Friday, June 10, 2011

Why, Yes, I Do Love Divergent! Thanks For Asking.

(Image from Indiebound)

So, I've been wanting to read Divergent by Veronica Roth ever since I first heard about it. I mean, it's dystopian, it's YA, it's being compared to The Hunger Games. Totally up my alley, right? One of my Canadian readers even sent me a special e-mail suggesting I read it ASAP. So anxious was I to read the book that I didn't even wait for a review copy to come in the mail, I just headed down to my good, ole, neighborhood Borders store (thankfully, it survived the bankruptcy closings) and bought me a copy. And you know what? I shouldn't have waited as long as I did. I should have snapped one up the day it came out. That's how much I enjoyed the read. Don't get me wrong now - there's only one Hunger Games - but Divergent gives a similar story its own, unique twist. And it works, my friends, oh how it works!

In a battered city once known as Chicago, residents have divided themselves into factions, all of which work together to maintain an uneasy sort of peace. Each group embraces a certain value almost to the exclusion of all others: Abnegation preaches selflessness, Candor honors truth, Amity lives for peace, Erudite seeks knowledge, and Dauntless champions courage. Members of the different sects don't mix, really, but they cooperate enough to keep civil war at bay. It's not a perfect world, but it works. Most of the time.

For 16 years, Beatrice Prior has lived with her parents and brother in the Abnegation's section of the city. She's been taught to put others before herself. Always. Pursuits that don't serve her fellow man are discouraged - even looking in a mirror or wearing bright clothing or asking too many questions is forbidden. Beatrice is used to this simple life, but she's always felt different from her family and peers. She struggles every day to exhibit the same magnanimity that comes so easily to every other person in the faction. As her Choosing Day approaches, Beatrice debates the decision she has to make - does she please her parents by sticking with Abnegation or shed their expectations and join the faction she really admires? It's her choice, but it's the most important one she'll ever make.

When Beatrice's pre-Choosing Day testing produces abnormal results, she's even more confused. If she's not wholly Abnegation, what is she? Who is she? She becomes a girl with a secret - a secret so dangerous she's been warned never, ever to reveal it. As Beatrice (now "Tris") goes through the brutal initiation in her new faction, she tries to forget the compassion she's been taught, she tries to forget that she's not what she seems, she focuses only on survival. But when things in her city go awry, it's Tris who'll have to step up, acknowledge her unusual strengths and use them to save the people - and the place - she loves.

Although it's definitely got a Hunger Games feel to it, Divergent does its own thing. Tris is no Katniss Everdeen - she's tougher from the get-go, a fact that makes her less sympathetic, but still compelling. Her world's not quite as bleak as Katniss', but it's rough enough to give Tris' story the same kind of white-knuckle tension that makes HG so fun to read. The subplots woven through the book add both depth and conflict, rounding out the novel, and giving Tris a much-needed vulnerable side. Better character development would have made the rest of the cast more memorable in the same way that a little more originality in plot would have really set Divergent apart. Those are minor complaints, though, since neither kept me from totally eating this one up. Even though it didn't entrance me quite as much as Hunger Games, I still gunned through Divergent, whipping through the pages so fast it's amazing my fingertips remain intact. It's that good. Maybe not Hunger Games-good, but still pretty darn good. Oh, and in case you couldn't tell from all the gushing, I loved it.

(Readalikes: The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins [The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay]; Enclave by Ana Aguirre; and Delirium by Lauren Oliver)

Grade: B

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG-13 for mild language (no F-bombs), violence and brief references to sex

To the FTC, with love: I bought Divergent from Borders with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger. Ha ha.

8 comments:

  1. What an intriguing story! *heads to add it to my list*

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  2. Yeah! So glad you got to it :) And loved it as much as I did.

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  3. I've got this sitting in my "to-read" pile on my nightstand and can't wait to get going on it! Sounds like I need to clear my weekend for reading (or, more realistically, wait until Monday). Thanks for the review!

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  4. Alright, too many people are gushing! I'm going to have to pick this one up next!

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  5. I LOVED DIVERGENT. I can totally see why you're gushing, this is one of my favourite 2011 debuts :D

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  6. I just got an ARC copy from a fellow blogger and waiting to finish my current read so that I could delve into this one. Thanks for your review!

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  7. Finished this one in one day. I really enjoyed it. Not as much as Hunger Games but still good.

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  8. We loved this one too and are looking forward to INSURGENT, the sequel coming out May 1. Here's a link to our review if interested:
    http://ourstack.blogspot.com/2011/06/divergent-by-veronica-roth-is-fantastic.html

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