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62 of 65 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 15 months ago by Laura Hartley

151 of 161 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Packs a punch but misses its mark
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...
Published on 24 April 2012 by Kate

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You'll immediately want to continue reading the sequel, 6 Mar. 2014
This review is from: Divergent (Divergent, Book 1) (Paperback)
‘Divergent’ written by Veronica Roth is another dystopian saga, one among many that have recently ruled the literary scene, being particularly popular with younger readers.

‘Divergent’ is the debut novel from Veronica Roth who on the pages of her novel brought the future similar to ones seen in the Hunger Games - after the great war that took place on Earth, the only way to restore peace and encourage population prosperity was to divide people into 5 factions that are named and dedicated to the particular virtue: those honest go to the Candor, those altruistic go to the Abnegation, the brave are destined to the Dauntless, peaceful for the Amity, while Erudite is for those intelligent.

On one special day every year, all young people that are sixteen year old must select one of the factions to which they will devote the rest of their lives. A reader will meet Beatrice Prior who lives in future Chicago, and when she will be put before this choice Beatrice will have to choose between what she feels is right and staying with her beloved ones. With the help of the test all young participants decide if they want to stay with the faction where they were born or transfer to another faction and because her test results are puzzling, and given that she cannot choose both things, Beatrice will decide to abandon her family faction Abnegation and enter another - Dauntless.

It’s not easy to change factions, the initiation trials are strenuous and while going through the novel pages reader will accompany Beatrice, a divergent girl, while she is trying to become a Dauntless, both physically and emotionally, while her heritage and her past are standing on her way…

After the overwhelming success of Hunger Games that first won the literary, and afterwards the movie market, on the scene appeared a multitude of authors who with smaller or larger variations try to offer similar successful formula of individuals which lives in dystopian world and want to change themselves and the world. It could be said that dystopian genre evolved further more into several sub-streams and thus appeared some dystopian novels that they were leaning more toward romance such as Delirium, those that want to provoke audience such as Wither or Red Rising and those full of action such as Divergent that offer plenty of thrilling events on its pages.

Veronica Roth is not a bad writer, just the opposite; she is skilled and imaginative storyteller with a special talent for delivering scenes full of adrenaline, great fighting scenes that would look great on big screen. So it was no surprise to find out how this novel will soon be released in cinemas and certainly great success can be expected while mostly young adults will enjoy the Beatrice’s thrilling adventures. Particularly it’s great to see how innovative is the author while picturing various tests through which the main characters are going on the road to discovering what they are and what fate awaits them in their lives.

On the other hand, when the novel is stripped away from all the action scenes and all the excitement that the author generously offers on her pages, the reader will realize that in fact there is not much story in the novel that it only starts in the last quarter. In that way ‘Divergent’ just actually made a good preparation for the saga continuation.

But this novel should not be considered in such a way, dissolving it into the ingredients but instead should look at it as a product that offers plenty of fun and excitement for younger readers and those looking for a good time that will not be able to stop reading it until the last page, what is proven with its success worldwide.

Therefore, ‘Divergent’ is exciting title that brings lot of action and provides good entertainment. Veronica Roth manages to engage reader in the story, entertain her/him, make reader fear for the main character, asking what will happen to her, but most importantly manages to compel you after reading its last page to immediately want to continue reading the sequel.
And that is the quality for which the author should be congratulated.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars 2 stars for a 2D world, 7 Jan. 2014
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This novel has some of the worst world-building I have ever seen. In a dystopian version of Chicago, the population is split into five factions, reminiscent of the houses in Harry Potter or the districts of The Hunger Games. The factions sort people into different qualities of their personality and are as follows: the Dauntless are brave, the Erudite are smart, the Abnegation are selfless, the Candor are truthful and the Amity are peaceful.

It is utterly ridiculous to reduce people's personalities to one quality and suggest that they completely adhere to this. For example, even the most honest person is still capable of lying and even intelligent people can make mistakes. Not only that, people have very complex, individual personalities and to ignore this and suggest this reductionist view is completely genetic (although in all fairness the book remains very vague on why this happens so I could be misinterpreting) is baffling and interrupts the flow of the story because I'm just not capable of suspending disbelief that far.

