Divergent by Veronica Roth: Review

Divergent by Veronica RothTitle: Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: April 2011
Length: 487
Series: Divergent
Reason for Discovery: The Internet and John Green recommended it on YouTube

From GoodReads:

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.

Please see above blurb for an excellent book summary!

This is probably going to sound strange, but I did not know anything about this book before I sat down to read it. Seriously. I knew it was a dystopian trilogy, and there was some guy named Four but that was it. When I heard people talking about how Tris was also going to be the movie adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars, I thought Tris was the guy. (Tris is a girl and the protagonist of the book, if you are as clueless as I was.) Although I did not know anything about this book, I had super high expectations about it. Everyone seemed to love it. After Allegiant came out and people were disappointed (I have not read Allegiant yet, so NO spoilers!), the people still said that they loved Divergent. I figured that if people can love the first book in a trilogy even if they don't like the final book, it has to be pretty good. I jumped head first into this book, and I discovered that...I did not love it.

Let's talk about what I did like in this book. I thought that Tris was a great character. I wanted to yell at her most of the time, but that is because she was written really well and acted like a teenager. Although I didn't like some of Tris' decisions, they seemed true to her character and to someone her age. I thought that the other characters were also very interesting and had hints of depth to them. Because this was the first book in a series, I was okay with really getting to know Tris and learning more about the other characters in the next book. With that said, I found Four to be a tad bit perfect, but he had a good back story and he had some layers. I am curious to read the novellas that are from Four's POV.

I also liked a lot of the action sequences. Tris and her friends spend a lot of time running, fighting, and avoiding fighting. These scenes were all quite exhilarating. I could picture what was happening and didn't seem lost. Sometimes when I read action sequences in books they do not seem to flow right, the scenes in this book felt seamless. The other scenes including the programs (hallucinations) that the characters experienced fairly regularly. Even when I was not loving the book, I got sucked into the idea of these programs and what the characters had to do in them.

As you can see there were a lot of fun things in this book. There were, however, two big concerns that I had. First, and this was not the book's fault, I listened to the audio book, and I was not in love with the reader. The reader was very clear and she had a great voice. I found myself believing that she was Tris (she sounded like a 16-year old). My problem with the reader was that she was a bit bland with the emotion. She was describing exciting scenes, but she herself did not sound excited. I started to like the reader a bit better as the story progressed, but she always felt a bit dull to me. Please keep in mind that I am very picky with my audio book readers, so listen to a sample before you decide to go with the audio book or not. 

The second critique that I had regarding this book was the world building. I just couldn't get behind a society, especially one born out of the United States, that would create a city and divide it into five value driven factions. If the people expressed all five of these traits but liked one in particular, I would have been okay with it. But I could not believe that you could have a city of people that only did one trait really, really well and could not do anything else. I did not get why everyone was not divergent. I really needed some more world building that explained how this society came to be. I know Roth starts to touch on this at the end of Insurgent (I have not read Allegiant yet), but I really needed more at the beginning of the trilogy, even if it was false information that Tris had been taught in school. This lack of information just kept pulling me out of the story.

Overall, this was a fun book. I think I would have liked it more if the world building had been a bit stronger and if I did not have such high expectations for this book.

I give this book 3 out of 5. 
3 out of 5 cats


Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms said...
December 11, 2013 at 6:20 AM

Audiobooks can be pretty tricky, eh? I have some I truly loved, and others that were just meh - and I actually only get audiobooks of books that I've thoroughly enjoyed reading myself...

It's too bad you didn't enjoy Divergent more than you did, but hopefully, Insurgent will work better for you. I agree with the world-building, even if it didn't take anything away from my personal enjoyment.

Have a wonderful Wednesday, Pamela :)

Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

Chanzie said...
December 11, 2013 at 9:08 AM

I found your review very interesting! I am going to try out my first Audio book starting this evening. Sorry this book didn't really work for you. the best solution is to move on to a fantastic one now!

Chanzie @ Mean Who You Are.

Aleksandra said...
December 11, 2013 at 6:14 PM

I actually didn't know anything about this book before I read it, too, but I ended up loving it. But (and this is a big but), I really did not like Insurgent, so I'm guessing I will probably hate Allegiant, especially because lots of people that actually loved Insurgent, too, didn't like Allegiant, so I can only guess how I'll feel and I don't know when I'll make myself read it, but I'll probably do it at some point, because it's the last book! Great review!

By the way, the narrators are the main reason why I avoid audio books, they can be great, but sometimes they're not, so I've listened to only a few audio books so far, but those I loved, because the narrators were great.

