Divergent sucks balls.

Based on a number of rave reviews I’ve been seeing across various platforms, I picked up Divergent by Veronica Roth. The book is yet another book of the YA/dystopian persuasion, and it’s been compared favorably to The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. That latter point clinched it for me; while the first book of Collins’ trilogy wasn’t perfect, it was pretty tight overall, so I really expected Divergent to at least be a solid read.

Boy, I should have set my expectations way lower. Right from the get-go, the world in which Divergent takes place just was not believable. The faction system just sounds stupid, and the world is not fleshed out enough to at least solidify the impression that this was really the setting of the book. In case you decide to read Divergent yourself, know that you will need to suspend your disbelief in ways you probably never have before.

How the people from the factions act, how they live their lives, their dynamic with the other factionImages–all these are some of the things you will need to take at the author’s word as they appear contrived. Heck, Roth can’t even use parallel construction to name the five factions. [And I’ve read a Cliff-Notes version of the second and third book in the series; what I’ve read as far as explaining this whole setup does not excuse such haphazard worlding.]

A few points I remember having:

  • Some people can develop advanced simulation serums, but no one can come up with a way to make that goddamn train stop
  • The training part really dragged
  • FFS, Tris just stop thinking
  • This faction is stupid. So is that faction. And that one. And that one. And that one.
  • How can anyone let this be a society
  • By the end, I just can’t see how anyone can say this book is better than The Hunger Games. Seriously. HOW. THE. FUCK

The main character, Tris, is alright, but I often found myself wanting to skip over whole paragraphs of her thoughts. I understand that she is a 16-year old girl with a lot happening around her, but damn. In the end, despite the many things she found herself concerned with, it was really hard to care at all for the character.

Even the romance bit seemed a bit forced. So Tris always notices Four’s arm muscles, but apart from that, there’s just nothing there to sell me that either one is starting to fall for the other. Motivations be damned!

To be fair, the book does pick up pace in the latter quarter; there’s a lot of action going on and sequences move in machine-gun fashion (or maybe that was just me skipping some paragraphs again; I really just wanted to get to the end). However, the developments and my curiosity for why all these things are happening weren’t enough to coax me into reading the next two books. Based on the abridged version, it wasn’t such a bad choice. The only downside is I won’t get to properly review Insurgent and Allegiant.

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20 thoughts on “Divergent sucks balls.

  1. You’re spot on!
    I just finished reading the book to my two young daughters. About halfway through I had to apologize to them for picking it up in the first place. The three of us decided to slosh through it for the sake of finishing what we started.
    Please, if you arrive at this post before you’ve started this series, do yourself a huge favor and slap yourself in the face real hard a few times. You’ll enjoy that more than the book.

    • Hi Joe, that is a great suggestion. Haha! Like you, I just felt like I still had to finish the book though I had thought about dropping it multiple times midway through.

  2. I could not agree more! I wanted so badly to like the book based on all the hype, but I was just flat bored with it. I wish I had trusted my instincts and put it down after the first chapter.

  3. Saw the movie 3-21-2014. It lacked character development. The acting was novice at best especially by the main character Tris.
    The story development despite the “futuristic look” was limited. It could have been made better with focus on another character played by a different actor.
    The editing was choppy and missed some key points with many gaps in the storyline for full understanding and connectedness.
    At the very basic level this movie sucked. Not worth wasting 2+ hours on.

    • The book it’s exactly the same… and actually the movie corrected plot holes that are abundant in the book.

      I still don’t get what Dauntless is protecting, if they are the only ones capable of fighting, everyone else is supposed to be a wimp… ???

