Tatiana's Reviews > Divergent

Divergent by Veronica Roth
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bookshelves: ya, dystopias-post-apocalyptic, 2011, 2, starred-2011

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We all know why Divergent was written. There is no doubt 99% of dystopias published during the last year or so have been trying to at least partially replicate the success of the trilogy. Public wants to read more dystopian stories, publishers want to sell them, authors want to write them. Everyone is happy.

I have read a few new dystopias recently and liked or disliked them to various degrees. There are dystopias for any taste, dystopias that emphasize separate aspects of the trilogy. There are dystopias that bank on romance (Matched or Delirium). There are dystopias that take the shock value route (Wither). And then there is Divergent that caters to the crowd who wants more action in their dystopias. And action this novel delivers!

In a few words, Divergent is a one long initiation trial. Beatrice Prior is a member of a society that has been maintaining its peaceful existence by separating its citizens into 5 distinct factions. These factions are formed on the basis of virtues they cultivate in their members - Candor values honesty the most, Abnegation - selflessness, Dauntless - bravery, Amity - peacefulness and Erudite - intelligence. At 16 all citizens take a test that is supposed to help them decide if they want to stay with the faction into which they were born or transfer to another faction forever. Beatrice's test results are inconclusive and puzzling. Ultimately she decides to abandon her own faction (Abnegation) and her family and enter another (Dauntless). But of course, the transfer is not easy. The initiation trials are grueling. Divergent is essentially a depiction of Beatrice's road to becoming a Dauntless, both physically and emotionally. Beatrice's unusual test results come to play too, and in a major way.

This emphasis on multiple trials and exercises is the strongest and the weakest part of the story. Veronica Roth has a special talent for writing great fighting scenes, pulse-raising and adrenaline-pumping scenes. Her imagination in terms of inventing different tests and challenges seems to be limitless. Something exciting happens to Beatrice every day of her trials. But that is also the weakness of the story. About 85% of the book is dedicated to action and exercises. The actual story starts only around page 415 of this 500-page book. Only then stakes are raised and real action begins. If you ask me, 400-pages is a lot of prep to finally get to the meat of the story.

Don't get me wrong, I liked the book (3 stars means "i liked it" on Goodreads). Divergent is good entertainment. I liked it, I was engaged in the story, I was even excited quite often. But something was missing for me. The novel has good characters, but they are not quite as interesting and compelling as they could have been; it has a lot of action, but the justification for the amount of violence involved is not quite adequate; it has a cute romance, but it never quite makes your heart contract in that sweet, painful way (you know what I am talking about, don't you?); the concept of factions is a unique one but not quite plausible; the explanation what a Divergent actually is is not quite climactic; finally, except for one plot twist (p 415), the story takes a rather predictable road.

I liked Divergent. I liked it more than Matched, Delirium or Wither. I liked it less than Blood Red Road or Ship Breaker. It entertained me. It promotes all the good things - bravery and self-sufficiency, friendships, honesty, determination. It is all about girl empowerment. But as the same time it isn't particularly thought-provoking or chilling. It never truly touched my heart. It is a write-by-numbers dystopia.

The verdict? I guess, you'll have to see for yourself?

P.S. While I am on the subject of dystopias and have your attention, I want to recommend one of my most favorite dystopias that doesn't get nearly as much acknowledgment as it deserves. Please, check out Neal Shusterman's Unwind Unwind (Unwind, #1) by Neal Shusterman

You will not regret it.
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Reading Progress

January 26, 2011 – Shelved
February 23, 2011 – Started Reading
February 23, 2011 – Shelved as: ya
February 23, 2011 – Shelved as: dystopias-post-apocalyptic
February 23, 2011 –
page 50
10.27% "So far so good"
February 23, 2011 –
page 130
February 24, 2011 –
page 227
46.61% "These are very long, action-packed trials..."
February 24, 2011 –
page 334
February 24, 2011 – Shelved as: 2011
February 24, 2011 – Finished Reading
January 16, 2019 – Shelved as: 2
January 16, 2019 – Shelved as: starred-2011

Comments Showing 1-50 of 173 (173 new)

message 1: by Shveta (new) - added it

Shveta Thakrar Did you get this from NetGalley? I can't wait to see what you think.

