Reviews: Divergent

Divergent: Piece Of Crap

The world-building is terrible. Nothing is explained in a way that it makes sense and what little is explained could point to potential build-up of things... which never arrives.

The Outcasts (read: Factionless, because you need to use Kewl Wurds for the most mundane things) are the closest to being likeable in this book. And only because they are barely there, but also do the work that is necessary for a society to somewhat function: they do the driving of busses; they do construction work; garbage disposal; etc.

Beatrice (or, Tris, as she later calls herself) is a perfect example of Unintentionally Unsympathetic. She is judgemental, a hypocrite and an all-round bitch. And her upbringing of 'selflessness' (which doesn't come across as selflessness at all) does not excuse or explain that. What a horrible main character!

In turn, Christina (the token best friend) is the opposite. She is much more interesting and comes across the closest as a three-dimensional character with depth.

The factions (which I always want to call fractions) make no sense. And I will give them cheap, highschool names, because that's what they freaking are. The Idiots are supposed to be brave, but the only thing they are shown to be doing is reckless stunts that can easily (and sometimes do!) end in their deaths, because they were stupid, reckless idiots. And nobody gives a crap when somebody dies.

The Brains are portrayed as being evil. Why? Because they dare to be intelligent, seek knowledge and know how to do things.

The Tight-Wads are the supposed selflessness and get repeatedly shilled like they're the best freaking thing to ever happen, since the invention of breathing. Guess which faction Tris originally belongs to.

The Tactless are always honest. Christina belongs to them, which automatically makes them interesting. They could be interesting main characters: honest to the point of tactlessness, because that's how they were brought up. Not even a white lie, to make someone feel better, is done by them.

Finally, the Hippies are peaceful. They barely appear, so it's easy to forget they exist.

And picking a faction is supposed to be a big, life-altering thing and there's a test to pick what you are most adjusted for. But don't worry, you can just ignore the test result and pick whatever you want, nobody will stop you. What a dystopian, totalitarian, evil government this is, right? We'll tell you what to pick, but you don't need to follow us. Just do whatever you want.

I repeat my title: This book is a piece of crap.

Insurgent: Guilty Pleasure.

Haven't read the book, don't really care about it, moving on:

Long story short: After foiling Erudite's plan to take over Chicago by turning Fearless idiots into brainwashed idiots, Tris and the others are now fugitive, meet the homeless and Naomi Watts who plans to overthrow the Erudite, Jeanine wants divergents to unlock the Scenario-Ex-Machina, and after Tris clears the five tests of various difficulties (mostly easy) we learn divergents are kind of Newtypes, the future of the humanity, and more generic YA Stuff...

So let's start with my positives: Despite the Wangst, Tris at least endures the consequences of what she did last time, as opposed of just being out of the rules because Mary Sue, and the last 30 minutes are enjoyable, with buildings crumbling and simulation stuff (which is headscratching, but i'll get to that). It's like the director said: "Screw doing YA stuff, I want to rip off action scenes from Matrix and Inception !" ...And Peter.

Onto the negatives: I don't know whether Theo James is a terrible actor or Four's character is that mishandled (which is likely, because I still don't understand how he is important to the plot), but when Quattro is on screen, I find somebody trying to be intimidating: It's such a failure, it's adorable.

It's also obvious how much things changed from the book for no good reason. (Tris being 100% divergent as opposed to being 3 out of 5 in the first movie, the Laplace Box and the fact it negates the lucid dream superpower of the divergent without explanation, why only full divergent can open it and not five divergent one by one...), and none of the questions really answered or badly implied (why divergents are hated by most factions, how come there's a lot of Factionless, how come such a system can still survive, what happened, how come divergents are the evolution when they are mostly just humans like us, etc...).

Another thing that I fear is how bad the last book will be when it will be split into two movies, but that's for another time. Despite that, I did not hated the way I hated the first one, but I do understand why people did not like it, and If you didn't like the first one or loved the book version, I can only recommend it for the Snark Bait, and even then, it doesn't have that much material for it.

Falls Flat

While this series as a whole has good reviews online, I thought it was a fairly formulaic version of a teen dystopia.

The prose is initially stilted and awkward, and it only becomes worse in Insurgent. The characterisation was floppy and poorly handled - for example, Tobias was meant to be the main character's love interest but remained a static and uninteresting character throughout. The relationship between Tris and Tobias violated the 'Show, Don't Tell' rule. This became even more of a violation in the movie because the two actors had little to no chemistry.

The whole plot and the world of Divergent are both based on unoriginal ideas which fail to come up with an interesting premise. There are glaringly obvious similarities with The Hunger Games which Roth hasn't even attempted to disguise.

In short - this is a dull and uninspired series which is a poor excuse for dystopian fiction.

Sues, sues, sues....

A month before the movie premiered last year, a snippet of the novel was available for free on my local cinema. I personally thought it was terribly written, but whent to see the movie anyways the following month.

I must say, I liked it - despite that I already noted a few Sue-traits. For instance, during the first kissing scene the girls in front of me said "oh, I imagined being her all the time till now!" Shailene Woodleys performance was actually good, but nothing compared to Kate Winslets terrific performance as Jeanine - I got goosebumps. A few months later, I realised that I only enjoyed the movie because of Winslet. Via some sporkings I noticed more and more what a Mary Sue Tris is (The fact that the shortened the name made it very sueish).

I then watched Insurgent with a friend this year, and here Tris had more sue-moments, for instance her scene at the start where she attacks Peter. Shailenes acting also had lost some of the touch she had in the first movie - I blame the different director for it. Also, again Winslet was the best thing in the movie - too bad she got killed off.

The worst thing about both movies is however Theo James - his acting is horrible, and he only has ONE facial expression. Also, the whole romance seemed so forced from the start.

And from all I have read now, I must say that Veronica Roth is a horrible writer/suethor.

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?

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.

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.

3.5/5

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.

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.

Divergent

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.
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