The concept of the Divergent falls flat because of this. The Divergent are people that possess more than one of these personality traits, which, let's face it, in the real world everyone would be "Divergent" but in this story only a few are given the title. By creating a world like this, Roth has pretty much guaranteed some 2D characters and the novel certainly lives up to this.

The main character, Tris, perhaps the only character with some depth and agency in the book, is a girl from the selfless faction who constantly beats herself up for not being selfless enough and feels she doesn't deserve to stay there. She is tested (although I'm not sure why when she gets to choose her faction anyway) and qualifies for Abnegation, Dauntless and Erudite. To get the story moving, she chooses Dauntless and begins an initiation into a new faction of people of very questionable sanity.

The Dauntless jump from trains, hand untrained children lethal weapons and live in underground caverns (in Chicago?) where they could easily slip and fall to their death. What they do isn't "brave"; it's reckless and stupid and makes it impossible to care about these characters. I really didn't care whether they lived or died because they seemed incapable of making rational, thought out decisions.

When I mentioned 2D characters the worst offenders are the bad guys who are blandly evil. The whole anti-intellectual theme, which I don't think was intentional, frankly made me uncomfortable. I'm not sure if Roth realised this but when Tris discovered one of the "bad" characters had secretly been reading books - le gasp - she actually insults her own readership by treating this like some kind of act of treason.

Perhaps I'm judging the novel to harshly, it certainly has some good points. The pace rattles along nicely and there is plenty of action. Tris forms a friendship with Christina and most of the other female characters are portrayed positively. The romance between Tris and Four is lukewarm and stilted but thankfully there is no love triangle. Suprisingly, the theme of suicide is tackled fairly well and there are some good messages that the novel tries very hard to show but really just tells us about.

If you want a mindless action novel about a girl who gets to choose her own destiny then this is for you. Just try not to think too hard or feel too insulted by it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strong premise, good story, 5 Nov. 2013
As a huge fan of The Hunger Games trilogy, I approached Divergent with trepidation, knowing it had similar themes and worried it wouldn't be anywhere near as wonderful. Although I didn't connect with protagonist Tris in quite the same way I did with Katniss, I would say that these worries were largely unfounded; despite covering a certain amount of similar ground due to similar themes, Divergent is unique enough to evade too much comparison.

The society Tris lives in is divided into five factions- Abnegation, Dauntless, Erudite, Candor and Amity. Each have their own values, customs and rivalries with other factions. Those who are unable to acclimate to whichever faction they choose are cast out and become factionless- a fate considered worse than death. The idea of the factions was fascinating to me, and I loved discovering more about them. As a reader, you can't help but wonder which faction you'd belong in and where you might choose, and this kind of engagement is always helpful in connecting you to the world you're reading about.

As a heroine, Tris was instantly likeable, but also imperfect- she's no Mary Sue (I'm looking at you, Bella Swan!) and I liked this very much. It's no fun reading about the perfect girl- she's smart and she's brave but she also has a lot to learn. Throughout the book, she is questioning who and what she really is- and though in a very different context, I think this is a process that just about every teenager on earth can relate to. Her journey from quiet, mousy Abnegation girl to a brave and confident initiate happens quickly, but it's still believable. I loved seeing her being able to express herself for the first time- she had never lived without restraint, and the heady pleasure of discovering new experiences is, again, something everybody can relate to. She does, however, take some pretty drastic and not altogether wise action near the end of the book, and I hope that the consequences of these will be dealt with in Insurgent, not merely swept under the rug.

Unsurprisingly, there is a love story- it's a staple of teen fiction, and I don't mind this at all. Unfortunately, the success of Twilight spawned several books with annoyingly passive heroines and creepy controlling boyfriends as their stars- not so in Divergent. Four ticked just about every box for me- mysterious, sexy and strong, but importantly he respected Tris and, as she says herself, 'never treated me like I was weak.' I have to say, I'd guessed his secret long before it was revealed, but this didn't spoil my experience in the slightest- rather, I was excited to see how the big reveal came about, and it was better than I could have anticipated.

