I finally read Divergent this past week. It had sat on my shelf for ages, looking at me reproachfully. I am not heavily into dystopia. I had bought this book on a whim, and that whim soon passed.
Still, I thought I should give this book a try to see how it felt.
To give you a quick summary of my thoughts, I liked the book well enough, but it didn’t engage me enough to reach out for the next book in the series.
In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves or it might destroy her.
~ Synopsis from goodreads
First off, I have to say that I found the dystopia a little unbelievable, a little vague. All these different factions seemed so unnecessary. There was an explanation for it hiding in there somewhere, and I suppose the other books detail this world out more. But,the first book didn’t really capture me enough, or give me enough engaging details that would make me want to read the next book.
I also didn’t like the division of people into different factions based on certain character traits. It’s so lame. How is it possible to separate people into factions based on one or two characteristics of a person when they were a teenager? I mean, people change. Someone who is selfless as a teen can and does become self-centred at a later time. And no one is selfless all the time.
The Dauntless faction that Beatrice chooses sounds particularly hideous. They spend all their days just doing dares – jumping off or on trains, jumping off roofs, ziplining – basically the all brawn no brain jocks.
So basically, I thought the world-building was pretty senseless.
But the characters and plot in the book made up for it.
The main character Beatrice is termed as divergent because her mind, skills, and personality are so good she could belong in multiple factions. And that’s also what makes her dangerous – because she is selfless (Abnegation), and brave (Dauntless). This is also what makes her a great heroine. And she is surrounded by interesting secondary characters.
I liked how all her friends had been drawn out in a very interesting way. One of her friends Al makes for a pretty intriguing character. I was pleasantly surprised by how well Veronica Roth had fashioned this rather complex but not very important character.
Beatrice’s love interest Four is also intriguing, and I liked the romance between them, which is more on the lines of a slow simmer (my kind of romance), and not love at first sight. I also liked that the romance is just a sideline.
The real plot is that something is brewing among the different factions. The Erudite faction is led by a monomaniac who wants to overthrow the current regime, using drugs to instigate the Divergent faction to attack the Abnegation faction. Beatrice who has parents in Abnegation, and a brother in Erudite fights for the safety of her family members.
The novel ends on a cliff-hanger note where Beatrice and her friends have broken out of the Divergent faction. Where they now belong and what they will do next forms the plot of the next two books in this series.
Overall, I thought Roth wrote some excellent characters, and the plot was okay too. But I just didn’t feel that there was enough in there to hold up over two more books. It was good, but not enough to make me jump on to the other books in the series.
Have you read this series? Do the later books live up to the promise of Divergent? Do share in the comments.
You can also buy a copy of this book from Amazon.