Thursday, May 5, 2011

[Review] Divergent by Veronica Roth

Title: Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth
Publication: May 2011
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Australia
Source: For review from publisher
Age: 16+ mild sexual scenes, moderate violence
Pages: 480
My Rating:

What if you had to choose your destiny when you were sixteen - would you make the right decision?

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
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.

The decision Beatrice makes will change the lives of those around her forever.
My thoughts: 

I knew from the beginning that I would have trouble writing a decent review for this book, or rather, present a review that brings anything new to the stands. Because really? All that stuff you've read about Divergent up until now? All. True. In many cases, hype actually leads people to amazing books, such is the case with Divergent.

In Divergent, Veronica Roth depicts a "futuristic" world where people are entitled to a choice as to what kind of life they will live. However, there are only 5 choices, each faction abiding by their own rules and static lifestyles based on a different virtue. Beatrice Prior has lived the first 16 years within the asphyxiating walls of the Abnegation faction (the selfless), so when her aptitude test results suggest possible change, will she decide to leave all that she has known for something more exciting? (this rhetorical question fails, because if you read on you'll know what she does :P)

Sigh. This whole book is just SOLID. Roth has strung this book so tightly; not one word is out of place. It's just perfect. I wish I could just end this review right here, but I suppose some rationale is in order, to express why this book is the bomb and that everyone should just stop reading this horrendous review (haha) and PRE-ORDER Divergent!!! (link directs to Fishpond, pricing at AU $14~)

Really? Please, don't read any more reviews of this book. The less you know about it, the better. With that out of the way, I implore you to continue reading at your own risk.

Divergent is so well-paced; it is so refreshing to read a book where I didn't have to read the next chapter to finish the book, but rather, I couldn't not continue reading. This book was unlike anything I've ever read before. I've read a few dystopians before, and while some of the foundations are familiar, Roth has created a completely original world, with this idea of factions and CHOICE determining how you live your life, in a place that seems to work really well, until it turns out that it's just as flawed as our society.

Normally character development will either make or break a book, and I'm glad to say that I loved the characters. They were all distinct from one another, considering the larger than average "cast", and for that I am so grateful. Not only were they individual: I found myself relating to their situations somehow; I laughed aloud at their interactions among themselves; I cried or gasped or gaped when something bad happened to a character. I'm being vague so as not to give anything away. I will acknowledge, though, that near the ending, I was so wrapped up in the action and adrenaline rushing through in the scenes, that some of that emotional impact is lost, just a bit (people who have read it already will know what I mean).

Beatrice "Tris" Prior, at the beginning, is a Stiff, just trying to face a new world outside her sheltered home, trying to prove to everyone and herself that she's capable of being Dauntless. Tris is strong and powerful even in her shortcomings and modest demeanour. She's able to adapt to circumstances, be concerned about who she is, stubborn about what she thinks she can be, leaving indelible imprints in my mind even after I turned the last page. Really, just a delightful protagonist, and though she makes so many crappy decisions, she's still got that likeability to her that's hard to resist.

The romances are not starcrossed! Hallelujah. The relationship between Tris and X (it's obvious once you read) is a slow progression, built upon a form of dysfunctional equals, which is hard to put in actual coherent words. X is strict, brave and intelligent, but also has weaknesses and faults. Their relationship feels real, and I just love that while X is older than Tris, he is not just looking to hook up. Underneath all the tough exterior, he's actually almost sweet. Another relationship, between Tris' new best friend, and their mutual friend also runs along similar lines, and may hold even stronger emotional bonds to it. But I'll leave that to you to find out. ;)

The words in Divergent just oozes down the page: easy to read, even on a rough day, and this is a class example of quality writing within the YA genre.

The end of Divergent is just explosion after explosion. The whole book was such a ride, so hard to keep away from, but the last 100 pages? Even moreso. I was gasping and almost tearing-up left and center, so lost in the moments that I barely took the time to blink. Energy surges through this book, from start to finish. Oh, this book was just what I needed.
I'm SO glad that it is a part of a series! There are at least 2 more coming! Join me in my excitement by squealing of delight! :D


First Lines

THERE IS ONE mirror in my house. It is behind a sliding panel in the hallway upstairs. Our faction allows me to stand in front of it on the second day of every third month, the day my mother cuts my hair.
I sit on the stool and my mother stands behind me with he scissors, trimming. The strands fall on the floor in a dull, blonde ring.

Favourite Quotes

Caleb and i climb the stairs and, at the top, when we divide to go to our own separate bedrooms, he stops me with a hand on my shoulder.
     "Beatrice," he says, looking sternly in my eyes. "We should think of our family." There is no edge to his voice. "But. But we must also think of ourselves."
     For a moment I stand at him. I have never seen him think of himself, never heard him insist on anything but selflessness.
    I am so startled by his comment that I just say what I am supposed to say: "The tests don't have to change our choices."
    He smiles a little. "Don't they, though?"

(pp. 36-37)

"They try to make you think they care about what you do, but they don't. They don't want you to act a certain way. They want you to think a certain way. So you're easy to understand. So you won't pose a threat to them."

(p. 312, Four)


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I have received this review copy in return for an honest review.

Challenge: 2011 Debut Challenge

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