I wasn't expecting the ending; things take a turn very quickly and veer into relentless action before you know what's happening, but the way the story is left makes you desperate to get your hands on the next book.

Although not a short book, I completed it in less than a day because it was so compelling. Despite having a mountain of things to do, I had to find out what happened to Tris- and I fully intend to purchase the next book in the trilogy, Insurgent, as soon as possible! The ideas at play here are deeper than one might imagine, much like THG; the examination of a broken, essentially segregated society, musings on the nature of fear and whether or not we can be defined by one quality are all par for the course here. It may be imperfect, but it's intelligent, compelling and original enough to sustain any fan of YA, Dystopian fiction or even just good writing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Divergent, 29 Aug. 2013
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Slightly disappointed by this book having read some great YA fiction over the past year or so. It's a great concept - a society divided into factions, arranged by their defining attributes: Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, Candor, and Erudite. Teenagers coming into adulthood have to decide whether the faction they were born into is the one for them; they can stay with it, or transfer to another; a mysterious 'test' helps them decide where their aptitude lies.

Early on, the heroine starts struggling with the idea that she must be one or the other. A thread of internal struggle runs through the book, with the heroine trying to figure out her own sense of identity. A great metaphor for adolescence in general...

Yet despite this great concept, I found the book disappointing. The prose is clumsy and repetitive, and a lot of the characters pretty two-dimensional. Elements of 'mystery' are much more self-explanatory and probably much less mysterious than they're intended to be, and even though there's a good scene set in the early part of the book the interesting part of the story doesn't actually really get going until about two-thirds of the way in, and then the story speeds up and rushes towards the ending, and suddenly stops just as you're getting to something interesting! I don't think I'll bother with the rest of the series to be honest, it just wasn't a patch on The Hunger Games which had far better pacing and much more interesting characters. This was actually somewhat witless in parts.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ultimately Slow-going and Unrealistic, 20 Aug. 2012
Charleen (Kent, England) - See all my reviews
Veronica Roth's debut novel, Divergent is a new take on the dystopian genre by exploring the possibilities of a future world divided by factions.

These factions determine the daily life and beliefs of the individual by focusing on their primary personality trait. There is Abnegation, those that value selflessness; Dauntless, the reckless and brave; Candor, a faction that values truth; Amity, believing in friendship; and Erudite, those that believe knowledge is power.

Each person is born in a particular faction but once turned 16 they have the opportunity to choose a different path. Which brings us to our protagonist, Beatrice or `Tris' as we follow her on her journey from leaving her family in Abnegation and travelling on to the unknown world of the Dauntless. A feat that becomes even more dangerous due to the fact she is deemed a 'Divergent', someone who has the traits of more than one faction.

The main plot of this novel is initially interesting; as we are able to explore a world that is divided into five particular qualities deemed fit for the survival of mankind. The more I read on however I found myself questioning the idea of the factions and how humans could actually function, divided under only one value. I ultimately felt this was unrealistic, for are we not naturally programmed to have a combination of each faction's values, if not have all five of them? So therefore wouldn't we all be Divergent?

Tris herself is a strong character that grows through the novel with the sense of right and wrong, never surrendering to the ideals of the Dauntless faction literally being beaten into her. Though in keeping her Abnegation selflessness and kindness causes trouble for her, she is strong minded enough to slowly figure out that a selfless and bravery are not all that different. However, I found her character bugged me too.

The author's continuous back and forth writing with Tris, which probably was intended to create a depth to the character, I instead found annoying. Most notably was the question of Tris' bravery. I felt she was going from on extreme to the other; while she was described as brave I found her extremely cruel and when she was acting weak, I found her pathetic.

