So I was reading a much more serious book this week but I haven’t finished it yet (I’ll have that for you next week), and since I finished this trilogy on Wednesday I thought I’d give you my thoughts on this. I couldn’t get a picture of all three books together, but the separate titles are Divergent, Insurgent, and Allegiant. On the heels of The Hunger Games, this is another dystopian young adult series, in which teenagers are tested to their absolute limit, but manage to find love despite terrible odds, corrupt governments, and enormous loss.
I can’t emphasise enough how much fun it was just to READ again, and not have to write an essay or discuss criticism (does a blog count? I don’t know) – I love those things, I really do, but reading can lose some of its appeal when that’s all it’s used for. Even if what I was reading was not aimed at my age group at all, it was so nice to just sit and read and get lost in the story, and get emotionally invested purely because there was TIME to get emotionally invested.
And now I’ll move on to the synopsis before this becomes an English student rant…
Beatrice Prior lives in a somewhat dystopian post-apocalyptic city – if you’ve seen the recent film, you’ll know which city that is, even though the reader is not told until the third book, but I won’t spoil it for the rest of you. The city is divided into factions, Candor, Amity, Erudite, Dauntless, and Abnegation. They each have very strict philosophies, based on what they consider to be the biggest fault of human nature – Candor are honest (to the point of tactlessness) because they believe it was deception and dishonesty that was the downfall of humanity; Amity are kind because they blame war and fighting; Erudite value knowledge because they blame ignorance for humanity’s problems; Dauntless are brave and fearless because they blame fear and cowardice; Abnegation are selfless, and blame selfishness for the past problems. Beatrice is Abnegation and, at the start of Divergent, is about to go through a simulation test to decide which tells her which faction she belongs in. But her results are not as straightforward as everyone else’s…
Things I liked
As I said earlier, just being able to sit and get lost in the world of the books, not to question it or think about the (occasionally painfully obvious) religious implications. But enough about me:
The characters – as always. If you haven’t got interesting characters, I’m never going to be able to find anything I like. Tris (Beatrice) is the newest in a line of decent feminist icons in young adult fiction, following Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games and Katsa from Graceling. Although the romance story is obvious as soon as she looks up and sees the deep blue eyes, it was fun to read, and refreshing after the love lessons of The Twilight Saga (no I can’t be bothered to talk about that properly). The main couple struggle with staying true to one another while retaining their independence, they lie to each other but also talk through their problems and work on their relationship – despite the epic scale of their love story they still teach young people that relationships are about compromise, and that people you love screw up sometimes and hurt you without meaning to, but as long as you talk about it, things will get better. I was impressed with the relationship, even though it drove me crazy at times.
Also, Four is dreamy. Yeah, I said it.
The faction system. It made the world and the society very easy to navigate as someone who wasn’t looking for a challenging read. Also it explored a lot about what it means to be human -the prejudices and misconceptions we have about society, what we take for granted until something changes in our lives, like moving away from home – especially as the series progresses and shit starts to go down.
Four. But I mentioned that already.
Dauntless. Terrifying, awesome, cool as hell, intense. Freedom, to an extent.
I also like that Tris is weak at first, and things don’t always come easily. She has to work hard, and drive her mind and body as hard as she can, to become better.
Things I didn’t like
The outcome – but I won’t go into that.
I’m still not a huge fan of most books written in present tense. However, I’ll concede that I stopped noticing it fairly quickly while reading this and it did help propel the story onward.
The sheer devastation. Tris experiences an exhausting number of losses throughout the series – but this is a difficult point, since I almost put it in the Things I liked section. On the one hand, if I was feeling emotional while reading it, I found myself easily affected by the deaths, even of minor characters. On the other, war is stirring within the city even from the very beginning and as it grows and takes shape, you have to expect devastating losses on both sides.
Should I read this book?
If you’re in the mood for a story that is exciting and involving, but requires not much concentration or prolonged engagement, this is a great one. It did feel a bit young for me at times, but sometimes that is what you need.
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The Book Depository
You can buy the books here: http://www.bookdepository.com/Divergent-Veronica-Roth/9780007420421/?a_aid=SpidersLibrary
Because I am trying not to use Amazon in my own half-arsed protest-y way, I’d like to recommend to people that they check out The Book Depository, which is a great, user-friendly site with affordable books ranging from brand new releases to classics, and in many different editions at less-than brand new prices. As I am now officially an affiliate of The Book Depository, I gain a small commission if you use my affiliate link to buy books! Please do check it out, even if you don’t buy anything right now.