Thursday, March 27, 2014

Book Bingo: Divergent

Divergent by Veronica Roth is the first in a trilogy. The series is set in a dystopian future of Chicago, where five factions co-exist: Abnegation (which values selflessness above all else), Amity (which values peace), Candor (which values honesty), Dauntless (which values courage), and Erudite (which values intelligence). Divergent is told from the point-of-view of Tris (or Beatrice) Prior, a sixteen-year-old girl from Abnegation who chooses to switch to Dauntless.

(picture taken from Goodreads;
MTI cover)

A movie version of this book came out in theatres on Friday. I read a copy with the cover from the movie, but the original was pretty, too. I actually prefer the latter, but I almost always prefer original covers to movie covers. Each one seems to better indicate the true meaning of its book.

(picture taken from Goodreads;
original cover)

Conclusion: Roth's writing style is not my favorite. It reminded me of Meyer's Twilight, although the story isn't even vaguely similar to that vampire and werewolf fantasy creation. The explanation of this reminder lies in Roth's use of simple words and concise (rather than flowy or poetic) sentences. Also, the premise of the story seems a bit implausible in a realistic future. I'm not sure one or two generations is enough to breed almost a city's worth of people who are physically able to block out all other values for the dominance of one value in their lives, even if each person chooses that value for his or herself. Beyond the genetic side of it, I could see this happening. People would dedicate themselves to a world like this in order to avoid war, I think. My final complaint is that the story starts out really slow. Taking into account that Roth uses the beginning to introduce the reader to the world of Divergent, however, and that the slower pace gives the reader a chance to get comfortable before Beatrice chooses her faction, I can accept it.

Complaints aside, I enjoyed this book. After Tris chooses to be Dauntless, the pace picks up very quickly. I was forced to mourn in less than a moment the loss of a character's life or at least a character's purpose in life, and this motioned a definite shift in my reactions to events later in the book. I didn't really understand Tris's developing relationship with Four, but I still enjoyed it. This whole book is sort of like a roller coaster I just had to ride to the end before I could really think about it. And I think that's how it should be. After a lot of pondering, the book seems best viewed as an action and romance story rather than an intellectual one. I would recommend it if you want a quick, action-packed read, or if you prefer to read a book before seeing the movie (like me!). I'll probably read the next one in the series to see where it goes, although I'm wary from the responses I've heard at the bookstore lately. I guess I'll find out for myself!

Post-Movie Update: The movie, even more so than the book, is bent toward the action rather than the psychological side of things. I pretty much expected this, since it's harder for the actors to portray inner conflict. There were a few things cut-out or changed a bit, but most of it was done seamlessly, combining two events to save time or something of that sort. There were only three, fairly minor things that really bothered me about the Divergent movie: 1) Four is supposed to be somewhat impaired by his fears, but the movie portrays them as a much more minor part of his life; 2) Tris's fear landscape becomes a forceful, almost violent intimate situation rather than just an awkward situation where she's not ready for "follow-through," which gives the impression that her fear is Four rather than intimacy (which is her actual fear), and lots of people are watching her landscape instead of just the Dauntless leaders; and 3) toward the end of the book, Tris faces down an individual for Four, but they completely left it out of the movie. The third item doesn't play a huge role in the chain of events, but it serves as a great synopsis of Tris's and Four's relationship. Even though she's not as physically strong as Four is, Tris is supposed to be very strong of will, and she supports him when his fears are too strong. Maybe since they downplayed his fears in the movie, they didn't find this part necessary, but it was one of my favorite moments in the book. Anyway, since the book and movie were strong in the action department, it was easier for me to enjoy the movie without as many complaints as I might usually have. I went to see it with a couple of friends, and it's a good movie for that.

This book was my first "TBR Pile" choice for the 2014 Book Bingo Challenge. I have so many books I've been meaning to read, there won't be a lack of choices to check-off this box! Let me know what you've been reading lately or what you think of this very popular series?


  1. I've got this series in my to-read list, along with the Hunger Games books, and I can't seem to muster up enough enthusiasm to read either series. Yet. One day!

    1. I've only read the first book in this series so far, Hamlette, but I've heard it's the best one in the trilogy. I've also only read the first book in The Hunger Games trilogy, but only because I forget every time I'm picking up a new book--I LOVED the first one in that series. It goes much more in-depth than the movie, if you've seen that. Worth every minute.