Newest Review: ... love with the hunger games trilogy and the same happened as soon as I picked up divergent, so I guess he knows me very well. I love the ev... more
An intelligent and imaginative book to rival the Hunger Games
Divergent - Veronica Roth
Member Name: carlz2001uk
Divergent - Veronica Roth
Advantages: Excellent story, likeable main character, gripping, original
Disadvantages: End of chapters don't offer a cliff hanger
Regular readers of my reviews will be aware that after reading the Hunger Games trilogy in a fairly short space of time, I hit a book slump and sulked for a few months. Finding a book or even a trilogy which you adore is heavenly, it's after that is the problem, where nothing comes close and the average turns into mundane. Reading turns into a chore. I was desperately seeking something to take over the Hunger Games and had been scouring the net looking for a recommendation of some kind that could take me back to that elation that I felt every time I picked up one of the 3 Hunger Games books. I happened upon a book by Veronica Roth called Divergent that was recommended to me by Amazon on the basis of enjoying the Hunger Games. I read a few quick reviews on Amazon and immediately downloaded the book. Minutes later I was reading it, minutes after that I was hooked....
Set in a dystopian Chicago, we are introduced to Beatrice Prior. Part of the Abnegation faction, she is fast approaching the time when as a 16 year old, she will chose the faction that she will belong to for the rest of her life. In making such a decision, she could potentially have to leave her family behind for ever. Society is much different to what we know, and within the city are 5 factions, each with very different ways of living. People from different factions do not mix under any circumstances and so Beatrice faces a life changing decision along with her brother who must also make a decision at the choosing ceremony. The 5 factions include Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), Erudite (the intelligent) and Abnegation (the selfless). Along with the 5 factions, we are also introduced to the Factionless. Those who have chosen to live alone, in poverty and without contact from those they love in favour of not having to choose a faction. In the world they live in, the traits that the members of each factions, do not cross over, so the selfless would without hesitation put their own life at risk to save someone else, while the peaceful would lie if it meant keeping the peace, etc, so Beatrice cannot understand why she feels different, and selflessness fails to come naturally to her. Yes she was born into Abnegation, but now she must choose whether to leave them behind, but even if she chose not to be Abnegation anymore, is she any of the others? The Aptitude test which is meant to help with their decision before the choosing ceremony only makes things even more complex for Beatrice as she discovers she is Divergent. She is individual and possesses no one particular trait. This is dangerous and Beatrice must make her decision while keeping her Divergence a secret. People will kill her if they find out.....
A good section of the book is spent explaining the choices that Beatrice must make and the processes which will allow her to reach her decision. Once she has chosen her faction, the initiation process in which the teens must pass to become a full member of the faction and an adult is basically the rest of the book. This is when the dangers are explained in Beatrice being Divergent, but also the dangers to her from her fellow initiates. Other characters are introduced with a definite split between enemy and friend.
The book is completely original. Like Hunger Games, but completely different. If I am honest, I actually preferred this book to Hunger Games and I adored that! The way that Roth explains the factions and the characters within the story is exceptional and she has the ability to grip you from start to finish. The book is complex and difficult to follow in some ways as you have to try and remember the traits of each faction, but Roth helps you along the way and subtly reminds you without explaining things all over again. The suspense throughout the book is at a good level, although I found the lack of cliff hangers at the end of chapters a little strange. There is however, a general build-up of suspense with the general story and this is what kept me reading on late into the night.
Apart from Hunger Games, my usual genre of book is detective / murders books, so to read these books which almost have an edge of fantasy have been a breath of fresh air for me. The fact that they are aimed at young adults did not put me off, and I would say they are open for anyone to read them. I didn't feel the book was dumbed down in any way, nor did it lack the right amount of violence (needed for the story) and description that I would have expected. There was one scene in particular that was the first real violent scene and it hit me like a bolt from the blue, I just wasn't expecting it. It doesn't linger over dramatic scenes or drag them on too long, and this for me carried the suspense for the reader.
The characters in this book are exceptional. Beatrice or 'Tris' as she later becomes known is likeable, you can relate to her emotions and family ties and she shows moments of vulnerability amongst moments of strength which only heightens her likeability. She isn't portrayed in a way that she is unbreakable, and this made me guess her outcome to the very ending of the book. The love interest in the book is subtle, but most definitely there as Tris battles with her feelings for Four, someone she most definitely should not have feelings for. This isn't the centre of the story though and it settles nicely and balances well within the main story. At first when I read the name Four, I was thinking, 'what's Four?', but towards the end of the book it becomes clear why he has the unusual name and the story that unfolds around his name is gripping. I found it difficult to picture some of the characters as not a lot of description seemed to go into them (maybe I was reading it so fast, I missed it!), but I quite liked this as you were able to visualise them in your own way. This will make the film adaptation fun to see how your own visualisations compare to the film.
The sequel to Divergent (Insurgent) was released in May of this year so it will be something that I can look forward to reading. I'm going to make myself wait a month or so, as I don't want to be left with the gaping hole again after I finished the Hunger Games trilogy. There is also a third in the pipeline due to be released in Autumn 2013. For fans of the book, it is interesting to know that the rights have been sold to Summit Entertainment (studio producer of Twilight) and a screenplay has been written. The release date of the film has already been given of March 2014, at which point all the books will have been released so fans will have something to look forward to in the film.
Amazingly I didn't realise until after I had read the book, that Veronica Roth is only 24, and wrote this book while studying in university! This young author will no doubt go far in life and has an obvious talent for writing.
Summary: 5 stars