Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Book Review: Divergent

by Veronica Roth

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. 

Why I read it: I’ll admit it… all the hype did kind of influence me. But there were so many other reasons: it’s dystopia, it’s a futuristic slightly sci-fi story, the author is a Christian…etc… I read the first hundred pages online and LOVED it, so when I won three books from HC, this was an easy choice.

What I liked: What grabbed me immediately was Tris’s voice. I absolutely loved her character from page one all the way up to the end. I loved how she was brave, and still tried to be selfless. How she was noble and yet cruel. How she has so much talent and still admits her faults. She was such a dynamic character, constantly changing, and I loved her no matter what she did.

Of course, the setting/idea of this story really drew me in, too. I’m a huge fan of futuristic societies, so I enjoyed Roth’s version of the future. While a lot of people talk about how it didn’t feel realistic, I personally don’t care. This is a ‘what if’ sort of book, and I loved the idea of the factions, even if it wasn’t realistic. I loved how nothing was black and white. Each faction had their own good guys and villains. Sometimes the lies the villain was spreading were actually true. In short, despite the unrealistic setting, the good vs. evil battle, and Tris’s personal struggle to find where she fit in, felt very real.

What I disliked: A lot of other people have pointed this out, but the plot doesn’t start until about page 350. The first two-thirds of the book are still fascinating and I was hooked, but they don’t really have much to do with the ending plot. I didn’t mind this plotlessness, since it still worked for me, but I know it’s annoyed other people.

Also, the romance felt a little off. I absolutely loved how it began; this certainly wasn’t love at first sight, and if I hadn’t known who she was going to fall for I wouldn’t have guessed. However, after that first kiss it seems like they’re constantly kissing. The first kiss was super sweet and I absolutely loved it, but all the kissing after that just seemed like overkill.

From a Christian Perspective: One reason why I was looking forward to this book is because I knew the author is a Christian, so hopefully her book would be pretty clean. I wasn’t disappointed. I think I found one swear word, and that was it. As for sexual content, there was a fair bit of kissing like I said earlier, but it never goes beyond that. In fact, one of Tris’s fears is that her boyfriend will try to have sex with her. While it’s fairly clean, there is a good deal of violence. It’s not described as much as it could have been, but some images are kind of disturbing. Not for children under 13, for sure.

To buy or not to buy: I won this through inkpop, like I said, but had I borrowed it from the library I would most certainly have bought it. I think it’s my favourite read so far this year. 

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