Lissa's Reviews > Divergent

Divergent by Veronica Roth
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Jul 04, 2011

bookshelves: kick-ass-heroine, 2011
Read from July 02 to 03, 2011

What did I think? WHAT DID I THINK? I'll tell you what I thought. A lot of it.

I’m not sure I can call Divergent A-MAZING. I read it in 12 hours – AND I was at a BBQ so I wasn’t exactly being anti-social. But maybe because I devoured it so quickly, perhaps I missed something? I wasn’t disappointed, not by a long stretch. It’s really very, very good and I think it will appeal to both girls and boys, even though it’s a YA dystopia. I mean, it was very, very good, all 487 pages of it. Maybe I was too involved in the hype and hopping from one leg to the other as I impatiently waited for it to be pushed through my letterbox. Because the last book I reviewed, Fire (I'd link y'all, but I don't know how to do that), I didn’t have high hopes for and it BLEW ME AWAY. Divergent did not BLOW ME AWAY, although it certainly BLEW ME OVER. And I think it’s because I already had such high hopes and expectations for it.

Ah, crap it. I’ll give it 4.5 stars because I’m trying to remain impartial. In my head it switches from being 4 stars to 5 stars, simply because although yes I did love it, I didn't love it as much as the 5 star reviews on my favourite shelf, and I don't think it is a favourite for me now, although I will at some point re-read it.

But Lissa, I hear you say. How did you read nearly 500 pages so quickly?

I’ll let you in on a little secret, peeps. There’s an awful lot of white space in the pages of this book. If they’d formatted it differently to put more text on each page, it wouldn’t be the 487 pages that it was. But it’s not like this was 400 pages of not plot and then 50 pages of action/exposition/mad villains cackling *cough*FALLEN*cough* and it’s not like this was 500 pages where absolutely NOTHING happened *cough*TORMENT*cough. There was action and introspection and character changing/building galore.

So: Divergent is not really a long book. It’s just cleverly disguised as one.

THIS is how books should be written.

Except for the ‘love interest’. I have no cares for HIM. (view spoiler)

Divergent was page-turning, interesting, thrilling and addictive. Everyone loves the idea of finding out their identity. I even suspect a lot of people rather like the idea of being pigeon-holed, even though they pretend they hate it. It’s a way of finding an identity. With five factions to choose from, I bet everyone who reads this decides which faction they’d be in (I quite fancy Amity myself: the peaceful). But with five factions each pursuing their own ideal, things get lost in the wayside. Veronica Roth may only be 22, but she’s written a deep and interesting book that talks about social ideas and how the pursuit of one thing is often at the expense of others, and how things in the human world, especially relating to politics, keeps shifting and changing, even in a peaceful world that is supposed to work (in theory – hey, much like communism!).

The five factions develop their ideals at the expense of the others. Like Tris points out, she wants to be brave and selfless and smart and peaceful and truthful. This is why this dystopia is so achingly beautiful and easy to relate to. Often young people are encouraged to develop one aspect of themselves at the expense of others. Case in point in my homeland, Australia: athletic ability was much praised beyond academic ability when I was in Tris’ age. Luckily I had a wonderful headmaster who put just as much into recognising intellectual and artistic talents as athletic. But still.

And even though the dystopian trend is so huge right now, this still managed to be, and I quote my own tweet, “Totally addictive, beautiful crafted, unique, original, all that jazz.”

Yes, there was gore. Some of it was violently bloody, but you know what? This is a dystopia, and more than that, it’s also a WAR! Roth clearly learned from K.A. Applegate the same way I did: not everyone survives a war, and it ain’t pretty.

And also, it’s not like I’m going on an anti-religious rant, because yes I did like this book, but jeez. “It’s only natural” to think of God when you’re drowning. Um, no. Not if you’re an atheist.

But Lissa, I hear you say. Atheists are just angry at God!

NO FUCKERS. Atheists do NOT believe, literally do not BELIEVE in a higher power like ‘God’. It is NOT ‘natural’ or ANYTHING like it to believe in a higher power that has been drilled into your head since you were too stupid to think any different. God is no different than the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus, except no one told the Christians He doesn’t really exist. A belief in a higher power is not ‘natural’ at all, otherwise secular people who did NOT go to church and have religion fostered on them would all somehow believe in a higher power rather than be a secular sceptic.

And what place does religion have in this dystopian future, anyway? I honestly don’t understand it. Why would people still believe in God and Baby Jeebus after all that crap that went down to turn this society into a faction-driven one? How does Tris’ religion play into the book, and how is it relevant? What was the point in randomly mentioning God in random places randomly and only like three times?

