Emily May's Reviews > Divergent

Divergent by Veronica Roth
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May 31, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: dystopia-utopia, young-adult, 2011
Read on July 31, 2011

Okay, okay, I completely understand why people could really like this and also why people could find it a huge disappointment. As for the latter... well, this was one of the most highly anticipated works of dystopian fiction to be released this year and the fact of the matter is that it just really doesn't work as a dystopia. Or, at least, what seems to be the general definition of a dystopia.

I can highlight the problem really well by referring to a conversation I had with my mum when she saw the book lying on the table.

mum: ooh, what's this book about?

me: I haven't started it yet but it's supposed to be a dystopia.

mum: [blank look] ??????

me: you know, like The Handmaid's Tale or 1984? Basically, it's where the author imagines a hypothetical world that's usually set in the future and takes a relevent political or social issue or issues and creates a fictional society that could possibly be what might happen if humanity was to follow a certain idea or movement or perhaps even carry on behaving the way they are. For example, failing to improve the world's environmental problems.

[okay, that was a load of B.S. and I never talk so lah-di-dah with my mother, but the ideas were all the same]


Anyway, the point is that Divergent has no political or social relevance and the fictional society is just not going to happen in a million years. If it was marketed as a fantasy, then perhaps you have something here. The world that the author has dreamt up is fantastical and too unrealistic for a truly good dystopian novel, the idea that there would be five factions who all believe the world's problems are down to one main issue that differs depending on which faction you consult is ludicrous... I mean, if only there were just five different opinions of what's wrong with the world.

And again with the bizarre: Dauntless. This is the faction that is in the limelight here and it has to be the most stupid of the lot.

1) They think the world's problems can be solved by combating cowardice. That isn't even remotely believable.

2) They think that the way to prove their bravery is to jump off trains and beat each other up and almost get themselves killed for the sake of proving that they're not afraid to get themselves killed. Stupid, stupid, stupid. What's the point?

This isn't dystopia, it means nothing, it sends no message, it won't ever happen.

Alright, here it is: I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN!!

I know, I'm ashamed, I'm a traitor to real dystopian fiction everywhere. But I found the story so addictive, the characters so interesting and I was even completely won over by the intricate mysteries beneath this godawful stupid society that would never happen. I cared what happened to Tris and I cared whether her and Four would get it on and I cared what would happen if the factions went to war. I was hooked on this crap and I simply cannot deny it!

I think they should have just said it was a fantasy and it would have all been alright. I could forgive the stupid pretend world because in a fantasy pretty much anything goes.

I know... I don't get it. I was reading this book and people were jumping off trains and punching each other in the face as part of pointless activities and I was thinking "damn, that's stupid" whilst my next thought was "gosh, I wonder what's gonna happen next". I had to read on. I still have to read on because somehow whatever happens in Insurgent has suddenly become very important to me.

I even liked the love story. Not that I don't like love stories normally but I usually give any dystopia or science fiction a hard time for having to squeeze a romance in there to make the book complete. But I was there with it. I liked both characters, I wanted it to work out. It's weird because Tris actually becomes increasingly hard and selfish as the novel moves on... but strangely that's an important part of her coming to understand that you cannot live selflessly in a competitive world and that, though others matter, sometimes you do have to put yourself first. I really liked the changes and development of her character.

So, there you have it. It's a shitty excuse for a dystopia but I found it an extremely enjoyable read.

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Comments (showing 1-50 of 56) (56 new)

Suzanne (Under the Covers Book blog) Great review, I really want to read this one!

Emily May Thanks :) you need to get it, it's not perfect but it's very addictive!

Suzanne (Under the Covers Book blog) I keep seeing it about and I do like these kind of books. I may get it soon.

message 4: by K.D. (new) - rated it 1 star

K.D. Absolutely Your review makes me want to read this. Nice one! Thanks!

message 5: by Joseph (new) - added it

Joseph Nice review. This has been sitting on my shelf for weeks now and you've just prompted me to crack the spine.

Emily May Yay! Hope you both enjoy it :)

message 7: by K.D. (new) - rated it 1 star

K.D. Absolutely Yes, I will. Currently, trying to borrow a copy for a gracious friend ha ha

Jane Stewart What a wonderful review. I love the way you describe your feelings about not liking some things but couldn’t stop reading. You definition of dystopia is great. I’m saving a copy for my definitions file. Your review is soooooo helpful. Thank you!

Emily May Thanks Jane! I'm really glad you liked it :)

message 10: by Joke (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joke wow, just started reading it and you are absolutely right, i could not put it aside...eventough the behaviot of the dauntless can be stupid, you care about Tris and what is going to happen next, sooooo addictive reading!

Ronyell Awesome review Emily!!! I really enjoyed this book too!!

