Divergent by Veronica Roth
Three flying birds...
One for each member of the family I left behind.
Sixteen-year-old Tris is forced to make a terrible choice. In a divided society where everyone must conform, Tris does not fit.
So she ventures out alone, determined to discover where she truly belongs. Shocked by her brutal new life, Tris can trust no one. And yet she is drawn to a boy who seems to both threaten and protect her.
The hardest choice lies ahead.
Divergent was one of those Young Adult novels I’d heard a lot about, but I was afraid of reading. It seemed like one of those YA dystopian novels about a girl living in a society with weird rules and can be really frustrating because of said rules and sometimes because of the distant voice of our main character.
And now I feel ashamed for not reading about this book before, because it is amazing.
And before I continue, can I just say that the summary above is really odd, compared to the book? I didn't even read it before now - I walked into the store and grabbed the first Divergent I saw - and good thing I didn't: I might not have read this because that summary is pretty awful in my opinion. Ignore it?
Our main lady is Beatrice Prior, or Tris, who is facing a tough situation making a big choice about the rest of her life that could hurt her family or hurt her. It’s hard to describe Tris because she’s pretty obviously trying to find herself - for most of the book she’s going “Who the hell am I?” But weirdly, even though this is in first person, I didn’t find that annoying.
What I most love about Tris is the obvious battle she has going on inside her - the battle over who she is, who others want her to be and who does she really want herself to be? And then, even though we see her try to find herself, we get these moments where she just lets go and does what she feels is right. Not that it’s always true, because as much as Tris is smart and resilient, she’s got faults, too. And the book shows all the sides that there are to her and it is pretty awesome getting to see Tris learn how to kick ass.
I have to mention the main gentleman, as sometimes it feels like we’re getting our hot guys from the same mold when it comes to YA. Well, Four thankfully breaks that mold and he’s also one of the reasons that make Divergent awesome and extremely entertaining. Four comes off a little arrogant and sarcastic, but it doesn’t become a problem because we almost immediately learn that there are more sides to him. That’s what makes him so much interesting and it softens him, me thinks.
The more we see of him, the more we see that the arrogance could be just a face. Also, I gotta like the guy what with the way he’s protective, smart in battle and is actually pretty good at teaching.
Also what makes me really like Four is that he’s a good balance to Tris: they both appear to have some sort of battle going on inside their heads and that makes them similar. They’re different yes, because Four is pretty much good at everything - not really, but almost - while Tris has to work for it. That’s a pretty interesting relationship, with Four trying to teach Tris and the two of them clashing a little. And we see a softer side to Four when he tries to protect Tris, which again makes things interesting.
The side characters have their moments: there are some extremely well written ones, that have some excellent details going on that hint more about them, if we just got a longer look. But most of them happen to be “the evil guys” - the friends and loved ones of Tris are less interesting. This could be because Tris loves them so much already, that she sees it as obvious - while it isn’t so obvious to the reader who would need more time to love them. Still, Roth manages to bring out complexities in all of her characters, even in those that we see for three pages and not for much more: she writes situations that really bring out the fact that even good guys to shitty things.
Now, the plot is simple, yet slightly surprising. It’s simple enough to be guessable, but the way Roth writes it, is captivating enough to notice it too late. The so-called simple plot makes it even more shocking when we get a big surprise and Roth has a few of those in hand.
There’s a perfect balance of Tris’ thoughts and description - the inner thinkings of our main character don’t slow the story down, but they give it a boost. Without Tris, the story would be far more boring. And the way Roth writes is really, really captivating. There are quiet moments that lead up to fast paced action, then we get a small glimpse of romance and then the we get a punch in the face and so on. It keeps you reading.
I truly loved how the choice that Tris made was handled. I feel like Divergent is the story about finding how to be brave and then trying to follow that through. Except it’s no where near as easy as that, with people and situations changing rapidly. And also, while the love between Four and Tris had its moments, that wasn’t what the book was about. The book’s about Tris and her journey - the romance has its place and it is awesome, but it doesn’t take over the book.
Final thoughts: Divergent is captivating and doesn’t let you go - thanks to the talent of Roth’s writing and Tris, who really is the start of the book. I usually hate first person narrative and this is one of those books that made me doubt that. I immediately jumped to the next one. Unfortunately, if you don’t like Tris - or Four - you probably don’t end up liking the book.