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53 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute must-read for YA readers!
I've taken my time with getting to the Divergent series by Veronica Roth because I was afraid of all the hype surrounding it but boy do I regret it. I have just finished reading this book and I can't believe that I put it off for so long! This book isn't quite what I expected but it's certainly action-packed and I never knew what was going to happen next...
Published 5 months ago by Laura Hartley

versus
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not The Hunger Games By A Long Chalk
Divergent by Veronica Roth (published by Harper Collins)

This isn't The Hunger Games. Not by a long chalk. It was rapidly put out into the Hunger Games slipstream because it's been pushed out of the same future-dystopia-teenager-saves-the-world mould. But it has three major problems; one, it is not the Hunger Games; two, it treads through the shallows in a...
Published 5 months ago by Andrew D Wright


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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not The Hunger Games By A Long Chalk, 27 Mar 2014
Divergent by Veronica Roth (published by Harper Collins)

This isn't The Hunger Games. Not by a long chalk. It was rapidly put out into the Hunger Games slipstream because it's been pushed out of the same future-dystopia-teenager-saves-the-world mould. But it has three major problems; one, it is not the Hunger Games; two, it treads through the shallows in a creative landscape that offered so very much more; and three, the writing is hackneyed and formulaic in too many places. I listened to the audiobook and it was well-performed but I still found myself looking heavenward or wincing too many times as certain stock phrases and expected plot twists wormed their way out of the story.

But before all of that I need to say that the concept is quite excellent (and this added to my sense of disappointment I think.) We arrive in a dystopia Chicago where people have divided after a devastating war into five factions to keep the peace. These five factions are;

Amity (The Peaceful)
Dauntless (The Brave)
Abnegation (The Selfless)
Erudite (The Intelligent)
Candour (The Honest)

Everyone either sits inside each faction and gains support and their livelihood from this association (Faction before Family!) or they become factionless, the feckless poor who rely on handouts from those in factions to survive. Every teenager chooses a faction to join aged 16. It's such a great idea, there's everything here you'd need in a fast-paced future-dystopia YA novel. There's the choosing ceremony (think Harry Potter choosing hat with a bit more blood, oh and without the hat!) and then there's the initiation process the choosers go through as they join their factions.

Our heroine (the story's told from first person point of view just like the HG) is Beatrice - soon to be christened Tris - who changes factions swapping from selfless Abnegation to the seriously unhinged Dauntless (The Brave or frankly, the Bonkers!) The first quarter of the book really pulled me in. The world is realised well and we have a strong sense that where we're living is in some mutated version of society and that the fences which the Dauntless Faction eventually go on to patrol are in fact not about keeping dangers out, but stopping a different, freer kind of society getting in. We're in an annexed piece of America, a slice of the Land of the Free that has fallen a long way from its ideals. We experience the bleak and frankly ridiculous precepts of this tyrannical world where everyone accepts what is so obviously not going to work. Humans can't be divided neatly into factions, people's personalities don't slice that way, but like all really crazy tyrannies in human history what we're like doesn't necessarily feature in the wild beliefs that underpin this government. All of this worked very well, Tris, having chosen Dauntless after a ambiguous faction test, is actually the regime's worst nightmare - Divergent - which means she has the characteristics of more than one faction.

From the second quarter in my attention began to wane, along with my patience. There are long periods of initiation which, because Dauntless (such a great name don't you think) is all about bravery, are simply various forms of running, jumping, fighting and rolling about. It's kind of football league scores but for fighting, this aspect of the novel is a little like a video game but not as good - no explosions, ka-pows! and fancy graphics.

