Kiki's Reviews > Divergent

Divergent by Veronica Roth
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Dec 04, 13

it was ok
bookshelves: ya, dystopian, could-have-been-worse, meh, lolwut, lost-the-will-to-live, choking-noises, will-read-the-next-one
Recommended to Kiki by: A robot
Recommended for: Robots
Read from September 17 to 26, 2011, read count: 1

So the other night I wake up at like four a.m. with a splitting headache, itchy, weepy eyes and a stuffy nose. I open the window to try to clear it, y'know, as you do, but this is January in Canada and unless you want to give yourself hypothermia just to take your mind off the annoyance of having a cold, it's best not to leave the windows open for any length of time.

I lie back and swear to myself. What the hell? I've a presentation to give that day and screw it, I can't flake out and explain it away with a piffling little cold. Then my cat senses my anguish and gets up from her pile of cushions at the end of the bed to come ask me what's wrong.

"What's wrong?" she asks. "You look like shit."

I tickle her chin and then cough in her face. "I don't feel well."

She lies down by my head and purrs into my ear. I sniff and my nose tickles because she sheds everywhere and somehow I always end up with it up my nose.

And then it hits me.

What if it's not a cold? What if--what if I'm allergic to my cat?

She sits up, probably noticing the look of abject horror on my face. I sniff again and go take a headache pill, but it doesn't get any better. When I get back into bed, she says, "Dude. I think the Tylenol ship has sailed. You're sick."

So then I explain to her that I'm terrified I'm allergic to her, because of a story I heard from one of my very best friends the other day: she had two cats, and then one day, out of nowhere, she suddenly had a huge allergic reaction and they had to get rid of them both.

By now I'm on the verge of tears. What if I have to give up my cat? It doesn't bear thinking about. I tell myself that fuck it, even if I'm allergic to her I'll just weather it. I won't get rid of her.

But what if I have to? I'll cry and cry and never stop crying! My cat! My kitty!

Then a thought pops into my head. I'll go take an allergy pill! And if it doesn't help, then maybe that means I don't have an allergy to her! I just have a cold!

So I go take the allergy pill and lie awake for the next three hours willing the allergy pill not to work. I get up at seven, go out and go about my day.

With a cold!

When I come home I grab out my contact lenses and lo and behold! There's a tear in one of them! That's what irritated my eyes!

I scream with joy and grab my cat. She bites my face! How joyous! I shan't have to give up my little farting bundle of snark!


Human attachment is a strange thing. We forge bonds with people, animals and objects based on bizarre things. The sound of a purr or a spontaneous laugh; the feel of skin, soft fur, smooth wood; the longevity of our relationship with whoever or whatever it is; companionship and the ability of whatever or whoever it is to make us feel that we aren't, and never will be, alone. And what takes the cake is this: only we can understand the attachments we create ourselves. It's rare to be able to identify with someone else's attachment to something you're not fond of. We might find it ridiculous that, say, someone collects antique cameos or plates and holds these objects closer to their heart than anything else. We might find an unbreakable bond between two friends that refuse to put romance or marriage before their relationship bizarre.

Some of you may find my soul-deep horror at the mere prospect of giving up an animal, or my willingness to grin and bear an allergic reaction just to keep said animal, utterly ridiculous.

But it's natural for humans to form bonds to others. It's about finding a sense of belonging and building a family unity that fuels this need. Humans are not like tigers; they do not hunt alone.

This is exactly what bothers me about Divergent.

The psychology of the characters in this book just doesn't work. In fact, I suspect that not thought was put into developing such. Tris grew up in a family of people who loved her and provided for her. She had friends, she was given an education and a stable home.

So why is she so utterly cold?

I don't get it. It doesn't make sense. A truly skilled author can forge a bond between reader and character which develops as any other would - and that's a fundamental building block of any successful novel. In terms of inter-character relationships, perhaps we can't ever truly feel these attachments, but we can form a deep understanding. It's that very understanding, crafted by someone who really knows their stuff, that drives a story forward.

But oh, Tris. Tris, Tris, Tris.