It’s because Roth herself is Christian, so I can’t hold it against her. She’s clearly injecting a part of herself into her début novel. I COULD ignore it, but where’s the fun in that?

Now for some questions that have been bothering me.

Tris gained so much muscle that she burst out of her pants in like a week? For reals?

And how the hell were computers and jeans still being made when there appeared to be no factories?

And who was driving the friggin train?? That train that speeds up and slows down and even on one occasion STOPS. Who is driving it? What faction are they from?

And also, why does Tris only have one sibling? And is it simply plot-driven that there is only 9-12 months between their birthdays so that they can both take part in the same choosing cermony? BECAUSE Abnegation people should either have a LOT of children because apparently it’s ‘selfless’, or they shouldn’t have children at all, because then they can dedicate their time to being selfless for other people. So really. Only two kids? How is only having two kids, or kids at all, selfless????

At first, it did seem like I found some minor plot holes. (view spoiler)

In general, Roth is not a lazy writer. It must be hard writing an entire novel in present tense. (I’d love to have seen Divergent written from a second-person POV, I think that would have ROCKED!) Everything Tris did, she related either to being brought up in Abnegation, or to her new life in Dauntless. That I found interesting. BUT (view spoiler) So this better be rectified in the sequel, Insurgent, otherwise I will take back all my praise of Roth as a young writer. What happens outside the wall? Are the factions only in Chicago? What happened to the rest of the world, and why is it set in Chicago, of all places?

This is not an eloquent ending for a review. But that's all I got, peeps.
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Comments (showing 1-29 of 29) (29 new)

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message 1: by Kiki (last edited Jul 03, 2011 08:24PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kiki Win.

I'm definitely going to give this one a shot, because right now I'm snapping up every dystopian I can find (for obvious reasons).

How old is Roth?

AH! Never mind. I just looked at her profile, because clearly I had a brain fart thirty seconds ago, and couldn't move my mouse north ten paces. She's 22.

Pretty awesome to have a 4.52-starred book when you're 22.

message 2: by Lissa (new) - added it

Lissa Yeah I'm pretty much in awe of her. I really wanted a new book and had narrowed it down to three. I'm not buying books because my fiancee and I are moving to Australia in a matter of months and we want to take as few belongings with us as possible. Books are heavy, but I want to take all my books with me. So no book buying.

Except I was desperate for a new book. I had it narrowed down to Delerium, Matched, and Divergent. Then I stumbled upon Roth's personal information and found out not only was she a massive fan of Animorphs, which I literally grew up reading, and that she was 6 feet tall just like me, but I also found out she was only 22, which makes me simultaneously feel bad because my shit isn't good enough and also makes me want to strive to get published because if she can write a book while she's still at Uni, then maybe my crap ain't bad.

Let's just say I've found a new author to obsess over. And this one is actually alive (as opposed to my previous obsessions, Louise Cooper and David Gemmell).

Allison It was Edward that got stabbed in the eye, not Will. I think Edward decided to leave Dauntless before he became Eyeless Edward.

If they had a bunch of children, that would be a waste of resources and they would be soooo overpopulated. They had enough children to continue the bloodline and work for Abnegation but not too many that they would be up to their eyeballs in diapers. Hmm who would make these diapers...I thought they went to the wall or Amity or whatever where the factories were? It seems more like an Abnegation thing to keep the people clothed and the babies in their diapers.

Maybe the Amity boy she met will be part of a love triangle OH NO! Roth seems to like to drop stuff casually early on, like Four's identity, and use it later. Why else would she put a scene where nothing happened?

message 4: by Lissa (new) - added it

Lissa Oops, my mistake confusing Edward and Will! Shows how superfluous some of the extra characters were.

Maybe there's a population control on people, like you're only allowed to have two children, one to replace mum and the other to replace dad. Sucks for those people who have 2 boys or 2 girls or heaven forbid, one kid and then TWINS!

Speaking of twins, why didn't Roth just make Tris and her brother twins?

Allison Most of the extra characters were just there. Drew and Molly should have been more menacing even though they were just sidekicks. Will and moment he had his arm around Tris and the next he has his arm around Christina. Their romance would have been interesting if it hadn't blossomed behind the scenes. None of them had a strong personality except for Tris and maybe Four. Or maybe a love square with Tris, Four, Peter and Amity Boy! That sounds messy...