Tatiana I don't think NetGalley offers it.

Ceilidh Looking forward to your review on this. It's the only major dystopian YA release of this year that's garnered mostly positive reviews. Well, that I've seen.

message 4: by Crystal (last edited Feb 23, 2011 08:39AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Crystal Oh I want to read this one! I can't wait to hear what you think!! *iz jealous*

Tatiana I've only seen good reviews of it as well. Now I need to finally sit down and read it myself:)

Emily May I'm so jealous, can't wait to read this!

Gabry I'm very excited for you to read this, hopefully it's good!

message 8: by Eve (new) - rated it 4 stars

Eve Davids Oh boy, only 3 stars? Cant wait to see your review.

Tatiana 3 stars means "i liked it," so it's not bad at all.

Review tomorrow. Too sleepy...

message 10: by Tina (new) - rated it 3 stars

Tina Hm, good enough to be interesting for me. :)

And I totally agree with the Unwind recommendation. That is definitely one of the good dystopias out there. :)

Ceilidh I'm glad there's a dystopian novel of 2011 that isn't hopelessly mediocre.

message 12: by Kelly (new)

Kelly OK, this is really nerdy of me, but I'm getting hung up on the House names. Er, I mean faction names. I'm wanting them to all be the same part of speech. LOL

message 13: by Cory (new)

Cory Sounds interesting. I'll probably pick it up after Blood Red Road. I'm just glad it's more interesting than Matched.

Tatiana Much more interesting, Cory.

message 15: by Eve (new) - rated it 4 stars

Eve Davids Nice review Tatiana. You know something I noticed even with all the troublesome world building and too much inner monologue, Delirium still made its way to one of my top YA's this year. Something about Oliver's prose just sends me into fangirl mode and I thought Lena was pretty sympathetic. I really hope I like this once I get into it since I went through a lot to get an ARC of it.

message 16: by Eve (new) - rated it 4 stars

Eve Davids Guys, have you heard of Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, apparently they are touting it as a post apocalyptic Romeo and Juliet and it has sold for six figures in over 20 countries. No joke, six figure in every country! Of course there is a movie deal also. I am hoping this isnt hype at work again.

Tatiana I never even heard of this book, Duchess. I am so tired of baseless hype:(

message 18: by Eve (new) - rated it 4 stars

Eve Davids Lol @ Tatiana. I like the term "baseless hype."
I wonder if Suzanne Collins will write another dystopia because it seems we are going to be stuck with more dystopia after dystopia these days. The queen of reviving the genre might as well bless us with something else. Also, thanks for recommending Unwind. Been procrastinating reading it, but will do now.

Tatiana I am very curious what Collins has in store next. I just hope it won't be for kids.

message 20: by Megan (new)

Megan I wonder why this world bothered with a series of grueling tests when they could have simply consulted the sorting hat? ;)

Tatiana LMAO! Great question.

Kat Kennedy LOL, Megan! Hilarious!

Unwind is truly brilliant. I think my adoration of it grows more and more every time I remember it.

message 23: by Mariel (new)

Mariel I love Neal Shusterman.

Caitlin Great review. :)

Tatiana Two years later, I am still scared of opening Unwind again. That books scarred me as much as Mockingjay.

message 26: by Vi (new) - rated it 3 stars

Vi Vi Great review! This one seems very interesting, but I'm so burnt on dystopias, particularly because they're so obviously trying (and failing) to capture at least some of the brilliance of the Hunger Games - it just rubs me the wrong way. I'm trying hard to steer clear of bandwagons :(

Tatiana This one was a bandwagon book, that's for sure. I prefer original works myself.