There is absolutely no reason as to why Tris is the way she is; she just is. Oh, so she wants to be Dauntless, does she? That's fine and well, but WHY she does is never really explained. It was glossed over - but am I really expected to believe that a person would trade every single shred of attachment they ever had because they want to look as cool as the kidz who jump off the train?

Are you fucking kidding me?

Tris is about as convincing as a human being as the Wiggles puppets. You know, those ones that look like male Bratz dolls, Chuckie Edition? She's wooden and her thought process makes no sense. She has no narrative voice. She's all, "I did this. He did that. Then we did this. And I wanted to win." She thinks about her family and missing them - because after choosing to change factions, she'll probably never see them again - maybe three times throughout her entire training course. She literally does not care about these compassionate and caring people who raised her. This, I can't get. It doesn't work. (view spoiler)

No one in this book behaves in a way that is remotely human. These are teenagers, taken out of their homes and forced to battle to unconsciousness and face unfathomable fears lest they be thrown into impoverished ghettos as factionless outcasts. You'd think that, considering this, everybody would give a shit, but no one seems to be at all interested in what may befall them or what has befallen others who failed. Tris' main goal is to score better marks than Peter - not to find a faction and live a healthy, satisfied life. No, it's to hit the high score so she can thumb her nose at some boy in her little playgroup. What really did it was when Al, the only kid who did care about leaving his home (view spoiler) cried at night, Tris immediately concluded that since he was homesick and expressed emotion, he must be totes weak and pathetic and gee, why can't the non-cyborg just do a Delirium and undergo some procedure so he'll stop giving a shit about anything?

It's just painful, really. Everyone else is just such an inconvenience to our sadistic little Tris. Why isn't there a faction for the Utterly Selfish And Probably Psychopathic?

The whole thing is a bit of a joke.

This denial of any kind of human emotion meant that the romance was just abysmal. There's all this "ZOMG he touched me and I felt da elektric up my arms" and "ZOMG his lips ur so soft n yummy" and basically, it's Toilet all over again. Don't dress it up and try to make it more than it is. Just face it. Tris and Four are Bella and Edward without the sparkle. With the romance, Four is just a hunk of arm candy, and without it, he's just a cloud of smoke in my head. Does he have a voice? Does he have a face? Does he have a personality? If he does, then I must've missed something, like when he stopped being a cardboard cut-out and became human. NOTE BITCHES: That never happened.

Look, I already made it quite clear: this book is stupid. This book is logically incompetent. Nothing about it really makes much sense, starting with the world-building. Okay, I applaud V for her effort. I know she tried; you can feel it oozing off the pages, and that's not always a good thing. I felt like this book wanted to be so awesome and radical and ZOMG a scary, scary omen, but let's face it. THIS WOULD NEVER HAPPEN. Never. Ever. In a million years. On any planet. In any universe. Why? It doesn't make any sense. Splitting society into factions that cultivate different virtues is interesting as a little back-of-the-mind quip, but when out down on paper and woven into a story, it's just unfeasible.

Segregation could never hold up for as long as Divergent tells us it has. In fact, I'd like to know how this faction system begun, because I can't imagine how it did. It's unproductive and silly to expect people to a) choose only one lifestyle to follow and to keep to the guidelines given, b) to attend school and work together but as segregated factions, and not realize the error of society and rebel, and c) use only one virtue to run an entire corner of society. From what I can gather, Dauntless is the faction that works as a security force, right? But then we're assuming that the only "virtue" you need possess in order to enforce security is thuggishness and physical ability. We're also assuming that farmers need only be peaceful, not intelligent in order to handle the biological and scientific area of farming (yes, there is a science to it) or physically capable to manage days of hard labor.

See what I mean?

I'd also like to know what the rest of the world is doing while this is going on. This faction system is happening within Chicago, but Chicago is only one city. What about everywhere else? Or is this like Wither, where the rest of the world has inexplicably been sunk off the map while a small area of America - not the Rocky Mountains, the Alps or central Africa, where rising sea levels would not directly interfere with the land - randomly survives through some kind of telekinetic magic, or the Word of God?

