In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue--Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is--she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself. During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are--and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, Tris also learns that her secret might help her save the ones she loves . . . or it might destroy her.
Long-ass summary for this YA book (which I again read on a pdf FYI because there are no bookstores in my area anymore and there were like, freaking 300 holds for it at the library!).
So, Divergent... at last we meet. Here is the novel that has garnered rave reviews and is going to be a major motion picture in March with some pretty kickass stars (Kate Winslet?! Maggie Q?!). I had to read the book. And no, I did not skim it the way I did with City of Bones; I actually sat myself down and read it. And I finished it in a day. This book is riveting. I'll get to the flaws in a moment, no worries, but I actually really love the writing style! The present tense fuels the novel and kind of spurs the reader on, and there's a fascinating and unique dystopian concept. I found Tris to be a relatable protagonist, which tends to be an important element for me. Divergent was definitely a page-turner. As for the message in this novel (there's one in every dystopian novel, dur), it doesn't exactly tell us anything new, but it certainly brings to attention that, well, the world simply isn't black and white. Humans can't be painted one way or another. We do not work that way, and, as Four said, we should strive to be all five of the virtues–honest, selfless, brave, kind, and intelligent.
Here's where we get a bit murky. I said that I relate to the protagonist, Beatrice "Tris" Prior, and after I finished the novel, I went to check out other Goodreads users' reviews. Some said that she was hypocritical, childish, and mean. Well... :(! Of course, there were times when I disagreed with her actions and thoughts, but in her mean moments? I'm sorry to say that when she beat some undeserving bint into the ground or had some cruel thoughts, I was egging her on and going Yes yes yes!!! in my head. I know. I'm mature. And I definitely wouldn't belong in Amity. To those who didn't like the book partly because of Tris's character, however, I would have to say that protagonists aren't meant to be perfect. I mean, how many of us wanted to strangle Harry Potter in The Order of the Phoenix? How many of us can't stand a single character in Wuthering Heights? (Please tell me that's not just me...) That doesn't stop it from being a great book. See, if Tris hadn't had all these flaws, she'd be called a Mary-Sue. And here she is, simply human in all her hypocrisy and immaturity, and she's being beaten down anyway! There are definitely improvements that could be made to her character, but I don't think she's worth criticizing to such a harsh degree.
As for my own criticisms... well. Let me just say first that I like this book much better than City of Bones, and maybe even moreso than the first Hunger Games. I did think, though, that the primary concept of the series was a little underdeveloped. I hope that the origins are further explored in the second and third books, because it feels a bit like we've only scratched the surface of this whole set-up. The Dauntless, Erudite, Abnegation, Amity, and Candor all seem a bit stereotyped, especially with their "initiation tests". Of course, this novel takes place at a time when the five divisions have evolved into something worse–not quite what they were meant to be. Even so, I would have liked to know more about what they were supposed to be. As for the main antagonism in the first novel, it all felt a bit random. I'm trying to discuss without giving too much away, so it's tough for me to articulate, but the sudden unfurling of hatred and vitriol... that did not feel so well-developed either. And one more thing (yeah, sorry, not done yet)–the title issue. Divergence. I do not really understand what is so unique about that. I get why it's a threat, theoretically, but why is it so rare?! I really hope those questions are answered in the remainder of the trilogy. I also thought that the book sped up way too quickly by the end, and I was literally like, no way! This is happening now?! That wasn't as important of an issue as the development problems, though.
On a happier note, I really did enjoy reading Divergent and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the novel. It's been a while since I've enjoyed any YA novels (Maze Runner here I come!). I didn't know what to expect since I hadn't watched any trailers or even read the back summary for the book, and I might even recommend that for people approaching hyped-up books like this in the future.
Anyway, I can't wait for the film to come out! Now, I have to bug some of my friends to read the book so I don't have to watch it alone, heh. I'm fairly confident that the film will be good, because the actors are solid (as far as I can tell), and the director seems to be a good one. I'm just worried the romance aspect will be marketed too heavily... I mean a clip of that scene with Tris and Four talking about his tattoos was already released and argh! Oh well.
I'm going to go buy the other books now (I hate reading books on my phone). Happy reading!
P.S. HAPPY NEW YEAR!
P.S. HAPPY NEW YEAR!