Tara @ The Librarian Who Doesn't Say Shhh! said...
December 11, 2013 at 8:36 PM

I loved Divergent when I first read it, but strictly as a fun thrill-ride. You are right that the factions thing seems a bit contrived and unrealistic. The eventual explanation for this did satisfy me, but it comes too late in the game! Insurgent was a dull let-down of a book for me, but I did feel like things picked up in Allegiant -- so I do recommend pushing through that middle book to see how it all ends.

As for the comment about the quality of the audio -- AMEN! I've read so many audiobooks where the narrators just sound too old. Too...ladylike? Articulate? But there have been a few where the narration is spot on, so it IS possible. I wish audiobook producers would pay more attention to that.

Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer said...
December 11, 2013 at 9:57 PM

Hang tight the explanation do come! Wonderful review. I loved this, and book two..I bought Allegiant on release day and have set New Year's Day as the day I will read it.. I will say, I am listening to a book on audio that I read last year and the audio makes it feel completely different.

Unknown said...
December 11, 2013 at 10:52 PM

The readers can really make the book. I am in love with the Sookie Stackhouse and Temeraire series because of the readers. On the other hand, I had to stop listening to other audio books and read the books. Oh well.

Unknown said...
December 11, 2013 at 10:53 PM

I am just too picky with my audio books. There is one reader I love, but I associate him so much with one book series that it is hard for me to listen to him read any other series! I am too complicated for my own good. :)

Unknown said...
December 11, 2013 at 10:54 PM

I should have stopped listening to the audio book, but I really wanted to listen to an audio book and I really wanted to read Divergent. Clearly, this was not the best plan. Oh well. :)

Unknown said...
December 11, 2013 at 10:56 PM

I hear you about audio quality. Why is the quality fuzzy sometimes? I have been known to listen to multiple samples of a book from different sites like both Overdrive and Audible just to confirm how good the reader is. I have requested refunds from Audible in the past, because I couldn't stand the narrator. BTW, Audible has always been wonderful about this.

Unknown said...
December 11, 2013 at 10:59 PM

I love that you have a plan for New Year's and Allegiant. I need to make a date with a book. I have been known to get books on publication day just to have them sit on my shelf for a while. I just get so excited about the book that I don't want the anticipation to end. :)

Chanzie said...
December 12, 2013 at 3:03 AM

ha ha I know exactly what you mean about being too complicated for your own good! I am the same :)

Tabitha (Pabkins) said...
December 12, 2013 at 11:36 AM

See reading your review told me more about the series than I've known thus far because I think I remember quickly skimming the description once when it came out and decided to get it but wasn't compelled to read it. And with the hype I've just stayed away. And now...well its lost its sparkle to me and I haven't really a huge inclination to read it ANY time soon. I think I would be like you and not like the faction thing.

Unknown said...
December 12, 2013 at 1:35 PM

It's really hard to dive into a book like this when it's already been hyped up so much! I'm glad you enjoyed it but totally understand your reservations too. I agree with you -- I liked Tris, but at times I just wanted to shake her!!! Then again, she IS a teenager :)

Unknown said...
December 13, 2013 at 2:12 AM

It was nice to have a teenager acting like a typical teenager. I always find it a bit disturbing when teenagers in books act super mature and worldly. At the same time, there were definitely times that I just wanted to say, "Really Tris? This is really your plan?" :)

Unknown said...
December 13, 2013 at 2:17 AM

I am definitely a lemming when it comes to reading. Usually it works out. I enjoyed the Harry Potter books and The Darkest Minds. At the same time, I remember when citrus colors like lime green were popular in high school. I knew better than to wear a lime green shirt even if it was all the range, because it wouldn't work with my pale skin. Next time, I should at least read a book summary before jumping into a book.

Nara said...
December 14, 2013 at 12:17 AM

I find it a bit weird when people are like "Tris and Four have the greatest romance ever" because to be honest, while reading, I didn't really see it. Not that it's particularly instalovey or anything, but I don't know, it didn't seem like they really had that epic a relationship. Maybe that's just me though haha. But I'm quite interested in reading these four novellas too! Maybe that will help me ship them harder. Dunno.

However, the action definitely was great! Unfortunately though, there's not too much action in Allegiant (frankly, it was a bit boring lol).

Unknown said...
December 15, 2013 at 10:58 PM

I am right there with you about Tris and Four. I am not very impressed with their relationship either. There is a moment in Insurgent where Tris is drunk on peace juice and tells Four that she doesn't know why he likes her. I remember thinking I don't know why Four likes you either!

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