vrijdag 29 augustus 2014

Veronica Roth: Divergent


This review is about Divergent, the first novel in the Divergent-trilogy. I ordered my copy from bol.com a very long time ago and it has 487 very easy to read pages.

“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.”

The story is very easy to read, fast-paced, compelling at moments and I had a good time reading it.
The concept of the different factions is unique and something I’ve never read before. This is why I bought the novel in the first place; I was fascinated by this idea.

Even though it is an enjoyable novel, not a lot happens until we’re at least two-thirds in. It’s not like it’s boring or anything like that, but you really could sum it up in a paragraph.
And then suddenly Tris and Four know something is about to happen, it happens and they try to prevent it. That’s it. It’s over too soon.
I wish we knew more about this world. What happened? Why did it become this way? Why the factions? There was virtually no world-building. I suppose those questions will be answered in the second and third book but I need something in this one to want to read the next one. Some writers (yes I am talking about you, George R. R. Martin) seem to think that they don’t have to do any world-building in the first novel if they have more novels to follow in which they can do that.
I can’t understand how a city can exist when everyone only has one quality. How can a city be governed when every member sees every issue one-sided? And how can a whole future American society be ruled by a representation of only 15% of its people?  It is unrealistic and I understand it is fiction, but that doesn’t mean I have to accept everything.
Secondly, how can a person even survive with only one personality-trait? Dauntless value friendship too. And they put the group before themselves too. Self-actualization is definitely out of the question in this world.
The characters are rather shallow and underdeveloped, they’re not as interesting as they could have been.
Tris is very self-centered. Her friends are trying to protect her from the bullies, and others are trying to keep her divergence a secret while she just runs off to the brother for example.
Tris finds true love a bit too easy. I’m not saying she should hook up with every guy she sees but he’s the first guy she meets and she’s almost immediately attracted to him. And Four is a hot, older guy who is attracted to a younger, 12-year-old looking child. He has a tragic past and because of that he is very closed-off from everyone else but he still has hope and a true unique gentleness in him. It’s way too romantic and unrealistic.
Tris and others get over tragic events like loss way to soon. In a very short time, Al is forgotten, she doesn’t suffer from PTSD because of the attempted murder and The Great Twist at the end doesn’t seem to affect her at all.
Some other things raise questions too. How can Tris end so high in the rankings when she was so low at first? How can a twenty-year-old (Eric) become a leader? Imagine that in our world! Why couldn’t the Dauntless use one of the many abandoned buildings?

The novel is enjoyable but I certainly didn’t love it. I found too much fault in it to really love it as much as I did The Hunger Games. It didn’t grip me, I was entertained and I definitely did enjoy reading it. But it wasn’t compelling or fascinating. This novel had a lot of potential, but it couldn’t live up to it.

Happy reading.