Divergent: A Review


Yay more book talk!! Hooray! I love the frequency that we get to discuss books no that more people are involved and we are on a reading schedule. No more months and months between discussions! And I am reading like a fiend. I mentioned this before, but I’ll say it again – I won’t be able to finish all of the books on this list this time, but I will try my best. I did make sure to bust through Divergent by Veronica Roth though! I read it in 2 days. One of those days I stayed up until 12:30 am, listening to a croup-filled Gabe struggle to breath all evening until he eventually fell asleep despite the mucus. Divergent, I owe you one for keeping me alert enough to listen but calm enough so as not to rush Gabe to the ER. Two points for you.

Now, let’s meet our reviewers!

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This is Feeny. She is amazing and works as a 911 dispatcher. WHAT! She is Slaptastrophe on Twitter. She lives in NC and often got in trouble at school…. for reading. I love that so hard.


Meet Fer! She is my cousin-in-law, lives in Mexico City, and has 2 kids. Her youngest, Paula, is just a few weeks younger than Gabe. So let’s give her a round of applause for reading a book and doing the book report with a full house and busy schedule. Thanks Fer!!

Now then, Divergent. Maris had been bothering me to read this book for a long time, but my reading schedule had always been occupied with my giant stack of books from the book lists. And then the movie came out and I was so grumpy that the movie was going to happen before I could finish it that I just had to put it on this list. I love amazingly written literature, but I also love love love my dystopian YA. I read all of The Hunger Games while on my honeymoon. I loves it and I loves it hard. All I knew of the book, though, was from breif glimpses at the movie trailer, so I went in not really knowing what to expect.

Fer: The moment I read the name of the book that was assigned to me, I immediately felt excitement and intrigue, the title of the book caught my attention and had never heard of it. I expected to read something with suspense, action and something that had me entertained all the time.

It was a challenge for me because of time! And I don’t remember reading a book knowing that I had to be critical afterwards and answering questions about it. Normally I read books very fast, but now with two children I can easily distract myself or not find the time to do it.

Feeny: It’s not often that I start a book I have never heard of before, so when I got assigned Divergent I was simultaneously excited and nervous.  It turns out it was a great choice for me. the type of book I definitely would have bought for myself had I known about it.

Lauren: It delights me that both of these people had never heard of Divergent. I feel like that is really, really lucky. 

Fer gives an excellent synopsis of what any new reader will be getting themselves into:

Fer: Beatrice Prior lives in Chicago, society is divided into five factions, and each faction has a different virtue. Candor believes in honesty, Abnegation is about selflessness, Dauntless is about being brave, Amity works for peace and Erudite is about knowledge. There is an annual ceremony where all teens turning sixteen must decide which faction they will choose to live with for the rest of their lives. Beatrice turns sixteen and has to choose the faction she believes fits her best. Once the decision is made they have to train to become part of the new or the same faction.

Feeny: The first few chapters of this book dragged for me.  I am a pretty quick reader but it took me several sit downs to get through the first 3 chapters, about 25 pages.  I may have thought “what did I get myself into” once or twice.

Abnegation, as the word indicates, believes in selflessness and service to others above all else.  The other four factions are Amity (Peaceful), Candor (Honest), Dauntless (Brave) and Erudite (Intelligent).  As with Abnegation, if you know the word or the root of the word you can make an educated guess as to the factions values.  The obvious connection of the name and meaning bothered me for a while.  It seemed to make the book a bit…. young.  Especially when in the reading notes the author, Veronica Roth, says she specifically picked words she didn’t think the reader would know.  So you tell me fellow readers, am I a word wizard for picking up on what these factions hold dear?

Then, I picked up the book on a day off last week, (let go of the faction thing) and fell in to a great story.  In fact I finished the almost 500 page book that day.

Lauren: The exact same thing happened to me. It was a bit slow going and then BOOM, I stayed up way too late after reading only about a third of it previously and finished the book in one evening. 

To comment on what Feeny mentioned  – I think it is always bad practice to assume your audience won’t “get” or pick up on something. I think that is greatly underestimating any reader. And though this is “technically” (Air quotes) a YA book, everyone I know, including my Dad, is reading it.

Fer: The recurring theme from my point of view is “making hard decisions”. From beginning to end it’s all about the decisions the characters make what put the whole story together. I don’t think I was nagged about anything! I was sucked in by the chapter-ending cliffhangers. Every time a chapter came to a close I got that desperation to continue, regardless of how early I had to get up the next morning.

