sci-fi month

[Sci Fi Month] Series Reflection: Divergent (Veronica Roth)

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, Tris also learns that her secret might help her save the ones she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Series stats

Author: Veronica Roth
Number of books: 3 (5 novellas also available)
Total number of pages (novellas not included): 1538

Opening lines:

There is one mirror in my house.  It is behind a sliding panel in the hallway upstairs.  Our faction allows me to stand in front of it on the second day of every third month, the day my mother cuts my hair.

Status on my shelves:

I own books two and three of this series but don’t yet own a copy of Divergent since I borrowed a library copy.  Ironically I think Divergent is my favourite of the trilogy!

Why I picked this series up:

I confess – this is a series I picked up because of the hype! The series kept getting recommended to me by Goodreads and Amazon, and I’d heard lots of good things about it.  I reserved myself a library copy and that was that!

How I felt about it:

Sixteen-year olds in this dystopian world have to attend a Choosing Ceremony, where they choose the faction they will belong to for the rest of their lives.  There are five factions in this world, each dedicated to one trait.  Tris has grown up as part of the Abnegation, the selfless.  The other four factions are the Erudite, who value knowledge, the Candor, who value honesty, the Amity, who strive for peace and the Dauntless, who value bravery.  On her Choosing Day, she must decide whether to stay with her family, in the faction she’s always known, or whether she belongs somewhere else.

Divergent is packed with action and suspense, and Veronica Roth kept the story fast-paced throughout.  The writing and the drama kept my glued to the story, and I flew through the first book in a day!  The initiation into the factions, the training and the fight-scenes were all thrilling and dramatic, and kept me hooked.

The supporting characters, including Tris’ brother Caleb, her instructor Four, and the other initiates were fantastic.  Three-dimensional, believable and likeable, I genuinely cared what happened to each of them.  The characters introduced later on in the series were also really interesting, trying to figure out what made them tick and where their paths would lead next.

Tris is a very complex character.  She’s not perfect and she can at times make decisions for selfish reasons.  I didn’t mind that at all, because it made her seem real and believable – every one of us is guilty of doing the same occasionally.  She grew gradually throughout the series, as did many of the other characters.  Veronica Roth didn’t have any characters undergo sudden changes, and almost all had hidden depths to them.  My only disappointment was that Tris’ selfishness, the trait which made her so believable to begin with, seemed to become less of a part of her as the series went on.  I assume her increasing selflessness was designed to show character growth, but to me it began to feel forced and sometimes unbelievable (particularly that she’d already undergone plenty of character growth!).

I really enjoyed Divergent; learning about the Abnegation, the Choosing Day ceremony, the other factions and the initiation ceremonies.  I gave it a 4/5 overall.  I also really liked Insurgent, which I flew threw because it was thoroughly gripping.  The ending felt a bit predictable but I enjoyed it, and I gave that 4/5 too.  Whilst I really liked those two books, Allegiant for me, was a disappointment.  The ending has been widely shared all over the internet, but I won’t be going into it here!  All I’ll say about it is that I didn’t especially love the ending, but I can see why it ended the way it did.  The ending is not all that disappointed me about the final book in the trilogy. Written from two perspectives, it didn’t feel like these two voices were distinct enough, which was frustrating at times.  The plot and the world-building actually seemed to fall apart a bit in the final book as well.  For me, it felt like too many loose ends had tried to be tied up last minute, as a result of keeping the suspense up throughout the first two books.  This was not only sometimes confusing, but also left me with more questions than answers.

One more thing:

There’s not a love triangle in Divergent, which is wonderful!  There is a romance, but it grows in a believable, organic seeming way.  The relationship goes through ups, downs, is on and then off, and has some serious problems to get through.  But, none of those problems is an unwanted third wheel!

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