Where the concept runs into the sand for me is around where the author choses to take it. There's a lot of unrequited lovie stuff with a leader of the Dauntless whose name is Four (weird name, want tell you why he's called that as it will spoil the plot). The scenes between Tris and Four are agonisingly twee, the writing is clunky and repetitive and whereas HG did nuance and trauma through subtly and what it didn't say as much as it did, Divergent smashes you over the head with the plot moves as they come. It was very disappointed by the final quarter and listening to it on Audiobook up the speed to times two so they actress reading it sounded a bit like Pinky or Perky on speed just because I felt I knew exactly what was going to happen. By the end Tris was less a three-dimensional character, traumatised by what she'd been through, more a low-res avatar in some not particularly well-made computer game. I'm not sure why this is, perhaps the general overall lack of skill in the writing, or the youth of the writer means that the true trauma and horror the character suffers isn't drawing deeply enough from a well of real-world experience. Imagined trauma isn't the same as living through trauma and whilst of course I'm not suggesting that you need to be shot at, fall from a building or jump from a moving train to write about those things when dabbling in deep affairs of the heart and visceral emotions like loss, fear and abject terror, unless you've had a conjugate experience - some of the traumas life can throw at you - your ability to evoke them on the page is, well, muted. And that sums up for how this great concept was systematically eviscerated on the page, becoming less and less interesting, in the end I really couldn't care less about Tris and her emotional response to what happens to her parents suggested she'd lost the emotional plot too.

And that was it for me, not HG which was passionate, frightening and about what tyranny does to the human spirit and how that spirit responds. Divergent was about how difficult it is to establish a relationship when you're running, rolling, jumping and fighting. It lacked emotional resonance, probably needed to say less about more in terms of its themes and would have been so very much better, in my very humble opinion, if written by the author - who is clearly very talented - when she'd had a bit more trauma or life experience to draw on.

Sorry Veronica, just not for me, but I'm sure that doesn't really matter as it's done (doing) so well.

*** Three Stars
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53 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute must-read for YA readers!, 5 April 2014
By 
Laura Hartley (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
I've taken my time with getting to the Divergent series by Veronica Roth because I was afraid of all the hype surrounding it but boy do I regret it. I have just finished reading this book and I can't believe that I put it off for so long! This book isn't quite what I expected but it's certainly action-packed and I never knew what was going to happen next.

Divergent follows the story of Beatrice (Tris) Prior in a new dystopian world. In an attempt to proven the outbreak of war, humankind broke into five different 'factions': Erudite, for the clever, Amity, for the peaceful, Candor, for the honest, Abnegation, for the selfless and Dauntless, for the brave. Children grow up in whichever faction their parents belong to, but at the age of 16, they go through an aptitude test to show them which faction they belong in and the following day, at the Choosing Ceremony, they must decide the path for the rest of their lives. Tris knows that she doesn't belong in Abnegation like the rest of her family and so she makes the difficult decision to leave her family behind and join a new faction, Dauntless. A tough initiation process follows - one that not everyone will survive. As Tris tries to fit in among the Dauntless she struggles to figure out who she is and who her real friends are. As if finding herself in a new faction wasn't difficult enough, Tris has a secret that she learned about herself during the aptitude test. A secret that she has been warned to never tell lest it destroy her.

What I love about this story is that it doesn't seem fantastical in the slightest. The characters and the setting all felt very real to me that's all down to Roth's genius. Each character is flawed, some more than others, and this made it easy to relate to them as a reader and I found that I actually cared about what happened to the characters. When they felt sad, I felt sad; when they felt pain, I felt pain and when they felt happy, I felt happy. It is rare that you find a book in which you can truly share your emotions with the characters but Divergent is one of those gems. The book is written in the first person from the perspective of Tris herself. She often finds herself torn between what she thinks she should do and what she actually wants to do and isn't afraid to admit that she is sometimes selfish. I really loved this about her because, let's be honest, very few of us can say that we don't often have selfish thoughts no matter how hard we try to be moral people. Tris isn't afraid to admit it when she's afraid or weak but she's also strong-willed and determined not to be beaten. She is well aware of what her short comings are and that she hasn't been blessed with the best physique for a member of Dauntless, but she tries her hardest and at the end of the day, that's all that matters right?

