Sunday, May 15, 2011

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent (Divergent Trilogy)From the Back Cover:

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, 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 or 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 to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating 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 a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

My Thoughts:

There's been a lot of hype about this book and tons of five-star reviews, so I went into it expecting to be blown away. And while I wanted to fall in love with it, I didn't. Don't get me wrong, it's a great story, and I recommend it to dystopian fans. I was drawn into Roth's world right away and I couldn't put it down. But it's not a five-star read for me, and the main reason is that I think Roth's story world has a few holes in it. Her society is broken into five factions, and those factions are made up of people who embody their core virtues. They live separately from each other, they are prejudiced toward each other, and it doesn't seem to me to be the most believable perfect society gone wrong, because I can't figure out how it ever worked to begin with.

For me, the best part of the book is the heroine, Tris. I liked her from page one. The time has come for her to decide to which faction she will devote the rest of her life. Sixteen years old and reeling from the unusual results of her aptitude test, she's torn between her loyalty to her family and her desire to live her own life. Her inner struggles are very realistic. When she begins the initiation process for her chosen faction, she learns that not everyone who has chosen the faction will actually be invited to join. They've decided they're only going to take the best candidates, and those who don't pass the test will be cast out and become factionless--a fate worse than death in Tris's eyes.

Tris is a total underdog: physically weak, small, unprepared, yet determined to fit in, determined to prove to herself and everyone else that she made the right choice, and that she belongs. In some ways she reminds me of Katniss from The Hunger Games. The initiation training is brutal, violent, and mind-tripping. It takes Tris a while to figure out how to survive: If she can't be stronger than her competitors, she has to be smarter. Helping her come to that realization and put it into effect is her enigmatic training instructor, Four. As she gets to know Four and the inner workings of her faction, she realizes the faction is not what she thought it would be, and not what it's supposed to be, and Four is the only other person who seems to realize that, too.

At this point, a story that was already unputdownable becomes even more so as Tris and Four stumble across a few secrets that faction leaders will do anything to protect: power struggles, deceptions, secret agents, and the plot for a forced revolution. As exciting and intense as the story is, and as much as I like Tris and the relationship she develops with Four, I had some doubts about the plausibility of Roth's futuristic society, and I had a hard time believing that no one but Tris could see the truth of the situation and do something about it. I was able to put those feelings aside for the sake of enjoying a good story, but not everyone will be able to do that. Roth's writing style is easy and compelling, and though this is the first of a trilogy, the ending has enough resolution to satisfy. If you're a fan of dystopian fiction, you like fierce, convincing heroines, and you like to root for the underdog, you should add this to your list.

My Rating:  4 Stars out of 5
*Please note: This review references an advance copy received from the publisher through the Amazon Vine program, and therefore the final published copy may differ. Though I received this book from the publisher, these are my honest and unbiased thoughts, and I was not compensated in any other way for reviewing this book.


  1. Yay, good that it's good :D I do like my dystopian YA

  2. I too have seen a ton of buzz and reviews of this book but I wasn't super curious -- but your clear interest in Tris and Four has me curious about them, so I've added it back to my TBR. Thanks, I think! ;)

  3. I've been hearing some good things about this book and wanted to read it, so I'm glad I came across this review.


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