Divergent by Veronica Roth – Meh

Another month, another movie adaptation of a YA book (and another book trilogy with FOUR MOVIES!). I am yet to see the movie, instead I read the book. I had heard some reasonably good things about it, so decided to buy it for $10 over a year ago. Having read it, I’m thankful it didn’t cost more than $10. My title obviously gives some indication of my ambivalence towards this novel. It wasn’t that good, but it wasn’t quite so terrible I didn’t want to read anymore, or that I was falling asleep.There’s two other books in the series and right now I’m thinking I shall just read the summaries on wikipedia to find out what happened, and save my time to read something better (unless people have objections to the contrary).The thing that let it down wasn’t the idea, which was really interesting, it was the writing and lack of character development. It was just a bit bland and stale the whole way through. Someone I was talking to said that the book just ‘tries to be deep, edgy and cool’ but it falls a bit flat. I really didn’t feel much connection to the characters, and when they got injured or even killed, it wasn’t that important. Even the main character was quite annoying at times and made ridiculous statements like “I am no longer Tris, the selfless, or Tris, the brave. I suppose that now, I must become more than either.” Or “In order to get down, I have to trust them to catch me. I have to accept that these people are mine, and I am theirs.” It’s like Roth is really trying to make powerful statements, but they just come off underdone.

And my mild dislike of romantic development in novels didn’t help here with a very predictable (I mean come on, girl falls for guy who acts like a dick, but is really actually sensitive on the inside, and their relationship is kept secret, and another guy who was there from the start and was really nice gets jealous and becomes a dick to the girl, and then the girl feels bad, then gets with the guy she disliked to begin with, then they become separated, and they use their love to overcome mind control). Sigh. Or the two friends who are like sidekicks to the main character, are clueless about each other’s feelings, and then act super surprised when something happens, and main character feels somewhat isolated.

Tris by DeviantART user mardiyaha

And the overall plot was quite predictable, there wasn’t anything that was really shocking. Sure not every book has to be shocking, and it’s going to have to be pretty good if it’s going to trump Mira Grant, but there were clear ‘twist’ moments, which just weren’t that surprising. And of course the whole story hinges off the normal girl who discovers she has extra powers/is different, but it’s dangerous for her so she doesn’t know what’s going on despite other adults who are cryptic about everything, and then it’s her ability which means she can attack against the baddies. Just having the sort of trope isn’t a bad thing, it just wasn’t the best it could have been.

Onto the actually interesting part. The idea that the world (well probably America) is divided into 5 factions after some event: Erudite (who strive for intelligence), Dauntless (who strive for bravery), Abnegation (who strive for selflessness), Candor (who strive for the truth), and Amity (who strive for peace). Each of them live in separate areas, they have their own leaders, they provide different functions for the community and all have different characteristics. You are born into the faction, and then at 16 (after testing to see which faction you are suited to – though the testing may or may not be all crap anyway) you decide on your faction. A prevailing rule is ‘faction before blood’, so if you leave your faction you’ll basically never see your family again. Of course everyone is supposed to fit nicely into a faction, but, not everyone does, some are factionless, and some of the others are Divergent.

I think there was a lot of potential here, and I was let down. It’s not completely terrible, but it is by no means that great. There are other books out there which are more worth your time. What do you think? Have you seen the movie? Are the sequels any better? Which faction would you be in?

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