A Critical Review of Veronica Roth’s “Divergent” – 2 ½ Stars

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.

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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!

 

 

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10 thoughts on “A Critical Review of Veronica Roth’s “Divergent” – 2 ½ Stars

  1. I think you just put into words what I didn’t like about this book. I liked it better than Hunger Games, but it’s still not that great. It’s sad to see the state of modern young adult literature when just ten years ago we had instant classics like Pendragon and Artemis Fowl releasing.

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    • Glad you liked the review! Interesting to hear you liked it better than Hunger Games. I plan on reading that series soon, but I guess I’ve been warned (and it’s not my first time). 😛 I’m with you on that opinion of YA fiction. I try to understand the “immediate” change but I just don’t; you’re right, Artemis Fowl is awesome!

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  2. Just had a look at your critical review of Divergent. I haven’t read the novel myself but I know a lot about it. Some people like it whilst others call it a rather obvious rip-off from Hunger Games.
    Although it does sound kind of cool, I can understand the bit you mentioned on the romance, though. That’s tends to be common in YA/ dystopian and that’s probably why I’m not into that genre very much. (Either it’s too much death or too much romance, I’m not sure.)
    So good job with your review! By the way, I’ve read a few of your posts since I subscribed and I really like them. D:)

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    • Thanks so much! I’m so glad you like my posts. 😀 I haven’t even read any YA distopian because of all the death/romance that I keep hearing about! I think those are pretty legit reasons that keep some people away. I haven’t read Hunger Games yet, but I’m eager to compare and contrast it with Divergent. Thanks for reading! 😀

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  3. I’m glad to know I am not the only person who did not like this book, although I would have given Divergent a three star review, and Insurgent a two star. I couldn’t get into Allegiant, mainly because of the romance. The kissing may be bad in the first book, but at one point in the second book there was a really really sensual kiss and I had to skip about two pages before it was over. Also, I did not like Tris at all. She was a wonderful character in the beginning, with so much potential, but once she joined Dauntless I saw the character I held dear go down the drain.
    Thanks for writing!

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    • Oh dear. That’s sad the romance just keeps elevating through the series! You’re right about Tris. I though she was going to be an interesting character, but then she chose Dauntless (how did I see that coming?!). I like how she sees problems with that faction that she wants to change, though.
      Thanks so much for reading!

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  4. Well done review, Susannah. I read both the Divergent and Hunger Games series a while back. I always skim through the romance/sexual parts (same when watching movies!) but I always enjoy the development of relationships, the right on the mark revelations of the psychology of the characters…..and these two series mirrored the flaws and fine points of living humans. At my age I have seen just about all of these types of behaviors. I probably would give the books 3 stars in general…….

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  5. Mwhahaha yes, you summarized why I didn’t like this book with the romance. 😄 I skimmed and skipped /so much/ towards the end. But I rated it four stars (believe me when I say my standards for rating things are weird and don’t necessarily follow a pattern XD) because I really enjoyed the premise of this book, and the idea of a future New York, the factions, etc. If I read it now I’d probably give it three stars 😛

    I read it a few years ago, when I was a young naive little thing unaware of tropes and what the broader dystopian genre looked like. 😄

    I AM CURIOUS: Do you plan on reading the next book? Or book three? I made it all the way to the beginning of book three, but someone spoiled it and there was much too much kissing in the first chapter. 😄

    Jeneca @ jeniquablog.wordpress.com

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    • Ah! Another reader who agrees. 😀 Yeah, I liked the overall idea and found it interesting, but I’m not going to read the second and third book; I heard there was just too much romance and I got sick of the writing style half way into the first one, lol. I’m sorry someone spoiled it. :/ Bad book or not, spoilers are never ok! But I’ve started the Hunger Games to compare and contrast with Divergent, and I love it so far. 😀 Thanks so much for the comment!! At least these types of books teach us writers lessons, eh?

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