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.
Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the YA scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.
This is going to be a difficult review to write. Usually, I know exactly what I want to rate a book when I finish it, but there's a toss up with this one. Because I DID enjoy it. A lot. It held my interest and kept me reading. I finished it in two days, and only because I had to make myself go to bed last night. It's a fast read, with lots of action and an interesting concept, that people can only be one of the five trait, that people aren't supposed to have bits and pieces of every quality. And while I did enjoy it and plow through it, it just didn't wow me.
First off, the setting itself confused me. I know it's Chicago, but I could never get a clear picture. And I found it odd that while the factions all live separately from each other (I think...I could never quite figure it out), they all interact with each other on a regular basis and the kids all go to school together. I really loved the idea of it all, the five factions, the different qualities, the tension because of it. But I think there are ways Roth could've made things more believable. For instance, why are some Divergent? How does that happen, and why don't things affect them the same? Is it a genetic mutation? I wish that it was explained more. Also, I really wanted to see more Amity in this book. I mean, they existed, but they were never really there. Of course it's possible that that faction is coming into play more in the sequel.
I liked Tris. But that was about the extent of it. I never got emotionally attached to her, never reallycared about what happened to her. Still, I liked how flawed she was. How she struggled between Abnegation and Dauntless. I liked seeing her change, seeing the brave moves that she made. Occasionally she got annoying, playing the whole "Why do you like me, I'm not pretty" card. I guess I just never got in tune with how she was really feeling. Some pretty major things happen toward the end, and it's like she's just stoic, until Four comes to her rescue and she's all happy again. I wanted to see her pain, feel her pain. And I guess I just didn't get that. I felt detached.
I did really like Four, though he was a complete and total mystery for the first half of the book. He has that certain hot mysterious factor about him. And he seems tough and fearless at points but he's really not. In fact, on of my favorite scenes in the book depicted him when he was at his most vulnerable. That made him seem real. He's the only one I really connected with in some way. All the other characters were just so-so for me. I never understood what made Al snap. I never got why Peter was so one-dimensionally mean. The characterization as a whole could've been stronger.
The writing itself is pretty good. It's fast paced, and could used a little more description, but I'm sure Roth intended it to be a fast paced, action-oriented read, so that she accomplished. The romance aspect could've used some work--but not to the point of it really bothering me. The style itself was very Hunger Games esque to me, and there were just numerous occasions in general that made me think of The Hunger Games. Not the plot specifically, and I can't really place my finger on what it was, but there were brief moments where I felt that I could've easily been back in Katniss's world.
I feel like I might be being too harsh with this. The fact is that I did really enjoy it. And I think that as time goes on, Roth is going to amount to a fantastic writer. She definitely has skills, they just need some polishing. I will be reading the sequel, hoping to see more world and character development. Pretty much I was always thinking, okay, this is pretty good. Never OMG THIS IS AMAZING.
More of a 3.5 stars.