Crystal Starr Light's Reviews > Divergent

Divergent by Veronica Roth
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Jul 11, 2011

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bookshelves: urban-fantasy, young-adult, dystopia, book-to-movie, fauxtopia, dejavu, sick-to-death-of-seeing-this-book
Read from July 11 to 18, 2011 — I own a copy

Ridin' on the coattails of The Hunger Games

Beatrice 'Tris' Prior lives in a (psuedo) dystopic Chicago. People have been rearranged into Five Factions: Abnegation, Candor, Dauntless, Erudite, and Amity. Beatric is given a chance, when she is 16, to choose which faction to go into, and her choice is startling and not the easy one she expected.

REASONS WHY READING THIS WAS ENJOYABLE:

+ There is absolutely, positively NO ROMANTIC TRIANGLE!! FINALLY, a Young Adult, Urban Fantasy/Dystopia novel that does NOT center its ENTIRE PLOT around a forced plot triangle. Excuse me while I faint from astonishment.

+ Roth's competent writing. First person present isn't an easy tense, but Roth writes it well. It isn't as choppy and "childish" as Jones' "Need", and yet it isn't burdened with flowery prose.

+ Interesting characters. Tris is an interesting character, as is Christina, Tori, Four, and Tris' mom (would REALLY love to know more about her!).

+ The last 150 pages are INTENSE.

+ The book reminds me a little of "Ender's Game".

+ The book is about overcoming obstacles and doing the right thing.

+ It is a dystopia.

REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD TURN BACK NOW:

- World building makes NO SENSE. Why would ANY GOVERNMENT split up a society into FIVE FACTIONS? Don't most dystpopias WANT people to be uniform? Or if there ARE Five Factions, wouldn't they want them to be fighting amongst themselves, too busy to see the government creeping into their lives (sorta like Fforde's "Shades of Grey")? In fact, what even MAKES this society dystopian? Why aren't we rooting for the Erudite? Yeah, they are killing people, but they DO want equal representation--isn't that what American Forefathers fought for? Why is this wrong now?

- How in the frakkin' hell can ANYONE call the Dauntless "brave"? Jumping off buildings, running off trains, catapulting down a zipline DOES NOT MAKE SOMEONE BRAVE. Bravery is in the small things--being with a dying parent, living with cancer, not giving up even though you want to--an idea that takes Tris THE ENTIRE BOOK to figure out. Since when does getting a tattoo make you brave? Why is there so much time spent on the physical test, but the last two tests are almost overlooked? How can Dauntless EVER make friends if they are so worried about being on top? How has this faction not totally destroyed itself? Where is the solidarity? Why are these supposedly brave people so eager to have a dubious serum injection?

- Why is it only Abnegation seems to have any real differences from modern cultlure (no mirrors, simple foods, simple clothes)? Where are the vast differences in the other Factions (besides silly clothes differences and the stupid tattoo thing)?

- How can everyone be split up into different factions? Were these people genetically altered? Is there some sort of indoctrination that occurs that wipes away any tendencies for the other Virtues? How can children change and why would they want to wait until 16 to start training them in the Faction they will spend their ENTIRE lives in? Why is being factionless bad? How can the serum work on these people? How come there aren't MORE divergent? Why is it so rare?

- Inconsistent heroine. One minute, she realizes (somewhat determinedly, in a really nice "brave" moment) that she is neither Abnegation, nor Dauntless, then the next, she is shocked to discover this very fact. WTF? Tris constantly complains about her bravery vs selflessness being at war, but when is she ever really selfless in the book? She hardly acts Abnegation at all!! How can she call these people friends? She almost is Bella-like in how she uses them!

- The writing style is a little too similar to Collins' The Hunger Games.

- In the beginning, the relationship between Four and Tris feels almost like a girl having a crush for her teacher.

- Muscle doesn't bulk up in a week. You don't recover from a tattoo overnight. A bullet wound in the shoulder isn't just going to mildly slow you down in a fight.

