Book Review: Veronica Roth’s Divergent

Posted July 13, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews, Young Adult readers

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Veronica Roth’s Divergent



Veronica Roth

dystopian, science fiction in Hardcover edition that was published by HC Children's Books on February 28, 2012 and has 487 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Insurgent

First in the Divergent Trilogy dystopian series for Young Adults and revolving around Beatrice, er, Tris Prior.

In 2014, Divergent won the Evergreen Teen Book Award and the Magnolia Award for 6-8 and nominated for the Sakura Medal, Abraham Lincoln Award. In 2013, it won the Green Mountain Book Award. In 2012, Divergent won the DABWAHA Romance Tournament for Best Young Adult Romance and was nominated for the Milwaukee County Teen Book Award and the Children’s Choice Book Award for Teen Choice Book of the Year. In 2011, it won the Goodreads Choice Award for Favorite Book and the Best Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction.

My Take

A Hunger Games wanna-be, it’s a bit eerie as you read and discover that Lake Michigan has turned into Swamp Michigan in this dystopian world of societies and expectations.

It’s like falling into George Orwell’s 1984 with a hint of Lord of the Flies. Each faction is very strict within itself. There can be no fraternizing and you may visit family only on specially designated days. They act as if speaking to someone of another faction is consorting with the enemy. Each has prescribed colors, styles of dress, and behaviors. It’s as though they took one human being and split him apart into his different thoughts, feelings, and preferences.

If for any reason you fail to qualify for a faction or are thrown out of one, you become factionless. Qualified only to hold down the most menial, the most awful jobs. Think of an Untouchable, a homeless person destined to live in the worst conditions.

Jesus, this world is unforgiving. As soon as Beatrice joins Dauntless, the initial testing begins and if you don’t pass their “entrance exam”, you’ll be thrown out, factionless. And their testing is, omigod, brutal. Roth suggests within the storyline that Dauntless’ mission has changed, that it no longer adheres to its original precepts. It’s a charge that’s believable as you read of the leaders’ behaviors. The violence it promotes and accepts. Just not getting onto the train is enough to throw you out!

There are some bits that don’t ring true. For one, Roth doesn’t give a reason for the friendship between Tris, Christina, Al, and Will. There’s every reason for them not to be friends as they are competing against each other for a few positions. Roth does, at least, come up with a reason for Al’s behavior later. The romance between Four and Tris is too much like an insta-love with no reason for it, no build-up. It’s more as if she popped in a tidbit here, another over there, and…voila…they’re in love…awww…

What is with all this oh, I can’t say? I really hate this excuse authors use to create tension. It just irritates me. Well, no, actually, it makes me curious to find out why the big mystery. It’s when I find out how stupid and pointless its usage is, then I get irritated…arghhh… Gimme a break.

Because three of the initiates try to kill Tris, in the dark, in secret, she automatically now believes that the Dauntless leaders are capable of accepting murder? What’s with passing her mother’s message on to Caleb and then we never hear of it again? Well, until the very end. Another miss on the drama/tension angle.

Hey, I’m with Tris. Why would they lock the people inside the gates?

Her mom tells her to stay in the middle for the second round of testing, so Tris completely ignores it??

I really don’t understand why Peter is allowed to live.

Most of the tension in this story is of surviving the Dauntless tests. It’s not until much later in the book that the dribs and drabs that Roth has been hinting at turn out to have a much greater impact on the storyline. It would have been a stronger story if there had been more drama and tension over this propaganda from the start.

Tris’ realization about suicide, the differences between her mother and Al are so right. Just as Tris’ original thoughts about how Dauntless should work are right. I’ll be curious to see what happens in Insurgent.

Okay, I’ve whined enough…Roth really has done a good job of creating this dystopian world with a nice attention to detail in each faction. And I can see why it’s being turned into a movie with all these crazy action sequences…and its female lead. Nice tick for the ladies’ side of action heroes, LOL. I just think it had the potential to be a much better story.

The Story

Poor Beatrice loves her family, and yet, with what she discovers in her testing, she is able to choose where she wants to be. She can either be true to herself or faithful to her family. For if she chooses any other than Abnegation, she will never be able to call her family her own again. And the faction within which she grew up will count her traitor.

Each faction has its place in this unbrave new world, but Erudite has been strongly suggesting that Abnegation is hoarding food and goods. Forcing the other societies to do without simply because Abnegation believes that such luxuries are unnecessary. Jeanine Matthews points to Marcus’ son’s choice out of his own faction as proof that Abnegation is wrong.

The Characters

Beatrice Prior is coming up on her sixteenth birthday and must choose the faction she will embrace for the rest of her life. Her aptitude test will determine which she is suited for, so when her test results show more than one possibility, well, it’s a nightmare of choice, including that of a new name: Tris.

Caleb Prior is her slightly older brother who is also ready to choose. Susan and Robert are sister and brother and also Abnegation. Marcus is one of the Abnegation leaders; his son, Tobias, chose Dauntless.

Dauntless initiates include:
Those who switched factions include Edward, Myra, Christina, Will, Al, who is a big, peacable guy, and Molly Atwood, Drew, and Peter, who are vicious. Initiates who are from the Dauntless faction include Rita, Uriah, Marlene, and Shauna.

Four will be their primary instructor. Lauren. Max is one of the five leaders of Dauntless along with Eric. Tori is one of the initial testers.

Jeanine Matthews is the representative for Erudite. Cara is Will’s younger sister, who believes the lies that Jeanine is promoting, and damn, she’s rude about it.

There are five societies within this world, and each conforms to a particular quality: Abnegation values selflessness, and they govern this world; Amity believes in peace and friendship, and they appear to be the growers; Erudite is all about knowledge and curiosity for the sake of doing good—now though, they’re more interested in fulfilling their greed; Dauntless is fearless, and they are the warriors; Candor worships honesty; and, Divergent is just plain wrong. In fact, it does not exist.

The Cover and Title

The cover is threatening with its flaming representation of an eye high in the sky over the Chicago shoreline, er, swamp edge.

The title is the core of this faction’s salvation. It needs a Divergent or more.