Feeny: From time to time there were character aspects, like the faction names, that seemed a bit clunky.  Things that seemed to be repeated over and over to make sure the reader picked them up.  A boy that likes Beatrice flirts with her for almost a hundred pages all while she wonders “why is he acting so strange?”.  I get the “I’m a sheltered teen who never saw physical displays of affection” thing but after a while I just felt a bit beat over the head with it.  Flaws aside, a book about a girl learning to be herself whilst figuring out that the world is much bigger than herself? Count me in!

Lauren: I’m starting to get worn out by the need for every single dystopian book to have a strong female lead who is unhinged by a romance and the chronic issue of not knowing herself. There has to be another kind of strange future than one where children are left in charge, adults are useless, and a major side story is constantly: Do I love him? I don’t know. Do I? AND! I am super over the constant fear of sex. Those kids would be humpin like rabbits if there wasn’t some weird puritanical, “we shouldn’t encourage teenagers to do it” pressure. 

Fer:  She succeeded! Veronica Roth has a wonderful ability to keep the reader’s attention and make a reading of about 500 pages enjoyable, easy and fast to read and very entertaining. Her writing is simple, and her imagination to create this dystopian world left me very satisfied, she has very well-planned and written descriptions, and these descriptions unfold in a very relaxed pace, different moments, scenes and situations full of action, fights, romance, friendship, laughter and a little mystery. I must admit that I saw certain things coming long before they took place.

What I found a bit hasty was the end, because in 80 pages Veronica Roth twists and squirms a lot of things, there are deaths, blood, fighting, sacrifice and more, although I’m not complaining all that happened I wish it hadn’t been so straight forward (literally, I was recovering from one death when Veronica Roth goes and says ” You are not sufficiently emotionally damaged, take this, here’s another tragic death”)

I’m obviously left wondering what will happen next! It’s a trilogy!!!! But thinking just about this book, she writes everything you need to know, as an introduction story I think it’s great.

I think that what makes this book so special is that there is a ton of realistic action and the romance doesn’t cloud the book’s plot. There are so many novels similar to this one that I feel lose their possible potential because of love triangles. This book doesn’t have any love triangles, but instead, has a very realistic relationship.

Feeny: If you like series’ like the Hunger Games, or Chaos Walking, you will like this book.  If you like adventures or mysteries but are hesitant about a somewhat simple book you should give it a try. I picked up the second book an hour after I finished this one!

Fer: I was sucked in from the very beginning.

I would recommend it:

  1. If you like a strong female lead
  2. If you liked reading “The Hunger Games”
  3.  To teenagers maybe 15 and up
  4.  If you like action, suspense and a little bit of romance

Lauren: I couldn’t help comparing this book to the Hunger Games the whole time, and in some places I felt like Divergent succeeded better. I thought the opression was more subtle, the twists more surprising, and I enjoyed that Divergent does not have a clear “this is right and this is wrong” path. It’s complicated and I think that’s well done. I spent a lot of time thinking about what I was supposed to be getting out of the story while reading. And a lot of that thinking was super conflicted. The bad guys are not always who you think they are and that makes for a really good story.

That being said…. I don’t think I’m going to continue reading the trilogy. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I feel like there are so many other books I would like to read that maybe this one I will let just be a movie experience and let the books just be. I hope it will be just as entertaining. 

**To play off of the book to movie theme of this particular reading experience, there is a fun little giveaway happening today! A random commentor, contributing to the discussion of the book, will be selected by Random.org to receive a copy of the blu-ray movie, Divergent, when it comes out in August!! So comment, discuss, one entry per person. In your first comment please indicate if you are also entering the movie drawing. Reading + Movies sounds like the greatest day.**

28 thoughts on “Divergent: A Review”

  1. I haven’t read this series, but I really enjoyed the Hunger Games… which is a big reason why I didn’t pick this one up. They sounded so similar to me, I was a bit concerned it’d read like a ripoff. But now I’m intrigued again…

    I will say: I know a spoiler from the third book (WHICH I DON’T SAY HERE, LA LA LA) which makes me hesitate to pick them up. Which is stupid, really. And besides, it sounds like the first book stands pretty well on its own.

    1. I don’t know if it stands alone. It does leave you on a massive cliff hanger where it is like “This is all just beginning, isn’t it?” But… For ME, I Am ok not continuing. Albeit, it did suck me in HARD and is a really entertaining read.

  2. I really liked Divergent but I thought the other books in the series weren’t nearly as good. The Hunger Games series got kind of strange and poorly paced toward the end but I still liked them all, whereas I totally lost interest after book 2 with these. I also really liked the Uglies-Pretties-Specials series (again, similar genre) and thought that one was better than these.

    1. I also finished the second one with no interest in the third one. Which is interesting because I hated the way the Hunger Games went in the end and I also didn’t finish Chaos Walking, a similar dystopian YA series. What is it about these authors starting with such a good thing going and then feeling the need to branch off into weirdness??

