Veronica Roth’s debut Divergent was marketed as a new Hunger Games, as it too deals with a dystopian future, a future in which sixteen year olds make difficult decisions.
Beatrice Prior is one of those sixteen year olds. She lives in a post-apocalyptic Chicago, where society has dissolved all but into five factions. Candor represents the honest, Dauntless represents the brave, Amity represents the peaceful, Erudite represents the intelligent, and Abnegation represents the selfless.
Born into an Abnegation family where even looking into the mirror is selfish, Beatrice makes the decision to leave and join Dauntless. On the day that every sixteen year old finds out which faction they belong in, Beatrice discovers she is divergent, a combination of factions. But she chooses Dauntless, a faction where the brave dwell, a place you reach by jumping off a moving train.
There she discovers that war is brewing among the factions, as humanity is set to destroy itself again.
Set up as a new Hunger Games for those who loved the Hunger Games, there was a lot of pressure on Divergent to live up to that standard. And it failed.
I’ve been thinking about what to write about this review for two days now, and I’m still unsure as to where I stand on this book.
The beginning was definitely interesting. Learning about the factions was fun and kept my attention, for sure. It was also interesting to note which five virtues or traits society had divided itself up into, which five were considered most important.
Beatrice was like any other 16-year-old and I appreciated that about her. Tired of living life according to her parents’ standards, she seeks out a different sort of life for herself, one in which she must constantly challenge and test herself.
The romance was also well-described. It took awhile to figure out who Beatrice’s attentions kept slipping to, but when the romance began in earnest, it was sweet.
My biggest problem with Beatrice was the fact that she lacked conviction. Her emotions were all in disarray and I had a hard time pinning down her motivations. Maybe I kept comparing her to Katniss and that’s where the problem was. I found her too weak-willed, and after awhile, I stopped caring about her.
One of my other biggest concerns with this book was its treatment of death. Not unlike the Hunger Games, this book is riddled with violence and death. But unlike the Hunger Games, Roth does not treat this subject with delicacy.
I kept waiting to feel something, some hurt or pain at the violence and the death, but I didn’t get it. There’s almost a clinical detachment from it all on Roth’s part. What’s more, this bleeds into Beatrice’s character. I don’t see her affected by the violence surrounding her or being emotionally affected at all. And I found this strange, especially considered what a sheltered environment she came from.
The ending as well was also wishy-washy. I was left with no desire to keep turning the pages or to want to know what happens next. I mean, I sort of still do, but not as much as I wish I did.
So with that very ambivalent review, I leave you with a: 2/5
Thanks for reading.
‘Till next time,