Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Divergent Book Review

Rawr Reader,

   So I've heard many many good things about this series, and it made me anxious to read them. However, I was afraid that I'd just keep reading them and then end up restlessly waiting for the next book to come out and I hate waiting... Hehe, anyhoo, this is the synopsis on Divergent by Veronica Roth, provided by 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, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

   I was recommended this book by a friend I'd say around a year ago and I never picked it up until a couple months ago when I thought to myself, "stop avoiding it Nicole." I think John Green from the youtube channel Vlogbrothers also highly recommended it and I figured it must be worth a read.

(safe for those who haven't read this book yet)
   Alright let me start off by saying this book was very different than from what I expected. The synopsis provided in the back cover is vague so it gives readers a wide scope of imagining what the story was going to be like. Like I thought she was going to be part of an underground resistance group throughout the story and that isn't the case.
   I have to say, this story and it's plot in my opinion is very weak. I mean that the main character. isn't someone I'm fond of. Well, that's only partially true. I really admire her bravery to the unknown and possibly potential death scenarios. She has a will that will never give up which is admirable in anyone, real or fictitious. However, the rest of her I don't like. She was constantly shifting her "true" allegiance to her prior faction and now and I just wanted to smack her upside the head for being so floppy.
   Also there were many instances I found the scenes horribly described and I read paragraphs multiple times and I still didn't understand what was going on. And this story isn't complex, I'd say this book should be aimed for middle schoolers than young adult. Other than the constant presence of fighting, abuse, and blood, oh and the mention of sex a couple times in the last half, this book's difficulty in reading would be recommended for ages 10+. That sounds really harsh, but I was genuinely not blown away by Roth's writing style or story structure. Her sentences were too short and while that pushes the story along, it gives nothing to me about characters in the book. I mean, give me some complexity woman! Most of the time I was tired of these pointless and stupid rhetorical questions that Tris was asking of herself about her new faction or of Four, and I wanted more depth to her life. Every scene was so A to B, it was predictable and disappointing.   
   Also, the fact that Roth includes religion and mentions God throughout the story seems the most irrelevant subject in the story. I mean, she mentions the parents faith in it but the religion does nothing to the story. It was just something to make the story longer. Also, I got no sense of the world. Was it in North America or another alternate world? In the beginning she mentions Sears Tower, but other than she doesn't give any other geographical ground. She mentions that this is a utopia and I got that, but I don't find it nearly as interesting as I did of other dystopias I've read in the past.
   Another problem I had with this book was I felt that Roth added stuff to this book just to make it into a trilogy/series. For example, most of the first half if not the first three-quarters of the book, it's just Tris trying to adapt to a new world so unlike her old one, and then BAM-- a war is mentioned. I mean c'mon! A war against another country? No? Within the country itself? I mean, Roth doesn't even give the reader a hint at how large the country if not the world is, or how many people live there. Ugh! So busy concentrating on having Tris be ambivalent with herself about everything in her life, can't commit to a strong plot structure.
   As you can see I've basically slammed this book, but this is just my opinion. Then again there are many people who enjoyed this book. And maybe I would have too if I hadn't been taking my fiction technique class... Anyway, a story that had potential but tanked, not as promising as I would have hoped. This sounds really harsh, but maybe it's because this book was overrated and I had really high expectations for it.
I give this book 2.5/5 stars. Actually that is being generous, but I don't think it should be as low as 2 stars. I wouldn't recommend this book. And I don't know if I'll finish the series but... I probably will since I hate leaving books/series unfinished. Yeah, I'm not going to finish this series.

“Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.”
— Joyce Carol Oates

I am simply a ‘book drunkard.’ Books have the same irresistible temptation for me that liquor has for its devotee. I cannot withstand them.” 
— L.M. Montgomery

If You'd Like to Check Out My Goodreads:

Next To Read:
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

River Song's Spoilers:
(unsafe for those who haven't read this book yet, so don't read this section)
   I'm beginning to discover something about myself-- I tend to not like the protagonist in novels. As for Tris, she is no exception. I found her aggravating, always feeling more loyal to Dauntless then oh no it's to Abegnation! I felt it was too drama drama drama. I do like that she still feels a bond to her family even though it wasn't the closest and it's against the country's law, but Roth doesn't give more to that. I felt Roth left a bunch of history out that might have given more clarity into what kind of character Tris is, and left out way more about the country itself for the reader to understand the consequences and seriousness of all the schemes and plots in the government.
    As for the characters themselves, the only one I felt was genuine was Will-- and he wasn't even a major role in the book. Tris, I think you know my feelings for her... Four aka Tobias-- (what kind of name?...)--I wanted to like, but his "feelings" for Tris were just too dry and shallow for my liking. At first he's all I have to be harsh so the others don't think I'm favoring you and then I love you then I'm Divergent like you but I can be taken over so easily then at the end, "I heard your voice and it brought me back to reality!" Oh jeez, really? Can't give me another jump back and forth between "I love you but I can't." When Al died, was probably the saddest moment in the book. Not that when the mom and dad died I wasn't sad, I learned more about Al and was closer with his character over the others. He was so depressed and hard on himself, the fact that he killed himself just made it even worse. Like when Tris and the others found him crying in the dorm by himself the next day, I almost teared. Even though he had one low moment, the fact that he took his life so easily is a relatable tragedy to our world. I'm sure Roth meant for the symbols in this book to correlate with current culture issues, but I didn't like how she delivered. There was a moment of weakness in Christina when they win the flag game and she becomes selfish, and I thought from then on she was going to become Tris' enemy and when that didn't develop, I thought it was unnecessary. What did that do for their relationship in the end? 
    The little hint of serum given by the mother to Tris was left alone for too long. Did anyone else feel irritated by it? I think it was 100-200 pages in between Visiting Day and when Tris visited Caleb, and I felt that she just dropped it just to "make it all connect" by the end. I mean, how did the mom know about it in the first place and why would she leave it in the hands of a 16 year old, especially if the mom was Divergent too? I think young adult is too into giving and placing the power of the future into 15/16 year olds. Disney much?
   I need somewhere in this review to be something I liked so I'll leave it with I liked the world she was able to muster. The fact the world has 5 factions, sections in to which people choose their future and need to abide by its manifestos and cultures makes this utopia a little different than I imagine other utopia novels I haven't read... However, it's unrealistic how she depicts people so blindly and submissively able to give their life over to one way of life-- even if it is of their choice. Oh dear, there I go again...

Until Next Time,
Nicole Ciel

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