Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Posted May 17th, 2012 in book review / Leave a comment


Book #1 of the Divergent Trilogy

by Veronica Roth

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (February 2012)
Genre: YA, Dystopia
Format: Hardcover (487 pages)
Source: Personal Library (Won in a Giveaway)
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository
Rating: ★★★★★ (5 stars)

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

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The Good
Read Hard and Put Away Wet…
Okay, I have been sitting her for 10 minutes and I still don’t know what to write. I guess it is fitting since Divergent left me speechless. How do I write a review about a book like this? A book that revitalized me, a book that made me bite my nails for the first time in 3 years, a book that ripped out my heart and made me want more. My face actually hurts from the emotions I went through. I’ve been caught smiling like an idiot, crying like a wuss, laughing to near hysteria, and waving my hands around from nervousness all while reading Divergent. I swear I found a new wrinkle between my eyes because I read this book so HARD. You ever do that? Reading a book hard is when you squeeze the cover from anxiety, rip the pages in your haste to see what happens next, and having to actually get up and stand while you finish a scene because of your nervous energy. Oh yeah, everyone in my household knows that if I am reading standing up then that book is the BOMB! (Don’t laugh because I used the word Bomb, I am totally bringing it back.)

Choose a Faction…
Beatrice lives in a world where one of five virtues dictates the rest of a person’s life. Once someone turns 16, they must decide which faction (virtue) they will live with the rest of their lives. You have a choice between Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent), but once a faction is chosen, there is no turning back. That faction is your family, your only family.

Beatrice loves her family, but she struggles with the choice of staying with them within a faction that no longer suits her or going with the faction that has fascinated and called to her most of her life. Finally gaining the courage, she leaves her family, joins a new faction, and renames herself Tris. But the hard part is not over yet. Tris must now survive the horrifying training process, cruel initiates, and political intrigue that might just bring destruction upon the faction system.

I don’t think this book would have been the same without Tris. It is her that takes us on a journey of self-discovery, the concept of virtues, and the trials one must go through to be accepted. Her struggles between being selfless, brave, and intelligent at the same time were captivating. It’s hard for her to be just one, but she knows showing signs of too many virtues can get her killed. She was so meek and small in the beginning that her surviving the training seemed impossible. However, she was like a blooming flower in the sun, the more she was exposed to the life of her new faction, the more she became stronger, resilient, and flourished in her new surroundings. I think any of us could look up to Tris (not literally, that girl is short as all get-out). She never gave up no matter how much she was hurting or felt unwanted.

I Am Number Four…
Four is the kind of person you’ll love and hate through most of the novel. He’s a bit mysterious, somewhat caring, and a whole lot intimidating. He goes through these moods. One day he’s as sweet as pie, then the next he is nicking your ear with a knife (true story). But underneath his mood swings, he has a heart that beats for Tris. His goal is to help her survive the new cutthroat world she has been thrust into, even if that means being her enemy from time to time. I liked finding out about Four in short bursts of emotion. His background and his true motives stay a mystery for a good chunk of the novel. Of course, this made him all the more interesting.

It’s the End of the World as We Know It…
The concept behind Divergent is undeniably frightening and intriguing at the same time. In this dystopian world, war has been eradicated by simply cultivating the best virtues that any human being can poses. But in Divergent they have separated these traits into factions that live apart. The problem is, acting in accordance to one virtue does not guarantee a peaceful society. Eliminating people’s innate kindness or mercy to be brave or doing away with a conscious self-worth to be solely selfless leaves people open to attack on many fronts. What makes us human is the ability to experience all that life has to offer; to be brave when it’s necessary or honest when it’s appropriate. To focus on only one part of yourself can warp your ideals into something dangerous.

That is what’s happening in the world of Divergent. Factions are being corrupted. And if the one faction meant to protect you is unraveling, what do you do? Maybe, just maybe, Tris and her uniqueness will be able to fix what has taken place and find a way to triumph over the darkness in the world. I guess we shall see as the trilogy goes on.

A Punch in the Gut…
I was shocked by the direction this book took. We do not get a happy ending–at least not yet. The initiation Tris goes through was nerve-racking on its own, and then Roth decides to punch us in the gut by bringing the world down around our ears. It was a nice surprise because it only made me want to read book #2, Insurgent, even more. The plot was well structured, the pacing perfect, and the suspense was phenomenal. I was terrified for Tris most of the time. I felt her emotions as she struggled to become what her faction required. The fear of her fellow cruel initiates was a constant throughout the book. The betrayals against Tris hit me just as hard as her. The astronomical changes in her left me out of breath and craving more. Every multi-dimensional character–the bad guys, the good guys, and the in-betweeners–contributed to this amazing story. Roth’s ability to write such outstanding fiction at her young age gives me hope as a young writer myself.

The Bad
The only thing that bugged me was when Tris forgave people that I think were unforgivable. There was some major backstabbing in the book, and no matter what happened to those people, I would’ve never forgiven them. But maybe I’m just pigheaded.

The Snuggly
The romance is pretty minor. It takes quite some time for Tris and Four to get together. I like the fact that Tris is not very attractive but Four likes her because of her strength and determination. It gave their relationship a solid foundation because they grew to respect each other first. I’d say the book is pretty clean except for some unwanted sexual touching.

I actually have Insurgent on the way to my house right now. I couldn’t wait to read book#2, and since it took me so long to read Divergent, I didn’t have to wait but a couple of days. Roth did an amazing job of taking captivating characters and a kickass and compassionate heroine, throwing them into a terrifying world, and adding just enough political corruption, action, and drama to produce one hell of a read. This is not the kind of book you can pass up. Any adult or young adult out there will fall in love with Divergent. It’s a must read!

I hear the crash of water against rocks. We are near the chasm–we must be above it, given the volume of the sound. I press my lips together to keep from screaming. If we are above the chasm, I know what they intend to do to me.

“Lift her up, c’mon.”

I thrash, and their rough skin grates against mine, but I know it’s useless. I scream too, knowing that no one can hear me here.

I will survive until tomorrow, I will.

The hands push me around and up and slam my spine into something hard and cold. Judging by its width and curvature, it is a metal railing. It is the metal railing, the one that overlooks the chasm. My breaths wheeze and mist touches the back of my neck. The hands force my back to arch over the railing. My feet leave the ground, and my attackers are the only thing keeping me from falling into the water.

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