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Editorial Reviews

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

Publisher's Summary

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

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    15,969
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    9,164
  • 3 Stars
    3,494
  • 2 Stars
    883
  • 1 Stars
    462

Performance

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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    15,380
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    7,899
  • 3 Stars
    2,686
  • 2 Stars
    531
  • 1 Stars
    272

Story

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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    14,265
  • 4 Stars
    7,923
  • 3 Stars
    3,345
  • 2 Stars
    927
  • 1 Stars
    502
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Whiney Teenage Girl Drama

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I think teenagers and immature adults would like this.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

Meh.

How could the performance have been better?

Performance enhanced the whiney quality of the story. She moans her way through the book - which is all in Tris' thoughts. Probably suits the character perfectly, I found it grating.

Was Divergent worth the listening time?

No.

Any additional comments?

The premise of the story and this futuristic world is actually quite interesting. The main female lead however overrides this intrigue. It would be like experiencing the Matrix through the eyes of Snookie. Maybe I'm guilty of expecting too much. Reading so many good reviews on here had me waiting for a total different experience xx

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • David C.
  • Grapevine, TX, United States
  • 03-31-14

I'm Sorry This is Really Bad

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

I don't really know how anyone over the age of 13 can really enjoy this book. It is poorly written, regurgitated YA Hunger Games/Twilight fair. If you are a young teen or even younger I think you may well enjoy this, but the writing is mediocre, the characters are not believable and the narrator is irritating, it is a reasonable job of reading, but there are certain phrases that gradually begin to grate and eventually drove me to want to stop listening ("I Say" - which is repeated hundreds of times is one of the worst). <br/><br/>It just feels like Veronica Roth saw the success of The Hunger Games and Twilight and so created a book with the same dystopian young adult themes with the intention of making a lot of money. As the book is now being released as a film, I can only take my hat off to her for achieving her goal, but it is done at the expense of what could have been much better written literature. Our young adults deserve better. I loved the Hunger Games trilogy by the way, though the first film was a disappointment, so I am not prejudiced against this genre. I just don't think this a good example.

What was most disappointing about Veronica Roth’s story?

Mediocre writing and plagiarism aplenty.

How could the performance have been better?

Less irritating repeated phrases

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Disappointment

Any additional comments?

I have put my comments in the review

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • J
  • Stillwater, OK, United States
  • 03-06-14

You won't hunger for more of this one

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

So many reviewers claimed that this book was better than the HG trilogy, or was different and that comparisons couldn't be made. I disagree. With Divergent the story line is not as diverse, complex, or entertaining and I felt cheated that characters weren't as well developed. Some segments just droned on and on. Hunger Games is heads above this book, so I wouldn't recommend it if you're looking to fill your hunger for a similar tome with this one.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Not for me...

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Someone who enjoys a plot and storyline involving a good deal of violence, anger and unpleasant subject matter...nothing genuinely uplifting here.

What was most disappointing about Veronica Roth’s story?

Overall story too depressing and very few redeeming qualities in the story and characters.

What three words best describe Emma Galvin’s voice?

Slightly raspy...definitely her narrating emphasized and heightened the negative, unpleasant and angry qualities of this story, the protagonist and many of the characters...so it was true to the nature of the story, I suppose.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Hopelessness, Irritation, etc

Any additional comments?

I continued and finished the entire audiobook hoping for more redeeming, hopeful elements to arise in the story. A few did occur, though I emphasize few. The idea and initial premise of the book sounded and was initially interesting, I just found the book to be a downer for the vast majority of the story. This book certainly appeals to quite a few people since there are many high scores in the reviews here...just not appealing to me. The story is demonstrating how this girl is finding herself and her place in a very disturbed world and I can see how the plot would capture and maintain the attention and fascination of many listeners...I simply prefer stories with more uplifting and positive qualities and messages. Unfortunately, I feel it was mostly a poor use of my time (and $) in listening...I kept hoping for it to improve and display more glimmers of hopefulness than actually occurred.

17 of 22 people found this review helpful

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Ugh, Harry Potter meets Hunger Games in a bad way

Um, yeah. This is just not a good book. It's fairly clear that the author just thought she could rehash bits of Hunger Games (post apocalyptic U.S. focused on kids suffering through a dystopian world) and Harry Potter (different houses with different reputations/skills). Not only does the author fail to do a good job in creating something new and interesting, but the writing is mediocre leaving the listener waiting for a reason to keep listening. In the end, I decided to just stop listening and give this one up.

17 of 22 people found this review helpful

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Editor should have cut this book's length - a lot

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

This was not time well spent - even though I was multi-tasking. The book dragged out horribly - especially in scenes where the action should have been fast and cutting - the author moved at a snails pace. The editors should have addressed this.

If you’ve listened to books by Veronica Roth before, how does this one compare?

