Review: Divergent (Divergent #1) by Veronica Roth

Abnegation. Amity. Candor. Dauntless. Erudite.

Where faction do you belong to?

On Choosing Day Beatrice (Tris) Prior must decide but first she undergoes an aptitude test to see which faction she will most likely gravitate toward….then she must choose to define her identity for the rest of her life based on that information.

Born into the Abnegation faction, she is supposed to be selfless and think only of others….but she feels like a square peg in Abnegation. Hoping the test will shed some light on her conundrum, the worst happens—her aptitude test is inconclusive.

She is Divergent.

Being Divergent is dangerous….if anyone find out, her life will be in imminent danger. She is a threat to the delicate balance of the five factions. Faced with this new information, Tris must choose her destiny….and she chooses bravery. She is Dauntless.

In Veronica Roth’s debute YA dystopian trilogy, Divergent, opens in a future post-apocalyptic/dystopian Chicago. The government has split society into five factions dividing citizens by personality traits. The traits are taken to the extreme in each faction and there is rivalry and tension between each of the different factions.

When Tris chooses Dauntless, her adventure begins–just because she chooses Dauntless doesn’t mean they choose her. She is put through a series of tests to dissolve her cowardice and make her fearless. She must learn to not only be physically strong, she must also be mentally strong….each initiate earns points based on their performances throughout the challenges, at the end of three sections….the top ten are chosen to be in Dauntless.

Some of the initiates are from Dauntless and the rest are transfer initiates from other factions. The transfers have the disadvantage….they must re-learn the values they have grown up with.

Tris struggles with the physical challenges and fighting, thankfully the physical challenges only count for a small portion of the ranking. One of the hardest scenes to read was the fight between Tris and Peter, but where Tris really shines is in the mental exercises but this is also where Tris shows her Divergent tendencies.

Each initiate must go through a series of simulated fearscapes. The fearscapes are their own deepest darkest fears simulated in a virtual reality where the initiate must learn to comfort their fears and face them.

The simulations are so real, that most have a difficult time remembering they are only in a simulation, not reality. Some initiates only have ten fearscapes they must face while others have twenty….it is all based on how many fears each of them have as individuals.

The simulations are monitored by Dauntless instructors and later when each initiate faces their final fearscape in stage #3,  the Dauntless leaders monitor the simulations. The goal of the simulations is to weed out potential Divergents traitors.

During her training, Tris becomes close to one Dauntless instructor….Four. Four is 18 and two years older than Tris. He is the strong, silent type with a mysterious past. Tris finds herself unreasonably attracted to him and curious about his life. Slowly, their relationship turns into a secret love.

Four recognizes Tris’s secret during her first simulation….he knows she is Divergent.

Four knows how dangerous this information is and he hopes to protect Tris from the factions since they will inevitably find out during her final fearscape. He also knows there is conflict brewing between the factions….Four knows there is war on the way.

Four shares his fears about war with Tris and encourages her to subvert her Divergent tendencies to make her less of a target or threat when war comes. But before they can do anything like warn the other factions, the take over happens and Tris’s secret comes out: she is Divergent.

This book has been compared to the Hunger Games quite frequently on Goodreads and other blogs….but I have to admit, I think this was way better than HG. For me, this book had everything that the HG didn’t. I appreciated the HG innovative story line but this book had better characterization and plot than HG.

I felt like Divergent had a stronger dystopian backdrop with the factions than HG and I especially loved the concept of fearscapes. I also liked that there were downsides to all the factions…no single one was better than the other.

This was a wonderful demonstration of dystopian lit, it made me think about how peoples personalities determine their futures, for example how they react in situations when they think they can gain power and control.

It also made me think about how we as a society try to control and manipulate people based on generalized, favored characteristics….not everyone fits in to the ‘normal’ box no matter how hard we try to make them.

The crowning jewel of this book is the characters. I preferred Tris as a protagonist over Katniss Everdeen from HG. I thought Tris was strong and independent but not unfeeling. She has real fears but addressed them bravely….she is not cruel or over compensating which I liked. She did not appear weak or unrelatable

The love story was also very believable and appropriate. I liked that both Four and Tris were not afraid to like each other and show affection to one degree or another. I loved that underneath all of Four’s strengths he was also flawed and vulnerable, very much like Tris was. They were a good solid match….much more believable than Katniss and Peeta.

In a lot of YA novels, I think the issues of physical intimacy goes unaddressed by a lot of authors. I liked that Roth wasn’t afraid to at least discuss the sex issue with Four and Tris.

This book was engaging, riveting, and unputdownable! I started it Saturday night and finished it Sunday night…I loved it! For me Hunger Games was a little wanting in areas and this satisfied me in a way that HG didn’t. It is a great introduction to the dystopian genre, I loved the unique story line with the fearscapes…but the jewel of this series is the characters. I can’t wait to see what Insurgent (due out in May 2012) will hold for the characters!

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: Divergent (Divergent #1) by Veronica Roth

  • Hardcover, 487 pages
  • Published May 3rd 2011 by Katherine Tegen Books
  • ISBN 0062024027 (ISBN13: 9780062024022)

This book counts toward: The Dystopia Reading Challenge

Recommendation: 5 out of 5 (first in a riveting, unputdownable dystopian series)

Genre: YA, dystopian literature, post-apocalyptic literature, speculative fiction

Memorable lines/quotes:

Politeness is deception in pretty packaging (81)

Becoming fearless isn’t the point. It’s impossible. It’s learning how to control your fear and how to be free from it that’s the point (239)

10 thoughts on “Review: Divergent (Divergent #1) by Veronica Roth

  1. Nope i think Katniss is stronger she agreed to sucrifise her self for her family . Tris wasnt even upset when Spoiler her perents died. Also i didnt exactly buy there world either there is no way for a human to have only one trait. And howcome there is no other world but Chicago.And jumping of trains isnt bravery not to mention the author faild to explain what is so terrible about being factionless cleaning toilets isnt bad. And no Erudite is showen as a bad faction so you claiming that all factions are equal isnt true in my opinion

  2. Glad you didnt yell at me for liking HG better im not a big fan of the movie though , i think if you liked Divergent you might also like Chaos walking , Blood red road and angelfall

    1. No I wouldn’t think for a minute that my opinion is the only one that matters 🙂 This is why I love blogging, to get all kinds of different perspectives and thoughts from people on books….a discussion of sorts 🙂

      Is Chaos Walking a dystopian YA? Is it a series/trilogy? Thanks for the suggestions I might have to add some more books to my ever growing TBR list 🙂

  3. Yeah its a ya Distopia settled on a different planet, and it consists of three books The Knife of never letting go , the Ask and the Ansew, Monsters of men . I think the books are briliant dark thought provoking and immotional. Oh and i recently read Pure by julliana Baggot which was also a realy good postapocoliptic read. Sorry if im a bit late ansewering was busy in College.

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