As it was praised as ‘the next Hunger Games’ and there is now a film out next year starring Shailene Woodley and Kate Winslet I thought I’d give this book ago.
Quick summary: In the dystopian world of Chicago the public are split into five factions based on what virtue they value the most. Amity for the peaceful, Dauntless for the brave, Abnegation for the selfless, Candor for the honest and finally Erudite for the intelligent. Abnegation born Beatrice is turning 16 and she finds she doesn’t fit in, a test soon proves that she doesn’t really fit in anywhere, she is Divergent a secret she must keep. Regardless, to avoid being factionless, she decides to leave her family and join the Dauntless, but over time she soon realises what it means to be Divergent.
Now I love dystopia, I love post-apocalyptic however after finishing this book it made me feel quite deflated. There is a lot of flaws and whilst I believe Roth has a great imagination, she fails to exploit it to choose a safer, more cliche, style of development. For me, there was no real explanation why Chicago is split into factions, to ‘avoid war’ is a bit of a sell out and doesn’t really work for me. What is outside Chicago? I believe it’s partially hinted that there is a world outside Chicago, but again no more clues as to what. Even if it is in the second book, Roth could have set it up a bit more. Why 16? 16 seems a little young to be choosing your place of residence for the rest of your life, and also Tris’ character development over the book suggests she’s much older. I feel that Roth’s choice of making the ‘coming of age’ 16 a little too much of an attempt to engage in Young Adults, when 18 would be perfectly fine and make sense. The factionless? Now these guys are people that failed initiations into Factions and live a world of poverty and are treated badly, segregated from everyone else. Now there seems to be a lot of these people but none of them thought to uprise? Again not entirely explored, do these people have any human rights? Is there a stigma about them? Again not explored, not explained.
You can’t just feed a reader random information with little or no backstory and expect you to just accept it, especially when dealing with Dystopian/Sci-Fi novels. I just couldn’t engage with the world, without these little questions answered as far as I am concerned it’s extremely flawed.
Character development. Dear god Roth! She made a very strong, brave and courageous character and ruined her. Her relationship with her trainer made her extremely pathetic. There was a point where Four (the trainer) explains that he likes her and doesn’t want ‘just sex’. This prompts Tris to well up and get upset because “she’s not pretty enough obviously.” After that I just couldn’t take the character seriously, especially after Roth had built such a great and powerful girl-turning-woman and then boom – From Katniss Everdeen to Bella Swan in one paragraph. No Roth, you naughty author!
However the concept I liked, and I did read the whole thing. Dangling the “why is being Divergent dangerous?” like a carrot was a very good move to keep us wanting more and keep us reading. The book wasn’t terrible, it just could of had a lot more to it that would of made it a 5/5. I’m giving it though a 2/5. I’ll read the second novel and I might go see the film. I sure as hell wont be first in line though.