Tris and Caleb would have been better as twins. I'm still trying to figure that out.

Also that scene where Tris gets ganged up on by Peter and Al, it didn't serve much purpose besides giving Al enough guilt to jump.

message 6: by Lissa (last edited Jul 04, 2011 01:55PM) (new) - added it

Lissa Allison wrote: "it didn't serve much purpose besides giving Al enough guilt to jump. "

And to remind us that Four is a badass because he beat the crap out of Drew.

Although I wish he had beaten the crap out of Peter instead.

Allison Four should have beaten up both of them but I guess Drew was closer so scaredy ass Peter got away. Four is so badass he has the least fears. Those fear landscapes reminded me of the fearscapes in The Devouring. Maybe Four gets to beat down on Peter in Insurgent :)

Oh I just remembered! I think the factionless work in the factories. They do all the dirty work. It would be weird if they just rotted in one area doing nothing. Maybe some of them drive the train.

message 8: by Lissa (new) - added it

Lissa Yeah, you've just reminded me of my rage at that unanswered question: WHO WAS DRIVING THE TRAIN?!

If I was factionless and driving the train, I wouldn't slow down. Especially not if I was outcast from Dauntless. But it even stops during the attack! Why???

Allison The driver must get paid good money because if I were factionless, I'd go so fast that the Dauntless can't get stupid and jump on. The driver was probably being controlled like the Dauntless were during the attack. I thought it was a zombie book at the end.

message 10: by Lissa (new) - added it

Lissa Except for that random Dauntless guard who let Tris go. How many Divergent are there, and where are they hiding?

Allison There must be tons of them. Not many can fit into one group, probably why some switch. Which leads me to the Choosing Ceremony...It really bothered me because they cut themselves with a knife and they never said whether they change the knife for each person.

The Divergent blend in with everyone else but I think most of them are factionless or they're in Abnegation. Grrr Roth left so many questions unanswered!

message 12: by Lissa (new) - added it

Lissa Nah, I think the question of the other Divergents is gonna be addressed in Insurgent, which should be good.

And I think I remember something from the choosing ceremony where everyone got their very own knife? Or maybe my brain just put that there because otherwise I would have been totes grossed out.

Allison Insurgent should be amazing, considering we have to wait another 10 months or so for it. Hopefully it will be just as thick too. Since the Dauntless symbol is on Divergent, I think the Abnegation symbol will be on Insurgent. Hmmm the third one could be the Divergent symbol! Sounds crazy and it might look like a rainbow but I like that possibility.

I hope they all had knives! It probably costs a lot to make them so they're must be pretty small. I don't remember the Choosing Ceremony too well because all I could think was why the Dauntless didn't go crazy with the knives. Even then, I knew they were nuts.

Caitlin McColl just finished Divergent this second. was pretty good! kept me entertained and kept me turning the pages. All the characters besides Four and Tris were non-existent and totally one dimensional as to be entirely forgettable. Even Al with what happened to him, because you weren't connected with wasn't too upsetting, IMO.

but overall a good book - and am looking forward to and very curious about the 2nd and rd ones!

message 15: by Lissa (new) - added it

Lissa The religion section of my review was not unnecessary. I think any mention of religion or its normalisation in this very popular novel was completely unnecessary and I expressed my views on that.

message 16: by Kiki (last edited Aug 15, 2011 08:07AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kiki Lissa, I think there are people in the world who would take pleasure in telling you that you're wrong in your view of religion, then call your rebuff of a completely inconsequential reference to religion in this book offensive to them. What I think is unnecessary is double standards, and atheists having to tiptoe around religious people, while the latter play the bull in the china shop with the former. Utterly ridiculous.

I think I've said it before, but I'll say it again: Excellent review.

message 17: by Lissa (new) - added it

Lissa Hmm... well whoever it was who called the religious section of my review offensive has since deleted their comments...

And thank you, Kira. I aspire to write reviews like you. Not exactly - with not quite so much snark, because snark doesn't come naturally to me. However am a huge fan of the snark squad, so yay!

message 18: by the review man (new)

the review man Eh, I'll play devil's advocate here.

"It is NOT ‘natural’ or ANYTHING like it to believe in a higher power that has been drilled into your head since you were too stupid to think any different."

Religious people sometimes make blanket statements like "there is a god and you can know him/her/it personally". Many people disagree with that statement. However, merely stating the opposite viewpoint is not an argument. It's akin to children arguing over the best flavour of ice cream: "Vanilla is the best!" "No, chocolate!" "No, there is no best type of ice cream!" A bit silly without any hard facts, no?