No, and I won't be buying or reading any more.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

The narrator was not my favorite female narrator (Kate Reading)- but I think she did a good job with what she had to work with.

Did Divergent inspire you to do anything?

I was inspired to complain vocally, something I reserve for only the worst books I make the mistake of buying.

Any additional comments?

It would be nice if there were a clear indicator (warning) that a book was for the teenage market.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Adult Addicted to Audible, YA and this book...

I've just recently joined Audible when I got my Kindle Fire---and I'm telling you I'm a complete addict... I love listening to books---really helps make my work day fly by.

I loved Emma Galvin's narration on this one--and thought her voice completely stepped this up. She did a great job with all the voices but best of all her really connects as Tris. I have listened to this many times now... and probably will go back again. And again.

I keep wavering on how many stars I should give this story though... I felt like it was well paced and I was completely invested in it... until the end.

** MAJOR SPOILER ALERT**

I am quite willing to suspend disbelief on a lot of things---like for instance I don't actually think believe this society could ever happen in the future... this is a world Veronica Roth created and I can respect that.

But I thought the "war" portion felt rushed... and a little contrived maybe?? I felt the sacrifice by Tris' mother could have been a little clearer----I mean, is there a reason why she couldn't have tried to escape with Tris? I think the intention was self sacrifice and bravery. That Tris's mother was actually Divergent---and maybe that's something we'll get into in the next book. But I just wish there was a little more clarity on her death.Also Tris shoots one of my favorite characters---killing him---and I felt like she had no remorse for that...and barely acknowledged it. Then they make it into Dauntless headquarters---and Four's father, who specifically came to help with the computers doesn't go with her in the elevator toward the computer lab? Really? He stays out front? And did she really have to lose both her parents in one day? I felt like there was a lot that could have been explored in Tris's relationship with her Dad---how he would have reacted to Tobias---and I also felt like it lessened the impact of her mom's death. But, I am sure there must be a reason.


But, overall---I really enjoy it. I keep recommending it to all my peeps who love YA. Why? Adventure, Stakes that keep getting higher, strong female character---and romance. I have read that some people felt like their relationship was a "hot for teacher" romance---I felt like it was more like "hot for camp counselor"---Four/Tobias is only two years older than her, and was only really showing the recruits how to do things during the initiation period. But, I can see where if I were a parent that might be something might not translate well. Especially since she's 16 and he's 18.

If you, like me, are an adult who digs dystopia's---I really think this one is worth a listen. I will probably listen to it again tomorrow.

17 of 22 people found this review helpful

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Not The Hunger Games

This is a weak story. The story line is fascinating, but the book never delivers. The characters are not well developed, way too one dimensional. The action is not plausible. Granted this is SF, but even then the reader must feel that this could really happen. Trish takes a bullet in the shoulder, and about the only problem it causes her is some pain as she continues to perform amazingly. Doesn't work that way.

13 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • Lore
  • SAN JOSE, CA, United States
  • 11-19-13

Faction before blood.

Divergent paints the picture of a dystopian future where society is divided into 5 factions. Upon reaching the age of 16 each person must undergo an aptitude test to reveal which faction best suits them. On the following day, Choosing Day, a public ceremony takes place where each teenager makes the choice that will define them for the rest of their lives.

The story begins as 16 year old Beatrice Prior undergoes her aptitude test and makes her life altering choice. Upon joining a faction, she must pass through the rigors of Initiation to become a full member, and if she fails, she will wind up factionless, which means a dreary life of servitude. Initiation is different for each faction, but can involve psychological tests that are administered after being injected with a serum that allows an artificial landscape to be formed inside your mind.

Although this book is targeted at young adults it does have an appeal that transcends that classification. Of course it is full of teenage angst and the blossoming of first love but there is also an interesting backstory of the struggle between the factions themselves. Beatrice finds herself at the center of the struggle between the factions and she must take a lot of risks to find out the truth of what is going on. Emma Galvin does a fine job as the narrator and her voice seemed an excellent fit for the material especially Beatrice.

This is the first book of a trilogy and thus is not complete. The story arc gets off to a good start here and I definitely enjoyed this book; however, in the vein of full disclosure I recommend that you take a peek at the reviews for book 3, Allegiant, before you decide if you want to start this series.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Kathy
  • Davis, CA, United States
  • 08-13-12

Did not live up to the hype

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I would only recommend it to a female friend in her teens.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

The required choice of faction was most interesting.The major part of the book was slow moving with little excitement 'til the end, perhaps because it is a trilogy? There was not enough appeal for audiences of more mature ages; the focus was on the teen girl heroine. This book did not have enough character development and the secondary characters did not become "real" to me.

What does Emma Galvin bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Hearing the first person narration by someone who seemed to fit the age of the heroine was great. I think Emma did a wonderful, convincing job.

Any additional comments?

This book should be more riveting to younger teen girl audiences. It was an easy listen but just not memorable enough for me.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful