It is a very rare thing to witness the beginning of a writer’s career and know without a doubt that the first little book is going to launch a worldwide craze, a la J.K. Rowling or Stephenie Meyer. Such is the terrifying yet enviable position of Veronica Roth, who sold this debut novel to a HarperCollins imprint before she even finished college. She also sold the film rights to Summit Entertainment, owner of the Twilight film saga, on the strength of pre-publication buzz alone. The first in a planned series, Divergent is beyond question the best thing to happen to young adult literature in a very long time. More realistic than Harry Potter and less moony-eyed than Twilight, Roth has crafted a world and a protagonist that are easily engrossing and definitely worthy of our long-term attention.
Part of the credit for such charm belongs to narrator Emma Galvin, herself somewhat a newcomer. The young upstart has already garnered praise for her interpretations of Winter’s Bone, the first book spin-off from the Glee television series, and Stephenie Meyer’s recent novella. Galvin is genuinely edgy and emotive, not a trace of sugar to be found in the dialogue or her rendering of it. She captures the bold but conflicted spirit of the main character, Tris, with convincing personality and a real sensibility for the fast-pacing learning curve into which Tris launches the year she turns 16. After being raised in a clan whose primary characteristic is its devotion to selflessness, Tris defects, choosing a life of bravery from among the five factions that comprise her dystopic Chicago. She must pledge the faction, and go through several rounds of training eliminations before becoming a true Dauntless.
Tris is a complex, down-to-earth character with a lot of soul searching to do in a clan where hobbies include jumping from moving trains and tossing knives at small objects resting on the heads of friends, and there are no second chances. Veronica Roth has built a remarkable situation with strong potential for a longevity that will remain fresher than the sum of its parts, and Emma Galvin has this bull of a new series firmly by the horns. This book is confidently going places far beyond the fanatical mindlessness of young adult marketing, and in a hot minute, grownups will not have to feel one iota of shame for having fallen in love with it alongside their less discerning teenagers. Megan Volpert
In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, 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 to determine who her friends really are - and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating 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 a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves.... or it might destroy her.
Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series - dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.
©2011 Veronica Roth (P)2011 HarperCollins Publishers
"Though Galvin’s narration is concentrated on giving Tris the perfect voice, she never neglects the secondary characters. Poignant moments with Tris’s mother and Four, her leader and love, are subtly nuanced to let listeners hear the terror Tris often hides.... listeners will hold their breath waiting to see if she can survive the day." (AudioFile)
Closet 50-year old-white-male fan here. The only reason I did not give it five stars is because there's a little too much teenage lip-meeting, hand-holding and waist-caressing going on for my taste. But the overall premise and storytelling is great. I devoured the second book right after I cruised through this one. Want. Third. Book. Now.
So I often try not to review trilogies until the whole thing comes out and has been read and digested, because I think, "What could be worse than recommending a first book to someone only to have the successive two books suck the life and happiness from the little thrill left by a great first book?" Then I finished this trilogy and had an answer: worse? 2 fantastic books finished with one that makes little sense and ends wholly unsatisfactorily.
I will try not to give spoilers here, so please bear with any vagueries. I try to understand that not everyone will agree with me and refuse to read the series. So...
There are serious plot wholes in the last book. The ending makes no sense. If you think about it too hard- by which I mean almost at all beyond letting action scenes enter your brain and then leave again unrelated to anything- your brain might explode. At the very least, you will be frustrated.
Also, I don't care who you are (and I won't say who), but nobody's death should getmore than a chapter. It's maudlin. It's depressing. It's old.
Even Dobby didn't get more than a chapter, and that was one of the best written death scenes in YA fantasy. It didn't need it, because more than a chapter is maudlin and depressing and all the rest.
The absolute worst part of all of this is that the first two books were excellent and interesting and beautifully done. They are not complete in themselves though, and so can't really be read without the final book. It's like Ms. Roth had this fantastic idea, butdidn't bother to develop the world prior to writing the books, so she just ended up making it up as she went along. I know, it's fiction, and, by definition, made up as she goes along, but she didn't seem to think out the end at the beginning, so the world lacks consistancy, and overwrought scenes of heart-break and radical personality change resulting from said overwrought heartbreak are there to distract us from the knowledge that the Wizard of Oz is just a sad guy behind a curtain. O.K., I'm not sure that analogy works entirely, but I can't think of anything more frustrating than going down this whole road in pursuit of some grand goal only to discover smoke and mirrors and little of substance (O.K., maybe it works as an analogy ).
There is no Wizard at the end of this yellow brick road. There's only road work ahead.
I'm not sure what it says about me as a 32-year-old, but I have really enjoyed quite a few young adult books in the last few years. This is another one that's worth the read no matter what age you are. I always love to see a strong female lead and this book fits the bill. I've read a lot of dystopian books, but this one still manages to be unique.
