*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.
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.
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.
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.
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! :)