Little did I know when I first picked up a copy of Veronica Roth's Divergent that it was quickly becoming a sensation of its own. Not quite of the scope of Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games, but some sizable movement. More surprising was that Divergent is Roth's first book, which she wrote instead of doing homework in college.
Perhaps most surprising of all was how good the book actually was. Revolving around a young protagonist, Beatrice, on the eve of her sixteenth birthday in a dystopian wasteland future, their civilization of survivors (of what catastrophe we're not told) has divided into five factions, each of which focuses on a different virtue. Beatrice and her whole family are in Abnegation, which emphasizes selflessness. The four others are Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful) and Erudite (the intelligent). On your sixteenth birthday you must choose which faction you will be associated with – and if it is one your family is not a part of, you will probably never see them again. Beatrice, always having admired Dauntless, joins their faction and begins her training in the Dauntless guild. But there is a dark secret to this perfect system: many people do not fit perfectly into just one faction or another. These individuals are known as Divergent, because they do not fit in, and Beatrice is increasingly worried she may be among them. And when Divergents disappear without a trace, there's good reason to be worried.
The book is well-written, with solid prose and an emotional and thematic depth that gives the book an extra nudge. The characters are interesting and compelling, the story driving and rarely lags. Much like other stories that separate society into different character or personality traits (think here Rowling's four Hogwarts houses or the three classes in Ann Aguirre's Enclave), Divergent is interested ultimately in their (often painful) reintegration. Every virtue can be inverted into a vice and this is slowly what we see as the story progresses. Bravery can give way to aggression. Intelligence can become calculating and manipulative. Love of peace can become passivity. Honesty can become a way to brutalize others. Selflessness can be inverted into self-destruction. I look forward to how Roth unfolds these ideas in the future books of the series (which, if I hear correctly, will be a trilogy). Life is too complicated and messy to fit in our neat little boxes, and those who do not fit the boxes are the ones able to change the system for the good, seems to be the theme of the book.
Present too are more familiar aspects to contemporary YA fiction; the strangely secretive and aloof older boy who is attractive yet angry, the potential for a love triangle in future instalments, the lengthy world-building conversations that seemingly exist mostly for themselves. Some of these are more interesting than others; I, for one, am ready to see an end to these angsty love triangles. Perhaps they are meeting some forgotten need of adolescence I did not experience, but I cannot recall but a few times when this tactic has actually worked (most notably in The Hunger Games). These conflicts usually come across as contrived and designed to keep audiences engaged in the franchise during the long gaps between books. This particular time it was not horribly done, though I repeatedly found it the least interesting aspect of the book; this is saying something, coming from a male reader who doesn't mind a decent romantic subplot so long as it has a realistic resonance.
Beyond the occasional quibbles and trifles of choice and style, the book is paced quite nicely, building to a stellar climactic final act that is both intense and surprising, while remaining consistent with the unfolding story of the previous two-thirds. There is much climactic emotional intensity here, tremendous tragedy and sacrifice on the part of people we have come to identify with, a race to the finish I found difficult to set aside.
AT Ross, 9/10
I have an unhappy habit of coming late to the ‘next’ YA fantasy. I was late to Harry Potter, late to Hunger Games, and now I’ve come late to Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy – but boy I’m glad got to arrive at all!
I was first made aware of the series by a friend who showed me the trailer for the 2014 movie release. Unsurprisingly, I quickly acquired the whole trilogy and ploughed through ‘Divergent’ – the first book in the series – in less than five hours. From the first page – much like ‘The Hunger Games’ by Suzanne Collins – I was captivated by the world springing up in front of me. A dystopian feel and a sixteen year old female protagonist had me from the very first page, and I didn’t stop reading until I finished the book.
Divergent is, for all the good and bad, a Young Adult book, carrying with it all the tropes and ideological perfection necessary when writing sixteen year olds. Stuff mum says is almost immediately forgotten, and feelings are behind every decision – for good or for ill.
That being said – I love all of that stuff. I was never a sixteen year old girl, and after reading The Hunger Games and now Divergent, I’m seriously beginning to get an idea for it. It doesn’t sound easy, that’s for sure!
I was a bit disappointed with the way that some plot points were just left by the wayside – whether because “as a sixteen year old you just dismiss it as being unimportant” or because the author forgot, I’m not sure. Add to that the inherent ‘speed’ with which a YA book has to move – because obviously young adults don’t have an attention span yet – and this book has a really fast-paced style to it, which is at times wonderful and at other times a little disconcerting.
The story and characters, always important in a YA book, were brilliant. The world is beautifully conceived, without being overbearing in its appearance, and the characters actually exist in three dimensions, rather than just being “bad” or “good” or “sexy”. You really do get the feeling of high school drama, with feelings coming and going as quickly as the wind passes through the school corridors. People are upset with each other one moment, and clinging to each other in grief another.
The ending of the book finishes very quickly, obviously reliant upon sequels to make up for it. I’m glad I have the next book to step right into, because otherwise I would have been a bit unnerved by how quickly we reached the last page. But with that being said, what comes next is greatly anticipated, and again I’m relieved that the next book is right there waiting for me, because I can’t wait to pick it up.
Divergent is a brilliant read, good for any teenager and most adults (as long as you are willing to allow yourself to be sixteen again).
Joshua S Hill, 7/10
In the Harry Potter novels there were several houses the students at Hogwarts were sorted out into depending on their potential. A talking witch’s hat did the decision making, called the Sorting Hat.