Ah, God. I agree with Lissa's point here. There are so many vague little references to God and religion and Tris's belief that "it's only natural" to think of God when you're dying, even though this is never justified in any way. Sure, if you're writing contemporary or even paranormal, go right ahead - you don't need to explain why religion is important, because we assume what we always do when it's based in the present - inheritance, and people gonna believe what people gonna believe. But when you're writing about a totalitarian/dystopian society in the far future, you'd better justify why religion is still floating around. Religion is a hugely powerful part of controlling the morals and values cultivated by society, so when you tell me that the government is all-powerful and wants you only to answer to them, it's a little perplexing why religion, which would overpower commitment to government and country with commitment to God, would still be allowed. Okay; let Tris be religious. But don't throw it in there just because you are, Ms. Roth. It makes sense for you because you live in 2012, and a democracy. In dystopia? Not so much.

Why'd I give this book two stars, you ask, if all I've done so far is wax? I'll tell you. This book is not terrible. I didn't hate it. it bothered me and frustrated me, but it didn't really anger or upset me. Look, Veronica has some ability, here. While Tris is completely unbelievable and robotic, the actual craft is not terrible. She can string a sentence together, and the whole thing's in present tense, which I personally love.

I don't know. For all its faults, I just don't believe that this book deserves to be condemned to the one-star hall of fame. I wouldn't instantly recommend it as a classic, but I wouldn't warn off it, either. Check out my shelves. This book was not breathtakingly amazing, but nor was it abhorrently shit, either.

It was kind of...meh.

That's it. That's the word I'm looking for.

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Reading Progress

02/01 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-48 of 48) (48 new)

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Alicia Would like to know what you think of this one. I hear a lot of good things through twitter and other blogs so that makes me nervous.

KJ Shadows i liked it. it might not be everyones cup of tea but the hero in this story actually is a nice change from like a lucinda price/bella swan character.

message 3: by Lissa (new) - added it

Lissa OMG you read it! Finally! Will this get more in-depth?

Kiki It sure will! I'm kind of digesting it, so I'll probably fix this up tomorrow.

message 5: by K.D. (new) - rated it 1 star

K.D. Absolutely I just finished the book and your review is the one that is nearest to mine! I thought the book is s...

Maggie I'm reading this right now and wondering if I should even continue...

message 7: by Lissa (new) - added it

Lissa Maggie wrote: "I'm reading this right now and wondering if I should even continue..."

The climax is pretty exciting, if a little plot-holey in places. If you're enjoying it you might as well finish it. But if you're hating it you may as well not force yourself.

Maggie Lissa wrote: "Maggie wrote: "I'm reading this right now and wondering if I should even continue..."

The climax is pretty exciting, if a little plot-holey in places. If you're enjoying it you might as well finis..."

Thanks for the feedback! I neither like it nor hate it so far, so I'll consider finishing it. The main character actually hasn't irked me yet, but the dystopian world seems really unconvincing to me.

message 9: by Lissa (new) - added it

Lissa Hey, I'm mentioned! Except you pretty much said what I said about a billionty time more eloquently.

message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

This book failed to connect with me in some way and I wasn't able to pinpoint it. I think your review may have nailed it for me. I never found it believable and maybe that's the problem. Even the strangest, most outlandish books should be somewhat believable. And I was never able to feel that way about Divergent. Well done. I gave it 4 stars because I still really liked it, but I didn't love it as so many others did.

Lexie Completely agree on the Al thing. (view spoiler) The improbability of the world was my biggest problem with this. It's the main reason I deducted a star; not only was there no explanation, but it was just completely implausible. Like, in Legend there is little-to-no explanation of how the world came to be, but you can see how it might happen. That's not the case with Divergent. Also, it just didn't feel like a five-star read, most likely because of the whole Tris-being-a-sociopath thing. I enjoyed reading it, but there wasn't any depth.

Alexa Totally agree with everything you said here (except regarding Tris, I found her really relatable, but that's probably because sometimes I'm a sociopath), but I still thoroughly enjoyed it. I hadn't really thought too hard about Four when I first read it, but yeah, he is kind of not there. I wouldn't go so far as to compare them to Bella and Edward, but he does seem to serve the same purpose of allowing any teenage girl to supplant him with whatever high school fantasy she chooses.