The book reminds me of the Hunger Games series in many ways, but the book is different enough that it's not derivative. If you read the Hunger Games and liked it, just go ahead and get this one, you'll almost certainly like it, too. I can't wait for future installments of the series to come out.
Busy mom who loves to read but doesn't always have the time. I enjoy YA, Romance and the occasional Best Seller.
I almost didn't get this book due to all the reviews that compared it to the Hunger Games. Thankfully I didn't think it was anything like HG. Yes it's a YA book about a Dystopian society with a female lead, but to me that's where the similarities end.
Don't get me wrong, I loved the Hunger Games too but I didn't want to listen to another cheap rip-off.
I thought the story was interesting, fast paced, unique, well written and thought provoking. I was also happy to learn it didn't involve another love triangle. (thank you Veronica Roth)
I'm looking forward to the 2nd and 3rd book in this series.
A Journey of Books
My to-read pile is astronomically high. In fact, it takes up a whole bookshelf at home. Funny thing about accepting books for review, oftentimes your own books tend to get less priority. Now that I've taken to listen to audiobooks in my driving and walking time, however, I find that I'm actually able to get to some of the books I've heard so much about and experience them for myself. DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth was such a book.
DIVERGENT popped to the top of my list after a friend finished reading The Host by Stephenie Meyer and was looking for another post-apocalyptic type dystopian. Everything we could find suggested trying DIVERGENT next. I thought the cover looked pretty (you know me) so I suggested it to my friend. A few days later she had finished DIVERGENT and the second in the trilogy Insurgent and just wouldn't stop raving about it. I sighed and traded an Audible credit in for the book mainly to get my friend off my case.
Holy buckets! DIVERGENT is an excellent read/listen!
Beatrice Prior has just turned 16 and as such will get to take part in the Choosing Day - the day that she chooses a faction to spend the rest of her life in. There are five factions (learning about them is half the fun of the first part of the book), each with their own guiding principles. Beatrice starts as Abnegation - a selfless faction who believe in viewing and doing for others before themselves. But, is Beatrice really Abnegation? Can she spend the rest of her life living selflessly, never thinking about herself, and always putting the needs of others first?
DIVERGENT follows Beatrice as she struggles to make a decision, makes that decision, and then struggles through the consequences that her decision entails. While this is all happening, Beatrice learns that her perfect society may not be as perfect as it claims. Something dangerous is approaching and it seems to be tied to the Divergent.
I'll have to admit, I came into DIVERGENT expecting a light read with some neat dystopian elements. I was surprised by how real Roth made the story. Beatrice's emotions are the real emotions I would expect from a girl in her situation, with her actions staying fairly true to the actions I would expect her to take. Just because this is a young adult novel doesn't mean that Roth spares us the pain and difficulties that come from living in parts of this society. She doesn't glaze over the terrors that some of the characters have to live through, instead putting them out in the open and letting us experience the world right along side Beatrice. This is probably the one thing I loved most about DIVERGENT.
With some great action sequences, a fantastic storyline, and really good drama and tension, DIVERGENT is an excellent read for anyone looking to escape for a while. This won't be a walk in the park, but I can pretty much guarantee that once you've finished it, you'll be clamoring for the next book in the series.
I'm a middle school teacher, and I chose this book because I had seen some of my students reading it. Soon I was gripped by all that Tris and her friends were going through, guessing some plot turns, surprised by others, but so involved that I had scarcely finished Divergent before I had to purchase the sequel (Insurgent). Like Hunger Games, it has a female protagonist who must prove herself as a fighter, who is wracked with strong emotions, who must cope with the changes that come because of love, and who is in the middle of a world ripe for revolution.
I found Tris to be likeable, complex, and believable, and the situation her society is in more interesting than the one in Katniss' world because the evil is more insidious. It is easy to see why the enemy leader believes in a particular cause and why the various forces choose as they do.
Sometimes, I grew a little weary of the problems that could have been easily solved if people had not kept secrets from one another, but the world Tris grew up in has trained her to accept the idea of dangerous secrets. I also found the way the different elements of society were leveraging power to be a compelling plot element.
I think anyone who liked Hunger Games should be all over this series as their next fix. However, I actually l liked this better than Hunger Games in many ways. There are more interesting characters, and the various elements of society are less black and white in their motivations and alliances. The puzzles Tris must solve is complex and so are her strategies for solving them.
Although there is violence and some of it is very cruel, I found it less disturbing than some of the Hunger Games violence, which was often sadistic and bizarre.
I found her completely believable and engaging. Tris being a relatively small girl, she needed a voice with some child-like elements, but Galvin was also believable as Tris developed into a leader.
