Book Review: Divergent (Veronica Roth)

divergent_book_by_veronica_roth_us_hardcover_20111

This week, I wanted to share my thoughts about my most recent read: Divergent.

If you overlook the cringe of poorly developed teenage romance, a nonsensical premise, and one-dimensional characters, Divergent is one of the most enjoyable books you will ever read. The gripping training scenes, the shifts in setting and the pure development of a near-future Chicago is full-out insane, it’s impossible not to get invested by such an epic journey.

Granted, there are irritating elements in Roth’s writing style: the limited of character description to eyes and hair colour, repetitive emotional shifts (fear washes through me/sadness flushes in my eyes/emotion has an effect on my body) – and the fact that most of the characters have a very similar voice.

But I can’t help it.

Divergent is so intense that I don’t feel for one moment Roth is holding back. The exciting action scenes, the suspense and the world-building force me to proceed with the series. It’s probably the only time that the book, in my opinion, has better action and imagery than the movie (although at least the movie eliminates the majority of weak dialogue). I also love the fact that the novel is far darker during the initiation, many die along the way and the stakes are risen.

I can understand why people don’t like the novel especially considering the glaringly obvious inconsistencies about the premise – surely choosing anything other than the test result at the choosing ceremony would mean that the character is a divergent?

I’m probably in the minority that prefers Divergent to The Hunger Games, but in truth, I think Tris is far superior to Katniss. Tris left her faction, Tris went through vast character transformation physically and emotionally – from jumping off rooftops to climbing up a Ferris wheel. Although Tris’ conflicting emotions initially irritated me, they shape a more realistic character. I always thought that Katniss was indifferent to anything excluding herself and her family. She already had survival skills, she only cared about the rebel cause because of her loved ones rather than her witnessing injustice. Given the choice, I would argue that Katniss would choose to leave everything behind and enjoy a quiet life, while Tris would do whatever she could to help stop injustice.

Although admittedly, Tris is the only developed character in Divergent.

Four’s back story is the only interesting thing about him, Jeanine is much better in the movie, Caleb behaves like a small child and Eric – the only other interesting character – has a minor presence.

If you’re a fan of dystopian YA, I think you should definitely give this book a go, it’s a bit of a hit-or-miss. Divergent feels fantastically epic and explores the impact of teenage decisions, I felt as if I was entering the future and leaving reality behind. In my opinion, Divergent is one of the more successful novels of the genre and I look forward to pursuing the rest of the series.

My favourite extract:

“Peter would probably throw a party if I stopped breathing.’
‘Well,’ he says, ‘I would only go if there was cake.”

VERDICT: 4 STARS

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