Divergent  - Veronica Roth Ridin' on the coattails of The Hunger Games

Beatrice 'Tris' Prior lives in a (psuedo) dystopic Chicago. People have been rearranged into Five Factions: Abnegation, Candor, Dauntless, Erudite, and Amity. Beatric is given a chance, when she is 16, to choose which faction to go into, and her choice is startling and not the easy one she expected.


+ There is absolutely, positively NO ROMANTIC TRIANGLE!! FINALLY, a Young Adult, Urban Fantasy/Dystopia novel that does NOT center its ENTIRE PLOT around a forced plot triangle. Excuse me while I faint from astonishment.

+ Roth's competent writing. First person present isn't an easy tense, but Roth writes it well. It isn't as choppy and "childish" as Jones' "Need", and yet it isn't burdened with flowery prose.

+ Interesting characters. Tris is an interesting character, as is Christina, Tori, Four, and Tris' mom (would REALLY love to know more about her!).

+ The last 150 pages are INTENSE.

+ The book reminds me a little of "Ender's Game".

+ The book is about overcoming obstacles and doing the right thing.

+ It is a dystopia.


- World building makes NO SENSE. Why would ANY GOVERNMENT split up a society into FIVE FACTIONS? Don't most dystpopias WANT people to be uniform? Or if there ARE Five Factions, wouldn't they want them to be fighting amongst themselves, too busy to see the government creeping into their lives (sorta like Fforde's "Shades of Grey")? In fact, what even MAKES this society dystopian? Why aren't we rooting for the Erudite? Yeah, they are killing people, but they DO want equal representation--isn't that what American Forefathers fought for? Why is this wrong now?

- How in the frakkin' hell can ANYONE call the Dauntless "brave"? Jumping off buildings, running off trains, catapulting down a zipline DOES NOT MAKE SOMEONE BRAVE. Bravery is in the small things--being with a dying parent, living with cancer, not giving up even though you want to--an idea that takes Tris THE ENTIRE BOOK to figure out. Since when does getting a tattoo make you brave? Why is there so much time spent on the physical test, but the last two tests are almost overlooked? How can Dauntless EVER make friends if they are so worried about being on top? How has this faction not totally destroyed itself? Where is the solidarity? Why are these supposedly brave people so eager to have a dubious serum injection?

- Why is it only Abnegation seems to have any real differences from modern cultlure (no mirrors, simple foods, simple clothes)? Where are the vast differences in the other Factions (besides silly clothes differences and the stupid tattoo thing)?

- How can everyone be split up into different factions? Were these people genetically altered? Is there some sort of indoctrination that occurs that wipes away any tendencies for the other Virtues? How can children change and why would they want to wait until 16 to start training them in the Faction they will spend their ENTIRE lives in? Why is being factionless bad? How can the serum work on these people? How come there aren't MORE divergent? Why is it so rare?

- Inconsistent heroine. One minute, she realizes (somewhat determinedly, in a really nice "brave" moment) that she is neither Abnegation, nor Dauntless, then the next, she is shocked to discover this very fact. WTF? Tris constantly complains about her bravery vs selflessness being at war, but when is she ever really selfless in the book? She hardly acts Abnegation at all!! How can she call these people friends? She almost is Bella-like in how she uses them!

- The writing style is a little too similar to Collins' The Hunger Games.

- In the beginning, the relationship between Four and Tris feels almost like a girl having a crush for her teacher.

- Muscle doesn't bulk up in a week. You don't recover from a tattoo overnight. A bullet wound in the shoulder isn't just going to mildly slow you down in a fight.

- In The Hunger Games, without Katniss, there would have been no revolution. In Divergent, Beatrice does nothing that couldn't have been done by anyone else. Her role was unnecessary; the Erudite would have attacked, some other Divergent would have risen and taken them down, end of story. There is nothing that makes Beatrice special, so it feels like the story was pointless.

So, yeah, I found a few problems with the novel. Unfortunately, they all dealt with the world building, the absolute fundamental of the novel. But I will say, if you can swallow the concept, pull back the curtain, and just be enraptured by the story, it's not bad at all. Beatrice takes time to grow on you, but she is a good heroine. She is legitamitely strong and competent and doesn't require a boyfriend to do it for her. Oh, and while there is a romantic plot, it's not very pronounced nor is it a triangle.

Thus, even with the problems I have with it, I am still going to be checking out "Insurgent" when it is published. But if I catch a whiff of a Romantic Triangle, I am gone.