Monday, October 21, 2013

review: DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth

Welcome to this week's Pick It For Me post!

The winner from last Saturday was Divergent by Veronica Roth! Sure, only one person voted, but hey, that's still a vote! Haha. Anyway, my review for Divergent is below, and beneath that is a list of next week's selections.

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DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth
Series: Divergent #1
HarperCollins: Katherine Tegen Books
Released: April 25, 2011
Source: Bookstore
Page Count: 487

Rating: Really liked it!

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue - Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is - she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are - and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the DIVERGENT series - dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

My Thoughts

I had avoided reading Divergent because of all the hype, because my experience is that hyped-up books tend not to live up to the publicity. [See Legend (super hyped, didn't love) vs. Shatter Me (not as hyped, absolutely adored]. Also, I met Veronica Roth earlier in the year and would hate to not like a book written by such a lovely woman! However, curiosity finally won the battle, and I put it on last week's list of choices. Rie from Mission to Read voted for Divergent, and I certainly can't say that I was disappointed by the selection!

I found Divergent a little difficult to get into at first. Beatrice/Tris is very much in her head most of the time, and, while there is training to get through, not a whole lot happens in terms of plot advancement for the better part of the book. Divergent is driven by the romance and Tris's development as a Dauntless rather than by action. Unfortunately, that's really not what I'm looking for in a book. I would have preferred to have Tris stumble upon things earlier in the book and have the big plot point unravel throughout the story rather than be condensed mostly at the end. The last seven chapters had a very different feel than the first thirty-two, and the change was so abrupt. I don't really know how to explain it, but it just didn't work for me.

However, for fans of romance, I did enjoy Roth's portrayal of Tris and Four's romance. They did rush into things a little, but I can understand the intensity in a story like this. Also, the timeline was a little unclear to me, so maybe more time passed than I realized? It's hard to say.

I guess you could say that my biggest issue was the portrayal of this society as perfect. How could anyone think that living like this is a utopia? Clearly, I didn't buy the whole "discovery that things are actually wrong" angle. I also wished that there had been more references to actual buildings/parks/etc. in Chicago, because Navy Pier and a couple of buildings were the only things that made the setting recognizable. I wanted to know how society had changed. What is different besides the fence around the city? And what the heck is the fence for!? To me, there is a difference between a slow reveal and simply leaving readers in the dark. Divergent leaves its readers in the dark.

My favorite character was Tris's mother. She has a hidden strength that most people never get to see in her, and I loved how supportive she was of her daughter even though Tris's choice meant essentially abandoning her family. She doesn't show up much, but in every scene I found myself liking her more and more, especially at the end.

Hopefully, Tris will become a little more sure of herself so we won't have to read so much about her constant internal struggle between doing what's right and saving her own butt. I liked the action scenes at the end of Divergent, and hopefully those will continue in Insurgent.

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Next week's selections:

I know this will sound nuts to some of you, but I feel like different types of books have certain months or seasons when they should be read. November feels like a historical / fantasy type of month to me. So, for this week, please vote on my first foray into steampunk! Also, it would be really great if you could also write out what you liked about the book or why you're recommending it in addition to the title you chose. Thank you!

1. The Girl in the Steel Corset by Cady Cross
2. Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel
3. The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Kittredge
4. Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld
5. Corsets & Clockwork anthology edited by Trisha Telep

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