 Athena Ivashkova ~♥~ I didn't enjoy 1984...it was abhorring to me.

message 13: by Reem (new) - rated it 5 stars

Reem im not so sure about reading it now fromhearing poeple killing themselve!

Emily May Not killing themselves but stupidly risking their lives to prove they are brave :/

message 15: by Reem (new) - rated it 5 stars

Reem so stupid o_O

Sarah Hipple So apparently I'm the only person who found the training segment of the book to be a bit slow. But great review! I also enjoyed it, despite its implausibility.

Becki I really enjoyed your review of this book. As somebody who doesn't ordinarily enjoy love stories, and kind of skips over that element of a lot of the books that I read, I finally realized that I love Four. He's amazing and as awesome a fictional hero as I've encountered.

Because I haven't gotten to doing my review of this book just yet, I don't want to do a mini-review right here, but I did want to point out that there are a lot of commonalities between the world of Divergent and the Soviet world, in which you are locked into one career for the rest of your life. The entire novel reminded me of Berlin before the wall came down, particularly the note that Tris makes about the city being locked in instead of intruders being locked out. These are relevant social issues, even if the premise itself isn't entirely believable. I'd say that the book was hyperbolized in order to make a point.

Emily May Thanks Becki! Your comments about the similarities between this world and the Soviet Union are really interesting - that definitely makes me think about some of the things in this book differently. I still feel that Dauntless as a faction doesn't really make sense but I can see what you mean about the world as a whole exploring relevant social issues. Very interesting.

Becki Without doing some fancy footwork here, have you read Insurgent yet? I haven't, though I'm hoping to add it to my stack soon-ish.

My thoughts on Dauntless are that they must have started out with a different purpose than all of the violence that we see in this book. I was, frankly, surprised by how violent it is and I enjoy some violent books. It just seems as though that can't possibly be the primary purpose of Dauntless. Courage is one thing: violence is another entirely.

I'm hoping that through the other books in the Trilogy that there is a better explanation for how Dauntless got to be the way that it is. Obviously there's --spoiler alert! -- Eric's involvement with the Erudite, but there isn't a complete explanation of what changed the Dauntless from their code to the way that they are now.

Emily May Well, I don't want to say too much but I was really disappointed with Insurgent. There are a number of reasons why but I'll let you discover them for yourself and go into it with a clear mind. It'll be interesting to see what you think.

Becki I'm almost never as happy with the second book in a trilogy as I am with the first, so I won't be surprised if it lets me down. I also won't be surprised if I love it. The problem these days is that it's "the thing" to create series of books instead of a single book that can stand on its own merits, and I think some authors are stretching themselves to produce a longer series than necessary.

Then again, Divergent at least moved along at a steady clip without being slow (except maybe during stage 1 training), so it makes it through the most common problem. We'll have to see. I have seven books in my stack right now but I'm hoping to add it as number 8!

Devon Yes! Very well put, I was completely addicted. Even though I did see some of its problems, I didn't care one bit!

Emily May Thanks Devon :) I'm glad you enjoyed it too!

Jenny While I was reading it, I felt so excited and amazed and basically just giddy from liking a book so much. So halfway through the book I recommended it to my friend and when he asked what it was about I started telling him about the factions, and the uprise, and then I realized, It didn't even have a purpose not like how it was in the Hunger Games when you totally understood what was happening. After reading the whole thing I'm still confused. Why are the amity people like hippies in Woodstock? Why is Jeanine an evil dictator? All in all in the end everything was still a big question mark.

Then again here comes the BUT

All the plot holes, characters aside, I REALLY REALLY enjoyed it. But I'm still super confused because typically having so many unanswered questions would usually put me off.

Sorry, I just had to vent and think out loud on why I absolutely love a book I'm so confused about. Haha and reading your review made me feel normal in liking it even if I complain so much about it too :))

rachel • typed truths Brilliant review! I utterly agree with every word you wrote! Well done! :)

Darlynne I just finished this book and your review was EXACTLY how I felt...that this is a pretty dumb book but why in the world can't I put it down.
I do care about the characters. I love the description of Four and hope they live happily ever after. Although I thought the romance and relationship moved a little to fast. The author could have stretched it out a little. But that's ok.
Anyway, thanks for the review.

Emily May @Rachel Thank you! :)

@Darlynne No problem, it just seems to be that kind of book, right? So silly, but so much fun at the same time. And, while I love challenging books that make me think, sometimes good old entertainment is all you really need :)

message 28: by Kandes (new) - added it

Kandes i LOVE your reviews... sums up what I'm feeling exactly. I'm only 50 pgs in but reading about jumping off trains I was like uh... no. but I still can't turn away!

