Blurb taken from author’s official website:
“One choice can transform you. Pass initiation. Do not fail…
Thrilling urban dystopian fiction debut from exciting young author.
In sixteen-year-old Beatrice Prior’s world, society is divided into five factions – Abnegation (the selfless), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent) – each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue, in the attempt to form a “perfect society.” At the age of sixteen, teens must choose the faction to which they will devote their lives.
On her Choosing Day, Beatrice renames herself Tris, rejects her family’s group, and chooses another faction. After surviving a brutal initiation, Tris finds romance with a super-hot boy, but also discovers unrest and growing conflict in their seemingly “perfect society.” To survive and save those they love, they must use their strengths to uncover the truths about their identities, their families, and the order of their society itself.”
Ying: Hi Has, thanks for recommending this book to me. Just a quick intro, Divergent is the first book of a trilogy. Second book is coming out next year.
At first I was a little confused with the world building because I didn’t read the blurb or the reviews, so it took me a while to get the factions in the society. Also, this book is written in present tense. Once I got my head around the setting I thoroughly enjoyed Divergent. I especially loved Tris’s “voice”. She reminded me of Yelena from Poison Study. Definitely NOT a whiny heroine!
Has: I was very intrigued by its premise, and I knew there was a lot of hype surrounding Divergent, and saying that this is the next Hunger Games. But my book senses was a’tingling — and they are almost always right — that this would be a good book, and I am glad I did pick it up. The present tense style didn’t throw me, because I have read a few books with this style. I LOVED Tris. I actually found I loved this more than the Hunger Games because unlike Katniss, Tris was more relatable. I loved her character, especially how she developed throughout the book.
Ying: Definitely, I can see why people were comparing it to The Hunger Games. Tris has grown so much from the girl we saw on the first page. I especially loved it when she said it would take courage to choose dauntless and selfless to choose Abnegation (my favourite quote below). Very insightful! One thing I can say about Divergent is that there is a lot to talk about, especially the world building.
“ I walk into my room, and when I close my door behind me, I realize that the decision might be simple. I will require a great act of selflessness to choose Abnegation, or a great act of courage to choose Dauntless, and maybe just choosing one over the other will prove that I belong. Tomorrow, those two qualities will struggle within me, and only one can win.”
Has: This is what I loved about the world building. There was so much thought and detail that went into it and I loved how Veronica Roth turned those attributes which were virtues into major flaws. This wasn’t so much a dystopian book, but a dystopian disguised as a Utopian. I loved that twist.
Ying: Call me pessimistic, I don’t believe in a “perfect” society. It’s just a time bomb ready to go off. That’s what bugging me the most about this book. Why did Erudite agree to dividing the society into factions? It was never gonna work. But then you probably said this is what the book is all about.
Has: I think this is the main message of the book, but I also thought how she handled the themes of social segregation, and class divides is reflective in today’s society. I think the fact that Beatrice/Tris’s character being Divergent (she has more than one trait) was a great POV to have which showed that this approach was wrong.
Ying: Exactly! It was never going to work so I don’t think it was realistic. Apart from this reservation, I loved the rest of the book. I love Tris; she is sensible, practical, courageous and honest to herself. It takes a lot of guts to choose life away from her family. I would say that she has all 5 traits in her.
Has: That scene when she chose to be Dauntless, and broke away from her family was heart-breaking, but I agree! It showed how strong, stubborn and determined she was to forge her own path. This book is really about coming of age and discovering what kind of person she will be and wants to be. This is what all good YA books should be, and for once a YA had great supporting parents despite her father’s disappointment about her choice. I am not a fan of the orphan/ignored teen tropes which is a popular theme in a lot of YA books.
“Um … “ I don’t know why I hesitate. But “Beatrice” just doesn’t sound right anymore.
“Think about it,” he says, a faint smile curling his lips.
“You don’t get to pick again.”
A new place, a new name. I can be remade here.
“Tris,” I say firmly.
I really really loved this scene when Tris bravely jumped into the hole into Dauntless lair as part of her initiation, it was a great imagery of being reborn. This scene felt so symbolic about her new change of identity and felt like a rebirth, especially since she changes her name. I knew from this point it was going to be a wonderful book!
Ying: Talking about the parents; they are wonderfully written. Very realistic. I love it that they lent her supports in the way that is consistent with Abnegation belief. The way they showed their love for her is just so powerful. Subtle but powerful! Family dynamic of this book is truly amazing. So far we have seen Tris’s family, especially her parents. I am hoping to see more of her brother, Caleb, in the next book. Also, I’m sure we will learn more about Four’s relationship with his father.
Has: Another aspect I loved was Tris’ relationship and romance with Four. OMG scratch that, I ADORED IT! For once this was a YA that had no angsting, emo, forced obstacles or LOVE TRIANGLES. This was a wonderful, subtle and complex romance. That tentative beginning and the tension, to the end where they bonded and related to each other about their fears and secrets. This is how a romance should be done. I was a total sucker about this and I think this will be one of my all time pairings in a YA romance.
Ying: OMG Four! Romance is beautifully introduced. I don’t want to spoil the fun so I will just say watch out for Tris’s fear. I laughed so much. Their romance is certainly true to their age. The pace is wonderful. It did not overwhelm the story but enhanced it
Has: That was also another element in the book that I loved; the touches of humour. Some YA dystopians are so dark and gritty, that light tone is missing even though this world is dangerous and stark. But Veronica Roth had a great way with other types of relationships, such as the friendships that Tris had with her fellow initiates as well as her enemies. I loved how this all played out, especially when a couple of her friendships became complicated due to their pressure of trying to survive the trials of being in Dauntless. It was a cerebral and emotional read.
Ying: I agree. Veronica Roth has weaved a complex relationship between Tris and her fellow initiates. Great examples would be Christina, Will, Al and Peter! I don’t know how she fit all these elements into one book! I’m determined to keep this review spoiler-free so I won’t say what happened so if you are intrigued then you have to read the book!
To sum it up, once I get my head around the world building and understand Tris’s world I thoroughly enjoyed Divergent. It represents everything a YA book should be. Veronica Roth’s writing style is captivating. IMHO, her strength lies on the relationships between Tris and other characters. Tris stayed true to herself throughout the book. Divergent will leave you thinking and debating on several issues such as society (utopia/dystopia), family and perhaps questioning your own character’s traits?
I give Divergent B+.
Has: I am not keen on adding to hype on books that already have great buzz because I feel sometimes it can lead to high expectations or the book doesn’t live up to the reputation. However with Divergent, this was certainly the case! The tropes that was used, felt unique and refreshing and didn’t fall into the pitfalls of similar books, such as lack of world-building, unlikable characters and that old favourite wangsty romance. Divergent, was a fast pace read, with edge on your seat tension, and a FANTASTIC romance. The dark and brutal ending will leave you panting for the next book (I so want it like now) – Now this is how you write dystopian YA!
I also give Divergent a B+