Monday, January 14, 2013

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

 
Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth
Rating: YES, I finally read it, and YES, I loved it just as much as you said I would. I'm not sure I would even dare criticize this book if I didn't, though, since you all would probably eat me.



In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, 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 alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are--and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating 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 unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.


I'm not sure how to write a review for a book most of you have read and almost all of you have heard of. If you haven't heard of it, yay! Welcome to Earth! That thing up there is sky and those down there are rocks. Don't eat them. (Just kidding. I have a friend who only just found out there was MORE THAN ONE LORD OF THE RINGS MOVIE, and I'm still on speaking terms with her, so clearly I don't judge.) Also I'm feeling particularly lazy today, so I'm just going to put a bunch of gifs in here to tide you over as if I don't already do that.

I will admit, I had such a hard time starting this book. Because it came with EXPECTATIONS, you know? So many people told me I was going to love it that I almost became sure I wouldn't. Because there was no way it could be as good as everyone said it would, and who wants to read things that are popular, I mean ew and it's becoming a movie how mainstream, blah blah hipster. And when I read the first couple of pages, I thought my fears were being confirmed. I didn't get it. I thought Beatrice was flat and her parents didn't have personality. I thought I might be dystopia-ed out. I was... unsure.

And then Beatrice hopped a train.

Beatrice makes the choice that will change the rest of her life. She throws over Abnegation to become Dauntless, changes her name to Tris, and leaps off a building into a whole new life. And that, my friends, is when I got why everyone was talking about this book. Here was the action. Here was the drama. Here was Tris being a completely awesome and brilliant YA heroine on par with Katniss and Katsa. And it was here, in the dangerous and dramatic underground Dauntless compound, that I met Four. Oh, Four.

 

I mean, I don't dare say much about him, lest I spoil it for the six people who haven't read it yet, but I'll take one in every color, please. He's strong. He's handsome. He's complicated. And he sees more in Tris than anybody ever has. I was just in awe with how deeply he got her, especially when it came to understanding how powerful and resilient she was. Not once did he think of her as a victim, or weak, or vulnerable, even when truly awful things were happening to her.
 
Tris decided to be Dauntless, which means she's basically training to join the Marines. And it's the worst. It's a dog-eat-dog world in the Dauntless compound, since only a handful of the initiates will make it, and those who don't will be Factionless, a fate worse than death in Tris' world. Which is handy, as it's likely a bunch of the initiates will die. No pressure, or anything. Tris' journey in Dauntless is basically her learning how to be the total brilliant badass she's meant to be. She really comes into her own, going from:
 
Ummm I'm from Abnegation so I don't really know how to
OH MY GOD you want me to jump off a building are you high
 to:
Let's go kick some HUNNY ERUDITE BUNS!

To say she's strong is an understatement. This is a girl that never breaks, no matter how far she's pushed. She's always the agent of her own story, meaning it's her choices that drive the narrative. Tris is never a passenger in her own story, never merely reacting to what goes on around her. She's the smallest in her initiate class and no one thinks much of her, but the beauty of Tris is that she thinks a lot of herself. She knows she can beat them. She knows she will.

 
Of course there are all the usual ingredients of a dystopian. Big Bad Trouble is Brewing amongst the factions, there's political blah blah and tension and villains and so. I was nervous about how all that was going to be pulled off, considering Roth had to balance all that with Tris' training, her romance with Four, her developing badassery, her dealings with the eeeeevil Peter, and her competitive friendships. High concept dystopians are so tricky. I really connect with the characters, but I'm sold by the execution. I don't care how good your concept is if  you can't execute it. Thankfully, Roth's execution is pretty much:


The ending is so satisfyingly climax-y, and even though I think I saw it coming, certain aspects of it DEFINITELY stunned me. Also, I'm totally glad I own Insurgent and was able to transition into it immediately, because if I'd had to wait a year, there would have been blood. I gobbled this book up in about a day. It wasn't perfect, but it was so bloody entertaining, well-written, emotional, and fast-paced that I literally couldn't put it down. If you're not on the bandwagon of this particular YA phenomenon, by choice or by ignorance, I'd say get on it, at least so you'll know why I think Shailene Woodley is beyond awesome casting for the movie, despite the fact she's too tall to be the Tris in my head.

image



What say you? Do you see Tris?

For the record, I would most decidedly NOT be Dauntless, because I'm not particularly fond of beating the life out of people and I tend to cry when I get too high off the ground. Seriously, I get dizzy and panicky on escalators. I'm convinced that falling off one is how I'm going to die. No way would I be Abnegation, because I'm a selfish brat who's quite fond of mirrors. Candor would be THE WORST because I'm a lying liar who lies and no way would I want to know what everybody else is thinking all the time. Erudite I could do in theory, since I'm a fan of all the booking and the learning and the science-ing, except they're kind of all complete assholes over there and I have a little issue with that. Which leaves me with Amity, the Hufflepuff of the Divergent world (Cedric: Hufflepuff are particularly good finders! Dumbledore: What the hell is a Hufflepuff?). I guess I could see myself being okay with Amity, singing kumbaya and playing the banjo and eating cupcakes for the rest of my days. Or at least until I snapped and punched someone just for something to do.

