Wednesday, February 19, 2014

DIVERGENT: A Book Review

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I always seem to jump onto a book bandwagon late in the game. I'm a self-proclaimed Harry Potter nerd, but I didn't discover the books until at least 3 were published and the first movie had been released. I love The Hunger Games, but I picked up the first with the second and third books already on my shelf. Okay, that's a lie. I read the first book then bolted to Barnes & Noble as soon as I finished reading it. The same could be said of Divergent by Veronica Roth. 

Before beginning my month of traveling, I had three books in mind, one for each trip. The Book Thief, The Fault in Our Stars, and Divergent. The first two were devoured during my flights to and from Alabama, and the latter kept me occupied on the trip to San Diego. But once I touched down in the sunny city, I had only 3 chapters left and was soon left wanting more. Mom and Dad dropped be off at B&N to pick up the second book, Insurgent,  before our 2 hour drive to Disneyland, and I finished it last night on the flight home. I may or may not have run back to the bookstore this morning to pick up Allegiant before going to the airport.... ;)


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When I bought Divergent, I had heard mixed reviews. Many of my friends loved it, and several of them did not care for it at all. I never like to take one friend's word as law over another, so I thought I'd give it a go myself. Plus the movie is coming out next month and I wanted to be able to compare the two. My opinions about the casting of that movie will wait for another day... and I should probably keep those thoughts to myself until I've actually seen it. 

All in all, I enjoyed Divergent. The concept was very interesting and seemed thoroughly explored, though the writing was not as strong as I had hoped. I have to remind myself that it is young adult fiction and the simple style made it an easy read and may have been purposeful, though I found some of the characterization to be inconsistent and some of the plot points too neatly manicured. For a book with the potential to remain raw and really kept readers guessing at first, I was soon able to predict several of the major twists and map out much of the second book. This did not keep me from reading or rushing to get my hands on Allegiant, but it does have my wheels turning about how the movies will adapt the trio and curious as what is to come from Veronica Roth next.

It is intended for readers 13 and up, and I definitely agree. A few scenes were rather racy, but as a whole Roth kept it pretty clean (save the violence) and spared us the foul language that pollutes some of the best and most compelling stories of our generation.  I'd give it 3 stars out of 5, and I will most likely read it again. 

For those who are unfamiliar with the series, here is a brief summary: Society as we know it is no more; it has been divided into factions, or smaller communities centered around core values and a dominant personality trait or characteristic. These factions include Candor, those that value honesty above all, Euridite, for the knowledge-seekers, Dauntless, the brave and adventurous, Amity, those who seek peace, and Abnegation, the selfless. At age sixteen, students are tested and given the opportunity to choose their faction; they may decide to remain with their families in the faction of their birth or abandon home for an altogether new faction and way of living. There is a rare few who take the aptitude test and are not immediately categorized. These are called the Divergent, and our protagonist, Beatrice Prior, is one of the special, feared few.  She is forced to decide where to hide her divergence, and how to respond to the single-mindedness of her new faction. When new truths are unearthed and society begins to crumble, she must choose to embrace what it means to be a Divergent and rally those around her to survive. It is definitely worth a read.


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