I had been thinking about reading it for a while, but I didn’t pick up the book Divergent until after I watched the movie. Although this will not be a review of the movie, the one major thing the film lacked was what finally pushed me to pick up the book. While the story was exciting and entertaining, the one thing I was hoping for never appeared. And because I think that part is so vital to the world building, I unfortunately cannot give this book more than three stars.
I had heard much hype about Divergent, even before it was turned into a movie. Although it sounded pretty cool, the main reason I didn’t pick it up immediately was because its story line sounded bland. Yet another dystopian YA in which a girl tries to overthrow the government, and has a surprising love interest. After reading it now, that is pretty much exactly what it is. However, there is something about it that makes it worth the read. The growth of the main character is a beautiful and surprising aspect of this story. As well as the amazing ending that the movie did not portray nearly as well as the book.
Set in a dystopian world that separates people into factions, the story follows Tris (Beatrice) a teen girl who discovers that she is a Divergent. The character of Tris lacks personality in the beginning, perhaps because she came from the faction Abnegation, the selfless. But as she progresses through the story, she changes. Instead of just standing back and letting things happen to her, she begins to make things happen. She starts off, and continues through most of the book, to be a stereotypical teenage girl, not fully thinking things through and acting on impulse. However, near the end, as the conflicts arise, she shows her true self to be brave and smart.
Tris’s relationship with Four, while highly predictable, actually plays out nicely. It isn’t simply lust. It grows as the story does, making it seem much more believable. With the exception of Four, and a few others, most of the other minor characters lack depth. They are made to seem dimensionless. I don’t know if this is to show the meaning of the factions, or if it is simply due to bad writing.
The factions are pretty fun, adding a lot to the story. They really intrigued me, and made me want to learn more about the world. However, this is where the book majorly lacks. Aside from the basic facts about each faction, we never really find out how people in each of them live. Even Dauntless, the most mentioned faction, has many holes in the information we learn about it. This is true with all the others as well, especially Amity. Along with this lack of faction information, we learn little to nothing about the world itself. The city they live in doesn’t even have a name as far as the book tells us. There is simply life in the city, and that’s all there is. Aside from mentioning what’s beyond the city, no one questions it, or wonders how big the country/world even is. As world building is crucial to a dystopian story, I found the lack of it very unfortunate.
Another slight hole in the story was the explanation of the Divergents. Although the main conflict isn’t solely based around the discovery of Tris being a Divergent, it still has a lot to do with it. This makes me wonder how the issue was never really faced head on before. Clearly, Tris is not extraordinary, and people are all extremely complex. So why is it only now that the Divergents are becoming an issue? And how many Divergents are there really?
With the lack of world building being its biggest downfall, another was the writing. Though not awful, it is very simple and unembellished. There is a lot of telling, rather than showing. Through most of the book, the main character’s voice is not very strong. Along with this, there are a lot of cliche lines and repeated words/sayings within a short amount of time. Luckily, the exciting story, and character growth make up for the mediocre writing.
Even with so many flaws, I still found this book to be incredibly entertaining. The training especially is exciting and fun to read about. I think it’s a story that both girls and boys can enjoy and get into. The romance aspect is kept to a minimum, so as not to be overwhelming. The training and other initiation processes are really cool, adding a lot of action to the story. As well as the action, there is a lot of thinking and life decisions being made by the main character. The end especially brings a lot of contemplation, about what is right, into the story.
The ending was definitely the strongest point of the story. If you are hesitant to read Divergent, read it for the ending. So much happens in such a short amount of time. There is character building with both the main character, and many of the minor characters. We discover so many things about people and the society of this book. Tris’s parents disprove the statement ‘Faction before blood.’ Tris standing up to Marcus truly shows how far she has come as a person. It opens up so many questions and really makes you want to find out what happens next.
The ending of this book was fantastically done, and it only leads into the second book, Insurgent. I have begun reading it, and have discovered that much of the unsaid information about the factions and world are slowly being uncovered in it. So while Divergent was not a spectacular book, it is very entertaining and an enjoyable read. I think it will be worth reading if you’re willing to read the rest of the trilogy, and I plan to do so.