Maxine (Booklover Catlady) I just finished it sitting in my car picking up my son from school thinking "oh please let me get to the end before the bell goes" I devoured the book (and I finished with a minute to spare before his school bell went) as a new convert to dystopian works I loved this one and dived straight into Insurgent (book two)

Reanna I agree with you all the way!! I found everyhing in this book to be perfect except its most stupid reasoning that the worlds problems can be fixed by dividing personalities. When I first began reading I felt like I was dishonouring distopian fiction (especially the hunger games, i love that book). But to my utmost suprise, the book was amazing.

Reanna ONe plot flaw though, removing peters stimulation. I understand that the author did it to move he plot along obviously, but within he plot it didnt really make any sense for the dauntless leaders to do so. What do you think?

Emily May Yeah, I completely agree. Though, a lot of this book didn't make any sense to me, lol :)

Stacie C I knew I was late hopping on this gravy train when I finished this book late last year. I gave it a 3 for most of the reasons you stated AND the fact that I just could not stand Tris! Please tell me I am not the only one. I read this book in a day because I found it interesting but that girl really rubbed me the wrong way. I felt more drawn to Four than anyone else. I finished the series and let me just say my feelings about her never changed.

Emily May It's funny but Tris didn't bug me until I read Insurgent. I know a lot of people didn't like Divergent because of her but I somehow managed to ignore the more annoying aspects of her personality, lol. Then I read Insurgent and I just couldn't do it anymore :D

message 35: by [deleted user] (new)

You explained the book perfectly.

Maxine (Booklover Catlady) I think this may be the exception where the movie will be better then the book, usually always (for me) the book is better

message 37: by Shii (new) - rated it 4 stars

Shii This is like Honest Trailers for books! Awesome!
Now I'm gonna stop reading the comments because I havent finish the saga.

Evelyn Looi I also found the book to be a guilty pleasure too, despite the fact I hated Tris after she became pretty cruel, but yet she pulls herself up and sees her flaws.

Emily May Yeah, I completely understand. This book was really addictive, despite all it's flaws :)

Evelyn Looi Not only that, I could sortbof connect with just... Not that much after I saw her act pretty cruel and pompous. To be honest, I can be very cruel too and unforgiving, I wasn't above sending death threats who hurt my feelings and my friends' feelings like how Tris did to Molly and Tris did to Al(but I wouldn't kill Al, even though he tried to murder Tris he was such an innocent guy, why SHOULD he be dead?). My merciless nature was also shown when I wanted Tris to KICK and BEAT UP Molly EVEN MORE, I didn't want her to stop, I WANTED Molly to SUFFER for what she did, even worse, I WANTED her DEAD.

message 41: by Justice (new)

Justice I wasn't that impressed with this story, it certainly wasnt boring but, it was nowhere near on the same level as the Hunger Games. First of all, THG was a lot more believable, organic, creative & had real depth. Some of the things about Divergent just made no sense and it was just hard to believe much of it. And I guess i'll add that the romance wasnt as good in Divergent as THG either, but im not a big romance fan anyhow. And as for the movie, did you guys like Shailene Woodley? Idk if she was the right fit for the cast.

message 42: by Justice (new)

Justice I guess my Divergent opinion is a little two-fold but I honestly dont mean to complain because it wasnt bad, just didnt understand how it got compared to THG so much.

Emily May I agree with you, but I haven't seen the movie. THG was far better, in my opinion, but I did think this book was fine for some meaningless entertainment.

Caden Consolatti I agree that with most of your review but the part when you talk about Dauntless and how they train. I think that they train that way so they can fight what is ever on the other side of the wall. If they don’t learn to face there fears at home how are they going to do it on the battle field .

message 45: by Lina (new) - added it

Lina Caden wrote: "If they don’t learn to face there fears at home how are they going to do it on the battle field ."

You don't face your fears by jumping off trains and beating each other up, unless these things incidentally happen to be one of your worst fears. Either way, still, you don't learn how to face dangers by being unnecessarily reckless. Soldiers train to face dangers and as far as I know, they don't need to jump around like adrenaline-addicted adolescents.

Kamilari Thanks for your thoughts. I had a hard time deciding on the stars issue. I mean my problem is that I'm italian and I'm trying my English with YA because I feel more confident about the language. I really enjoyed the book, but something just doesn't feel right. Thanks to you I think I can say that's about the fake-dystopian novel. After Bradbury and Orwell this book seemed good, but poor in the social, economical and political problems. A bit too surreal! Still I loved Four and Tris characters and want to know more about what's next :)

Divine very creative review! :)

Emily May Thanks! :)

message 49: by Cade (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cade Unbehaun I really enjoyed this review because I felt as though your really took the time to cover both sides of the readers thoughts, not just one. Thanks! :)

Emily May Cade wrote: "I really enjoyed this review because I felt as though your really took the time to cover both sides of the readers thoughts, not just one. Thanks! :)"

Thank you, Cade!

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