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 factions–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.