- In The Hunger Games, without Katniss, there would have been no revolution. In Divergent, Beatrice does nothing that couldn't have been done by anyone else. Her role was unnecessary; the Erudite would have attacked, some other Divergent would have risen and taken them down, end of story. There is nothing that makes Beatrice special, so it feels like the story was pointless.

So, yeah, I found a few problems with the novel. Unfortunately, they all dealt with the world building, the absolute fundamental of the novel. But I will say, if you can swallow the concept, pull back the curtain, and just be enraptured by the story, it's not bad at all. Beatrice takes time to grow on you, but she is a good heroine. She is legitamitely strong and competent and doesn't require a boyfriend to do it for her. Oh, and while there is a romantic plot, it's not very pronounced nor is it a triangle.

Thus, even with the problems I have with it, I am still going to be checking out "Insurgent" when it is published. But if I catch a whiff of a Romantic Triangle, I am gone.
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Reading Progress

07/11/2011 page 31
6.0% "I almost wish that the Five Classes of Society were a type of religion. I think it would work really good that way."
07/11/2011 page 35
7.0% "I puzzle over why a government would choose to separate into Five rather arbitrary factions based on virtues. What kind of brainwashing is involved to keep these people in there place/faction?"
07/12/2011 page 76
16.0% "Someone had to be looking at the defintion of "stupid" instead of "dauntless", because nothing the Dauntless do seems brave or courageous, but instead layers upon layers of stupid. Honestly, if jumping off fast moving trains and catapulting off buildings is what they do, how do they have ANY members?"
07/12/2011 page 97
20.0% "I find myself wishing we saw more of Beatrice/Tris failing at being selfless so I could see how she is better suited to Dauntless. Why does it seem like Abnegation is the only really weird Faction? Why is there such animosity between Factions? Wasn't the point of the Factions to get rid of war? Where is the dystopia of this society?"
07/12/2011 page 168
34.0% "I am not buying that she can lose so much fat/gain so much muscle in a WEEK. Also, while writing style reminds me of Collins' Hunger Games, the story reminds me more of Ender's Game. Funny, huh?"
07/13/2011 page 204
42.0% "I hate to be nitpicky, but these guys don't really feel like Tris' friends. They feel more like people she hangs around because they don't pick on her. How can Dauntless EVER make friends if they are so worried about being on top? How has this faction not totally destroyed itself? Where is the solidarity?"
07/14/2011 page 248
51.0% "So the author did explain how competition is a new trait of the Dauntless...not sure how that would work out long term, though."
07/14/2011 page 270
55.0% "Okay, the Divergent thing is reappearing, and I am WAY more interested in this story. Boy, am I SO glad there is not a whiff of a Romantic Triangle (and no, I don't count Al's unrequited feelings as a Romantic Triangle)."
07/14/2011 page 322
66.0% "Okay, so Tris feels more like she has a crush on a twenty-something instructor instead of real chemistry with an 18 year old. Oh, and Four does NOT act like an 18 year old in my book."
07/15/2011 page 358
74.0% ""But what is so threatening about my ability to manipuate the simulations?" I have to agree with you, Tris, I have no clue why this is such a big deal."
07/15/2011 page 400
82.0% "Unless something wildly stupid happens in the last 87 pages, I will definitely be checking out "Insurgent" when it comes out. But if it has even a WHIFF of a Romantic Triangle, I am GONE, baby."
07/16/2011 page 420
86.0% "Did no one in Dauntless protest about this serum? It is blindingly obvious that is is BAD NEWS."
07/17/2011 page 433
89.0% "So...why can the divergent avoid the serum, but everyone else can't? Still doesn't make sense."
07/18/2011 page 473
97.0% "In the Hunger Games, without Katniss, the revolution would really never have taken off. In Divergent, without Beatrice, absolutely nothing would have changed. Just sayin'"
05/01/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

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Lucy "In the Hunger Games, without Katniss, the revolution would really never have taken off. In Divergent, without Beatrice, absolutely nothing would have changed. Just sayin'"

Such an excellent point. It makes you feel like she chose the wrong character to train the camera on. There should have been someone more central to the story taking the lead.


