Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A story about courage: Divergent

Title: Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth
My Rating: 4.5/5

“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.”

*mild spoilers*

Alright. Deep breaths. Review time. Can't do it. Still too shaky from the last 70 pages of this book. And that ending. Oh gawd.

Okay. Let's get down to business.

First off, I'd like to address all the things I wasn't so crazy about. That way when I talk about how the last 70 pages and some other moments totally redeemed the story, you will know what I'm talking about.

Excuse me for one second. Have to go put on my steel suit, so when Divergent maniacs throw rotten tomatoes at me I'll be unharmed. Anyways. Here goes:

the pacing/meaningfulness. I get that Veronica Roth is trying to give us readers a thrill ride by putting in exciting events every once in a little while, from the train jumps, to the Pit, to the chasm, to the Hancock building, and so on. But I just wish they weren't so meaningless. I'm not saying I didn't enjoy the adrenaline kicks as I read them, I just can't fully embrace the deeper ideas behind them (probably because there aren't any). I get that the initiation is important, but I just wish Roth'd condense things more, because some parts just seemed a little unnecessary.

the factions. I pay tribute to the well thought-out characters of the factions(dauntless, abnegation, candor, erudite, amity), and do think they're very very interesting and worth writing about/reading about. However, one little thing that disappointed me is how Roth made the faction people appear to be. Who said tattoos and piercings have anything to do with fearlessness? To me it's just more reckless gangster, which isn't a good image. I wish Roth used less stereotype in describing the factions. Maybe then I'd embrace Dauntless more. Right now I just see them as a bunch of reckless teenagers who don't think before they do things (with the exception of Tris and Four, because I love them too much).

That being said, Divergent isn't perfect. But...let's move on to the good stuff here...drumroll, please!

Tris. She is a very likable characters. Unlike Katniss(forgive me, I had to draw a comparison, although I love them both), Tris is more selfless in some sense. She is more willing to sacrifice, and readily (more readily than she lets on in the beginning of the story). Her character growth is interesting to watch, and quite mesmerizing to me. I like how her mind matures and grows a thicker skin. She is loud, annoying at times, weak at other, and insecure. She is real. Relatable.

Four. Okay. I have to be a little girl here for a few moments. AHHHHH FOUR!!! I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU FORGET TRIS AND BE MINE!!!!! Okay. That's that. I really like the mystery that surrounds him, and his seemingly dual character (toughness vs. kindness). The multi-factedness of his character makes him very real and believable, and his weaknesses (although only four fears) make him likable (that and his charming appearance ;)

The discussion of humanity. Although I wish Roth explained more about the coming-into-being of the factions, I really enjoyed her thoughtfulness on characters of humanity. Through Tris's struggle between her identity as Abnegation and Dauntless, Roth discusses the similarities between selflessness and bravery-that they are, in truth, very similar. I agree with her very much on this. And I think this is one of the things that sets Tris apart from the other initiates/Dauntless. She is selfless first, then brave. This marks her as loving and caring as well, and saves her from becoming a merely powerful cruel person (like Peter). In addition, I also enjoyed reading about the Erudite, and how knowledge can be destructive, if used wrongfully. I would love to see more of Amity and Candor in the sequels (from the cover of Insurgent I can already tell I will learn a fair amount about Amity in that book).

The last 70 pages (or so). The imagination is raw and creative and eye-opening. Here's my salute to Roth. The simulations and the serum and the conspiracy is truly well thought-out and amazingly written. The last part of the story is the best part, truly engrossing and compelling. I'm sure parts of it will bring you to tears, as it did me. The power in the last part of the story cannot be overstated. I promised not to give away too much, so you'll have to read the story to know. All I can say is it's powerful.

So yeah, that's it. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone looking for an exciting and captivating read

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