The character of Four was also really interesting because his emotions were always undercover and you could never really tell what he was thinking. Four isn't a difficult character to love but because he doesn't show his true emotions very often, you're also sort of frightened and unsure of him for a large part of the novel. I guess this is perfect because that's pretty much how Tris feels about him for a large part of the story too so the reader and Tris really are as one on this adventure. I love that Roth didn't make him the stereotypical 'bad boy' (I guess that's what he is) but made him a real character that has much more to him than meets the eye. He does what he wants and he isn't easily influenced by the opinions of others.

Sometimes I felt like the characters seemed a little deadpan but I suppose that's all part of the 'dauntless' act and it made the moments when the characters were happy and laughing all the more special. This certainly isn't a happy story and it isn't one that suddenly retreats in a world filled with fluffy clouds. There is a darkness lining this book that is ever-present, even when the story takes a more positive turn. It is evident that there is more going on in this story than meets the eye but Roth has carefully staged this story so that the reader has absolutely no idea what's going on until it hits you in the face. The reader is on a level with Tris throughout the story - what she knows, we know, what she doesn't know, we don't know. At least, that will be the case if you have been completely unexposed to the spoilers that are just about all over the internet. I knew very little about Divergent prior to reading the story so I found all the twists and turns to be incredibly shocking and exciting.

There's no insta-love in this story! I think this book deserves a big fat hooray just for that. It's hard to find YA books that aren't centred on romance that still get the romance perfect but I think Veronica Roth may have done it. The chemistry between Tris and Four takes a backseat in this story, but it's always there lurking in the background. There aren't any PDAs or sexual scenes, in fact, the romance is rather chaste which I guess can be put down to the factions in which the characters were brought up in and the ones they currently reside in.

The story doesn't exactly end on a cliffhanger so you could almost read Divergent as a standalone novel and be satisfied at the end. That said, this almost certainly won't be the case because you'll want to find out more about this phenomenally interesting world. I did find the ending to be a tad abrupt as I turned the page on my kindle expecting to find more story when, in fact, it was already over. There were no clues whatsoever as to how this story will continue so you really are in the dark and I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of Insurgent! This is, I think, one of the keys to this story's success. This book wasn't predictable in the slightest and never knowing what was coming next made me desperate to keep reading.

All in all, Divergent is a fantastic and captivating read that I would highly recommend to all fans of dystopian novels. The combination of very real characters and an original plot make this an absolute must read and I understand now why there is so much hype surrounding this series. If you're looking for a YA book that stands out from the rest, then this is your book.
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142 of 152 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Packs a punch but misses its mark, 24 April 2012
By 
Kate (Oxford, Oxon United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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Veronica Roth's Divergent is a difficult book to ignore if you have the YA dystopia bug. The five star reviews number in their hundreds and with its sequel Insurgent imminent and The Hunger Games - the YA dystopia against which all others are currently judged - riding high at the box office and in the book lists, to not read Divergent seems somewhat rude. Therefore, not wishing to be impolite, I took the plunge.

Divergent takes place some time in the future in a city that was once Chicago. Every citizen now lives as a member of one of five factions, each defined by their overriding personality trait: Abnegation (selfless), Amity (kind), Candor (honest), Erudite (seekers of knowledge), Dauntless (brave). Each faction contributes to society in accordance with this trait. For example, members of Abnegation rule, Amity members are peacemakers and farmers and the Dauntless police this world. But there are those who fall outside the Factions, living a life worse than death as the Factionless. They drive the buses.

At the age of 16, the young are assessed to determine which Faction they suit but they must still make the choice of Faction on their own. Most opt for their home Faction but there are some who make a jump, turning their backs on their families. One such girl is our heroine. Known as Beatrice in Abnegation, she picks the name of Tris in her chosen Faction of Dauntless, although her fellow initiates name her `Stiff'. Divergent follows the initiation or training sessions that Tris and her friends (and the not so friendly) must undergo before they are selected to be members of Dauntless or, if they fail, cast out to be Factionless.

