Beatrice is Divergent – someone who doesn’t fit the mold for just one faction, but belongs in several. But the Divergent aren’t safe (of course), so Beatrice must hide her true identity from others to protect herself. In other words, Beatrice is special (shocking, I know).

Because of her inconclusive test results, Beatrice must make the choice to either choose a different faction and never see her family again, or remain in Abnegation and be absolutely miserable for the rest of her life. She eventually chooses Dauntless (because she thinks she’s super brave or something??), and after renaming herself Tris, must pass a series of tests in order to remain in the faction. If she fails, she will be factionless and therefore homeless (and we most certainly can’t have that). However, Tris must also continue to hide that she’s Divergent because, ya know, reasons.

There’s also a super attractive guy involved (cause you can’t write a dystopian without at least one of those), wayyyyy too many fighting/action scenes, near death experiences, and acts of rebellion.

*inhales*

To top it all off, Tris is constantly questioning whether or not she made the right choice to join Dauntless, even though her choice is irreversible and she’s stuck there forever with a bunch of reckless, pierced, tattooed, only-dressed-in-black daredevils. :)

(Seriously though, this book was written like an action movie, not a dystopian read.)

THE SOCIETY: Great Concept, Poor Execution

As I explained above, the story takes place in the futuristic city of Chicago, where society is divided into 5 different factions based on personality. Now, this was a fantastic idea on Roth’s part, and definitely had the potential to become a great story. However, Roth’s world-building was poorly executed and is one of the many reasons I will not be reading the rest of the series.

As I was perusing Divergent, I had sooo many questions about the society. For instance, what is going on in the rest of America during the story? Is the entire country divided into factions? Has a recent war ripped the country apart? Has Chicago been isolated for a reason? How did the society come to be? There wasn’t near enough background information given in the beginning to understand the why behind the society and therefore the plot. (And yes, I know these questions get answered later on in the series – I read the online summaries of Insurgent and Allegiant. Honestly, the background of the society only made the story seem more ridiculous and unbelievable to me.)

Another question I had was this: why on earth are the Divergent being targeted? Sure, being Divergent goes against the system, but the story never explained why Tris was in so much danger, or who was out to get her. It only said that she needed to hide her identity to protect herself. Because the book never elaborated on this, I had no idea who was targeting the Divergent or why they were in danger at all, which seemed like a major plot hole to me.

While there were many more issues I had with the society, the main one was this: it wasn’t believable. Take The Hunger Games, for example. That book changed my outlook on our society in many ways because the story was so believable. It’s not hard to imagine a future government controlling every little thing, and using fear to keep people in line – it’s a terrifying thing to think about.

However, in Divergent, the society wasn’t nearly as eye-opening as in The Hunger Games. Because of the lack of development – the hows and whys of the society – it wasn’t believable at all. I couldn’t picture our society evolving into a system of factions, tests, and simulations. Instead, this society felt purely fictional and unlikely to happen, whereas in The Hunger Games, everything seemed so real. (Check out my post on The Hunger Games here!) In my opinion, this book would have been much better written as a fantasy rather than a dystopian.

THE CHARACTERS

One word describes just about every character in this book: shallow.

Let’s talk about Tris for a second. Yes, she’s trying to figure out her life and all that, but did she have to be so incredibly irritating? One minute, she thinks of herself as a super selfless Abnegation girl, and the other she’s a strong, tough, brave girl from Dauntless. (She literally swings back and forth between these options in every. single. chapter.) The thing is, this internal conflict is entirely pointless because she’s stuck in Dauntless for the rest of her life whether she likes it or not. She knew that as soon as she chose Dauntless, there was no way she could ever return to Abnegation, not matter how badly she wanted to. So all her worrying, internal debating, and sleepless nights were over absolutely nothing. Sounds like another major plot hole to me.

And then there’s Four – Tris’ strong and attractive Dauntless trainer. Terrifyingly tough one moment, sickeningly sweet the next. Also very annoying. That about sums him up.

The rest of the characters were both undeveloped and unrelatable. Their internal conflicts were either irrelevant or nonexistent (with the exception of Al), and I couldn’t connect with any of them over the course of the story.

MY RATING

After careful consideration, I am giving Divergent by Veronica Roth 2 out of 5 stars for the reasons mentioned above.

To sum this up, Divergent was a huge let down for me. So many things were missing from this story, including elaboration on important details, the lack of world building, and the character’s internal conflicts. In short, Divergent turned out to be a book I strongly disliked, and I will not be reading the rest of the series any time soon.

Have you read Divergent? If so, what did you think? Did you enjoy it or dislike it? Let me know in the comments below – I’d love to hear from you! 

Thanks for reading! :)

17 thoughts on “Why I Disliked “Divergent” // A Book Review”

  1. I’ve never read Divergent, but I kinda want to try it now to see what I would think of it for myself! This post was really entertaining haha, the amount of sarcasm in this review is awesome. XD If I end up reading it I’ll let you know what I think! And I totally agree, the Hunger Games is the best dystopian book ever and nothing will ever be able to beat it, haha.

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    1. You should 100% try it to see what you think! Ahahah thank you XD *bows*
      Yes, please let me know what you think of it! I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions! :)
      (yes, THG is absolutely amazing and nothing will ever top it. ever. XD)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You’re like the only person I know who can really dislike something über popular and still leave a constructive review of it, like 😍 you’re amazing.
    I haven’t read Divergent and I probably won’t because I lean toward reading other genres ;-; but it was cool to see what you thought. It’s too bad you didn’t like it more…
    I tend to find that when something’s really popular, it’s either awesome (which makes sense 🤣) OR the hype is the only thing awesome about it. Sounds like Divergent falls into the second category.

