Monday, 2 February 2015

Late to the Party: Divergent

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Pages: 487, paperback

Publisher:  HarperCollins

Date Published: May 2011

Genre:  Romance / action / dystopian

Source:  library

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In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue--Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is--she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself. 
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are--and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.
I'm so late to this bandwagon. Like, 4 years late, so I supposed it was about time I read it and found out what the big deal was about. *SPOILERS AHEAD*

Unfortunately, I didn't find it to my liking. For the most part I was bewildered by the concept of the factions. It felt like a cheap imitation of the Hogwarts houses. That they were so concerened with particular personality types, such as intelligence, courage, was confusing when it was explained that the houses factions were created to settle discourse between people. It was a way to create harmony and abolish racism, sexism, classism, oppression from religion, etc, but I found that within those factions there were many of those already present. Tris is constantly belittled because she is small and female, and as for classism.... well. Apart from the five factions, there are also the 'unfactionless' who are pathetic people who didn't make it into any of the factions. They are homeless, hopeless, and best to be avoided. Being unfactionless is one of the worst things that could happen to someone.
It begs the question: why would humanity attempt to break down social segregation with a system of segregation that makes even less sense?

Now onto Tris. I found her to be an unlikeable character. She could do everything perfectly. Even when she failed, it was a positive thing. Her flaws remind me of Bella Swan's, where they are cute and silly--an in your face metaphor for her frail femininity--and they serve to be actions that force Four to come to her rescue. I tried so hard to find some sort of powerful woman underneath all the drama, but I just couldn't. Getting tattoos isn't brave or courageous, as she and her clan seem to believe. I have 4, and I'm hardly like anyone from Gryffindor Dauntless, who are all arrogant and ignorant.
It also perplexes me that having shown more than personality trait is such a rare occurrence. Now, I get why it's so unique, what with each faction trying to teach their young to follow the values of their own factions, but it begs the question, that if that's the case, why isn't it odd that an Ravenclaw  Erudite, who has studied and disciplined themselves in the art of knowledge would want to suddenly have an about face and go to Gryffindor Dauntless or whatever. It not only concerns Special Tris, but it's a major plot problem that I hope will be resolved.

Finally, the romance did nothing for me. Four was arrogant and a dick to Tris, just like almost every single other male love interest in the YA category. He is constantly antagonistic towards Tris, in order to go the Edward route and protecter her. And of course he's in a position of authority. Speaking of which, why are 19 year olds in charge of training the newbies? They were newbies just a couple of years ago? Are they seriously the best that Gryffindor Dauntless have to offer? No adults that have been training for decades? It seems suspicious to me, as if it's the only way Roth could think of to have Four and Tris get together.
And can I just  add that I am sick to death of romances where the male is in a position of power or authority over the female main character. It is a trope too often used and--I'm not suggesting that it is so in this book--is a technique that abusers use in real life.

Overall, this book wasn't that great. It made for a fun quick read, but lacked the substance I so crave.

Cover Art: 1 (movie covers are usually crap, but even the regular cover looks dodgy)
Plot: 2
Characters: 2
Writing: 2
Level of Interest: 3

Total Rating:
2 stars

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