Book Review: Divergent

Divergent, book review, Hunger Games [Photo Credit:]

February 25, 2014

Beatrice Prior lives in Chicago in the near future. The city is divided into five groups hosted in different parts of the city, each founded to dedicate themselves to the values they deem virtuous and their antitheses what the deemed to be the fall of humanity. These factions are named after their relative values, so that Abnegation promote selfless; Amity promote peace; Candor promote honesty; Dauntless promote daring; and Erudite promote knowledge.

On a Choosing Day, all sixteen-year-olds take an aptitude test that tell them for which faction they are best suited. The aptitude only allows for the designation of one alternate faction. After receiving the results of their test, with the “faction before blood” ideology, they must decide whether to remain with their family or transfer to a new faction.

The students receive mixed schooling, but once an adult, cannot interact with the other factions. Beatrice, born into an Abnegation family, struggles with the selflessness naturally manifested in the rest of her family. Drawn to her untamed Dauntless classmates as the aptitude test approaches, Beatrice begins to realize she might not be an Abnegation but is conflicted on staying with her family and being who she really is.

To her surprise and horror, Beatrice’s aptitude results are inconclusive meaning that instead of one faction, she shows equal aptitude for three: Abnegation, Erudite, and Dauntless, making her divergent.

The test proctor, a Dauntless member, explains the dire consequences if anyone were to uncover her results and helps her by adjusting her scores. The explanation is vague and isn’t resolved in the book, leading the reader to wonder “who cares?”

Upon returning home to consider her choice, her brother Caleb unexpectedly sympathizes with her-leading her to correctly think that her brother might choose a different faction which is unheard of in Abnegation. The last person who fled the faction was Tobias, the son of the Abnegation leader Marcus.

Her crippling guilt fails to control her decision as she selects Dauntless. Her brother Caleb chooses Erudite to her and her father’s horror.

Beatrice renames herself Tris after being asked for her new name when she, a Stiff, is the first to take a leap of faith into the abyss of the Dauntless compound.Though we don’t know the details of the other faction initiations, Dauntless initiation resembles a military boot camp more than a fraternity pledge week. Four explains that they must rank in the top ten at the end of initiation or be dismissed and become factionless. Tris becomes good friends with fellow transfer initiates Christina, Al, and Will while developing an expectedly unrealistic yet predictable and annoying relationship with the initiation instructor Four (he has four fears) who is later revealed to be Tobias.

Also predictably, she develops a vicious rivalry with another transfer initiate, Peter, a psychopathic and ruthless bully and tortures Tris with his two lackeys, Drew and Molly.So I don’t give away too many spoilers, battles in ranking and the initiation continues until a battle at the end of the book.

If you are a fan of Dystopian novels, this book does not disappoint. However, though the book remains a must read for Dystopian lovers of all ages, it does not remotely compare with the Hunger Games. The book is too long to have as many explanations missing that appear in later books. Instead of being suspense building, it is distractingly confusing and a deterrent for people who may want to read the sequels.

Though the characters are interesting and their lessons are pertinent in today’s world, I hated every character for various reasons.

Beatrice is not even close to being as likeable as the less annoying Katniss. She is a whiny, Bella Swan-like immature and insecure female heroine. She is cruel and acts superior to her friends. I need to go back and count how many times she needs to tell herself she’s brave.

In addition, the Dauntless never really seemed braved, the Abnegation were selfless to a fault, the Amity were a bunch of hippies, and Jeanine is an evil witch (not literally, this isn’t Twilight or whatever.)

Though the action is well-written and the scenes are intricately described, their contrived and cheesy dialogue appeals to the younger audience and the romance deprived.

Take this example from the end of the book: “Maybe I’m already sure, “he says, “and I just don’t want to frighten you.” I laugh a little. “Then you should know better.” “Fine,” he says. “Then I love you.”

Its saving graces from being overall inferior to the Hunger Games lie with its original plot and the fact that it’s more realistic and more universal truths can be drawn from the text on identity, self-preservation, and resistance though those revelations mostly occur in the sequels.