The Lost Entwife, March 5, 2014 (view all comments by The Lost Entwife)
I am so so so very late to the Divergent train. Veronica Roth's novel hit it out of the ballpark for so many readers and it's been on my radar for so long that, frankly, I was scared to pick it up. I remember my first experience with majorly hyped media: Forrest Gump with Tom Hanks. I had heard from so many people that the movie would blow my mind that I thought there would be no possible way to live up to the expectations that I had built up as a result. Divergent was a similar experience for me. And while I love both the movie (and Tom Hanks) and really enjoyed Divergent, it also fell a bit short of, what I readily admit to be, my unrealistic expectations.
I'm a huge fan of really gripping young adult dystopia. The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner - these books thrilled me. Strong female characters in fantasy books like Graceling also thrill me, so combining fantasty, science-fiction, an end of the world scenario and a really strong, but human, girl thoroughly appealed to me. Plus, you know, there's a movie coming out so I figured I better kick myself into gear.
Here's what I loved about Divergent. I loved Roth's extensive world-building. Every detail, down to the clothing being worn, was crafted and I never felt out of the loop on something. Everyone's roles were clear-cut and defined and the initial struggle for Beatrice Prior was simple and complex, all at the same time. I thoroughly enjoyed the ideas of different factions being more than just based on physical ability or appearance. I thought it the world set-up and the faction set-up provided a simple enough foundation for a very complex story to be built on them.
I also enjoyed the thoroughness of Tris's journey. I loved being privy to all of the strategies and tests. Too often this step is skipped in favor of the bigger picture, but it really sets the stage for the story. It's in those moments that a reader really gets to know the character and can sympathize with hard choices made in the future of the story.
Now, what fell a bit beneath expectation was the romance. I really shouldn't be surprised at this point, more often than not romances written for the young adult audience just move too fast for me to fully comprehend how in the world they work. I mean, there are life and death scenarios happening in these books, in Divergent, and yet Beatrice is making eyes at some guy who just so happens to be making eyes back at her? It didn't come off as believable, it came off as "this book needs a romance because that's what audiences want to here, let's give it to them." That sounds really harsh, but everything else was taken just so slowly, it was just disappointing to see the romance take off at lightening speed.
Still, Divergent was a fun read and definitely kept me up late at night working my way through it. When I put it down I immediately picked up Insurgent, so you know that is worth something - especially considering the pile of books I should be reading instead. I'm looking forward to seeing the movie and watching the world that so captivated me come to life.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No (1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
Rachel Coker, March 2, 2014 (view all comments by Rachel Coker)
I love a good post-apocalyptic, dystopian teen drama. And if it features a female heroine who's both tough and smart? All the better. "Divergent" hits a literary sweet spot for me, just as "The Hunger Games" and "The Age of Miracles" did before it. I'd say Veronica Roth's "Divergent" is not quite as smart as Karen Thompson Walker's "Miracles" and does not represent quite as fully formed a vision as "The Hunger Games," but it's absolutely absorbing. Roth provides a good mix of philosophy, violence and cultural commentary. She also does an admirable job describing a future Chicago in which Lake Michigan is a marsh, emergency generators keep the elevators running at the Hancock Center and the Navy Pier is a wasteland. I finished "Divergent" in a couple of days, skipping most of a night's sleep so I could find out what would happen. I'm looking forward to reading the other books in this series.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No (1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
Coni, February 25, 2014 (view all comments by Coni)
I had no intention to read a Hunger Games knock-off. I kept hearing it was good and when I read what it was about, it did intrigue me, even though the factions seemed arbitrary.
It is easy to compare it to Hunger Games with the dystopian future and kids being trained to fight and kill each other. The fighting and violence in Divergent was much more realistic than Hunger Games. The action scenes are really well written. While I viewed the Hunger Games as a parable about where we as human beings are as a society today, the society in Divergent doesn’t seem realistic in comparison. The factions were as arbitrary as I feared. It was as if people only had a portion of their personality, skills and attributes instead of being more well-rounded which is how I view people.
Also there was really no explanation of why the world was set up that way, what happened to make it that way, and what was behind the fences that they alluded to in this first book. Since there are two more books, I feel like that will all come out in the next two books so I’ll give it the benefit of doubt.
Even with those drawbacks, this book was a fast read. I really wanted to know what would happen next. It was highly entertaining and I know I’ll be reading the next two. I think it achieved its goal.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No (2 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)
Kacey, December 10, 2013 (view all comments by Kacey)
If youre looking for a fun, easy read, look no further! Divergent is a young adult book with predictable characters. The main character has a lot of teen angst, which gets annoying pretty quickly. However, she is fiesty and follows her gut. The plot is interesting and takes place in a society where everyone is divided into four distinct groups. The groups have previously gotten along in harmony but tensions are mounting! Read Divergent to find out more!
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No (1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
Melinda Ott, November 18, 2013 (view all comments by Melinda Ott)
This was another case of my personal quirk of having to read a book before the movie comes out. In all honesty, I don't know if I would have read this book otherwise.
The good news is that I think this will make a good movie. It has action and romance, which pretty much is needed for a mainstream blockbuster. It appeals to different age groups and it ends in a cliffhanger.
The bad news is that I felt the book was, well, a bit lacking. Most of the fault falls in the writing. The plot was interesting enough, but I don't feel that Roth clearly expressed what she wanted for most of the book. Frankly, the whole concept of the different factions and why they had them and how the society operated was just muddled. Frankly, the writing just seemed rushed to me and it kept me from really getting into the book.
I will see the movie, eventually (I'm not sure it would be worth my getting a babysitter and then buying a ticket, so I might wait until it comes out on DVD). And I am interested, but not compelled, to read the next book. But, I'm probably a pickier reader than most and many readers probably won't have the same issues that I do with the writing.
The bottom line is that if you are looking for an action-packed, lighter read with a dystopian twist, Divergent would be a good choice.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No (2 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
Katherine Tegen Books -
"You'll be up all night with Divergent, a brainy thrill-ride of a novel."
by Publishers Weekly (starred review),
"A memorable, unpredictable journey from which it is nearly impossible to turn away."
by The New York Times,
"Divergent clearly has thrills, but it also movingly explores a more common adolescent anxiety — the painful realization that coming into one's own sometimes means leaving family behind, both ideologically and physically."
One choice decides your friends
Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.