Divergent by Veronica Roth
|Divergent by Veronica Roth|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Enjoyable, if predictable, dystopian novel with a kick-ass heroine and plenty of fighting. Recommended to fans of the genre.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 496||Date: May 2011|
|Publisher: Harper Collins|
|External links: Author's website|
Beatrice - or Tris as she becomes - belongs to one of five factions in a segregated future world. Beatrice is Abnegation (selflessness) but has always struggled with the self-effacing lifestyle embraced by her faction. But she's not sure if she's any better-suited to one of the others: Candor (honesty), Amity (kindness), Erudite (intellect) or Dauntless (courage). So Tris approaches the faction aptitude test taken by all sixteen-year-olds in her society with a large dollop of trepidation.
And the trepidation is justified. Tris is told she is Divergent, that she doesn't fit perfectly into any faction, that this puts her in danger, and that she must never tell anyone her results. Eventually, Tris chooses to become Dauntless, which means betraying her family and estrangement from them. But this is only the first trial Tris must overcome, as she is plunged into Dauntless training, finds a boy who seems to both threaten and protect her, and comes into conflict with the powerful and their machinations.
Divergent has a smooth, flowing, easy-to-read style and so reading it is an absolute pleasure. It's also pacy and energetic with smart and snappy dialogue, so it's also a real page-turner. I also enjoyed the premise. Is it really possible to segregate a society based on each person's most dominant personality trait? Are people sufficiently sheep-like to live this way permanently? Some, even many, people are, according to Roth, but there will always be mavericks - divergents. And so the background to Tris's story is all about the fractures and tensions created by individuality.
Having said that, don't expect too much from this book. Any fan of dystopian fiction will be able to predict the entire plot after reading a chapter or two and there aren't any surprises. There are some irritating inconsistencies - Tris puts her Divergent identity at risk by doing X in one chapter but a few pages later, she wins a Dauntless trial by doing X in exactly the same way. And the worldbuilding is sketchy at best. I'm no geek, but I would have liked a better sense of how and why Tris's society had organised itself as it had and what in its past had prompted it.
How much you enjoy Divergent will depend very much on what kind of reader you are. If you're into dystopian fiction, love kick-ass heroines and lots of action, and like your books to give you just what it says on the tin, Divergent will prove just the ticket. But if you're looking for something new or something with thematic depth and profound things to say about the human condition, or if plot holes irritate the life out of you, then you should probably pass on by.
Here at Bookbag Towers, we really enjoyed this book. Yes, it's predictable, but we love dystopia and strong central female characters who can be both lover and fighter. We'll be reading the entire series, that's for sure.
It's not difficult to provide suggestions for further reading: dystopian novels are saturating the market at the moment. We don't mind that, because we love them. Why not try Birthmarked by Caragh M O'Brien, Blood Red Road by Moira Young or Inside Out by Maria V Snyder?
A box set of books one to four in the Divergent series is available.
You can read more book reviews or buy Divergent by Veronica Roth at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Divergent by Veronica Roth at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.