Through these trials, during which the initiates are taken to their very limits in physical and mental torture, each inflicting the same on their classmates, Tris learns that there may be an alternative Faction. Those initiates who don't perform as they should in the sessions may well be Divergent and, should that be discovered, they will be dead shortly afterwards. That is because they can beat the system.

Without doubt, this is a pacey novel. It's not a short book but Divergent is very difficult to put down. This is largely because of Tris - she has a habit of manipulating her way into our care. She's 16 but she constantly stresses how young she looks, how small she is. And in describing the truly horrible rituals she undergoes, it's difficult not to feel outrage on her behalf and sympathy for her suffering and admiration for her bravery. This is increased as we watch a girl emerge from self-sacrificing Abjugation rules to being able to express herself with tattoos, colourful clothes, even jumping off a train just for the thrill of it. Throw in a love interest that is delicately dealt with - no Twilight angst here - and you're going to care for young Tris.

Despite my strong feelings for Tris, I found Divergent a frustrating novel. There is no sense of the world at all. This is a big failing for a dystopian novel to my mind. Part of the fun is finding oneself in a familiar world transformed and distorted. We're told it is Chicago but this isn't a recognisable place or even environment. There's little description of Dauntless or any of the other factions. We're briefly told that Dauntless is dark, tall towers are mentioned, canyons frighten and trains travel outside the Factions but there is very little other than that. There is no sense of the state of the place. And what about outside? What about the rest of the world?

The idea that society can be divided into such convenient Factions is not believable. It seems preposterous to me that anyone could be anything other than Divergent. The fact that the novel presents inter-Faction fighting doesn't help the sense that this division could never happen. And where are all the adults? There's barely a sense of them in Dauntless.

Tris might be a fascinating heroine but the repetitive insistence on her small stature and undeveloped, childlike appearance doesn't tally with her increased strength and makes her relationship with Four incongruous and a little uncomfortable. She is also not always likeable - as the novel progresses there are actions that are not necessarily forgiveable. I wonder if they will be remembered in Insurgent or if they are already forgotten.

My main problem with Divergent though is the fact that the vast majority of it comprises the ritual trials that Tris and the others must undergo in order to be accepted as Dauntless. This means hundreds of pages of teenagers being forced to fight each other literally senseless in ugly duels as well as drug-induced confrontations with their greatest fears, facing a multitude of different horrendous ways of meeting a terrifying, painful death. Violence spreads outside the Pit, young people are reduced to the depths of despair while others are tormented by memories of abusive parents. It's all rather... unsavoury. As for the finale, it felt, to me, rushed and surprise-free.

Nevertheless, despite these rather major gripes, I read Divergent quickly and I will read Insurgent when it's released in May. There is a great deal of promise here and I was frustrated that the novel as a whole didn't live up to that potential. Perhaps Insurgent will prove a pleasant surprise.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Awful!, 16 April 2014
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Having forced myself to get to the end of this book, I can wholeheartedly recommend that you don't buy it.
The characters are one dimensional and dull, including the protagonist whose first person narrative meanders around between idiotic cliche, contradictions and cringeworthy attempts at meaningful insight into the frankly ridiculous situation she finds herself in.

The plot and the wider context of the story make no sense, nor do the characters' reaction to them. I felt like the whole thing was just an excuse to put the main character through a series of sadistic ordeals so we could feel sorry for her (a vain effort as I felt no interest in what happened to her!) The wider scene just isn't explained at all and I found the descriptive writing so hard to visualise that I could barely follow the action.

DEFINITELY won't be taking this series any further. I'm sorry to everyone who gave this a good review but I can't see what there is to enjoy!