  4. Let’s call the Divergent trilogy what it really is: all the problems of the world as seen through the eyes of an adolescent girl. We start with the faction system, 5 factions that represent roughly defined groups in our society: Dauntless, military; Abnegation, Christian; Erudite, intelligentsia; Amity, earthy/crunchy pacifists; and Candor best I can figure is legalists as envisioned by someone who lacks personal knowledge of, and failed to adequately research the legal system. The first book appears to be an allegory as to how these general groups think differently, their different approaches to problems and the friction between them as they compete for power and to a lesser degree, in the arena of ideas. These issues are alluded to, but no conclusions about nor solutions to their differenced are offered. In book 2, we cast aside the issues between sectors of society, an introduce a new allegory for the old Hindu caste system and the plight/inevitable rise of the untouchables. After all, everybody loves a real underdog, but where did this (again ultimately unresolved) issue come from given the (also unresolved) thematic content of the first book? Nevermind, because in the 3d book we’re just going to forsake the themes in the first 2 books to raise another brand new issue, racism. Roth certainly offers nothing new regarding the sources of nor the general discussion of any of these endemic societal ills. Given the lack of resolution the ultimate takeaway from the books are, “humans do these things to one another even though it’s mean and bad.” Whew! Thank heaven Veronica Roth came along to point that out to all of us. I know I’ll sleep better now. Just as the audience embraces the lack of thematic substance in these books, their psyche wanders to the plethora of frustrating loose ends in the story; why was Peter introduced early in book 1, kept around through the entire story just to have his memory rather uneventfully wiped at the end of the 3d book?; Only a teenage girl with zero life experience would have 2 people actively engaged in the prosecution of a war, raging at one another because they were not totally honest (read that “prone to full complete disclosure”) with one another. When you’re at war there is information that the mere knowledge of can put people at grave risk. A person doesn’t share such information to protect those they care about. I’ve never been in the military, and even I know that. As in many stories written by children, there is the naïve presumption that if everyone knows the truth, all will be well. However, as with many stories written by children the evil grown ups are seen to keep secrets strictly to preserve their power and by extension control everyone. In the real world, information in the wrong hands can be misused and dangerous. Further, those who govern are very rarely given a simple choice between what is good for people and what is bad. A career in governance is more often than not using your best judgment in a series of choices between evils. It is 2 dimensional how the teenagers see the obvious choices for the good, and the adults just don’t, or won’t because after all adults possess an irrational desire to preserve their power at all cost. Another ludicrous loose end was, we were never actually told why Caleb betrayed his sister. Maybe “it’s complicated,” is adequate reason for the average middle schooler, but not this one. However, by far the most idiotic plot device was the so called “death serum.” We have lots of “death serums” in our world today. We call them poisons. You don’t “think” your body out of the ill effects of poison. The sequence leading up to Tris’ death was just plain stupid. C’mon kids, while these books were fun literary junk food, the craft that went into writing them was pretty awful. There has to be license in Sci fi for the unbelievable, but these books just weren’t adequately screened for content and continuity. Roth’s job is to present a finished product. These books have too many unresolved issues in both the story and the themes. As a group let’s demand better. Roth didn’t do her job as author. C- at best.

    • Funny enough, this is what written about the author at the end of the book.

      “VERONICA ROTH graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in
      creative writing. While she was a student, she often chose to work on the story that
      would become DIV E RGE NT instead of doing her homework. It was indeed a transforming choice. Now a full-time writer, Ms. Roth lives near Chicago. DIV E RGE NT is her first novel.”

      It shows she wasn’t doing her homework!

    • I wouldn’t describe Agnation as “Christian”. They’re more supposed to be seen as philanthropists, who can be from any religion.

    • Thank heavens there’s Wikipedia! Again, though, there should be mystery and whatnot leading to the next book of a series, but it shouldn’t be confounding the readers. Subsequent books can shed light on an earlier book, but they shouldn’t be the complete answer. The world should at least be formed well enough that you don’t need to read the second and third books to justify the worldbuilding in the first. TL;DR version… the ‘world’ in the first book just isn’t convincing!

  5. I just googled “does anyone else think Divergent sucks balls” and found this. Thank god I’m not alone in thinking I’d rather drink paint thinner than read any further than the paintball scene. Paintball-are u f-ing kidding me? This is just a sad send-up of the hunger games but it did make me appreciate that series in comparison.

  6. My thoughts EXACTLY! I found my self skipping so much just to get to the point. I couldn’t stand how indecisive Tris is about EVERYTHING. And its like she joins Dauntless and just becomes some super bad ass, you know, her childhood up bringing be damned. I fucking hated this book. I read the first Twilight book, and still hate Divergent more!

  7. Um, I feel like I’m the only person who realizes how sucky the writing actually is. The sentences are too choppy, there is no substance to the story, and there are many grammatical errors. To be perfectly honest, it was pretty damn painful to read this book all the way through.

  8. The structure itself is so stupid, one thing you are focusing on the initation (too long in my opinion) and next you started the war already m8 are you dumb or something!!!!!!!

  9. OMG, thank you. I had to read this book for school and had to take a nap afterwards because it made my brain hurt. I don’t like Tris at all–being “divergent”, she really gives off that “special snowflake” vibe, which is annoying, and the book is SO predictable, cheesy and horribly written. I wouldn’t fit into any of the factions anyway. Besides, the author doesn’t describe what it was that created this “dystopia”. Was there some giant nuclear war? No, instead we get this girl who speaks/acts/thinks like a 12 year old Mormon girl instead of a 16 year old.