Of course, science does not describe the supernatural, so labelling something outside science's magesterium as 'unnatural' is perhaps hasty.

message 19: by Kiki (last edited Aug 15, 2011 11:33AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kiki Evolution is all I have to say. Evolution is a hard fact, and we cannot ignore concrete evidence that supports it. We can literally look at fossils, and see evolution unfolding before our very eyes. Evolution is not a theory, or a possibility; it is a truth. It absolutely blows my mind that people can simply tack on the blinkers and pretend that something we can see and touch is not there, while worshipping something no one can and will ever see, feel, hear, or touch.

It is bizarre.

message 20: by Lissa (new) - added it

Lissa Kira wrote: "We can literally look at fossils, and see evolution unfolding before our very eyes."

You don't even need to see it in fossils - you can forcibly evolve a dog through breeding several generations, and there's a type of spotted fish (can't remember its name) that each generation changes the size of its spots depending on the available camouflage where they live. I wish I could find that article again - but this is not a debate on evolution. It's a debate on whether or not what I've said in my review is suitable, and I stand by my reasoning that it is.

message 21: by the review man (new)

the review man The fossil record always seemed underwhelming to me, since fossilization is a pretty rare affair. Punctuated equilibrium might be the best way around that, but it sounds a bit like twisting the facts to fit the theory (this seems to be its primary problem). I would say that genetics offers the most promising look at evolution; it'll be interesting to see where genetics will take us in the next twenty or thirty years.

One of the more interesting questions I've come across recently is the issue of belief: does everyone have a fundamental belief? For the religious, it's pretty obvious (indeed, isn't religion usually defined as belief in the supernatural?). But is calling athiesm a religion as dumb as saying your new hobby is "not collecting marbles"? It's an interesting question, and it's one that promotes healthy debate, which I'm all for.

message 22: by the review man (new)

the review man Sorry for the double post, but this discussion reminded me to pick up a copy of Dawkins' The Selfish Gene. Dawkins is usually pretty good at telling it like it is without resorting to hitting below the belt. Thanks for jogging my memory! (Well, you didn't do it intentionally, but I thank you nonetheless.)

message 23: by Emma (new) - rated it 5 stars

Emma I would like to say that I completely respect your views on Christianity, and that atheists need not tip-toe around us. However, I also feel that we should respect each others' religions. For example, maybe I think you are mistaken that God does not exist. But I wouldn't rant about it. I live in a multi-racial and religous society, and we ALL take care not to bring our personal views into non-religious discussions, such as book reviews. So please, could you keep those opinions to yourself or post them somewhere else?
All that said, I give you credit. This was an excellent review and you really have an eye for detail.

message 24: by Lissa (last edited Sep 27, 2011 03:46AM) (new) - added it

Lissa Emma wrote: "I would like to say that I completely respect your views on Christianity, and that atheists need not tip-toe around us. However, I also feel that we should respect each others' religions. For examp..."

No, I won't keep the opinion to myself. If you've read my Unearthly review you'll see I have no problem with religion where it's welcome. But religion was put in this novel simply because it's what the author believes, not because it adds merit to the story. So I won't keep my opinion to myself because it's part of the review of the book.

message 25: by Emma (new) - rated it 5 stars

Emma Lissa wrote: "Emma wrote: "I would like to say that I completely respect your views on Christianity, and that atheists need not tip-toe around us. However, I also feel that we should respect each others' religio..."
I'm sorry if I came across too strong, and I'll admit that the religious part in this book was rather pointless. I'll save the rest for myself. So, truce, okay?

Saniya I seriously hate authors when they write something which is wrong or they don't know about it in their books UNNECESSARILY.
I don't know that much about Christianity, as I am a Muslim, but authors should not put religion in the novel simply because it adds merit to the story.
My status on The Tiger's curse

message 27: by Lissa (new) - added it

Lissa Saniya wrote: "I don't know that much about Christianity, as I am a Muslim, but authors should not put religion in the novel simply because it adds merit to the story. "

The thing is, Saniya, Roth's occasional mention of Tris' belief in God didn't add merit to the story. It was totally superfluous.

Steph Sinclair Great review. Who drives that friggin' train?! I hope we find out in Insergent.

message 29: by Lissa (new) - added it

Lissa Stephanie wrote: "Great review. Who drives that friggin' train?! I hope we find out in Insergent."

Me too!

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