If you want good YA fiction go and read Liani Taylor
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Different twist on dystopian genre, high on action and character, 28 Nov 2013
By 
K. J. Noyes "Katy Noyes" (Derbyshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
4.5 stars

Dystopian society? Check
Female heroine? Check
Violence? Check
Society breaking down? Check

One of the most popular genres right now, it takes a little something extra for a book to stand out from the crowded shelf. Luckily, I think Roth's series has that something. Similar to the Hunger Games and Scott Westerfeld's Uglies/Pretties/Specials trilogies, Divergent starts off another trilogy with the interesting twist: people are divided into factions based on their characters. Different. There are five factions, one for those who are selfless, one for those who crave knowledge and learning, one for those who are brave, etc. At age 16 you choose your faction for life.

Beatrice chooses to change faction from that of her family, a rarity. Has she made the right choice?

Thrilling in its violence (which is hard to bear given that Tris as she now calls herself is short and slight and faces larger opponents in hand-to-hand combat as part of her initiation), it's a visual world from the start, Tris herself likeable if a little naive at times (especially with regards to the obligatory love-interest).

The scenes that take our characters into their own psyches and fears are great - frightening, real, intense. The denouement shocking and brutal, with a wide open finish ready for part two.

Has messages at its core of acceptance and tolerance, knowing who you are, staying true to your ideals, but nothing preachy that detracts from the action. I think this has good gender-crossover potential with strong male and female characters and enough action to appeal to anyone in that frame of mind, as well as a fledgling love story.

Hope this follows Hunger Games into a film, it's ready for the plucking.
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126 of 138 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant idea - totally gripping!!, 12 July 2011
By 
N. J. H. (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: Divergent (Divergent, Book 1) (Paperback)
Divergent is based around a surreal world divided into factions. Each faction is different and it's "members" have unique qualities and personality traits. There are five factions: Candor, Erudite, Abnegation, Dauntless and Amity. At the age of 16 all children must undertake an aptitude test to determine which faction they are most suited to - But they don't have to pick this one. So what is divergent? Well, the main character Beatrice or "Tris" as she is most referred to as is a divergent - this means that instead of suiting only one faction she suits a number of factions. This means she must choose between the faction her family belong to, Abnegation or another faction - but deserting her family would be the ultimate betrayal.

As Tris decides which faction she will choose she undertakes a number of initiation trials which are completely gripping - what a page turner! The relationships between the other initiates are explored and sometimes they are more enemies than friends.

Divergent is a brilliant read, I loved the new ideas and the new world that had been created. Tris is a fun, intelligent character with lots of wit - I thought she was fantastic and really surprising at times. I read this in two sittings it was that good - I'd more than recommend this book to both young adults and adults alike.

If you loved "The Hunger Games" then you'll definitely love this, but if you haven't heard of that either then give them both a go!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pick a faction and don't diverge., 26 Aug 2014
By 
K. G. A. Alavi (London, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I enjoyed this book so much more than the Hunger Games. It probably not fair to compare the two but they are on a similar subject. There is a good flow to this story and it makes this book an easy read. The descriptions are great the only small critique on that line is I did notice a couple of grammar and spelling mistakes, and if I noticed them there were probably more than a few. However I did really enjoy this book. For the first few chapters I kept thinking that was quick I will just read one more, then by the time I got to the later chapters I did not want to put the book down.

We join Beatrice on her journey of the most important year of her life. In this world society is broken up into 5 factions:

Amity (The Peaceful)
Dauntless (The Brave)
Abnegation (The Selfless)
Erudite (The Intelligent)
Candour (The Honest)

At the age of 16 the people of each faction are tested for their aptitude and must choose a faction that potentially best fits them. Once you join a faction that is it. Told in the quote "faction before family". Beatrice knows she does not fit into her own faction (Abnegation) as selfless acts simply do not occur to her on instinct. On the test day she is given the results of Divergent, and then told to never speak of it again, what does it mean? Why is it so dangerous? However the next day she must choose a faction and should she stay with what she knows as there is not guarantee she will fit in any better in her a new faction.

