Sunday, 24 June 2012
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Series: Divergent #1
Type: Young Adult Dystopian
In futuristic Chicago society is divided into five factions: Erudite (the intelligent), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Candor (the honest) and Amity (the peaceful). Upon their sixteenth birthday everyone must choose a faction, either staying in the faction they were born into or breaking from their family and leaving for another. But when Tris makes her choice she cannot begin to fathom the ramifications or how drastically her life or the world around her is about to change.
This is the first book in the Divergent trilogy and is probably one of the most-hyped books I've read in a while. Having now read it, I'd actually say that it is overhyped to the point that I was left feeling let down by the storyline. The sheer level of "oh my gosh this is like the most amazing book ever!" meant that while I enjoyed the book, I was expecting something incredible and this isn't quite at that level. There is a lot of missed potential, particularly in the world building, and the book is overly long for the amount of storyline covered.
It is clear that this is set in a future Chicago which has been devastated but there is no explanation. Each faction has it's own areas of the city, but again these aren't really described. There are a lot of hints to the factions and their purpose but things are kept very vague, most likely to be revealed in future books (which is a plot device I dislike immensely). Even the conflict between the factions of Abnegation and Erudite is kept off the page which means that it only ever seems incidental. The other thing that bothered me was that the pace started off pretty quick and then slowed.
The entire book is basically set around Tris selecting and then joining a faction. While I liked Tris and the way she thought things through, she could be really immature and stupid at times which didn't fit well with the times when she was smarter or braver. As the book went on Tris became more confident and coherent within herself. Four is one of my favourite parts of the book. He challenges Tris, forcing her to become a better person while also being incredibly sweet and supportive.
I liked how the other initiates were shown as joining a faction includes some pretty serious hazing. There was a great spectrum from the horrible Peter to Tris's awesome new best Christina. As Tris is kept with the other faction transfers this does explain a bit more about each faction without info-dumping, and it also means that the concept of bullying can be handled in an innovative way.
All in all, this was a fun read and I'm looking forward to Insurgent.