Gabry Mm, seems that when the time comes, Where She Went will be read first before Divergent~

message 29: by Vinaya (new)

Vinaya Wow, I can totally see why you have dystopia burn out, if you've read ALL of these books! Thank you for warning me away from Delirium and Matched and Wither; I'm a little scared to get started on Unwind, but I'll do it once I've gathered up enough courage. If you've recovered from dystopian disenchantment by April, you should totally try Bumped, it's very... different! :)

Tatiana I'll think about reading Bumped. Maybe in a couple of months I feel better about reading another round of dystopias clearly written by authors who never expressed any interest in genre before HG's success.

message 31: by Eve (new) - rated it 4 stars

Eve Davids Wow, reading this book and re-reading your review really makes me see why you are one of the top reviewers here. You really captured everything wrong and right with this book Tatiana. Kudos. Most stinging with me was the lack of justification for the violence or heart pumping trials. I felt as if someone was purposely trying to overwork my emotions with these scenes. Still, I do like her prose.

message 32: by Tatiana (last edited Mar 03, 2011 04:30AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Tatiana Thank you.

I think Roth has a lot of potential, she just needs to grow and mature as a writer.

Aaron White Can't WAIT for Unwholly! Unwind is very underrated, amazing and scary.

Melissa Nice review. Now I'm doubting about buying this book though I've been waiting for it for months. Unwind was very good. :] Enjoyed it very much. Can't wait for the next book.

Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker  Queen of the Undead I agree w/ you about Unwind. Everyone should read that book. And you know how I feel about Blood Red Road, loved it. Now I have to go see about Ship Breaker!

Tatiana I have a feeling you will like Ship Breaker too. So far we have been in sync re: dystopias. We shall see...

Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker  Queen of the Undead Tatiana wrote: "I have a feeling you will like Ship Breaker too. So far we have been in sync re: dystopias. We shall see..."

Well, you haven't led me wrong up until now so I actually purchased Ship Breaker this morning (yes, my restraint on buying books only lasted a few weeks but oh well).

Melissa It's because you recommended Unwind that I bought it. :] And I loved it. I'm gonna see if I can get Ship Breaker. :D

Jennifer Wow - I think you and I have VERY similar tastes. I gave this 3 stars and did like it more than Matched, Delirium (which disapointed me so much!) and Wither. I read Unwind years ago and it remains one of my favorite YA dystopias. Thanks for your review!

Lindsey I love the way you evaluate dystopias on their most important values and especially your understanding of how they essentially written to draw in The Hunger Games crowd. I am going to try this one because I am a danger junkie, but you managed to help me steer clear of Wither and Matched, which was probably for the best. I will be following your reviews from now on.

Shannon Whats 'the' trilogy? Is it the hunger games?

Tatiana Yes, The Hunger Games

Ekram I totally agree with your review. Also, Unwind is my favorite dystopia as well! Ship breaker is sitting on my shelf right now, waiting to be read. I think I'll get on with that.

Amanda What a great, thorough review! I just purchase Unwind based on your recommendation. Thanks so much

Tatiana I hope you like Unwind, Amanda:)

Annette Great review! Thanks. "Makes your heart contract in that sweet, painful way" - awesome description. I rarely feel that way though, and that is how you can tell an exceptional book (like Richelle Mead's VA series).

Aaron White I really liked Divergent. In fact, it was just a notch below The Hunger Games for me and I feel like it has the potential to equal that series. Unwind was definitely one of my favorites in the genre and I'm glad that you've been giving it more publicity! Maybe that will help encourage Schusterman to finally start working on Unwholly. ;)

As for Ship Breaker, that's next on my list, as soon as I finish Delirium. I prefere dystopias that are close enough to reality that I can believe in them and also that don't solely focus on "love/romance/teenage dating."

Melissa Aaron wrote: "I really liked Divergent. In fact, it was just a notch below The Hunger Games for me and I feel like it has the potential to equal that series. Unwind was definitely one of my favorites in the genr..."

Aaron you seem to have good taste in books. :] Unwind is one of my favorites as well.

Katerina I get why you'd say it's a hunger Game wannabe book. But it's totally different. I loved it intesnsely. I thought it was better than Hunger Games. The writing style was better and so was the story.

Tonya I totally agree with you Klymene. I only a few chapters into this book and I noticed right away how much better the writting is. I am loving the book so far :)

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