Monday, March 3, 2014

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

ISBN: 9780062024039
Source: Purchased (re-read)
Series: Divergent #1
Release Date: April 25, 2011
Goodreads  |  Amazon

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, Tris also learns that her secret might help her save the ones she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Let me start by telling you a story: I read this book years ago (about 3 years) when it first came out, and I remembering enjoying it a lot. At the time, I'd wanted the next book to be released pretty badly and when it finally was released about a year later, I went out and bought it. Unfortunately, in my unorganized, non-blogger mind at that point, I had completely lost interest in the series other than in theory, couldn't remember anything that was going on, and for whatever reason, didn't realize that a re-read of Divergent would have been warranted at that time. So I DNF'd Insurgent and told myself it must've been because I never cared for Divergent to begin with and because Insurgent was boring (yikes.. I was harsh back then).

Fast forward 2+ years, Allegiant was set to release, and the world was in a frenzy. My cousin, wondering what all said hype was about, asked me my opinion, which she trusted and normally followed. I basically told her: "meh", and sent her on her way to do with my opinion what she pleased. Pretty much, she promptly disregarded it and proceeded to read (and love) the entire series. She then tried to convince me that I needed to give it another try. It was at this point that I read a MAJOR spoiler for Allegiant, and, needless to say, my reaction at first was, "um, no, but thanks." Then I remembered it was being made into a movie, and the movie allure always draws me in - what can I say? I'm a sucker for movie adaptations. So I resolved to give them a try "eventually"... like closer to the release date or something. I'm sure you can see how committed I was to this task at the time, haha.

Soon, the hype for the movie really sucked me in and I decided to read the books about a month earlier than the release date. I will not give you my opinions on Insurgent and Allegiant here since I plan on reviewing those also over the next two weeks. But I will tell you what I thought about Divergent. My first instinct several years ago was right - I enjoyed it, and it was a good book.

I remembered the basic story line to Divergent from the last time but I'd forgotten enough for it to still keep my interest and keep me intrigued. I love the idea of the factions and the concept is really original despite some similarities to other popular books in the genre. I wish the series were longer to expand more on everything in this awesome world.

The first time reading, I remember feeling a little underwhelmed by Tris and Four's fledgling romance, and this time around I was, too. I enjoyed them both as separate characters but until the last quarter of the book, I thought their interactions were awkward and not pulled off very well. They sort of just hop right into being together at one point and I was left kind of wondering how it even built up to that and what had I missed?

I also thought Tris's reaction to all the crazy Dauntless crap going on was a little hard to believe. She was raised Abnegation! There is no way she could honestly feel disgusted by someone crying themselves to sleep at night during that initiation. Uncomfortable? Yes. Annoyed? Maybe, so. Disgusted? Okay, now I'm calling your bluff, chick. I found Tris to be a strong character, and I really did grow to like her when she started acting like herself, not like she needed to prove to everyone else that she was truly no longer Abnegation, but now Dauntless. I loved her best when she was being brave, selfless, smart, etc. Basically when she was embracing her divergence, haha.

Overall though, I really enjoyed this story and the potential it held for the rest of the series, though I was quite nervous going into Insurgent because I DNF'd it the first time I'd tried to read it (don't worry, I'll be posting a review all about that experience too!).

     RATING: ★★★★ 1/2

I'm extremely excited to talk about this book with everyone! In retrospect, after having read all the books by this time, I think I especially love Divergent now because it means so much more. I really wanted to re-read the books to go back and study the first two books in the context of the third, but I'm not emotionally ready to handle that right now, haha.

I am also ridiculously excited for the movie which is being released in about three weeks. I will most definitely be one of the crazies at the midnight showing - I cannot wait!
What did you think of Divergent (please leave any spoilers for the other books out of this discussion..)? I really did enjoy it and I loved getting to know Tris and Four, and Christina (who is one of my favorite characters!) and friends, and exploring the world through Roth's world-building. Are you planning to see the movie?

Also - what faction do you think you would be in? This is a question that has always bested me and I really would love to know if you all have answers for it or not. I can't decide if I'd be in Abnegation or Erudite. Probably Erudite because I really am quite selfish most of the time, so I don't know if I could handle Abnegation as a lifestyle. I wonder about Amity sometimes... though I probably could not be that happy and calm all the time. Definitely not Candor either, yikes! What do you think?


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