Kelly Gah, finally! Lost in a sea of high reviews I can't understand, yours says just about everything I couldn't stop thinking about as I read this. Awesome (you, not the book). Also, congratulations on not being allergic to your cat! :D

Pamela I completely agree about Tris and her character not making much sense. I did enjoy this book, just for the action and the fact it didn't really get slow at any point. I kept wanting to read it and couldn't wait to see what happened next... but there were times where Tris annoyed the hell out of me. I didn't know why, but Kira I think you very eloquently explained what it was I didn't like about her. And yeah, Four didn't seem like a real person to me either. Their relationship seemed really forced and it never made sense to me.

kelllsify Couldn't agree with you more, Kira! And I love your little story in the beginning haha

message 16: by Tara (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tara Calaby I loved Divergent - largely because I have a weird THING for categorising people into groups as a result of too much Harry Potter in my life - but you've just managed to successfully elucidate what it was that bugged me when it came to Tris - which is more than I could do ;)

PS: I put up with bad allergies all the time because I refuse to live without pets :)

Winnie kira, i like ur review. tris is cold!

message 18: by Helene (new)

Helene Thank you so much for this review/warning! After reading The Hunger Games (typical, I know), I decided to give other YA dystopian fiction a shot and it's all been disappointing, largely due to poor writing and ridiculously implausible world-building. When I read about a dystopia, I want to know how it got that way, what's happening in the rest of the world, what's keeping people from rebelling (apart from this being book one in a trilogy). What I don't want to know is how Boring Love Interest's hair smells.

message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

Even though I voted this 4 stars (I thought Roth had strong writing and I liked Caleb and Tris), I agree w/your review. I was disappointed with the random religious mentions as well and I was very disappointed when I guessed Four's real name on page 2. They mention a random kid with my fave boy name ever and I take a JOKING gander that that's Four's real name and oh, 400 pages later it is... I also was disappointed with the (view spoiler) ending. I mean why is it special that Tris is a Divergent? let's be one fits into "one categorical box" (Candor, etc) - its not human to be that way..

message 20: by Kiki (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kiki Oh, you know. The usual. Still chewing on my hair while I sleep.

message 21: by Anna (new) - rated it 2 stars

Anna I also realy hated Tris i know you are not a fan of HG but even compering her to Katniss , Katniss did evrything for her family Tris not so much, and what irket me the most was how , she kept going on how selfless she was when i hardly saw any acts of selflessnes . And SPOILER. Moments with Al and Will market her as a huge bitch in my book. I dont know if you tried it yet please read Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness.

Charlotte Did you also notice that this book has the Mockingjay pin on its cover?

Zero vi Britannia I'm only on page 113 and this book is starting to annoy me.

message 24: by Celofán (new)

Celofán God, I was planning on reading this. A friend of mine keeps telling me to do it. But now that I have read your review, I think I will pass. Thanks for saving me all the suffering!

Sarah *Saranghae yo* I know I'm going to sound retarded here but when you say past tense and present tense, do you mean something like this:
Past tense: As her breath slowed she thought to her self...
Present tense: Her breath was slowing. her thoughts dimming. She was thinking....

message 26: by Kiki (last edited Oct 30, 2012 08:57PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kiki Sarah wrote: "I know I'm going to sound retarded here but when you say past tense and present tense, do you mean something like this:
Past tense: As her breath slowed she thought to her self...
Present tense: He..."

You've got the right idea, but your examples are both past tense. "Was" and "slowed" are generally used as past participles. That sentence in present tense would be:

"Her breath is slowing, her thoughts dimming. She is thinking to herself, wondering why Jensen Ackles isn't her husband. Why is that? she wonders."

That's present tense.

Zero vi Britannia Charlotte wrote: "Did you also notice that this book has the Mockingjay pin on its cover?"

I did...real subtle.

message 28: by Aura (new) - rated it 5 stars

Aura I actually think Tris wanting to join Dauntless was pretty understandable. I know many people who have been brought up in loving, caring homes, with very strict parents and boundaries and they yearned for something more rebellious......some people just don't know how good they have it and the human mind is a curious creature, other than that I agree with some of the other things you said, but I really liked this book.