Which I guess is part of the point of the world Roth has created. Human nature is so vast and varied that it's impossible to conform to one archetype. The Divergent society is lovely on paper as a kind of utopian intellectual exercise, but it falls apart in practice because it fails to take human nature into account. And it fails to recognize that the strongest among us are the ones who can be brave, selfless, truthful, intelligent, and kind, sometimes all at once, sometimes only at the right times.

So tell me: if you lived in Tris' world, meaning you had to squish yourself into one of the metaphorical Faction boxes on your sixteenth birthday, which would it be? Dauntless, Abnegation, Candor, Erudite, or Amity?

17 comments:

  1. Oh! Amazing review sweetie. <3 I get everything that you said. Sigh. I need to re-read this perfect book again soon. Tris is just so amazing! And Four! And ahh. Everything was so great :) And yeah. The ending.. so perfect, yet so awful. I didn't love Insurgent quite as much, but I did love it :) I would be Dauntless. I hope. Or, maybe like you said, Amity. Except that I'm not all that happy most of the time ;p Anyway. Did you finish Graceling yet? Because I read it after I had read Divergent.. and, well, no one is as good as Katsa and Po (A) <3 Hih. Thank you for sharing your awesome review :D
    Love, Carina

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    1. I have finished Graceling! I liked it even better than Divergent. Thanks for the love!

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  2. I'm pretty sure I say this about everything you write, but seriously I love your reviews so much. I really liked this book. I didn't love it, but I can see why everyone does. If I had to choose a faction, I think I'd choose Dauntless. I don't really fit in any of the factions completely (but who does?), but out of all of them, I think I'd fit in that one the most.

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    1. I really, really, REALLY liked it, but I think the uber high expectations killed any chance of me being obsessed with it. I mean, I get it, and I love it.

      I take it you are NOT afraid of heights. That was a deal breaker for me. Though I'm all about the tattoos. They're awesome.

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  3. Great review!!! I just finished reading the book myself and I definitely agree it was amazing. I thought I would just kind of like it, but I was blown away.
    Love the gifs.
    =)
    Megan @ Love, Literature, Art, and Reason

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    1. Thank you! I was also impressed, particular at the end.

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  4. *squeals* SO HAPPY YOU READ THIS AND LOVED IT AND GOSH I LOVE YOUR REVIEW. And caps. Caps are my life. But anyways, I really need to reread this because I tried reading Insurgent but it had been TOO long since I read Divergent that I had no idea what the heck was going on. But Four? Oh sweet merciful cupcakes, I love him. I have the same thought process as you with the Factions. Although, I might be a little better with Dauntless, but...probably not.

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    1. CAPS RULE. And I am stealing "Sweet merciful cupcakes" and making it mine. And I don't mind the badass part of Dauntless, but can't. Do. Heights.

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  5. Love your review with the perfect GIFs! I think I read Divergent at just the right time--it was definitely gaining popularity, but it hadn't quite yet exploded onto everyone's favorite lists, so it was popular enough that I went into it with positive thinking, but not so much that it felt weighty with its expectations. I'm not sure what faction I'd be in. Definitely not Candor or Amity. I like peace and friendship but not at the expense of doing the right thing when called for. I think I might have a *small* Dauntless streak, but not enough to actually be Dauntless. I'd probably be Erudite in a non-corrupt form or more likely, Abnegation.

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  6. OmyGod, omyGod! You said EVERYTHING I thought while reading. I was very much unimpressed with the beginning of Divergent. Even after Tris made the leap into Dauntless (haha, see what I did there?), I couldn't break out of the feeling that everything was very formulaic of a Dystopian novel. Then... I don't know what happened. It got GOOD. I love Four. He's amazing sauce. I want to pour him all over my food and eat him right up. And now I sound creepy.

    I would have to be Divergent/Factionless, with the ultimate choice of being in Amity. My 3 would be Amity, Erudite, and Abnegation. I am all about being friendly, but I have a temper and a love for arguing. I love reading and learning, but I'm stubborn and don't like to do it on anyone's time but my own. I love to give, but like you I'm too selfish to be selfless. I would be miserable. I can't wait to read what you think about Insurgent!

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  7. YES. Oh my gosh, I love this book. This is the kind of book that as soon as I put it down I was texting friends, demanding that they read it.

    I'd probably be Candor or Amity because conflict for me is me is NO BUENO... and also I'm a terrible liar so being in Candor would eliminate any white lie needs even.

    (Also, your use of gifs=FLAWLESS)

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  8. Yeah, you might get inter-jumped if you were critical about this one! I am so glad that you loved it though! I loved it too. I wasn't expecting to love it as much as I did. It is still a favorite. Thank you so much for the fantastic review!!

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  9. Your reviews are so amazing, they always make me smile. I started choking on my cereal when I got to the part about you being convinced you would die by escalator. Most of the comments you make in your reviews amuse me. I really loved Divergent but I haven't gotten around to reading Insurgent yet. Four was definitely a highlight for me, I love him. Great review and I love the gifs.

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  10. Awesome review! I could definitely see myself in Erudite (the good not the evil) or Amity. Hope you enjoy Insurgent!

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  11. Great review. I read Divergent, but haven't picked up Insurgent yet. It's on my list, but there's a bunch of stuff in line first.

    I love all the gifs. It makes the review come alive.

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  12. Hahahha I loved Divergent too. Insurgent was pretty too. But I liked Divergent better. :)

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  13. Great review! I'm still on the fence if I want to read this, but everyone keeps going on about it and I know the film is in production. We shall see.

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