I did not want to stop listening! The minute it was over, I bought the sequel.
"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one." - Jojen Reed. #ADanceWithDragons
While simply perusing the website I found this gem. I can see why there are so many positive reviews for this book because it was done exceptionally well if you’re into this genre. This book is simply a darker version of “The Hunger Games” if you ask me with a stronger female lead.
The similarities between this book and “The Hunger Games” are startling I must say. The narrator did justice to the title itself and coupled with the story had you gripping the edge. There are some parts of this book that literally gets your mouth to drop and your eyes to widen. Also, when the action picks up, the action really picks up and the author creates such interesting imageries that left me quite impressed. This is just a fun listen if you ask me, with the right combination of poignant moments and fun, light moments.
If you enjoyed "The Hunger Games" or books within that genre you will simply love this book... if you didn't enjoy "The Hunger Games" though, I suggest you pass on this on.
OF NOTE: I listened to this book just AFTER I listened to “Einstein’s Relativity” (which I thought was just plain painful to listen to) so my review might be a bit skewered (positively) because the thought of that other book is fresh in my mind….
Say something about yourself!
This was an awesome book. I stayed up way too late listening to this book and plowed through quickly. There never seemed to be down time or slow moving part of the book.
Many people compare it to The Hunger Games and I can understand why: Strong female lead, dystopian setting, a single forced choice that changes the life of main character, combat and quarrel. If you enjoyed the first book of The Hunger Games it is worth picking this book up.
I have nothing but praise for the narrator, she did an excellent job and was a good choice for this novel.
Dystopian society set in Chicago, Illinois, in the future. Most roads have holes and need repair. Very few have cars. Most travel by bus. The Dauntless are the only ones who travel by train because they are willing to jump on and off while it’s moving. Society is divided into five groups. At age 16 every teen must choose a group to join. If they choose a different group from their parents, they will no longer live with their parents and rarely see them. The groups are personality types. Erudite are brainy. They research and teach. Dauntless are brave and learn to fight and shoot. Abnegation are self sacrificing and work in government. Tris’ parents are Abnegation. She chose Dauntless. Most of this book is her experience at Dauntless. The new recruits sleep in one large room with many beds. She must compete against other recruits in contests. At the end of training the weakest performers will be kicked out of Dauntless.
Four and Eric oversee the training for recruits. Eric is a sadist. He enjoys putting recruits in danger where they could die. He requires Tris to fight a big boy who beats her bad. Some recruits try to kill each other to eliminate the competition. The leaders don’t seem to care about recruits getting killed and don’t investigate. The recruits can’t look to anyone for help.
I loved Hunger Games and was hoping this would be as much fun. But it wasn’t. It was ok, but I was not excited to keep reading. Four times a drug is given to Tris causing her to experience frightening dreams about fears. Dreams can be ok, but in this book I saw them as a weakness. The dreams were “the easy way” to provide conflict. The author doesn’t have to develop characters, motivations, actions, and solutions surrounding the dream conflicts. Just have a dream, wake up, and it’s over. Weird things don’t need to be explained.
CAUTION SPOILER: Outside of the dreams, twice some bad guys outnumber Tris and try to hurt her. She survives when someone else saves her, which wasn’t as good as saving herself. END SPOILER.
The result of the bad guys and the dreams give a helpless victim feel to Tris, rather than a character taking action. Her main skill was her brain’s ability during a dream. The heroine in Hunger Games was placed in bad situations and used her skills, smarts, and other character traits to out think, survive, and win. Tris wasn’t doing that, although in fairness, twice she came up with a good idea. The book ends with a success for Tris, but bad things have begun and will be continued in the sequel.
The major crisis at the end was too contrived for me. The bad guy in charge wanted to kill two good guys and should have shot them. Instead the bad guy put them in situations where they could be rescued. Also what happened with the computer was too convenient for me.
Overall, the characters were predictable and formulaic which can be ok. You can have a good story with stereotypes. But it might have been good to see more development around the bad guys and their motivations. There is the beginning of a teen romance, to be continued in the sequel. There is unsettling sadism and cruelty.
The narrator Emma Galvin was excellent. She has a pleasing voice and style of speaking. I would enjoy hearing her do other books.
Genre: young adult dystopia romance.
Short, Simple, No Spoilers
The world is divided into personality-type factions and at age 16, Triss must choose to stay in her family's sector, or venture on her own path. Action-centered drama unfolds with teen love story and fight to save the world. Not as good as the Hunger Games, but better than "Matched," by Condie.
Narrator, Emma Galvin is fantastic. Sounds 16, has confident, strong voice and nice inflection with changing tone.
In Comparison with other Dystopian YA Novels:
Hunger Games: A
Divergent: B- (action)
Matched: C- (girly)
The Giver: D (creepy)
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