Letsreadmore I thought this book was so good. it is a shame you did not like it :(

Kirstin OMG. Kira, very very well said!

Erica Smith Aura wrote: "I actually think Tris wanting to join Dauntless was pretty understandable. I know many people who have been brought up in loving, caring homes, with very strict parents and boundaries and they year..."

I agree, Aura. In life I have observed what happens when children are brought up in loving, well meaning but very strict homes- they go dauntless for sure.

However, this post was so well thought out and I agree with some of the points.

Swiftsea explains why they eat canned food

message 33: by Blaire (new)

Blaire After getting through three paragraphs about your allergies & cat, I finally just skipped to the bottom to read the short final paragraph which told me whether or not you liked the book.

Azzurra Mariottini While reading this review, I started questioning the 4 stars I gave to the book.
You do have some strong points, Kira.
Sure, Divergent was so thrilling I couldn't stop reading it, but I also thought some things didn't feel right - mainly the love story and how we got to the Faction-based Chicago (World?). I hope that at least the latter one will be explained in the sequels.
Personally, I consider Tris' behavior to be pretty plausible, given that the Abnegation members didn't show that much affection to each other.
Anyway, I honestly have to thank Tris. Her (probably exagerated) fearlessness showed me how weak I feel at the moment. I think I love Divergent because it got me thinking about myself.

message 35: by Sam (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sam Frost Thank you for this review. It describes all my qualms with the book more eloquently than I could have (primarily the completely arbitrary and predictable romance).

message 36: by Amber (new) - rated it 1 star

Amber I have to say, I love your little anecdote in the beginning. It's so personal and enjoyable. I love how you connected how much you love your cat to the (huge) problem in "Divergent." That is what's missing in the book: connection. Nice work!

Lauren (Likes Literature) I love your story about the cat. I don't think it's weird to suffer through an allergy for your animals, though- if I was allergic to dogs, I would take some meds probably but I would definitely keep my babies!

And I totally agree with, well, pretty much everything you said, but especially the part about the factions only having one virtue. And the religion aspect, which bugged me through the entire book.

All in all though, I still liked it as a "guilty pleasure" sort of read. Not the best dystopia, not by a long shot...

message 38: by [deleted user] (new)

I have to disagree with your opinion on Tris. She didn't join Dauntless because she wanted to look as cool as the kids who jump off the train, she joined Dauntless because they they could give her a sense of freedom, something she didn't have in Abnegation. In Abnegation, she couldn't talk during the dinner, wasn't allowed to look at the mirror, wasn't allowed many thing that for a free spirited girl like Tris must've been a hell; it's like keeping a lion in a cage. The same goes for her brother, who joined Erudite; he was hungry for knowledge, and they both needed a place where they could be themselves. Tris got annoyed by Al's crying because to her, that's weakness, and she hates that, and she hates that he acted all tough before that and then cried at night, that's what pisses her off, and she's nothing like that. She's Divergent, and she's supposed to have so many layers. And if you decide to pick up the next book, you'll see just how attached she is to her family, especially to her mother, so she's not a cold bitch

message 39: by Ysa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ysa Navarro I agree with you, Anita Glavan. You would see in Insurgent that Tris just broke apart.

message 40: by Nenia (new) - rated it 1 star

Nenia Campbell Great review, Kira. I couldn't stand Tris's soullessness in this book. She has like no depth. -.-

message 41: by Katherine (new)

Katherine Chen I agree on how many of this is unplausible, but I still really enjoyed this book. It's for entertainment, not for knowledge.

Abigail Wright Ha, yes! This review was awesome.

Javiera Scarratt This review is perfect.

Ravenjayfeather I actually like this book but your review was amazing.

Laura Velderman the best book series i have read besides the hunger games and thebtwilight saga

message 46: by Recreational (new) - added it

Recreational Vehicle I agree that the teenagers (or let's face it, people) in this book are a little far-fetched. I mean who calls people 'sissies' anymore? You'd think, in the future, mankind/womankind would think of better insults.

Abigail Wright yes, thank you. i despised this book.

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