I’ve seen the first Divergent film and unfortunately, I’ve caught glimpses of the sequels too. This left me with a fairly poor taste in my mouth about the whole series with the feeling that it felt very “samey” to any other generic YA dystopian novel. However, after reading (listening mostly) to the book, my opinion has massively changed.
Divergent is set in an alternative future where the world has been broken down into five factions, none of whom seem to get on overly well. At sixteen years old, you must choose which faction you wish to join based on their virtues and way of life. A fairly simple premise but one that Veronica Roth explores every avenue of.
Plot – 4/5
Beatrice (later donned Tris) must choose her faction – a choice that will see her choose between her family and who she truly is as a person. After this, physical and psychological tests become their lives as they are tested to see who the elite are amongst them. What ensues is a tale of Tris fighting not only against her own demons but amongst those who want to displace her in society.
There are some great elements thrown into this book. One of my favourite is the “fears” aspect that they go through. Essentially the sixteen-year-olds go through psychological simulations where they face their utmost fears and the one with the least fears at the end is ranked first. Due to Tris’ rough upbringing and bullying, what she experiences is far different from those whose lives have been easier. It’s a great idea and one I think Roth touches on just enough to get its point across.
Characters – 4/5
The characters in this book I could take or leave. They all fit into the generic YA tropes – you’ve got the bullies, the friends, the geeky ones and the love interest. The dialogue between them was above average I’d say, Roth clearly wanted there to be banter between the characters and she implements just enough of this to avoid it becoming cringe. The love story is also dripped at us at just slow enough of a speed to make us care – though it is instantly obvious from the get-go.
None of the characters particularly stick out to me individually. However, I did have a lot of time for how dark Roth made some of them. The things that these “kids” will do to some of the other initiates to get to the top of the ranking becomes very dark and just shows how intense this world is that they’re living in. I had a lot of time for this simply because I wasn’t expecting them to go that far.
Divergent summary – 4/5
I was surprised by how much I liked Divergent. I have a bit of a problem when it comes to YA novels with how they often sacrifice any sort of deep plot to develop a cringe love story. The purpose of this book is certainly not the love story, it’s the building of an interesting premise and world.
If you’ve seen the films and were put off, I’d definitely still give the book a try. It’s not going to blow your mind but it’s certainly deeper and explains a lot more than the films are able to do. If you’re a fan of fantasy and dystopian novels, I definitely think this is worth picking up as it offers up some unique ideas.