Reviews: Divergent

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Boring at best and mean-spirited at worst
Let me first say that I enjoy dystopian novels for the most part, and I was initially excited to read this book based on glowing recommendations from everyone I knew, both on the Internet and in real life. Unfortunately, the first novel, which is the only one I tried to read, fell completely flat and had zero entertainment value. For one thing, the prose was awful. It's hard to explain but if you're familiar with the way some fanfic authors drag out sentences to pad their word count, that's the way I would describe the writing style.

The characters are probably the very worst part of the novel. I'm going to focus on the main character Tris, here, because I like to believe that if I don't mention the horrific excuse for a love interest he'll stop existing.

Tris (she doesn't go by "Bea" or "Beatrice" because she's too unique and special for that) is a socipathic cardboard cutout. She's supposed to be divergent, which is this series' version of being a half-blood or something, but all she does is follow the Dauntless clan's horrific rules blindly for some reason. She's an insane bitch who sees nothing wrong with 'training' involving beating her roommates within an inch of their lives. She pulls life-threatening stunts without batting an eyelash despite being raised in a very sheltered society, which leads me to believe that she's just nuts and doesn't understand why someone would feel fear. This is evidenced by the fact that she and her boyfriend like to sit around and bash people who don't want to jump out of moving trains for shits and giggles.

I know that it's probably my fault that I don't understand this book for not finishing the thing, but really, if this is the impression I get from reading half of your book, then is it really worth reading the other half?
  comments: 1
Is this Writing 101 ?
NOTE: This review may contain spoilers and talks about the movie version. (I'm about 1/3 in the book, so not enough material for a book review)

  • Story: it's a Basic dystopian plot that falls down after the initiation (the part I was reading and the only enjoyable part), and if you think about it the story doesn't make a bit of sense, especially regarding the Divergents.
  • Characters: The main characters are Designated Protagonist Syndrome at it's worst, while the Ensemble Darkhorse group are actualy kind of fun to watch. (especially Will).
    • Tris is a textbook example of Mary Sue: Everyone against her is either a Jerk Ass or a bad guy, and doesn't have a inch of charisma or interest... She's unique only because she's a Divergent (and I still don't see how it's really a menace for the bad guys)
    • Four went from Stern Teacher to just a cheap plot twist abused child who wanted to be a sort of Divergent, and has a relationship with Trish, because why not ?
    • The bad guys are just dystopian textbook bad guys with again, no charisma or interest. Just a basic: "I'll rule the world by deleting emotion and by pure logic and control, and control an army of brainswashed soldiers".
    • The Ensemble Darkhorse are the only good characters, but you'll need to read the book in order to have some kind of development (especially if you like Al and Will).
  • Photography: As much as the story falls down; it's actually good, and some shots really do work. (like the First Person camera when they go ziplining through buildings)
  • Acting: I actually think the actors have a decent performance, despite their rather plain characters.
  • Music: Let's say it barely does it's job, and sometimes puts Dubstep because it's cool and stuff.

There's also some minor things that made me cringe or laugh (like the Narmy death of MC's Mom with Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy, or how Eric, a Drill Sergeant Nasty worse than Four let Mary Sue continue despite forbiding her to continue), and to it's movie credit, there's some funny Lampshade Hanging here and there, but nothing to really save it.

  • Verdict: If you're bored and this goes on TV, maybe you'll kill some time, but I don't think it's a great book and definitely not a good movie.
  comments: 2
Never read the book, but the movie
honestly surprised me. Someone just gave it to me and I admit, I didn't really pay that much attention when the movie started. But I was very fast enthralled. It was really well acted, very well staged but I think what mostly caught my attention was the soundtrack.

I have no idea if it works well as adaptation of the book, but it certainly works perfectly as a movie. I expected a predictable plot, but while I was able to foresee some elements (who is the big baddy, who will be the love interest aso), there were other elements which honestly surprised me. What I loved was how the main character struggled to make the cut, that there weren't easy successes.

I noticed that another reviewer was dissatisfied with the main character because at one point one of her friends joined a mob which tried to kill her. Now, I have no idea how this works out in the book, but in the movie, I totally got her action. The attack is shown as a truly terrifying moment, and the betrayal is so deep that no other reaction to his feeble excuses would have made any sense.

In any case, this is for me a five star movie. I am not sure how well it will hold up for multiple watches, but it's certainly one of the best movies I have seen this year.
  comments: 0
When I first saw this book, my first thought was that it was just another Hunger Games ripoff. It's Young Adult dystopian fiction that involves a 16-year old girl, with action and romance. But as it turns out, that's as far as the similarity goes. This book takes place in a future Chicago, in which people are sorted into one of five "factions" of government based on their personality and abilities. People choose their factions at age 16.

Character development is handled very well, especially in the main character. What's unfortunate is that she turns into a jerk as the story goes on. Tris starts out as a pleasant, timid youth, but by the end she's a Jerk Ass. This can be seen when one of her fellow initiates, Albert, joins in the attempt to have her killed. Later, he regrets it. He explains that he felt the only way he could prove himself would be to get rid of her. That's why he felt pressured to help the other kids try to kill her. But instead of forgiving him, she gives him the most heartless and vicious rejection that you can imagine.

There are two things about the book that bothered me. The first thing is the present-tense narration. Perhaps I'm just not used to it, but when a book is narrated in the present tense, especially in first person, it just doesn't sound right to me. It almost sounds like a younger child is narrating it.

The second thing that bugged me was the romance in the story. The main character, Tris, falls in love with an older guy who is tough, blunt and jaded on the outside, but has a sweet and tender side, who also happens to come from an abusive background. I'm sure that this sounds familiar to you. This romance scenario is very common in teen literature, and I found it disappointing that the author chose to take this path rather than pair the main character up with a more original and interesting character.

What I love the most about this story is the underlying theme of diversity. Tris lives in a world where people are categorized and classified into five generalizations, like inanimate objects. Being a Divergent, Tris does not fit into any one generalization of character. The theme here is that people are not things that you can objectively classify and categorize. They are living, breathing individuals with minds of their own.
  comments: 2
A Decent Series
Without knowing anything about the books, I spotted the first one at a bookstore and decided to pick it up. That night, I had planned to read just a couple of chapters before heading to bed. Before I knew it, it was midnight and I had finished the entire book in one sitting, craving more.

I love the premise of the series. Society is split into five factions, each embodying a different virtue: the selfless Abnegation; the honest Candor; the brave Dauntless; the friendly Amity; and the intelligent Erudite. At the age of 16, children must decide what faction they want to join and go through a grueling initiation process to join their faction, or else get cast out into the city, forced to join the factionless.

I greatly enjoyed the premise and the plot, but other elements leave something to be desired. I've heard many complaints about the present-tense storytelling, but that actually doesn't bother me at all;. What did bother me was that the writing just wasn't very good. The writing level seemed very basic and cliched, and I often found myself thinking about how I would change this sentence here or that sentence there, which interfered with the story at times. Still, it's a young adult series, which doesn't require high standards, so I can let that slide.

I'm torn about the characterization. One the one hand, there's a pretty big cast of interesting characters that all bring something to the table. On the other hand, many of them end up being somewhat one-dimensional and flat. Even Tris, our protagonist, felt stunted in her character development halfway through the first book after she starts being awesome at being Dauntless. She also made some very questionable decisions and kept overreacting at the slightest provocation, which got old by the 2nd book. Still, I think Roth did a decent job making the reader invested in the characters.

I'm trying to keep this review as spoiler-free as I can, so all I'm going to say about the ending is that I did not like it. It was certainly disappointing after reading through three books, but I suppose it could have been worse.

All in all, it was an enjoyable series, despite its flaws. The writing style left something to be desired, and it's no masterpiece, but I enjoyed it all the same and I would recommend it to others.
  comments: 0
I picked up this book, knowing it would probably end up as a bandwagon book, so I wanted to read it before it became one. I was right. Hot on the heels of The Hunger Games trilogy, this provides another book for those hungry for a similar read. It's different enough, however, to provide a unique reading experience. This book made me think. It made me contemplate the value of individual traits—both separately and together.

The characters don't feel overly cliched, in fact, it's the tough-looking guy that has the hardest trouble adjusting. While the romance in the book seems a little bit contrived, it works in the story. Tris' making of friends feels realistic, and makes sense for her situation.

The present tense, however, bugs me slightly, and I suppose that is only because I'm used to reading books in the past tense.
  comments: 2