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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)

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Overall

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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Performance

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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  • Story

I couldn't stand it, gave up at chapter 14

Is there anything you would change about this book?

The supporting characters and backstory are totally unbelievable. Young children might believe the setting, but if this book is for kids, why put in so much sexual tension?

What could Veronica Roth have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Give me a reason to believe why the coming of age training of children is conducted by children. Is this fictional society so messed up that nobody with any maturity or common sense is involved in the childrearing?

Which character – as performed by Emma Galvin – was your favorite?

The narrator was fantastic at portraying the protagonist.

Do you think Divergent needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

It's got a follow-up book, whether I think it needs one or not.

Any additional comments?

The author has a laughably juvenile concept of how people - at any time, in any society - learn combat, strategy, and life skills. The beginning of the end for me was when the 16-year-old kids got hand-to-hand combat training that was essentially "OK novices, go beat the crap out of each other until one of you is unconscious". Come on! I just could not believe that Eric would ever be put in a position of power directing the training of children.

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Too much like the Hunger Games

Would you try another book from Veronica Roth and/or Emma Galvin?

Not sure. I am finding this to be like a copy cat of the Hunger Games. Stopped listening after an hour.

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Entertaining, I guess

It was worth to hear because the movie is out. The story/basic plot line and sub plots are really interesting. Fresh take on social diversity/segregation. I hated the conversations between the characters and the narrator made me not want to finish it. Her voice and inflection were horribly annoying. I want to get the second book because the story is so interesting but I just really do not want to her voice! The only way I can enjoy books these days are to listen to them in the car because I just don't have time to sit down and read.

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  • K. Wing
  • Redlands, CA United States
  • 04-13-14

Clearly written for a young adult audience

While listening to this book it was obvious that it was written with a young adult audience in mind, but it was still an enjoyable story for an older person. It is hard for me to believe that super intelligent people would not have a backup their computer programs, but I guess if I were not out in the workforce yet I could believe things like that.

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Very enjoyable

Any additional comments?

I read this because the movie was coming out and my girlfriends were all excited as each of them read the story. The premise pulled me in instantly and Tris becomes a character that is easy to love. I really enjoyed the audiobook but don't expect to read just the first book of the series and part ways if you're not impressed. They leave off on both of the first two books at a place that doesn't wrap up the story so you can't just stop, you have to keep going. This is a three-book commitment or nothing. If you're the type that enjoyed The Hunger Games, you'll enjoy this series. I liked the characters and the premise better than the Hunger Games but I found the ending disappointing (and I didn't like the third book of the Hunger Games either).

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Excellent - until the last hour

I realized this was sort of a YA book, and that it tread over well worn ground, but the reviews were good so I gave it a try.

I really enjoyed the book. I quickly bonded to the main character, and enjoyed seeing her grow over the course of the book. There was nothing particularly ground-breaking in the book, but it wasn't trite drivel and was well written.

At least until the last hour. Did the author get tired and decide to take the easiest way out? Did a different author take over? Did the editor force the author to change a good ending into something stolen from a zombie book, concluding with a well-worn Disney fairy tale? I don't know, but I gave the story a 3-Star because the ending was so awful - with a decent ending it would have been a 4 or a 5..

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  • Leanna
  • Seattle, WA United States
  • 04-12-14

Wonderful

Any additional comments?

This is a wonderful coming of age story. The main character develops from unsure and out of place to confident in a compelling, relatable, and believable fashion. Though not novel, this story is still an interesting take on dystopia.

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  • Nou
  • Midlothian, TX, United States
  • 04-11-14

Not what I expected.

Any additional comments?

I expected some kind of Matrix like story, but it turns out much better. It’s a good, growing up story regarding decisions and consequences. I like the plot twists.

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  • Lawrence
  • Kinston, NC, United States
  • 04-09-14

Good YA dystopian fiction

Any additional comments?

Like many others, I was a little skeptical about Divergent being another version of the Hunger Games. To my relief Divergent is an original story with plenty of characters to both love and hate.

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  • Alysia
  • Redondo Beach, CA, United States
  • 04-08-14

OK! I will go on with the series.

This book was on my radar because everyone and their mama read it, reviewed it and completed the series. So it was kind of on my TBR list, but not really since I am trying to stay away from the YA hype books. But since the book club selected it as the January Book of the Month my reason for reading it changed.
The story of 16 year old Beatrice Prior takes place in a post-war Chicago were society has been divided into 5 groups based on individual characteristics. The characteristic based groups determine what they eat, wear, where they sleep, how they should or should not think as well as careers. Now it's Beatrice's time to be tested to see where she fits in and to pick which group she will be with for the rest of her life. With or without her family?
I know the YA formula and I don't understand it. The formula is a young girl, two boy interest, zero parents, all equal life threatening situations and love. When I was 16 years old I had one boyfriend, two parents involved and zero life threatening situation and love. Hmmm... Where do they get this from?
With that being said I really liked this book. I thought the idea of factions and how they came to be was well though tout and written. I would have liked the author the give more detail about the history of each faction but since it's YA I think I understand why she didn't. If I was 16 and read this I would be a Divergent fangirl 100%. I would wear my faction color everyday and I would not even think anything of writing my faction symbol on my jeans, notebooks, backpack and postering my room with Four's posters.
One thing I really loved was how the author makes all the character diverse without telling you their race. She is excellent at this and I wish other authors did this as well.
The narrator of the audiobook was good too! With so much emotion running in and out of this book she did a great job.
The main reason I gave this book only 4 stars is basically for the absent parents yet again. Beatrice's mom was a really interesting character and the author didn't develop her at all. But outside of that the book is a good read that will hook you in and hold you to the end.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful