Thursday, April 21, 2011

Divergent by Veronica Roth

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, 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 to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating 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 a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Since I live in Chicago, I love reading books with a Chicago setting. Especially when the author knows the city as well as I do, and I can see everything she’s showing me. For the most part, Chicago is very clear in this story. I wasn’t so sure about some parts, though. I wish I could have pictured exactly where the various faction headquarters were (except for Erudite, which was next to Millennium Park), the realm of the factionless, which train stations they passed, and exactly where the fence lay. I am hoping for more detail in the next book.

As for the factions, the conflict between Erudite and Abegnation felt authentic. Actually, all the factions were drawn well, and it felt natural that the factions would evolve into what they'd become.

Except for one. I didn't completely buy the way the Dauntless faction had evolved. If their focus is bravery, then it doesn't make sense that they would support (or, at the very least, ignore) acts of cowardice. To me, Dauntless didn't feel as fleshed out as the other factions. I think there would have been more conflict within the faction, and I would have liked to see that.

The romance aspect was done well, with a slow build-up and plenty of entertaining awkwardness. I particularly liked the end where Tris realized the ridiculousness of what was going on with her. :)

This is definitely a fast-paced and compelling story, and I stayed up way too late reading. I liked Beatrice/Tris, too. The reasoning behind her choice of faction felt real and honest to me. I could feel her struggle, and honestly wasn't sure who she was going to choose in the end. Which I loved, because both choices had been set up with very interesting consequences.

That said, there were a few things that didn’t quite make sense toward the end. As a result, the ending sort of fell apart. For me, an ending can make or break a reading experience, and this one brought my enjoyment down a notch. I’ll still read the next book, but I don’t have quite as much enthusiasm as I did in the first two thirds. That really bums me out. Then again, not many people analyze characters the way I do, so there are probably lots of people who won’t have trouble with this. :)

If you want to know what bothered me so much, then read the last few paragraphs under the SPOILERS heading. But be warned that the spoilers are major.

Side note: there is a lot of violence in this book. I have a high tolerance for it, but there were a few scenes that were almost too much for me. So, if violence is not your thing, then this book might not be for you.

For a chance to win an ARC of this book, go here and fill out the form. Good luck!

This next part is something I almost didn’t address, but it bothered me too much to leave unsaid. I will do my best to not be so spoiler-y, but I can’t promise anything. Read at your own risk.

What happens to Tris's parents in the end felt contrived, as did much of Tris’s reaction. Neither situation made any sense, nor did they require that particular outcome, so it felt like the author simply needed to get the parents out of the way for the sake of the story. Especially Tris's mom. There is no way that a mother in her shoes would have been so careless. She would know that the best way to protect her daughter is to survive, and she would have fought tooth and nail until there was no other option. There were still plenty of options…

After Mom, it was obvious what was going to happen to Dad the second he stepped off the elevator. I actually rolled my eyes here because I didn't believe this part, either. Tris just lost her mother, so why wasn't she feeling overprotective of her father? She would have, no question about it. There is no way she'd let her untrained, Abegnation father get on that elevator with her. After everything she'd been through with Dauntless, she would know all too well what would happen to him. And she’d never let it happen.


Lenore Appelhans said...

I have to agree with you on the ending, though it didn't bother me quite as much as it did you :)

We Heart YA said...

I didn't read the spoilery parts, but I thought your review was well written and fair. I mean, you said what you liked and what you didn't. That's more helpful to readers than gushing. Thanks!

Tabitha said...

Lenore - endings are my pet peeve. :) If I'm going to invest in a story, then I want an ending that's satisfying and makes sense. Otherwise I feel like I've wasted all this time reading the rest of it.

We Heart YA - thanks! I tend to read with a very critical eye, so I'm guessing that my issues with the ending won't necessarily be issues with others.

Logan E. Turner said...

I am so excited to read this one. Dystopian and Chicago? Um, OKAY! Did you know she's doing a signing at the Book Stall in Wilmette on 5/2? I'm going, and if you want to tag along we could drive together.

Tabitha said...

Ooo, that's seriously tempting... I'll have some schedule juggling to do, but let me see if I can swing it.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I didn't read the spoilers. I'm looking forward to this, but I'll have to see if I'm bothered by the ending. I was excited that Veronica was coming to Ann Arbor for a book signing. But then it got moved to Lansing. Darn it.

S (Book Purring) said...

Usually with when there's an overhyped YA book I'm already wary, and I'm afraid you're not helping me haha! Kidding. Thanks for the honest review, I'll read it, but try to get it from the library now.

Read.Breathe.Relax. said...

Although I was pretty much obsessed with this book, I have to agree with out about the ending. It just seemed like overkill- totally unnecessary. I loved the book overall, and I'm really interested to see where Roth takes us in Divergent!

Great review! :)