Title: Divergent (Divergent #1)
Author: Veronica Roth
Pub. Date: Mat, 2011
Summary: 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.
Genre: YA, Dystopia
TRIS IS REALLY SMALL, GUYS. SHE CAN’T SEE OVER ANYONE’S SHOULDERS. SHE HAS TO STAND ON HER TIPTOES TO SEE INTO MIRRORS. SHE’S THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN CRAWL INTO TINY SPACES. SEE HOW SMALL SHE IS!!! SEE?!?!
So. I finally read everyone’s favorite book of 2011…and I
hated severely disliked it. I don’t enjoy writing bad reviews, but my goodness this book.
From the very first page I wasn’t thrilled. The story is told in present tense and I quickly discovered I’m not a fan of that. Also, since the story is told from Tris’ POV, many, many things aren’t explained. After some poking around, I found that fans of the book excuse this total lack of information by saying that, because Tris doesn’t know about anything & since the world is seen through her eyes, the reader therefore doesn’t know anything either. Ms. Roth should know better. It’s one thing to leave some mysteries unsolved for the next book, but to completely forego any explanations at all? Not cool. So many things were brought up and mentioned – apparently huge things regarding what happened and why Chicago (& the rest of the world??) is in ruins – and promptly ignored.
Another issue I had were the factions. I just don’t understand. Dauntless are brave and courageous and prove this by saving small children from burning buildings? Rescuing kittens stuck in trees? Nope! They get tattoos and piercings and jump off trains! … Um. Okay.
Tris comes from Abnegation, the faction where everyone wears grey sacks (because anything else would be vain?), avoids mirrors, and spends their free time knitting scarves for the homeless. In Abnegation, children aren’t allowed to speak unless spoken to and no one can ask questions (for that would signify curiosity, something only Erudite – maybe? I forget already.. – can value).
When children are sixteen, they have a Choosing Ceremony, where they are able to choose the faction they’ll stay in for the rest of their lives and are accepted as adults (in Abnegation’s case, this means being allowed to speak at dinner! OOH!).
Before the choosing, each child goes through a test to see where they’re supposed to be. In Tris’ case, something Very Bad happens. Her results are inconclusive; she’s a Divergent (possesses traits from each faction). Certain factions views Divergents as a threat; under no circumstances is Tris to tell anyone what she is.
In the end she chooses Dauntless and for the next 400 pages the reader is subjected to the ridiculous initiation. This includes jumping off buildings, beating the crap out of everyone, and facing your fears (huzzah! Finally something sensible!).
As all YA is wont to do, there is the token love interest. And ours comes in the form of Four. Typical bad-boy-who-is-actually-sweet-and-sensitive. The biggest eye roll I had was their lovefest. Tris comes from a faction where handshakes are frowned upon. She mentioned only twice did she ever witness her parents kiss. Any signs of affection are un-Abnegation. However!! within a week (?? how long did the initiation test last?) she’s a-okay with making out with Four, sleeping in his bed, etc.
I became somewhat interested about 50 pages from the end. When Stuff Finally Happened. All hell breaks loose and leads quite nicely into the next book, Insurgent. Spoilers abound, so I’ll keep quiet for now, but let it be known there was death! & mind control! …and bad decisions! Also, Tris is small. Just in case you forgot.
Despite not being a fan (and I was really hoping I’d love this book!!), I will admit that I love the cover. Insurgent also has a great cover – and the UK versions are great too! I’m so surprised; lately it seems that YA covers have been a huge letdown for me. Either they’re uninspiring or they’re just plain sloppy. This series, however, has great covers!