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    1. Ahh thank you so much, Maggie! :)
      Yeah I getcha – some genres are more interesting than others and that’s ok! It’s good for people to have different opinions!
      Haha yes, I’ve noticed that a lot! XD
      Thanks for reading! :D

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m glad you were able to read a copy!
    Sorry you disliked it though! I had heard it had a lot of mixed reviews though. I’m still going to give it a go though. I think I’ve seen the movie, but I honestly forgot so much of it that I don’t think it would spoil the book for me. I also have found that I like some books with mixed reviews.

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    1. Thanks again for helping me out, Diamond!
      Yes, you should definitely give it a shot! I might try watching the movie just to see what it’s like, we’ll see. ;) Thanks for reading! :)

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great review! I read this a whiiiiile back and was completely disappointed by it (especially since it had been so highly recommended to me). The concept was fascinating but poorly executed, and I had absolutely no reason to connect with Tris at all. I haven’t read The Hunger Games so I can’t compare the two, but I do know that as a dystopian read Divergent failed to get its message through (except that all good qualities of each faction are worth having, and this book didn’t come close to exploring this theme). So there’s my two cents. 👏

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  5. Wow THANK YOU! I had always waffled in between reading Divergent or not reading Divergent and never had, despite picking it up a few times but after this review I’m never reading it! Ok so this is probably something that you also questioned but when I was looking at the factions or whatever they are called I was like “oh I don’t fit into any of those” and then I thought of my mom and sister and brother and basically my whole family and NONE OF THEM FIT INTO ONE! So why aren’t everyone Divergents!?😅 bc I mean its not like each person only has one character quality…so yes thank you for this review and I’m never reading Divergent.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh no! I’m glad you enjoyed the post, but it wasn’t meant to stop you from reading it entirely! XD Even though it wasn’t my cup of tea, I’d totally recommend reading it to form your own opinion. It just might surprise you!

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  6. Ok, Meredith. Normally, I am totally on board with your review because…well, I think we think alike. However, this one took me by surprise. I LOVED this series. I read them all and I went back and read Divergent a second and third time. I get your points, but as you said yourself, all is revealed in the rest of the books. It would be a crime for you to not read them all and base your entire opinion on the first book alone. That’s one of Roth’s specialities – laying the framework, but only giving you a small window in order to build typical dystopian suspense about what you will encounter in the next one. Each book revealed a new piece of the puzzle. The Maze Runner (another of my favs) used the same technique.
    My other beef is this: Yes, the thoughts of what about the rest of America and the continued unanswered questions you mentioned did also bounce around in the back of my mind while reading but again, didn’t bother me so much that I didn’t give the rest of the books their fair chance to win me over. I thought the idea of the society factions was brilliant and well suited to the dystopian genre, and I liked the characters well enough to have “buy in”. I was able to relate to Tris’s struggles in life choices, thinking her struggles seemed REAL. What 16 year old doesn’t second guess literally everything, especially those choices that are for life?!! I was a little surprised she chose Dauntless – that faction would NOT have been my choice. Lol. Personally, I think she chose Dauntless to develop a part of her character that she felt could possibly define her (though her nature was anything but that) and I think she was trying to prove to herself and others that she could survive in that faction. I loved that part of her personal struggle. Made me love her character even more. I also liked that she was a Divergent and that this put her in danger. I didn’t question that fact because I knew all the riddles would be explained in due time. I just kept reading and enjoying the ride as if I were Tris. I try not to overthink things when I read, especially when reading for pleasure. (I read this book on vacation.) I think you over thought it…trying to fit it into The Hungergames mold, which *laugh* no book will ever come close. You will also spend the rest of your teenage years comparing every dystopian novel to that one, which is understandable, but equally, a mistake. To appreciate dystopian, you have to really keep an open mind. Don’t expect every aspect of the story to be believeable because seriously, dystopian is a sister to SYFI, but THAT is what makes it so darn entertaining! I truly hope you will change your mind and read the rest of the series. All of your questions will be answered, but in the due time of the author. Veronica Roth put out another installment later called Four. I loved it, too.

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    1. Oh dear, here we go. XD
      I’ll admit – you have some good points, but I still don’t agree. For one thing, if the first book in a series doesn’t keep my attention and leave me craving more, I’m not going to read the rest. I also really enjoyed The Maze Runner series, and the story captivated me from chapter one. However, there was something about “Divergent” that didn’t catch my attention, and I just couldn’t get into it. I guess it’s a personal problem XD
      While your thoughts on Tris are understandable, I just couldn’t relate to her. Yes, I struggle with decision making, but after the choice has been made there’s no point in obsessing over it. I found this aspect of her character highly irritating.
      Thanks for your thoughts, this is so much fun! I love that we can share our love of literature but also enjoy a good ole debate when we disagree. XD Thanks for reading! :)

      Liked by 2 people

  7. *Sigh*
    I totally understand your point here. And I agree. But, honestly, those things didn’t bother me as much as they should have. Why? Well, I guess I liked the story in all, so the details didn’t really matter to me. But don’t get me wrong, I’m with you here. Just not fully emerged.

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