  10. I also picked up the book because so many people were so happy with it, speaking about how amazing the book was. I absolutely hated the book. The plot made absolute no sense and Tris is one of the most vapid and annoying main characters ever. There’s no real substance or any sort of empathy for even those she decidedly cares about.
    And not to mention she shoots Will in the head. Why? Cause it’s fun.
    Because when your friend is being mind controlled, instead of DISABLING him because after your training you are an EXCELLENT shoot, it seems to make much more sense to just shoot your best friend’s potential boyfriend in the head.
    And while this is happening, there is no apparent panic in her narrative voice, the moment is thoroughly and perfectly described. It sounded like she was describing a picnic outing instead of killing someone. Some people might argue that he would have kept coming after her, and no body, mind controlled or not, would be able to actively pursue a healthy, trained soldier through the streets after being shot in the hand, or the leg, since she supposedly could aim.
    And after murdering one of her best friends,she spends a sappy scene with her older, even more messed up boyfriend, staring at each other with starry eyes to wait for him to wake up and snap out of his mind control.
    Why? Because they love each other, despite the fact that all she can like about him is his arm muscles and he seems to enjoy yelling at her more then actually being with her.
    And since I feel that I needed to finish what I started, I had to get through the next two hideously written book, even more vapid and whiny then the first. The whole entire second book is about Tris’ hormonal angst. But it’s not even guilt about shooting Will, oh no. It’s more worrying over what everyone else thinks about her. “Oh my gosh! Christina must hate me for shooting my best friend and her boyfriend, life is totally over! Tobias is going to break up with me and I will never find another wonderful man like him.”Never mind that she shot and killed her friend, which I would assume would bring a lot of stress to a person’s psyche, it matters more to her how badly Christina (who should do us all a favor and just shoot Tris dead before it finally happens in the third book) would think of her. Or god forbid, that the oh-so-dreamy Tobias would abandon her (not that he haven’t been treating her like a sack of potatoes this whole entire time).
    And while Tris mourns over her complete lack of any human intelligence, their extremely limited world is failing.
    Cause somehow, though the factions can control your mind through tiny chips, and use serums to monitor and watch hallucinations and brainwaves, they CANNOT repair trains, or fix their stupid government, or actually get better transportation, or do anything remotely useful, at all.
    Then there’s again the recuring problem of Tris being a complete and utter failure despite being “abgnation”. She can’t find it in herself to feel remorse, doesn’t seem to mind the any of the tremendously horrible things she has done. She cannot stop lying, and believes that revealing her lies makes her somehow noble.
    Oh wait, but she’s “divergent” so acting like a complete idiot is fine, because she is flawed.
    The plot also unravels to make absolute no sense by the third book. She doesn’t give a damn about, well anything, and Tobias has been the “light of her life”, but after the whole “I’m not sorry for what I did” mentality for three books she decides its high time to you know, just, save the dead beat brother she can’t even bear to do feel any affection for. Tobias also decide to make a string of bad decisions that results in Uriah basically kicking the bucket, which I guess is suppose to be profound, what with his brother’s anguish, but let’s be reminded how the main characters got into that mess in the first place: because Tobias throws a hissy fit for not being special.
    Not to mention suddenly, a absolutely worthless and completely pointless love triangle shows up, because Tris isn’t enough to insecure and dumb and vapid enough of a teenage girl as she has been up until recently. To add even more useless drama and more girl drama, Tris is jealous of because Four need the need to feel understanded by bomb toting psycho terrorist isn’t bad.
    Best trilogy ever! Everyone should read this.
    Then again the society makes no sense again. Somehow the human society can mess with genetics, and make a death serum, but Tris’ society can’t even feed the hunger, or make health care.
    And the merciless society that forces humans to conform to EVERYTHING and cast out those who are factionless is suppose to reform the nonredeemable lack of humanity in the population.
    Yeah, OK.
    Who in the world decided this book is a great series? I feel that someone really just hate brain cells and want them to all die.

    • Yeah, it really does boil down to how willing the reader is in suspending his/her disbelief. This is not a very believable world. Let’s compare to Hunger Games, which, while still being a bit of a reach, is still believable in my opinion because of the narrative and the way things are set up: the world ties into the whole premise of the Hunger Games, or vice versa.

      In Divergent, the factions don’t add up in the first place, and then you’ve got facets of society that struggles all the more to make the pieces fit. Then you have to get to the third book just to find your answers.

      The world in the first book needs to be believable first, I think, then you get your big reveal in book three.

      And yes, Tris is as irritating as any first-person PoV I’ve read in a long time.

  11. I could not get “into” the book. I kept trying to find something to like about the lead character but couldn’t, so I stopped reading the book.

    I disliked the stupidity of the tests and the callousness towards other people.

    This was a poor attempt to try to capitalize off of the Hunger Games energy. Failed.

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