Meredith's Reviews > Divergent

Divergent by Veronica Roth
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's review
Jun 18, 11

bookshelves: dystopian, female-protagonist, teen, sci-fi
Read in June, 2011

** spoiler alert ** Alright friends, before I launch into this review, I want to say that I enjoyed this book. I really did. That's why I gave it four stars, see? **Points upward and smiles** It was a page-turner, and I had trouble putting it down. It's a great read alike for kids who are into The Hunger Games, Shusterman's books, or any other dystopian cliff-hanger fiction. All-in-all, this was a pretty fun read.

Now nice Meredith is going to step down from the mike and let nit-picky judgmental Meredith have a turn.

There are a few things that really bother me with survival teen lit, and this book was guilty of all of them.

1) There's always a romantic interest, and it always reads like trashy fan fiction. I would love to see an author write YA dystopian lit without a romantic interest whatsoever. Yes, teens are interested in the opposite sex. Yes, teen girls enjoy projecting themselves onto the main character, especially when that character is trying to "fix" a brooding, emotionally-damaged hottie. You know what though? Teens also enjoy things that make them feel empowered and independent by themselves. Why do these female characters always need a hot dude around to justify their beauty and coolness? YA authors, STOP that! Teens are already freaking out about whether or not they're attractive and cool enough to have a boyfriend or girlfriend. Write about someone who is just amazing and great all by themselves, and who doesn't need arm candy to validate it.

Also, if we're going to write romance into these books, let's shake it up a bit, shall we? Why are they always about a girl who wants to be super emotionally strong, except she still needs her boyfriend to continuously rescue her? Listen, I enjoy the "princess locked in the tower" stories as much as any other female, but come on--it's been done to death. How about the boyfriend dies halfway through the story, so the princess picks up a flame-thrower and goes on a murderous rampage in order to avenge his death?

2) These books give me the body image blues. Where are the stories about the kick-ass girl who just happens to be overweight? Yes, I know there's plenty of YA lit about fat girls, but that's exactly the problem--their fatness is the entire plot of those stories. I want more books about awesome heroines who just happen to be on the chunky side. You know, most teens out there are not small, lean, and muscular. They are soft, self-conscious, and a little bit awkward. Yes, I get that in these dystopian adventure books, the protagonists are often working out pretty hardcore and end up getting into amazing shape, but you know what? They never really have far to go to get there.

The worst part is that these characters are always so self-depreciating about their appearance, too. I'm sure that this is done in an effort to connect with teens, most of whom feel that way about themselves, but it's really just perpetuating the problem. Girls are going to read about Tris, with her nose that's "too long" and her boring eyes and child-like frame, and think that it's okay to feel that way about themselves. What's even more horrible is that if someone reading this book also happens to have a long nose, or a small frame, there's a good chance they're going to use the text as validation that these are things that are "wrong" with them. YA authors, stop making girls feel crappy about their bodies. We have plenty of other people doing that for us.

3) The entire societal structure in this book? Yeah, I don't buy it. Not only that, I think it's downright silly. I simply cannot imagine in my wildest dreams, that we would ever get to a point where we were determining our lives based on one or two personality traits. It just wouldn't happen. I like my dystopia best when I read about the world and think, "Ah, yes. I can see how we could get to that point." I just don't buy into a society where people are like, "Alright, ENFPs to one side, ISTJs to the other side." The reason it wouldn't work is that EVERYONE is "divergent." All of us are a mix of personality traits. I mean, I guess that maybe part of the point of the story is that anyone who reads it will think, "Cool! I'm just like the main character because I have lots of different opinions, too! I'm special!" I'm just not impressed.

The one thing that I thought was hilariously accurate about this story was how little thought those teens put into their tattoos. "Hmm, I'm standing in a tattoo parlor. Might as well get one!" At least they were getting tats of things that sort of meant something to them, and not like, "I want generic Japanese characters down my back that I don't even understand!"

Anyway, as I said, I really did enjoy the read. I'm not sure I loved it enough to pick up the sequel, but I think teens will really get into it.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Mary (new)

Mary Totally agree with you, Meredith. The whole premise of this society was so laughable to me that I quit reading about halfway through. That society couldn't holdup for long, especially since separated families, and turned children from their parents, because they were different from each other. I also need to see how we get to a point where our society is forced to change to a different one.

Kate Totes agree with point #2 - well pretty much all of it, but that one really resonates. Every other page was like, "Oh ho hum, dearie me, I'm so short and small, my thigh is half the size of his, blah blah blah, I had to stand on my tippy-tippy-toes, etc etc." That being said, I devoured this in much the same way that I shovel candy in my face when candy is sitting in front of my face.

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