Friday, April 27, 2012

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Title: Divergent
Series: Divergent Trilogy, #1
Author: Veronica Roth 
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Release date: May 3, 2011
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books
Format: Paperback
Read from April 24 - 27, 2012 
My rating: 5 stars: I love it! It's amazing!
Summary: 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. 

Wow, wow, wow. Divergent. Wow.

Like everyone, I've been hearing praises and seeing a lot of hype since last year when the book came out. And when people keep talking and saying omg-its-amazing kind of things, you want to read it for yourself and find out if it's true. I used to be one of those people. There are several times in the past that I felt so disappointed by the hyped books that I kind of lost faith and felt like the hype means nothing but powerful marketing and that the books have great publicists. I still believe it. And when I finish a wildly-hyped book that has received rave reviews and don't like it, or find it only "good" when I expect "brilliant", I can't help but feel like something's wrong with me. Don't like that feeling. So I generally avoid the hype.

Of course, I thought I wouldn't touch DIVERGENT, but I guess I just couldn't resist. It's been almost a year since the release date and the hype still goes around, so I'm curious. It also helps that INSURGENT, the second book, is coming out in a week, which means now is the perfect time to read DIVERGENT if anyone hasn't read it yet. So, with curiosity and little expectation, I immersed myself in Divergent. And this time, I'm so glad that curiosity didn't kill the cat.

The world that Verinica Roth created for DIVERGENT takes place in a dystopian society set in Chicago. In this society, people are divided into factions. There are five factions and each faction values one virtue that defines them, to "eradicate those qualities they believed responsible for the world's disarray." Those who blamed aggression formed Amity; those who blamed ignorance became the Erudite; those who blamed duplicity created Candor; those who blamed selfishness made Abnegation; and those who blamed cowardice were the Dauntless. Each faction has their own way of doing things: clothing, food, the way of living. I can see how this might remind anyone of Hogwarts Houses. Each faction is for people with certain personalities and attitude. But the difference is that, rather than having yourself sorted into each one of them, you have a choice to choose for yourself which way you want to go and how you want to live your life. On the annual Choosing Day, every 16-year-old must choose to join one of the five pre-determined factions. They can choose to stay with their family or leave them and be seen as traitors. For some people it's obvious where they belong and it's clear what to choose without even having to think about it, but for a certain kind of people like Tris, the "Divergent rebels", it's not so easy to choose.

In my opinion, the world-building is fascinating, and the author wrote it in a way that it seems logical and believable while you're reading it. Abnegation in government because Abnegation people are selfless and power should be given to those who don't want them? Good point. The Erudite as teachers and researchers because they're clever and always in pursuit of knowledge? The Dauntless as soldiers for the society because they're brave and er... dauntless? Reasonable. Candor in law because they never lie? Amity as counselors and caretakers? Okay. However, once I pulled myself away from DIVERGENT and thought about it, I found myself unconvinced. The question: WHAT'S THE POINT? I understand the point the author wanted to make, that each one of these virtues is needed in order to maintain a society, but what I don't understand is WHY FACTIONS? I don't think each faction serves much purpose other than promoting their own virtue. I can understand that the purpose of the districts in the Hunger Games is for the Capitol to make the people realize that they're small and that the Capitol owns their lives (or something like that), and each district serves a purpose of providing the Capitol with stuff they need, like agriculture, mining, fishing, etc. And I can see that the purpose of Hogwarts Houses is to put students who are alike in personalities and attitude together, and to promote teamwork and unity within the houses to compete against other houses for Quidditch and the House Cup. But FACTIONS? Okay.. People choose factions according to their life philosophy, and each faction had a role to play in the society.. But somehow it doesn't convince me. Like.. that's it? Is it really necessary? But not that this ruined my enjoyment or anything, it's pretty minor and like I said, while you're reading, it doesn't really bother you. I just wanted to point this out, that's all. I know I'm not making much sense here, so let's move on. ;)

