Within the last couple of months, a wonderful book called Insurgent by Veronica Roth hit the shelves, and I couldn’t have been more excited. Before that’s not what I’m going to be talking about in this review. First, I’m going to talk about the first of the series, Divergent.
The opening of Divergent brings the reader into a world where people are divided by factions comprised of individuals who put certain characteristics above others. The main character, Beatrice “Tris” Prior, lives with her family among the Abnegation faction that prizes selflessness and humility, but soon takes the test to find out which faction she really belongs in.
But her test results are inconclusive and she receives the label of “divergent”. Warned by the proctor of her test to not tell anyone about her divergence, she chooses the Dauntless faction who considers bravery and courage to be the most important, and enters a process of being initiated into her new faction while trying to hide the fact that she is not like anyone else. She makes friends among initiates also coming from different factions (Candor, the honest; Erudite, the intelligent; and Amity, the peaceful) and with one of the initiate trainers known as Four. Before you know it, she’s uncovering terrible world domination plots and is one of the few people who can stop it (as per usual, of course).
Veronica Roth provides the perfect escape for anyone who, like me, searched desperately for something to fill the void that the ending of The Hunger Games left gaping wide inside my soul. The world of Divergent is carefully constructed and easy to completely lose yourself in for a while. It definitely surprised me when I first read it. At the time, I was pretty convinced that no Young Adult dystopian novel could come close to my love for Suzanne Collins’ series. I was very wrong.
I might even go so far as to say that Veronica Roth’s prose is superior to that of many Young Adult writers. Her words are not unwittingly chosen, but are used to attach the reader to the characters and their emotions. Indirect characterization is Roth’s strength, and she leaves it open for the reader to guess as to the motivations of the characters many times.
I love that this book keeps you guessing. By the middle of the book you are convinced that you know who are the bad guys and who are the good guys, but at the end you start to question things. You see that the leaders of the “good guys” have their own BIG faults, and everything is not so clear cut. But, even though you hate them, you still want their side to win so you grudgingly cheer for them.
And then Divergent ends so suddenly. And you grab eagerly for Insurgent. It’s a terrible cycle that we can’t help but love.
It’s hard for me to find anything bad about this book, or the series as a whole. I would only say that maybe it is missing a lesson that is supposed to be learned by reading the book. The Hunger Games and its sequels, for instance, make us look twice at ourselves and examine why we enjoy books about teenagers killing each other just as much as the people in the Capitol seem to enjoy watching it. So far, The Divergent series doesn’t have that. It doesn’t make me think outside of the book. Not that it makes me enjoy it less. In all honesty, it makes it easier to read. I feel no guilt or righteous indignation while reading.
Others may disagree with me. Maybe you will read it and find a lesson, but I didn’t. That fact leaves me a little disconnected from the book.