But main bone to pick with this novel is the TIMING. I... found... the... story... so... unbelievably... slow... going... Over 300 pages gone and not a lot had happened. The whole novel was basically the faction's initiation, what the new Dauntless has to undertake before they become members (i.e. fighting, fear simulations). It was all very dragged out. Then combined with the last couple of chapters and BAM! Everything changed. I found Roth could have really paced this so much better; the ending was way too rushed.

Overall I found this was too focused on Tris' little bubble when the real problem was of much bigger scale. As readers, we were only ever focused on what is going on with her training, but never do we get to understand how this divided world ever came to be, it this the only city partaking in this faction divide, what happened to the old world, etc and only get to see the main plotline at the very end; providing an initiative for us to read the next novel in the series.

Will I read on? I admit I am slightly hooked to finding out what's going to happen, but I doubt I could read Divergent a second time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic debut; highly recommended, 12 Feb. 2012
It's fair to say that my expectations before reading Divergent were very high. When a book wins awards like this one did in 2011, and is consistently billed from all corners as 'the next Hunger Games', it is a classic scenario where a book is being set up for a fall. Or, just maybe, it might live up to that expectation.

The basic plot to Divergent is quite straightforward. In the future the population is split into five factions based on personality traits and life choices. Children live in their parents' faction until the age of 16, when they go through a process that ends in them choosing their own faction. Usually they pick the same faction as their parents, but not always. Beatrice is part of the Abnegation, a faction that values selflessness above everything else. Yet she feels that she doesn't quite belong, and when she is assessed as having the qualities to potentially belong to three factions, she has a decision to make as to whether to stay loyal to her family in Abnegation, or move to another faction, a choice that could cost her much more than her family.

In Divergent Roth has created a simple but compelling back story by splitting the population into factions. The book follows the individual journey of Beatrice, but having the other factions in the background gives a real sense of relativity to proceedings. It is clear at all times that the main story is not taking place in a vacuum, which makes the world appear more substantial.

It is fair to say that the main plot is extremely well put together, with well paced developments, set pieces and twists keeping the reader very much hooked on proceedings. But the standout aspect of this book is the character development of Beatrice. It is rare that I am genuinely enthralled by the development of an individual character, even the protagonist, as much as I was with the development of Beatrice. But in her Roth has created a compelling character that I was genuinely rooting for.

In many ways Divergent ticks all the boxes you would expect. But like all exceptional authors, Roth ties these aspects together in a way that makes the book more than the sum of its parts, with every individual aspect judged to perfection. The characters are distinct, the dialogue is sharp, the action sequences are exciting and the plot is interesting. Even the love story is handled with a subtle and measured approach that shows a combination of great writing ability and sound judgement.

To put it simply, Divergent is the product of an excellent idea that has been superbly executed. Fans of Hunger Games will feel right at home with this, but beyond that Divergent is an essential read for anybody with even the slightest interest in science fiction, whether teenager or adult, which when all said and done is the vast majority of people. An outstanding début.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Divergent by Veronica Roth, 27 April 2011
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The society in which this book's set is split into five different factions. Beatrice was born into Abnegation - the selfless. The book kicks off by introducing the reader to Beatrice and her life as one of the selfless. We learn that Beatrice doesn't like living without mirrors. She doesn't like always putting others before herself. And so, when the day of the big Test comes, she decides that she may want to choose a different faction at the Choosing ceremony. I won't say which one she does choose (although it's pretty obvious), however I will tell you that I think she is crazy for doing so. But I'd have done the same thing.

We follow Beatrice as she renames herself Tris, and goes through her training as part of her initiation. She has to do some pretty awful things. At first, she's just a weak little girl who really can't do much compared to others in her class. But as the novel progresses the reader sees an incredible change in Tris. She becomes a strong, courageous woman - at just sixteen.

Another of the recurring characters is Four, Tris' mentor. He is honestly one of the most complicated characters I have ever come across. His character development was outstanding - and we weren't even reading from his point of view! Plus, he is hot stuff. That always helps us to fall in love with characters, doesn't it?

