Having seen the film and thoroughly enjoyed The Hunger Games earlier on in the year, I was looking forward to reading Divergent by Veronica Roth. Many critics have claimed it to the be the next Hunger Games, so I was intrigued about whether it would – or even could – live up to that standard.
I don’t think it did.
However, that didn’t stop it from being a good read.
Beatrice is at the age where she must chose her future. But rather than being guided to what faction she should chose by the aptitude test, she is on her own. Her results were inconclusive, marking her as a Divergent – someone whose mind will not fall neatly into a category. Although Beatrice leaves behind her old life and forces herself through the brutal initiation of the police faction – the Dauntless – cruel instructors aren’t her only problem. If the government find out what she is, it means certain death for her.
Friendships are treacherous things and feelings in general threaten to put everything Tris is working towards at risk. The man she has feelings for has more secrets than Tris ever feels like she can uncover. But when the government is threatened and war breaks out, Tris must come to terms with who and what she is if she is going to survive. More than that, if she is going to be brave and save her family, she must acknowledge precisely what it is she is now capable of.
Like a lot of young adult fiction, Roth writes in the first person. However, although Tris is an all-rounded character with fears and wants just like the rest of us, there is something about her that didn’t quite engage with me. Perhaps it was knowing the plot line, but I found I wasn’t gripped by the book and anxious to see what happens. Although Tris and Four are likeable, none of the other characters truly stand out and make you care about them, mainly because of how Tris sees them. It works to create her isolation, but leaves the book feeling like it is missing something.
Due to the system that needs to be established, there does seem to be a lot of just general introduction talk in this book, especially at the start while the system is being set up. It is needed, but a more subtle way could have been used to reveal the danger that being a Divergent is. Tris also seems to polarise from being strong to weak very quickly and on multiple occasions.
However, the book was still an enjoyable one with a well-crafted plot and enough action and danger that it keeps you reading even if you aren’t completely gripped. The characters Roth spends the time on are well developed and a lot of thought has gone into the processes of the initiation and everything that this stands for. Understanding of the world and system is established clearly enough to know what is at stake.