Having said that about the world-building, I have to say the characters are believable and very well portrayed. Tris goes from a small girl from Abnegation whom everyone pitied to this tough, no-nonsense, first-ranked, first-jumper, threat-to-everyone girl who develops muscles and has tattoos. Pretty badass, don't you think? I really like her physical and mental development throughout the book. I'm impressed. Tris' love interest, Four (I won't tell you his real name hehehe), is also an equally amazing character. I love, love, love Four! He's brilliant and smart and kind and his presence made me all giddy. I love their relationship. It's not a he's-all-I-can-think-about-and-I'm-sure-we-belong-together girly whiny thing, but a much stronger one. I love that Four shares with Tris his fears. I think that's intimacy at its best. I'm always fascinated by it. What better way to show someone you love them than by letting them see you for who you are, see you at your weakest, sharing with them your darkest fears and vulnerability, letting your guard down and at the same time letting them in? It takes a lot of courage to let someone in that close to you, and that screams LOVE. Physical intimacy is nothing compared to this. These two are now one of my top-5  favorite couples. I love them, I do, I do! Four might seem cruel and patronizing to Tris, but has his own reasons. Squee! Squee! If you're interested, here's the link to read Four's POV in one of the training sessions. He's so cute and brilliant I wish he was real. Oh, by the way, here are my Four and Tris.

Isn't Matt Lanter the cutest boy you've ever seen? For me he is! *melts* And Willow Shields may be only 12, but she's small and perfect as Tris, and I love her strong, determined eyes.


You might have noticed that this book is LONG. Despite the length, I think I could've finished this book in less than 48 hours if I had not been distracted. I spent the first three days reading up to only about 33%, but on the last day, which was yesterday, I continued from there until the end. And, man, WHAT A RIDE. I remember feeling a bit like there wasn't enough thrilling action up until 60% of the book because let me tell you, the initiation process is LONG. I was kind of bored by it, really. But then when the initiation is done and at 82% it's like WHAM! Rollercoaster going DOWNNNNNNNN. I didn't mean that the story goes downhill, I mean that it's like story's been slowly building up and leaving clues like a rollercoaster going up, reaching THAT ONE POINT where the up ends and down starts, and then it knocks the wind out of you. Kind of. So worth the wait! It's just a series of breath-taking actions and surprises after surprises after that. I couldn't stop reading even for a second. There comes a point where you can't breath, and some parts will make you cry. I cried. It was brilliant.

When it ended, I went mad. It couldn't end like that! No! IT'S PERFECT, but.. but.. but.. I needed to know more! I pulled my hair and wriggled on the couch. It was an amazing feeling, one I haven't had in quite some time. The feeling that, after I finish a book, I want to tell someone about it immediately and rave about it endlessly. DIVERGENT gave me an adrenaline rush even when I was only sitting there enjoying it. The ending left my head spin and I found myself breathing frantically and thinking, WANT. INSURGENT. NOW. It took me a while to calm down. I went to bed at 4 am.

It feels wonderful when you have your expectations exceeded. Although I didn't set it so high when I started DIVERGENT to begin with, by the end of the book, I felt like if I had, Divergent would've exceeded it anyway. I've been thinking about whether to give DIVERGENT 4 or 5 stars. As soon as I finished it, my reactions clearly suggested 5. But then after the adrenaline has gone from my body, I thought about the long initiation process and decided that I wasn't quite impressed by it, and what with the faction things I mentioned earlier. Right now, as I'm typing this, the stars are still 4, but once I finish the last sentence, I'm going to change it to 5. Just talking about it in this review makes me feel that rush going through my body again, and a book that can do that deserves 5 shiny stars, don't you think? If this is any indication, I enjoyed DIVERGENT much more than I did The Hunger Games. Read this book if you haven't already!

Prepare yourself for INSURGENT, coming this May 1, 2012!

PS. If you want to know which faction you belong to, try this Facebook app. I got Dauntless! (Weird. I'm a Ravenclaw, so shouldn't I get Erudite? But never mind!)


This review is also posted on Goodreads.


  1. I am like you probably one of the only people who hasn't read it yet. I loved your review it made me really excited to read it especially the fact that it was even better than you thought it would be and I love that feeling after you read a book where you feel like your mind is blown and you just wanna read it again or run out and get the next book it's the best feeling!

    your newest follower,
    Young Adult Book Haven


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