Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Divergent by Veronica Roth

What You Need to Know: This dystopian sci-fi tale will find an audience with teens seeking the "next" Hunger Games, but doesn't live up to the pre-release hype.  

Summary:  Beatrice lives in a world of factions.  She has been raised as a Abnegation, trained to value selflessness and service.  But as she turns 16, she must choose a faction, which will supersede all else in her life.  Will she remain in Abnegation or choose Candor, who see truthfulness as the greatest good?  Perhaps she will choose Erudite, and become one who seeks knowledge.  Amity values peace above all, and Dauntless, bravery.  A simulation is supposed to reveal where each teen belongs.  Beatrice however, makes a surprising discovery.  She is Divergent, and has qualities of many of the factions.  Divergence is dangerous, and Beatrice must hide her differences while discovering some uncomfortable truths about her society.

What Worked: This book does some clever world building.  The factions, while not an an original idea, are presented in a fresh way.  The dystopic setting is hinted at, and left largely unexplained.  I like this, as the why doesn't really impact the story, and too much exposition would just bog things down.

Beatrice (or Tris as she comes to be known) is an interesting character.  She feels real, and watching her turn her weaknesses into strengths is fascinating.  In fact, I almost wish that Tris hadn't been Divergent, because watching a girl who is trained to meekness become a Dauntless warrior is fascinating, and I think there is an interesting conversation about strength that almost happens. 

Those who seek action will get it here.  Roth knows how to write a fast-moving, believable fight scene.

What Didn't:   The romance.  I know I complain about romance a lot, but the romance element here really doesn't make sense at all.  I think this would have been a much stronger story if Tris could have made allies without the romance element.  

Since so much of the book deals with Tris's training as a Dauntless, and so much of her focus is internal, the external conflict that makes up the final quarter of the book feels tacked on.   Yes, events outside of Tris's faction training are alluded to, but in passing only.

My biggest complaint about this book is that it tries to surprise readers and fails.  The "twists" are not shocking or revealing.  Savvy readers will have almost everything figured out long before the plot gets around to it.  It annoys me when an author doesn't trust their readers to do the work.

Who Would I Give This Book To?  I can see fans of The Hunger Games gravitating to this title.  Teens seeking more action oriented dystopic stories would also enjoy it

No comments:

Post a Comment