And similar to that, Divergence has several factions they can be sorted into, yet unlike Hogwarts the people of Chicago (or at least a high-tech future version of it) have to pass several tests to find out whether they belong in the following; Abignation, Candor, Erudite, Amity or Dauntless. After the tests, in the Choosing Ceremony, they will find out their fate. For the test to be successful, these are the rules: there has to be someone from another faction in the test room as no one can test others from the same faction as it would be considered cheating. The test isn't what you would expect either. It isn't a written one even though each participant is taken into a room full of tables and chairs. Instead, electrodes connect the tester to the testee, and the testee drinks a vial of liquid. After that the testees are mentally taken into a scenario they think is real. This is the real test, and depending on what choices they make in the scenario it explains as to whether they will fit into either one of the factions. The idea is that this futuristic world is a utopia where each person fits snugly into a perfect faction and they live their lives by the code of each faction. Unfortunately if any person is chosen to be put into a different faction from the one they grew up in, they have to move and in this story, Beatrice (Tris) Prior and her brother Caleb are to be tested to see where they belong, but when Tris takes the test, she finds she can fit into three different factions, this being concluded as her being a Divergent.
In this world being a Divergent is a bad thing as it means the perfect world she has been brought up in could be a lie. Tris is told she can't tell anyone the fact she is a Divergent, which is lucky for her as she isn't supposed to reveal her test results to anyone. According to the facts, each faction lives a certain way. The Abnegation stand for selflessness as they are without the trappings of wealth and power that others take for granted. They have plain houses, wear plain clothes without ornament. The reason for it is to make them forget themselves and instead think of others. Candor value honesty above anything else, the Dauntless have a fearless attitude to life which makes them ideal for protecting their nation's borders even though they are looked down on by the other factions. The Erudite are the ones who value intelligence. As the ceremony approaches, Tris fears what she will choose despite what she was told.
As in Harry Potter, the houses all have their uses and as we know, Slytherin was considered the worst house to be put into. Tris's dad already has a dim view of the Dauntless, calling them 'Helians' as they wear tattoos and behave like careless delinquents. Though he forgets that they are valued in society as none of the other factions are strong enough to tackle any adversity. It isn't surprising that this, the first novel in a trilogy has been made into a major motion picture - Insurgent and Allegiant being the next two - as the plot is such a strong one.
With over four-hundred-and-eighty pages Divergent and its later novels in the series are something to invest time in, like the Harry Potter and The Hunger Games series. Tris, like Katniss, is the sort of heroine teens will warm to as there is something of her in all of us.
Sandra Scholes, 9/10
11 positive reader review(s) for Divergent
Erin-Hope from Uk
My Favourite book... OF ALL TIME! Such a good read that's packed with action. I would most definitely recommend it for any Hunger Games lovers. I absolutely loved it. A real page turner! I genuinely could not put it down! Veronica Roth is an incredible writer who helps you to really engage with the characters. The characters felt so real to me and I really felt like I built up a relationship with them. If you are going to watch the film I would recommend reading the book first so that you have a better understanding. Tris is such a brave and strong-minded character! The best fiction trilogy I've ever read.
Jeanine Matthews from Erudite
The book was amazing, relatable characters, a good story full of plot twists and interesting discoveries and that little bit of (scientific) facts. I can easily say it’s the best book I’ve ever read.
Jessica from Australia
I am immensely addicted to this book and the ideas in it. This is a must-read for fans of the Hunger Games or Harry Potter who are looking for another devour.
Johny Tammyson from Aussie
I think it was good but just didnt give me that kick in the but i wanted like when she got bashed she got punched
John from Antarctica
Although this book was not badly written, I do not give it a 10/10. The ending could be elaborated. Also, the book was paced slightly too quickly. It was a benefit at some times, sure, but it made the book messy at others. The rest of the series decreased in quality. As the big reveal plays out at the end of Insurgent, it gives the series the feel of a great story, then ending with an, "It was all a dream."
Sian from England
FAV BOOK EVER. READ IT 10 TIMES.
Kyra from UK
One of my favourite books at all times! If you're wanting something to read this is the right book!!! Definetly go read it!!!
Malia from New Zealand
Probabaly on of the best books I have ever read. A good book, a must read.
Ariel from Singapore
I finished the book recently and I love it. I love the idea of a futuristic city, where people are separated into factions and how some people are special (Divergent). I am looking forward to reading the next two books in the trilogy and 'Four : a Divergent collection'.
Ashley from US
I have read almost all of the books and just as I am done more books come back out. These books great and the movies are too. Wish I could meet the author and ask her some stuff about the book.
Snazal from UK
Divergent trilogy are one of the best fiction novel series to this era. As I love a kind of story that will brings me into another world of fantasy, I like the way Veronica plot the story. The trilogy is comparable to others popular fiction novels like Hunger Games, The Maze Runner etc. In my view that veronica Roth have given more complexity on her story. The story behind the girl Tris and how she struggle her life is fantastic, she is so brave i love the characters. In Divergent Trilogy the story is plot on division of society into personality type, with action and romance. Overall all the collection in Divergent are Fantastic.
Suleman from UK
Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant and Four books collection novel is very interesting to read. I really like this novel Divergent Series It’s true that Veronica Roth books are amazing to read. Nice set of books, for first time all the four books collection. All the books are amazing and interesting to read. I am very glad I bought these books. And price is also too good, it was reasonable to me. It’s worth to buy this book series for me. I really love this novel its hold components of romance, action, drama and suspense. This arrangement keeps up steady anticipation with various shocks that ideas in continually keeping book lovers captivated.
Kayla from Canada
I loved this book. All time favourite book!
9.5/10 from 14 reviews