The whole book is written from her perspective, so we tend to get information and interpretations from her, which is ok. The book is well thought out and with great characters and character development. The only thing I could find wrong with the book were the fights. The book is quite action packed and exciting but there are few hand to hand fights so making slight mistakes in them is not such a problem. The problem with writing fights is it is not just which strike is thrown but you have to think very carefully about the positioning of each character when they throw and after they are hit counter. This was a minor detail in the book. The action in to book is more frequent short but brutal.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One of the most boring books I've read, 31 Mar 2014
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Found this book so slow and boring. The writing style was compelling at first but soon got boring. The story seemed stuck in repetition with nothing major ever happening. Never quite understood why this book is so popular. Not for me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Twilight/Teeny dumb-version of The Hunger Games (THG). Too may plotholes, too tweeny angst-y - ideal for teen girls, 26 Aug 2014
The Twilight/Teeny dumb-version of The Hunger Games (THG).

It's just so teeny, love-dove, hero saves heroine, and everyone has a HEA.

Hero: Four - dashing, bold, with tats, tall, dark handsome chappie that has a few women swooning after him. The quiet deadly dangerous type oowwww

Heroine: Trish - small little blonde creature, constantly needs saving. Constantly swooning over the hero - even when she ought to have her wits about her she's thinking about what he's doing or whether he's watching her fight, or how big his muscles are. She's also dumb as s***

The best bit was when Trish gets beaten up. I stopped reading half way - it is dire.

I could go on about the plot holes but no need as many reviewers have done so already. However, little girls that didn't get The Hunger Games will definitely enjoy this (although I do know some intelligent women who have enjoyed the book but not as much as they did THG)

I don't think this is a unisex book like THG - going by the cinema crowd and book reviewers its a girly read. And didn't receive a fraction of the success that THG resulted in. And I'm not surprised.

Also, some off the things which the author presents as intelligent (as the Erudite) will leave you puzzling. I didn't find anything intelligent over basic strategies. Seriously it is hilariously stupid.
=================================

This review sums it up (from another review) Adam C. Zern:

"To begin with, I cannot think of a single compelling reason to read Divergent. Essentially every element I can think of in the book has been presented in other books and in a better way. True, there are no truly unique stories, but that's not Divergent's issue. Divergent's issue is that it is not only painfully derivative but it also doesn't do anything better than the books that inspired it.

Set in a post-apocalyptic backdrop of sorts, the reader will immediately see similarities to the incredibly popular Young Adult series The Hunger Games. Again, this is not an inherently bad thing. The problem is that The Hunger Games does everything better than Divergent. In fact, I found myself laughing out loud at elements of Divergent that were most definitely not supposed to be funny. Divergent presents a society fragmented into separate factions which fulfill separate but equally important roles. The Dauntless faction are the warrior/defender class, the Abnegation are the selfless servants and political rulers, the Erudite (one of The Thousander Club's levels of accomplishment!) are the intellectual class, and the Candor faction are the straight-talking truth-bound class. (There is also group of factionless individuals, but they matter so little to the story they're not really worth mentioning). Veronica Roth obviously had to find ways to present the attributes of each of these factions but the ways in which she does is so superficial it's somewhat comical. (The Dauntless faction, for example, jump off of a moving train as they travel from place to place to show bravery. Nonsense). The subsequent conflicts and struggles presented in the book become very generic and strangely predictable. There was literally not a single moment of shock or surprise while I was reading Divergent.

Divergent comes fully loaded with a love-story sub-plot that is full of teenage angst and longing. Gratefully, Divergent does spare the audience the seemingly ubiquitous love-triangle conflict of many other Young Adult stories, which was one of The Hunger Games trilogy's more irritating attributes. Yet, Divergent doesn't present a love-story that is unique or interesting in any kind of way. It's just there because, apparently, it's a pre-requisite of writing a Young Adult fiction book.
=====================================
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down, 18 Mar 2014
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Is a fantastic premise and has unexpected twists. The main character, Tris, really draws you in. Is probably aimed mor at the teenage girl market but I'm in my 30s and loved it too.
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Divergent (Divergent, Book 1) by Veronica Roth (Paperback - 3 May 2011)
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