Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: May 3rd, 2011

Beatrice "Tris" Prior has reached the fateful age of sixteen, the stage at which teenagers in Veronica Roth's dystopian Chicago must select which of five factions to join for life. Each faction represents a virtue: Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, and Erudite. To the surprise of herself and her selfless Abnegation family, she chooses Dauntless, the path of courage. Her choice exposes her to the demanding, violent initiation rites of this group, but it also threatens to expose a personal secret that could place in mortal danger. Veronica Roth's young adult Divergent trilogy launches with a captivating adventure about love and loyalty playing out under most extreme circumstances.
(Courtesy of Goodreads)

This book!!  I loved it (which is why it earned itself a place on my list of Top 10 YA Books of 2011)!  I read this book as a buddy read with my 10 year old daughter.  We had both been wanting to read it, and I had been putting her off all summer, telling her I had to read it first.  After much whining, she wore me down, and we agreed that I would read a chapter ahead (and no more than a chapter ahead) and if I felt it got inappropriate for her impressionable young mind, she would be cut off.  Well, fortunately, I never felt it was beyond what she could handle; unfortunately, I had to finish the book while she was at school one day and then lie to her her and say that I didn't (Bad Mommy!). I just couldn't stop reading it...

In the wake of the enormous success of The Hunger Games, the book market has been flooded with dystopias. Most are decent at best, so I have been a bit wary of the new stuff (despite the fact that it has been my favorite genre since reading 1984 when I was 20 years old).  When I first heard of this I was intrigued, but not yet excited.  Then there was a lot of really positive advance buzz for this book, and I decided I would give it a shot... Plus the cover is awesome and I'm a cover whore. :)

I could hardly believe this was a debut novel.  I hope that the quality of this novel is a testament to how gifted Veronica Roth is, and not beginners luck, because I am well looking forward to the release of Insurgent, the second book in the series (which sadly will not be out until April of 2012!).  I think Veronica Roth's biggest strength was character development.  Some reviews complained about her lack of world-building, but I don't think that was, or should have been the focus in this book.  This book is so much more about WHO each character is, than the world around them.  Their world was wholly a matter of perspective; as a reader, we see a dystopian setting because of the harsh backdrop and the rigidness of the factions, but most of the characters in this story saw a utopian civilization where each person made a choice as to what their place would be in it.  The factions are formed on the strength of character of each group, supposedly based on which singular trait shines the strongest in their individuals.  What happens when you show equal amounts of strength in several areas?  You start asking questions....  This is where the characters become so important.  

I really liked how Roth laid out each personality.  Some people, like Tris and Four, were very complex, while others (Peter) were rather easy to understand.  I found it easy to define my loyalties (with the exception of one character).  I liked that despite the fact that Tris was wily, and pretty kick-ass, she was still a normal teenage girl, full of doubts and questions.  I liked that there were romantic elements to the story without the romance being the focus.  I liked that brains and integrity were valued over cunning and physical strength.  One of my favorite things about the character development is how we found out so much through the Dauntless testing; things that would have otherwise been impossible to uncover.

As far as the actual story and pace, I didn't feel a lull anywhere and I felt like we got the information we need at the right intervals. Nothing felt rushed or over-explained.  My only gripe was that we learned very, very little about the faction Amity, and I would have liked to know more about Candor as well.  They weren't really essential to this part of the story aside from the few characters that came from these factions into Dauntless, but I am still curious.  That said, it is my understanding that Insurgent will answer a lot of my questions about the other factions,so I can get past this minor hang-up.

My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★  

Grade Level Recommendation:  Like I said above, I buddy read this with my 10 year old (5th grader).  It's violent.  Much like The Hunger Games, the violence is pretty graphic in nature and description.  There is romance; kissing, minimal talk of sex.  There are curse words here and there.  Conservatively, I would say mature 5th to 6th grade+ (Ages 11+).  I would use your feelings on The Hunger Games as a parameter.

BONUS:  The cover for book #2, Insurgent was revealed last week and it is awesome!  Check it out!  Isn't is GORGEOUS?!?!

**Don't forget to enter my GIVEAWAY for a signed copy of Across the Universe by Beth Revis!  It ends at 11:59pm tonight!  Follow this LINK!!**


  1. Loved Divergent, definitely my favorite YA for me. I can't wait for Insurgent and the cover is so beautiful!

  2. Argh, I'm dying to read this!

    It's been on my TBR for six weeks or so now, but I'm trying to get some of my older books read first.

    Great review, but now I want to read it even more :)

  3. I could not put this book down when I was reading it. But when I finished, it was just OK for me. Not sure why, maybe because I was expecting another HG. I still liked it enough to read the sequel.

  4. I absolutely LOVE this book! It's so amazing :) I'm glad you enjoyed it! This week's WoW is going to be Insurgent!! I"m excitedddd

  5. Yay! I'm so glad you liked Divergent, it's definitely one of my favourite dystopians. Seriously agree with the 5 star rating!

  6. You summarized my feelings EXACTLY. Isn't Veronica Roth just fabulous? She's an extremely talented writer, that much has come across clearly in Divergent. And thankfully, this will hopefully mean that she has a long career ahead of her of wonderful books!

    I know lots of people compare Divergent to The Hunger Games, but sometimes I find that difficult to see just because they strike me as such different books you know? But I can definitely see how they would appeal to the same people :)


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