Book Review: Divergent

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Yes, I really waited until now to read this. I knew about it, and I even got a copy of it a few years back, but it sat on my shelf untouched until three days ago, at which point I inhaled it.

This is definitely YA dystopian 100%, ticking off all the boxes of a post-apocalyptic world, a weirdly-structured society, a strong heroine with mad skills and determination (though, in Tris’ case, she didn’t know she had many of them until later), a love interest (only one, but there’s a trilogy, so I expect a triangle will form soon), and she totally saves the “world” in which they live… while still leaving untied strings for the sake of sequels.

And it’s written in first-person present, which used to be my least favorite narrative style, but it’s definitely growing on me. It has the advantage of keeping you, quite literally, in the moment, which definitely amps the suspense and personalizes emotions.

As I think I’ve mentioned before, I like young adult literature because the plots keep moving and there’s rarely graphic violence, explicit language, or explicit sex. At least not in the books I pick up. This one definitely has a thickly-woven plot, and I look forward to continuing in the world Roth has created to see how she develops it. Although there is violence, I never find myself gagging at the mental images drawn. There’s a bit more kissy-facing going on than felt absolutely necessary, but it wasn’t anything I’d worry about having grandma walk in on.

I found the premise very interesting. My favorite speculative fiction stories are all about “what ifs”, and this one is based on the idea that there were five differing opinions about what evils brought about society’s destruction and how to combat each. Selfishness, deceit, cowardice, ignorance, and violence were the culprits, so abnegation, candor, dauntlessness, erudition, amity must prevail. The catch is that each person is supposed to focus on one and only one of these attributes. Even the best things, if taken to extremes, can be just as destructive as their counterparts.

Fascinating. I loved the mental floss it provided. I loved the action sequences. I loved the mixture of science fiction and dreamscape-like mechanisms to tell this story of a girl growing up and a society falling apart.

I’m off to get book two…

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