There were so many extra characters in this book, and normally it would have been easy to get confused. But Roth pulls it off fantastically. Each character has their own traits and personality, it's so easy to tell them apart and learn their names. There were some characters I loved, some I hated, and a lot that I felt sorry for by the end of the book!

The ending is everything I could have ever wanted. Packed full of action - people dying, people fighting - and a couple of heartbreaking scenes. A few of those scenes, actually. The ending also leads nicely onto the sequel which, believe me, you will be highly anticipating and longing for after you've read this book!

As for the writing style, I cannot believe that this is a debut! Veronica Roth writes as if she's been doing this forever, and she's only 22 years old! The woman has some serious talent, and I can't wait to see how she uses it in the next two books in the trilogy.
Veronica Roth also recently announced that the film rights for Divergent have been sold to Summit. Yes, the studio that is responsible for The Hurt Locker. And Twilight, but I'd rather forget about that. Let's hope that all goes well so we can see this story on the big screen!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, 14 Oct. 2012
Dr. K. E. Patrick (England) - See all my reviews
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After the first few pages of world-building, where there was more "tell" than "show", this book really took off and left me reading it far into the night, against all sensible judgment about the need for sleep. Once I had finished, I passed it to my 12-year-old daughter, who apparently read it for three hours on the coach after a gruelling swim meet, unable to put it down and take a much-needed nap.

Basically, Roth's world is set in post-apocalyptic Chicago where there are only five choices for people to make in life: Abnegation, Candor, Amity, Erudite, or Dauntless. (I love these name choices: talk about enriching the young-adult vocabulary!). Beatrice, the main character, has grown up in the self-effacing faction of Abnegation, but at the age of 16, chooses the risky, violent, extreme faction of the Dauntless. Roth takes the reader through a breath-taking initiation period where Tris, as she now calls herself, struggles to leave her Abnegation past and cast her lot with the often-merciless culture she now finds herself in.

Toward the end of the book, a sinister plot is unleashed, pitting herself against some of her new-found friends, and throwing her back amongst some old ones.

The ending absolutely cries out for a sequel, and you'll be glad to know, it's already available: Insurgent. Unfortunately, I haven't been as enamored with the sequel, but that's another story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Readable but not totally satisfying, 22 July 2013
If you like YA dystopian then divergent is enjoyable. However, I couldn't help feeling that the characters and whole story felt flat and simple. It met all the obvious stereotypes of this genre, with the typical awkward first relationship and blatant hints towards a revolution, which was good but it provided no individuality to set it apart from other YA dystopian literature. For example, I felt I was constantly comparing it to The Hunger Games with the whole idea of the different factions immediately bringing to mind the thirteen districts of Panem. Also Divergent felt like it was written for a younger audience than The Hunger Games, making it feel like (at nineteen) I was too old to be reading this book. The story was constantly action packed however and moved at a good pace, which in my opinion is what redeemed it.

Overall, I feel that rating it anywhere above three stars would be unjustifiable. It's story and characters lack any real depth to provide any real shocks. It has no real individuality to make it a exceptional read making it just another average YA book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A parent's precis, 8 Feb. 2015
Uncle Barbar (Essex, England) - See all my reviews
The plot is essentially: 'Amish' girl elects to go to _Lord of the Flies_ boarding school and joins _Fight Club_. The Premise is that people are divided into factions based on their primary trait. By definition, all dystopian societies are flawed, but I would have liked a word, initially, on why this society regarded the Faction system as effective. The narrative is pedestrian for such brutal subject matter. There is no bad language or significant sexual content, just a protracted plotline of physical violence, making this a rather joyless read. Possibly cathartic for a bullied child...I didn't find much to enjoy. It livens up a bit towards the end with a lot of chasing and shooting. Also, there appears to be a plot revelation at the very end of chapter 15 which is then repeated as if it were a first revelation at the very end of the book... I rather liked the film.
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Divergent (Divergent, Book 1)
Divergent (Divergent, Book 1) by Veronica Roth (Paperback - 11 Feb. 2014)
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