Book Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth


In a futuristic world where society is divided into 5 virtue-based factions — Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent), Beatrice Prior must choose between her family and embracing who she is. During the competitive initiation, she has a hard time determining who her real friends are and also finds herself developing a love interest. She also discovers a secret about herself, and as the seemingly perfect society unravels, she realizes that her secret may save her loved ones and everyone else.
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Divergent (Divergent #1)

by Veronica Roth

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In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, 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 to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating 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 a growing conflict that threatens 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 literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

I came across the book Divergent when I was browsing a book blog and saw its image on the sidebar. I checked it out in Goodreads and found out what it was about. Some friends have read it and gave different ratings. I was intrigued and curious that I got myself an ebook and decided to read it right after I finished reading Delirium.

I was excited to find out what the fuss was about. A lot of people seemed to love this book and I wondered if I would like it too. At first I thought it was a bit lame, factions were made based on one’s character, and surely, we don’t have just one. But I shrugged it off and decided to get it over with.

There was something off with the construction of this fictional world and I can’t put my finger on it. After choosing a faction, whether they choose to stay or to transfer, they would undergo initiation to show/prove they made the right decision and truly belong in their chosen faction. But if they fail or decide to quit, they would end up factionless which according to the story, is worse than death. The idea of being factionless or how one would end up factionless seems stupid. Death is also taken lightly and a murder wasn’t investigated. The lack of accountability over a life is unsettling.

Another thing I noticed is some descriptions were not delivered well, I sometimes find it hard to picture a particular place or incident in my head. I don’t know if I just didn’t understand it in the first place or it was really poorly described. Maybe if I read it again I would understand it better.

Four’s true identity was revealed when he showed Tris his fears. Not only do we find out who he is, but we also learn how he got his nickname. I thought it was lame at the time I was reading that part, but now that I’m writing about it, I don’t remember why I had such thought back then. What I don’t know is who the woman on his 3rd fear was, it seems random, like a filler. ** April 19, 2014 update ** In the movie, Four explained that it is his fear of hurting or killing an innocent. That’s why it seemed random.

As I kept reading, the more I got invested in the story. I didn’t mind its flaws or plot holes, I didn’t bother focusing on it and just enjoyed the rest of the story. Another thing I liked was the romance angle didn’t involve a third party. Given that the situation was already complicated as it was, they surely did not need another love interest to make things worse. There was clearly a more pressing issue than having to choose between two lovers.

Initially, it seemed like the story focuses on the need to pass the initiation and belonging in Tris’s chosen faction, but it isn’t that simple. There’s a bigger picture and the things Tris and Four discovered was just the tip of the iceberg.

It got exciting when secrets unfolded, and it seemed like it was the end. But since I knew there was a sequel, I knew there’s more to the story than what was presented. The story ended with a sad note and I wouldn’t want to imagine myself be in Tris’ position. Despite its flaws and plot hole, I still gave this book a 4 out of 5 because I ended up really liking it.

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5 thoughts on “Book Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth”

  1. I like that they are divided into factions in a way that there are several story lines that can go around those factions. Seems exciting and maybe a good material for a movie.

  2. Seems like an intriguing story. It is quite contradicting that the five factions are focused on virtues, and yet there is lack of accountability for grave matters such as death. Strange enough, such contradictions also happen within a person, and in organizations as well. I think what makes the reader glued to the story is finding out Tris’ choice/decision and how this affects her future.

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