Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Series: #1 of the Divergent Trilogy
Website: Author’s Blog
Society is divided into five factions. Once you turn 16, you are forced to choose which faction you will join for life, or risk being factionless. Beatrice has always been part of her family’s Abnegation faction, living a quiet life of selflessness. When she turns 16, she surprises everyone, including herself, by choosing to leave her family permanently to join the wild Dauntless faction. There’s one problem: her faction test was inconclusive. She doesn’t belong to any single faction. She’s Divergent, a problem in their system, and if her secret comes out, she’ll be at the mercy of those who made the rules. Of course, she has to survive the Dauntless initiation process, where the mysterious instructor Four is trying to keep her safe by throwing her into danger.
The story is engrossing; it is easy to forget about other aspects of the novel, such as the characters. The protagonist, Tris, is one of those characters I have to defend. Yes, she has very little personality. She has desires (that surprise even her) and motivations, but what are her personality traits? There are actually surprisingly few character traits you can pin to her, though there are reasons why this makes sense.
Abnegation is a faction that is selfless. They strive to be invisible by dressing in bland, grey clothes. Their children do not speak unless spoken to. They are taught to help whenever help is needed, to give what they have to others, and they are committed to community service. Their faction strikes away the idea of having an individual image. The adults have a private image, as they can do fun things like talk at home. The kids are meant to be perfect and quiet.
Whether it was a well-planned move by the author or not, Beatrice, who grew up in Abnegation, lacks a definitive personality because she wasn’t allowed to explore her individual self. Additionally, teens fluctuate in their personalities almost daily as they are still trying to define themselves. When it is her time to choose her faction, she has to do some soul searching. Children of Abnegation parents generally stay in Abnegation; their parents are in Abnegation, and they are raised to be obedient to them and not stand out in any way. Leaving Abnegation would cause a fuss and it would sadden their parents.
What Beatrice does have is uncertainty, feelings of not-belonging, and a desire to break free and be an individual. The Dauntless are reckless in physically and psychologically. They also have the bravery aspect, and Beatrice wants to be brave enough to break free of her Abnegation ways.
The Problem with Factions
One problem that I have is that the factions run on your personality and your job prospects. In my situation, I like community service and helping people, but I don’t want to be in the government. I am creative and peaceful, so I would also like Amity. Yet all Divergent shows them doing is picking fruit. While I am sure I would have fun picking fruit, it isn’t what I want to do with my life. I enjoy studying, learning, and teaching, so Euridite is probably the best for me because I could probably be a librarian with them (yay!), but there are aspects that I dislike about that faction. And what do Candor do? As far as I can tell, they are lie-detectors. Aside from prosecutors, what are the jobs they are supposed to be suited for?
I want to know how their society came into being. The Hunger Games’ Panem is explained, and it is central to the plot. Since I have read Divergent, I have spoken to a teen who has read the whole trilogy, and she has informed me that the later books do explain it. However, I would have liked to hear about it in the first book. That is standard world building that has been missed. As I was reading, I wanted to know if the city has always been like this and if it is just this city or the whole world. I wondered what is beyond the city’s walls. Is it full of monsters, murderers, radiation in the soil? Something that drives the plot of the video game Resonance of Fate is the mystery of what is outside of the tower, Basel, that they live in. Finding out was an amazing experience, and I was confused when I read the last page of Divergent and closed the book. I want to know more about the world they live in! Yes, apparently I’ll get to read all about it in the next books, but there is a huge gap in world the building in the first book that aggravates me!
What I do like about this dystopian is that the government is not immediately evil, like in 1984 or Brave New World. After all, when people set out to create new governments, they do not purposefully intend to create a dystopia; the people who set the rules believe they are doing the right thing. I can see why you would want to group like-minded people together for an efficient society. It is when the details of the society come to light that you realize that you don’t want to live there.
The writing works, though it is nothing special, and the lack of commas pesters me to no end. Since I started writing this review, I began reading Insurgent, the second book, and there are also moments when I noticed that Roth really should be using commas and she isn’t. I don’t have access to the first book at the moment, and if I catch any more while reading Insurgent, I’ll flag them so I can post them in my Insurgent review.
I hate to jump on hypes, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I had a lot of questions regarding the history of the city, why Tris falls for Four (perhaps because no one else is interested in her?), and the grammar quality is sometimes lacking, and this brings my critique down. But should everyone and their moms read this? Yes! Regardless if you believe running a society this way would work or not, Divergent has a story that unfurls and keeps you reading.
I admit, I didn’t read the books until I saw the first trailer for the film during the previews at the theatre for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. I had access to the books, but I hadn’t gotten around to reading them. So, here are two trailers, in case you haven’t seen them, and I personally haven’t seen any on T.V.:
The actress that plays Tris, Shailene Woodley, doesn’t reflect the image in my head. In the book, Tris is very small with a boyish figure. The actress is very pretty, but I didn’t envision Tris to look like that. I also pictured Four to look more tough, angrier, and gruff.
And WHY does IMDB state: “When she discovers a plot to destroy Divergents, Tris and the mysterious Four must find out what makes Divergents dangerous before it's too late”? It isn’t like this in the book. *Cries hysterically in a snow bank*
With that said, I am still planning on seeing it with someone. If I were forced to go alone, I wouldn’t; I’d wait until it came out on DVD. I’m interested in how this will turn out, though.
Edit: Movie Trailer Reaction
Edit: Movie Trailer Reaction
I, and some other people, are concerned that Four doesn't appear to be the Four that we know from the books. The best reaction to the movie trailer has been (and I'm paraphrasing), is Four saying: "Welcome to Dauntless. We're all about free love here."
In the book, Tris gets three crows tattooed along her collarbone. Has anyone noticed the popularity of bird tattoos on collarbones? I wonder if the popularity happened before the book, or after. It's unfortunate that they are overdone now, because I have a soft spot for bird tattoos.