“Divergent” by Veronica Roth book review

divergent

Mild spoiler alert

I read this for a book club, but I probably would have read it myself anyway. It goes along with the recent theme of dystopian young adult books I’ve beed reading. It’s long—487 pages—but I read it in a little over a week (I took a break in the middle of it to read The Hunger Games). I also watched the movie when I was about 75% of the way through the book.

Some things I liked about it:

The concept of a world where everyone is divided by their most dominant personality trait was interesting. It’s similar to other books where people are divided in some way. That seems to be the most popular way to create a dysfunctional dystopian world.

The writing style was clear and didn’t waste world, although the book maybe could have been trimmed down to 400 pages or less. There were a lot of excess parts that made some things had to keep track of. But: I could picture everything the book described perfectly. If you can see and hear and feel what’s described in a book, you know that’s a point in favor of it.

There’s no doubt the plot was captivating. Every single young adult fantasy/dystopian novel gets compared to either Harry Potter or The Hunger Games (sometimes both). That’s not exactly fair; just because a dystopian book has similarities to The Hunger Games—a group of young people try to overthrow an oppressive government—doesn’t mean that the book was a rip-off of The Hunger Games. The dystopian genre inherently involves an oppressive government, and if the book is written for teenagers, it’s going to be about teenagers.

Some things I didn’t like:

The characters—Four especially.

I don’t get it. Why do people like him? He’s nothing like a real person. He’s flat. He’s predictable. Sure, he’s “brave”, but does the make up for his complete lack of personality? No. He’s mysterious, quiet, brave, kind, blah blah blah, according to Tris. But you never see anything but the archetype that he is.

That said, some of the other characters were better than Four. For example: Al, Christina, Will, even Peter. (Note: I noticed that all these characters have names that would like names out of the 19th century.  I wonder if there’s any reason for that, or if the author decided to name them like that on a whim.) The saddest part of the book was when Tris had to shoot Will. Sadder than when either of her parents died, or when Al died.

I hated Eric! Not necessarily because of how he was written, but because of his personality. He is the epitome of characters I don’t like. I guess that’s a compliment to the author. She made me strongly hate a character.

Some things in the middle:

Tris was better than Four, for sure, but there were some things I didn’t like about her. She had something that resembled a character arc, but not enough to make her seem like a full rounded character. She and Four are both archetypes to some extent, although Four is more so than Tris is. She’s inexperienced but smart, small but strong, etc. But she does have some interesting insights into the plot and the main issues of the book.

“I have a theory that selflessness and bravery aren’t all that different.”

I took a quiz to determine what faction I’d be in. My result was the same percentage of three different factions: Dauntless, Amity, and Candor. I guess that means I’m Divergent!

~Papyrus

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