      1. I could NOT figure out what the hell was actually going on in the third Hunger Games. It jumped from here to there and they were always drugging her and waking her up in a different location. Gahhh.

        And I think there is a huge push for trilogy, even if the story doesn’t demand it. I think most of these series would be much better served as just sequels, and make both books just a touch longer. Bada bing, bada boom.

        1. It must be the trilogy thing. Hunger Games and Divergent both seem to go; Book 1- story ’bout a girl, Book 2- story ’bout a girl, Book 3- story ’bout a UNIVERSE. Don’t need it. Also, not to use the T word but I hear book 3 of Divergent does the same “using another characters voice to tell the story in some chapters” that Twilight did in its third book which I haaaaate.

        2. MOCKINGJAY was a mess of a book. I love THE HUNGER GAMES series hard, and felt so abandoned and bewildered by that book. Multiple rereads have tempered my anger, but I still feel so let down!

  3. I don’t even question it anymore. Oh, is it dystopian YA fic? COUNT ME IN. I think it’s just an inherent flaw in the YA fic genre that authors write down to who they think their audience. I’d like to think that even in middle or high school I wouldn’t have had to have my hand held through the book. War and peace these books are not. I’m reading maze runner right now, and the chapters are so short. I realized maybe it’s because all kids have ADD/split screen syndrome or something, and you have to keep their interest somehow. fyi Maze runner is also going to be a movie! For dystopian fic for adults, I liked the maddadam trilogy by margaret atwood.

  4. My book club actually read this, and while I was frustrated, especially in the beginning, that so many elements seemed to be ripped from other “YA” novels (Hunger Games, Harry Potter, etc.), I found it entertaining enough that I did power through the other two books in a relatively short time frame. I definitely thought the second book was better than the first.

    We had an interesting discussing about what factions we thought we would fit in too. And several of us had a hard time imagining that any teenager could select just one of these qualities for the rest of their lives. One member even decided she’d rather be factionless than have to pick one!

    I actually liked the movie better than the book, because I found Tris to be super unlikeable in the first book. Shailene Woodley did a good job at making her seem more … self-aware?

  5. I kind of got bored after the first book. I read Divergent pretty quickly, in a night actually, and started the second book and when I stopped reading that book a month or so ago, it was never interesting enough for me to pick it back up again. Also, it read a lot like the Hunger Games with the warring factions idea, but it wasn’t quite as enthralling. I will probably leave this one for the movies as well and just watch those as they come out.

  6. So, YA is my jam. I love it fiercely. But I am losing my patience with how cookie-cutter and formulaic so many of these books have become, particularly the YA genre fiction like dystopia and fantasy and–god help me–paranormal romance. This is compounded by the fact that the publishing company I work for has a YA imprint, so in addition to reading it for pleasure I read rather a lot of it for work. Seeing the same things over and over and over again is disheartening. The best books are always something fresh and new (that then spawn their own set of banal copies. Oy).

    I swallowed DIVERGENT whole several years ago. My memory is fuzzy on the particulars. I remember being ambivalent about Tris herself, which is never a good sign. I think Veronica Roth is a competent writer, and I found the world she created interesting. The romance between Tris and Four bored me to death (romance in YA is a whole other topic on which I have Many Many Thoughts). Unlike some of the reviewers, I was not surprised by any of the twists, with the exception of Tris’s brother also choosing another faction in the beginning of the book. Everything else seemed properly foreshadowed to me, and much of it was easily guessable.

    For all that I obsessively turned the pages when reading it, very little of the book stayed with me. When I read the second book later I had ZERO recollection of what had happened in the first book (this is almost never an issue for me) and actually got to the point where I had to look up a plot summary online so that I could get my bearings in book two. I decided not to continue on with the series (though I have been spoiled for it–I’m even LESS likely to read it now, not because I’ve been spoiled, but because the ending seems ridiculous to me).

    For me, DIVERGENT was forgettable. Not offensive on any level, but not worth the considerable hype it’s received. I don’t think it’s a bad book; it does a lot of things well. I only think it’s very bland, and it makes me sad to see so much of the same thing, so many of the same stories and same types of characters written over and over again.

  7. I read Divergent a while ago, and liked it fine. I do think comparison to Hunger Games are somewhat inevitable, so here’s mine. I thought the romance in Divergent was better (I am so over love triangles, especially ones that you drag out FOREVER), but I liked Katniss way better than Tris, and I overall enjoyed Hunger Games more. I haven’t felt any desire to pick up the second one. There’s just so much dystopian YA out there right now, which is fine, but I do sometimes wonder whatever happened to the more “real life” YA books. I think of what I read in junior high and high school, and mostly they were books about kids in relatively true to life situations (authors like Gordon Korman, M.E. Kerr, Cynthia Voight, Paula Danziger), I wonder where those types of YA books are today. (Maybe they are still around, you just hear about them less, I don’t know).

