On my blog, I’ve reviewed quite a few books that either receive 4 or 5 star ratings. I think this will be the first “critical” book review, and it’s a good one to start out with, as it is pretty popular.
I believe it’s my first time reading a contemporary distopian, popular YA novel. Picking Divergent up to proofread for my sister, I wasn’t expecting anything great; I’d heard there was teen romance combined with a poor writing style, but I was still curious. Turns out, it fit my expectations pretty well. It’s hard to say whether I actually “liked” the book or not; there were things about it I did enjoy, whereas there were things about it that makes me not want to read the second book.
The plot was intriguing, but not outstanding. It’s a YA distopian, so I kind of figured it would be something like Hunger Games or The Giver. The people in the story are sorted into Factions: Amity (the peaceful), Erudite (the intelligent), Dauntless (the brave), Abnegation (the selfless), and Candor (the honest). The main character, 16-year-old, Abnegation-born Beatrice is (unavoidable spoiler) Divergent. All 16-year-olds take a simulation test that decides which faction they will be sorted into. Since Beatrice (Tris) is Divergent but doesn’t know till 3/4 of the way through, she picks Dauntless; she feels she can’t be selfless enough to stay in Abnegation.
She goes through intense training, makes a couple friends and enemies, and there’s a huge chunk of the book (maybe a hundred pages or so?) that is nothing but her running around crazily with her gang, doing daredevil stuff, and noticing certain things about boys here and there and it just drove me nuts.
But her relationship with her family, her outlook on courage, and her doubting thoughts about the faction Dauntless is what makes Tris a likeable character. She has special bonds with her brother Caleb and her mom, and when she finds that the faction Erudite’s leader, Jeanine, decides to kill all of Abnegation simply to take over the city, she doesnt’ hesitate to risk her life for them. The problem is, the Dauntless leaders are with Jeanine, and they are injected with a serum that basically takes over their minds and puts in one word: Kill.
If Tris wasn’t divergent, she would be one of those sleepwalking Dauntless, killing her family and those from her original faction. There’s a lot of heartbreaking moments at the very end, but I love how courage and the importance of conquering fear was the underlying theme for the whole story. I think that’s what made me keep reading, aside from it being very fast paced.
That’s the other thing. The writing style was very simple and in the present tense. I’ve never read a book all in present tense (but I have written in that perspective, lots of fun) and it seemed a little awkward to me at first. But as the story pulled me in, I paid less attention to the phrases “I say” and “I look” and “I think.” Maybe if it were less simple, I would have enjoyed reading the whole thing in present tense more, or vice versa.
Also, the story was very fast paced. Things keep happening and there are lots of action and scenes that quickly go from one to the other. The chapters were also shorter, and I tend to keep reading a book if it has shorter chapters (I’m not exactly sure why). I think the other reason why I got it done so fast was from all the skimming I was doing …
There were lots of things I needed to skim. The romance was constant and irritating. At first I thought she liked this one guy, then it seemed she had feelings for this other dude, and all of the sudden she’s kissing someone else who ends up with her at the end anyways. There were so many instances that were at least a page and a half long that could be cut out with thoughts, affectionate dialog, detailed feelsy stuff, mentions of sex, and why. I mean, she’s a girl and liking someone is alright, I get it, but do you really need to spend sooooo much time on that? I’m in suspense, and here we are off on a kissing rabbit trail.
So yeah. Not recommended for the younger readers. Oh, wait … this is a young adult novel. Hehe, WHOOPS.
So that’s my critical review. Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of good stuff to say about it, but I was going to say a lot in my Goodreads review and so I decided to put it into a blog post. There you have it. Have you read the book? If you liked it as in a 5-star like, please tell me why: Test your persuasion powers! If you couldn’t stand it, I’m sorry. If you have no idea if you liked it or not and hate it for that very reason, here’s a tissue. I’m there with you.
As always, thanks for reading!