Monday, May 30, 2011

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Series: Divergent (#1)

Pages: 487
Publisher: HarperCollins
Published: May 3rd, 2011

IBSN: 9780062024022

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, 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 to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating 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 a growing conflict that threatens 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 by Goodreads]

Before I picked up Divergent, I heard it likened to The Hunger Games so many times. But while reading, I failed to see any real positive similarities or parallels. Divergent, to me, felt like The Hunger Games if Katniss spent 80% of the book training to perform in front of the Gamemakers for her score.

From all of the hype, I had imagined Divergent as this edge-of-your-seat action/thriller with the main character kicking ass or leaping from buildings on every other page, but I was disappointed to find that most of the action was...fake (let me explain what I mean by that!).

Most of the book centers on Tris during initiation. She has to fight against other initiates for a ranking, and battle her fears through simulations. During the former, she wasn't fighting for any real cause but to get into the faction. And as for the latter, as much as I can appreciate psychological thrillers, it just  didn't feel like it hit the mark. The action only began to feel 'real' to me towards the ending, where there's an urgent cause and a consequence for failure besides a bad ranking. And that part only makes up the last seventy-five pages.

Beatrice was an intriguing enough character to read about. I could understand why she made the choices she did, but I didn't get where some of the changes in her came from. One minute, she's a passive Abnegation, and the next, she's as cruel and fearless as any other Dauntless.

Divergent was fun to read. It was exciting, and had a easy kind of writing style that allowed me to read chunks of the book in long sittings without getting bored. But it just missed that 'wow' factor for me.

I give Divergent a 3 out of 5.