Review: Divergent and Insurgent

I heard a lot of buzz about Divergent by Veronica Roth as I was mourning my finishing of The Hunger Games trilogy, so I placed a hold for an e-book version of it through my library and checked it out when it became available.

divergent

It was an interesting idea: the society in which the main character lives is divided into five different factions, each which have a certain focus: Erudite (intelligence), Candor (honesty), Amity (peace), Abnegation (selflessness), and Dauntless (bravery). Beatrice (later called Tris), tests well for multiple factions, which is extremely unusual (why is explained in Insurgent) and gives her the label Divergent. She ultimately chooses Dauntless when the time comes, though she was raised in Abnegation.  I didn’t really understand why a society would choose to function this way, but I decided to go along for the ride.

Beatrice decides to go by Tris as she goes through the very rigorous and exclusive training for Dauntless initiates. Not everyone will be accepted into the Dauntless faction, which will leave them factionless, a fate some would see as worse than death. She learns a lot about herself, overcomes fears, and falls for one of her trainers, who in turns likes her. Then at the end something happens, and Tris is one of the few who can fight to stop the problem (I’m remaining vague to avoid spoilers).

I enjoyed the book pretty well, though I didn’t like it quite as much as The Hunger Games, and had no problem patiently waiting for the sequel, Insurgent, to become available as an e-book in my library.

insurgent

Once it did and I got it checked it out, I accidentally selected that I only wanted it for 7 days, which isn’t a problem if I really love a book or if I have plenty of free time, but it was during the holidays, so I was wary of getting it read in time. Thankfully I did, but due to the lack of time, I did not bother to find any sort of refresher of the first book. The second book picks up right where the first leaves off, with no rehash of anything. Which I think is the way to do a second book, but apparently I had forgotten a lot in those few months, such as details of the end of the first book as well as who a lot of  the minor characters were. I think I spent the first half of the book asking, “Who’s that?” “What happened?” “What does this have to do with anything?”

But when Tris ends up getting taken by some people who want to study her divergence, I started to grow more interested in the story again. Also, I somehow ended up completely loving a super minor character who ends up dying a chapter or two after he is introduced, which I thought was quite an accomplishment since I still only kind of liked Tris and Four (Tris’ love interest) at this point. Then at the very end of the book, there is a twist in the story when we finally get an idea of why the society exists the way it does and why being Divergent is rare, and that made me much more interested reading book three when it comes and finishing the series than anything else that happened beforehand. So I am really hoping the final book will be a strong conclusion after the two first books that were good but not great (in my opinion anyway).

I do think Veronica Roth is a good writer (though I hate her now that I have learned that she is only 24! Ack! Stop being so talented and successful at 24!), but for some reason there has not been a big emotional connect between me and the books, and I also don’t find all the plot points interesting. I wish I could put my finger on why I feel this way; I hope I will have more insight when the series finishes and I find that the last book either finishes strong or falls flat.

Anyone else read Divergent or Insurgent? What’s your take on the series thus far?

Favorite quote of the series (so far): “Human beings as a whole cannot be good for long before the bad creeps back in and poisons us again.” (from Divergent)

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