Crystal Starr Light Lucy wrote: ""In the Hunger Games, without Katniss, the revolution would really never have taken off. In Divergent, without Beatrice, absolutely nothing would have changed. Just sayin'"

Such an excellent po..."


As I came to the very end, I realize that this, above all the other problems, was the worst. Sure, the world building is iffy (VERY iffy in my opinion), but the fact that our protagonist didn't do anything proactive for this revolution just really irked me. Katniss may not have been the head of the revolution, but she was its Mockingjay, its symbol. Without her actions in the Hunger Games, there would have been no rallying symbol, no call to arms, no instigation to fight.

Thanks for reading my review and taking the time to comment!


Lindsey This was awesome and essentially captured all of my major concerns about the book, which I did blow off because I was just so relieved not to have a triangle and the scenarios were interesting.


message 4: by K. (last edited Jul 20, 2011 10:02AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

K. I had the same exact questions about Dauntless and pretty much everything else you mentioned. They weren't brave to me, they were stupid. Particularly, the first initiation where they had to jump off the train THAT NEVER STOPPED MOVING, WHY? onto a rooftop which resulted in a death. Why would they try to kill off members? Yes it takes guts to do that but it doesn't mean they're a coward if they don't make it. It just means it was a dumbass dare to begin with. I know not.

But I still really liked it. SIGH.


Crystal Starr Light Lindsey wrote: "This was awesome and essentially captured all of my major concerns about the book, which I did blow off because I was just so relieved not to have a triangle and the scenarios were interesting."

I agree, I was SO glad that there wasn't another man vying for Tris' affections. I wonder how far into Insurgent we will get before one crops up (please, Roth, don't do it to us!!).

K. wrote: "I had the same exact questions about Dauntless and pretty much everything else you mentioned. They weren't brave to me, they were stupid. Particularly, the first initiation where they had to jump o..."

Yeah, what is with the trains that never stop, but slow down? How does the Dauntless not end up with thousands dead just because, whoops, someone tried to jump on the train and fell under the rails?


Ploy You have brought up interesting points. When I read the book I didn't think of them, in fact, I really liked it. But this is something to really think over :)


Jason Stalides I missed that you read this. I'll be diving in soon. The thing with YA fiction is that it gets a sort of world-building get ail free card, Hunger Games included (which I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed it). The worlds work better as metaphors. And if you pull too hard at the strings...and all that. But there does have to be some consistency, and the world has to have a foundation that at least appears to make sense.


Jason Stalides *get out of jail free card (wish there was an edit function)


Crystal Starr Light The real problem with this book is that it broke my Willing Suspension of Disbelief. The world building just doesn't make sense (to me) and I can't look past it. And once this has happened, my brain refuses to turn off and it picks up EVERYTHING. Even things I'd have given a free pass.

And the thing is, seems like YA puts more of a priority on getting at least one romantic interest, it forgets critical components like characters and story. (And writing...)

I will be most interested in your take!!


Jason Stalides I can't help but think of that scene in the second Darth Bane book. Star Wars also does not hold up to close, real world scrutiny. The readers know this. But cross a certain line and it becomes silly. Insulting even. Although I liked that book a lot as well. I can overlook a lot for thd sake of a good story.


Crystal Starr Light As I was typing the above, I kept thinking of that very scene! Don't get me wrong, I still liked that book, but it wore my Suspension and made me pick out even the smallest details that didn't make sense.

There were parts of Divergent I liked, but that Suspension of Disbelief was nearly destroyed. The system of Factions made little sense, characters just weren't strong enough to stand out (other than the MC's, I remembered almost none of the characters when I read the sequel - something that has almost never happened to me!)...of course, many of these flaws are worse in the sequel (the sequel makes me tempted not to finish out the trilogy!).

The Hunger Games had its flaws, to be sure, but I thought it had a strong concept, a purpose beyond "I'm the next Harry Potter/Twilight/Fifty Shades", good characters, and decent world-building. A majority of Young Adult novels think that having a "kick ass" girl in a dystopian with two boys is what made THG the success it was and forget that what made THG good is the STORY, not the "dressing".


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