      1. I haven’t, but I’ve heard good things. I’ll add it to my To Read list.

        And yes, Lauren, add me to the giveaway – apparently I’m not so good with directions. 🙂

  8. When this book list began, and the books were being assigned, I was close to finishing Divergent – and I have been looking forward do this post 🙂 I have lots of the same thoughts about how the YA Dystopian genre is growing/copying-itself/etc. I do find the fact that the main characters are young woman to be something I don’t want to risk taking for granted. How many young adult books with male characters (other than harry potter) are so loved by their readers that they were/are made into movies? Not a whole lot. So I embrace Divergent because of that fact alone. Plus the physical action and survival aspect is neat – probably because I remember getting so lost in the world of “The Hatchet” when I was younger but not really being able to see myself there since the main character was a guy.
    Annnnyways – I think the romance part of the book is annoying, but enough of a side plot that I can ignore it. I’ve seen the movie, and I think they do a fairly good job of leaving it to the side as well and focusing on Tris’ hard choices, family background and drama, and the breaking down of their society. It’s something I always want to keep reading, but not necessarily something that is challenging for me. Like others have said – some of the foreshadowing is so incredibly obvious. But I also like that the society is so foreign to me, how its structured and getting a peek into each faction as I go along, that I can take the obvious plot lines with a grain of salt because the other things are harder to grasp.
    ps: I could just NOT live in that world. The limited choices for hair/clothes/social-interaction are so weird to me. Plus: boring! I would rebel 🙂

  9. I read this one awhile ago but I sped right through it just like you guys. I, thankfully, I didn’t have the Hunger Games comparison going through my head the whole time. I think it’s good for what it was but having read all 3 this one is by far the best.

  10. First, hi! I am a long time reader but new commenter – but I love to read (and also got in trouble for reading at school!) so love all the book review posts:)

    I really liked both the hunger games books and these. I know a lot of people really hated the last book – I didn’t like it as much as the first 2, but I get why it ended like it did. I tore through the books too (but not as fast as the hunger games!)

    I cannot even imagine trying to pick a faction.

    (Yes, movie contest please!)

  11. I overall enjoyed the Divergent series more than the Hunger Games, although I can’t particularly pinpoint why (and I did really like HG, too!). I think I liked the ending better (the ending of HG just pissed me off, like the author chose a cop out way to make a choice), and liked the action and whatnot more, and the fact the love story wasn’t a love triangle. And that it’s set in my hometown of Chicago, maybe?

    In general, yes, I think all these YA dystopian novels with female heroines tend to have similar plots and can be predictable. But I LOVE them for quick and easy, engaging reads. I also enjoyed the Delirium series, which falls prey to the same issues.

    (Please enter me in the movie contest – I have been waiting to see Divergent when it comes out on DVD!)

  12. I’m interested to hear such positive reactions to Divergent. You make good points, all of you, yesterday, while I wasn’t on the internet. I want to chime in with a little criticism as I normally LOVE YA + Dystopians (especially Ender’s Game, Hunger Games, this Australian series called “Tomorrow, When the War Began” that I read as an actual young adult) but I found Divergent to be a little lacking. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely inhaled Divergent (I read it Saturday night/Sunday morning on the excuse that a friend who was visiting wanted to take it with him… and then he decided not to. Whatever.) but didn’t really think it was very well written/developed. The extremely shallow character development was distracting to me – made it hard for my to care about anybody that much. I would definitely have liked to know more about the back history or thought processes of the important characters. My biggest problem with it was that major, catastrophic things would happen and we wouldn’t get a chance to process them… “Oh, both your parents just died, in quick succession, front of you, for you? Now you’re cuddling a boy on a train? What does he smell like?” I liked the world she created and the idea of the factions and the elements of fighting and the strong female lead… but I very much felt like I was being lectured to or talked down to for most of the book. It felt a bit hollow. Very aimed at young adults – complete with good romance scenes for young adults. A quick, exciting read but not up to top notch YA Dystopian standards.

    1. My impression of Divergent is that it rode the Hunger Games wave. Strong Female Lead! Romance! Toughness! Society in sections! $$$$$$$ GOLD. So where I felt Hunger Games played off an old tale of child sacrifices, Divergent played off of an already established money making formula. But! I still hold to my feelings that the conflict began as much more subtle in Divergent. Things seemed more internal than external for a lot of pages, and the external conflict was bubbling through the cracks. It wasn’t until the last third that it all broke open.

  13. I am entering the movie drawing. I really love Divergent and I was really disappointed that Uriah wasn’t in the movie 🙁

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