30 July 2012

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

I'm likely the last person on earth to have read Veronica Roth's Divergent, the first in a proposed young adult dystopian trilogy.

For Beatrice Prior, native of Chicago, there is no Lake Michigan, only marshland. The city's buildings are crumbling and many are deserted. Politically and socially, the population is divided into five factions, each of which lives by a different primary principle, although there is a central government.

Beatrice was brought up in Abnegation, the faction that believes in selflessness, helping others, and a plain life. When she turns 16, she (along with everyone else in her age group) takes an initiation test to determine her talents and personality. Afterward, she is to pick which group she wants to join. This is a lifelong commitment and not to be taken lightly. Beatrice's results are inconclusive, but she picks the Dauntless faction as her new home and leaves her family and friends forever.

The bulk of Roth's exciting, action-packed Divergent covers Tris's (as Beatrice now calls herself) training in bravery, survival, weapons, and overcoming fear, all skills important to the Dauntless. Tris is one tough, smart young woman, but her weaknesses make her human and win our hearts. Roth does a great job capturing the teen's homesickness and her troubled adjustment to her new faction.

Tris's personal growth and loss of naivete mirror universal changes that all teens experience. Granted Tris's situation is quite a bit harsher than that of most contemporary high schoolers, but her dilemmas have a familiar feel, which makes her a sympathetic character. In addition, most girls will be able to relate to Tris's rocky relationship with the boy she's attracted to.

Divergent would make a great book club choice for both teens and adults. One strong theme throughout the novel is the idea that there might be one ideal way for people to behave in order to best serve humanity. The uneasy alliance among the five factions illustrates the problems of trying to categorize people based on personality or philosophy. Another great topic for discussion is the conflict between family expectations and staying true to one's own dreams. For more ideas, see HarperCollins's reading guide for Divergent.

Roth's characters and dystopian world grab you from the beginning, and the action and love story keep you engaged through the end. It's no wonder Divergent was an Indie Kids Next pick for summer 2011. I can't wait to get to Insurgent, the second book in the series.

I listened to the unabridged audio edition (Harper Audio; 11 hr, 11 min) read by Emma Galvin, who is experienced in creating a believable teenage voice. Her emotional range is outstanding on this audio, capturing Tris's toughness as well as her vulnerability. Galvin's characterizations and pacing keep listeners glued to their earbuds.

Buy Divergent at an Indie, Powell's, Book Depository, or a bookstore near you. These links lead to affiliate programs.
Published by HarperCollins / Katherine Tegen Books, 2011
ISBN-13: 9780062024022
Rating: B+
Source: bought (see review policy)
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t © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)

22 comments:

Sandy Nawrot 7/30/12, 6:22 AM  

I really enjoyed this book...it was an insanely quick read. My daughter read it for a book discussion group at school and they went crazy for it. Unfortunately I've heard that the second book has some issues, so that has kinda planted in my brain as an excuse to keep pushing it off. I will need to get through it soon though, or I'm going to forget everything!

hillary roberts 7/30/12, 7:05 AM  

You are not the last person to read it. I have it on hold at the library.I liked your review I cant wait to see what I think of it.

Rhiannon 7/30/12, 7:23 AM  

I was also late coming to this one. I can't wait to see what you think of Insurgent, I think it's my favourite of the two so far.

Daryl Edelstein 7/30/12, 7:56 AM  

I love books like this .. tho this one sounds a bit like Harry Potter meets Hunger Games (not the televised games part, the separate states part).. anyway thanks as always for the review

Jenn's Bookshelves 7/30/12, 9:33 AM  

You aren't alone! I have yet to read it. I'm trying to wait until the final book is out. Will see how long this lasts.

rhapsodyinbooks 7/30/12, 9:54 AM  

I also loved this book, but very disappointed in the next. Nevertheless, I consider my disappointment only to be with the "middle trilogy child syndrome" and have hopes for the 3rd. But like Sandy said, don't wait too long to read the second because you need to remember stuff from the first! (If you're like me, that means you can't have any more than a two-week gap - ha ha!)

Zibilee 7/30/12, 10:17 AM  

You are not the last person to read this book, because I still haven't read this one! I do have it, and want to read it soon. It sounds like there is a lot here to think about in the story, and that there is really a lot in this book to make it quite a successful crossover book. Great review today!

Beth Hoffman 7/30/12, 10:19 AM  

I don't think this book is for me, but I really enjoyed reading your review. I hope you have a terrific week!

Beth 7/30/12, 10:22 AM  

I haven't read this one yet either, so don't feel left out! I wasn't so sure I was interested when I first heard about, but after reading quite a few positive reviews I think I'll give it a try.

Linda 7/30/12, 11:42 AM  

I've really been enjoying this series. I'm glad you read it.

theguildedearlobe 7/30/12, 2:02 PM  

I haven't read/listened to this one. I've been on the fence about it for a while. There are so many YA dystopian trilogies, and I sort of get them all meshed together in my brain area sometimes. I often find myself wondering whether I want to start another trilogy.

Yet, I will probably get to this one soon. I'm trying to use August to pick up a lot of titles that I let slip away this year, instead of focusing on new releases, so it may be a good time to do it.

Plus, i really did enjoy Galvin's narration of Graveminder.

bermudaonion 7/30/12, 2:34 PM  

You're not the last - I'm sure that will be me! As popular as this book is, I'm just not sure it's for me.

Julie P. 7/30/12, 2:42 PM  

You are definitely not the last!

Marg 7/30/12, 5:12 PM  

Nope! Not the last.

Nise' 7/30/12, 9:30 PM  

I loved Divergent and have Insurgent on my stack. My son grabbed it before me and was not impressed, so I am not in such a hurry to get to it.

grammajudyb 7/30/12, 9:33 PM  

I add too: You are not the last! I really had only vaguely heard of it, but will add it to my ever growing TBR stack since reading your review. Thanks.

Darren @ Bart's Bookshelf 7/31/12, 4:45 PM  

Glad you liked this one. I really enjoyed it and the sequel.

bassgirl 7/31/12, 6:01 PM  

First, hi! I just started following your blog and hope to hear about some good reads :)

This sounds like an engaging read, but reminds me strongly of the Hunger Games, which I didn't enjoy at all. How would you compare and contrast the two?

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) 8/1/12, 11:14 AM  

I've been wanting to read this based on hearing about it alone. All I knew was YA dystopian, but the part about choosing a faction is a different twist. Looking forward to it even more.

Susie 8/2/12, 7:43 PM  

Nope your not the last person to have read this... it is still in my TBR pile! But I think it might move up sooner! Great review!!

Laura Fabiani 8/4/12, 8:21 AM  

No, not the last person. I have this in my TBR pile and I have been wanting to read it for awhile now. Loved your review. I might even listen to it on audio after I read it.

Jenners 8/17/12, 5:03 PM  

Well done! And I agree with you about Emma Galvin's voice … I think she was well-suited to narrate this book.

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