Book Review: Divergent

Divergent hc c(2)
If you want my take on the movie…

Divergent by Veronica Roth is another story in the dystopian/utopian teenage/young adult genre. Think Hunger Games Light or The Giver Heavy and you are in the right area. Divergent of course has it’s own twists to the tale.

In Divergent, there is a class/faction system. The book does an excellent job deepening the positives and the negatives of each faction, much more so than the film. Divergents are those who don’t fit in any faction or have multiple qualities that would fit in multiple factions. They think outside systems and boxes which causes great fear among the populace as they believe living in these factions is what maintains peace.

Like The Giver, the depth of the brokenness of humanity is explored – particularly the pursuit of power. Unlike The Giver, Divergent seems to hold out some hope there is good in all people – at least in each faction. Roth is masterful in pointing out the strengths and deep weaknesses each of the factions bring to society. Despite the best intentions and the best each faction has to offer, it’s only a matter of time when it all breaks down.

Like Hunger Games, there is one faction that has total government control. However, it isn’t the almighty evil. In fact, the most self-less of the factions is given the responsibility to run the government. It’s the curiosity and thirst of knowledge of another faction – the Erudites – that brings the delicate balance crashing down. (Sounds like another story? The Genesis creation story?)

Divergent also uses a feminine heroine that is both strong and vulnerable. I find Beatrice “Tris” much less annoying than here Katniss Everdeen counterpart in Hunger Games. Tris gets stronger as the story continues, she becomes more sure of who she is and a lot less…whiny.

Community plays a huge role in the books. It’s impossible to live without a faction – more specific – a community. This community becomes closer than family – “faction before family” – is THE major player in defining values and cultural norms. What will be interesting as I progress through the books is what role the ‘factionless’ have in the book. Roth has set them up to be a significant player with subtle hints in this book.

It’s on the “young” side of young adult literature. It’s a great story and concept. Love where the series is going but it’s clearly meant for that middle school crowd. You will know what I mean when you get to the ‘romantic scenes.’ It’s like watching a middle school dance. They are a bit of an interruption but not so much that it detracts from the book.

Divergent brings up many issues to discuss – what is family? What lengths would you go to fit in to a culture? IS there a clear right and wrong in the world? What does real power look like? Is sacrifice better than vengeance? How could one value – say BRAVERY – have both strengths and weaknesses?

Highly recommend and looking forward to the other books in the series.


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