Book Review: “Divergent”


Alex Sher

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Suzanne Collins’ “Hunger Games Trilogy” tale of a corrupt government forcing children to fight to the death captured teenage hearts and minds across the country over the past few years. The second installment of the series, “Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” came out in Nov. and was the top grossing film of 2013. The gripping dystopian setting, thrilling action, and heart-wrenching romance has glued thousands of eyes to pages and tv screens. But what will readers and viewers consume next after they read that final page of “Mockingjay” and see the film? Luckily for them, there is a plethora of up-and-coming young adult dystopian books on Barnes and Noble bookshelves today.


One of the most noteworthy is Veronica Roth’s “Divergent” trilogy. The first movie is scheduled to come out in March. Like “Hunger Games”, “Divergent” takes place in a dystopian reality. In this other version of Chicago, people are divided into four factions (Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless and Erudite) based on specific character traits they possess. People cannot be both kind and wise in this movie; they stick to one trait and stay with it. They are raised in their parent’s faction and, at age 16, take a test to discover what faction their personality fits. The next day, the teenagers are given the choice to permanently remain in their faction or leave their family and switch to their true faction.

Beatrice is raised in the selfless Abnegation faction, but never feels that she really belongs there. When she takes her test, she gets inconclusive results, meaning she does not ‘fit’ just one faction. Knowing only that being “divergent”, as the woman who gave her her results called it, is dangerous, Beatrice is forced to make life-changing decisions that could affect the delicate factions system.

To preface this book review, I am not typically somebody who enjoys reading best selling young adult fiction books. “Twilight” made me want to give up all faith in modern literature and I found “The Fault in our Stars” to be ridiculously mediocre, despite how much I love John Green. The predictable plot lines, simplistic writing and cheesy romance simply thrown into any mix to make hormonal teenagers swoon makes me sick. So, please take this review with a grain of salt.

Most popular young-adult fiction books contain simplistic writing with over-the-top symbolism thrown in. “Divergent” was no different. It was an extremely fast read, mainly because sentence structure rarely varied. If it weren’t for a fast paced storyline, “Divergent” would be extremely boring because of a lack of artful writing.

While I admit that the writing of “Divergent” was characteristic of average young-adult fiction, the novel’s plot was engaging and unique. The characters were each unique and complex, the descriptions detailed and engaging, and the plot twists were not always expected. A unique plot was definitely the saving grace of the book and the original idea of factions led to many sub-plots that keep the reader entertained. Also, Roth wasn’t afraid to touch upon more controversial teenage issues, which impressed me.

“Divergent” did include a just-because-every-teen-book-needs-love romance, but it wasn’t exactly overwhelming. There is no love at first sight, even though the romance happens a little bit more naturally than most. The guy plays a unique role in the story outside of being Beatrice’s boyfriend. Still, the romance did not take up all of Beatrice’s thoughts and Roth was not afraid to venture into other sub-plots besides love. I was slightly disappointed over the cheesy romance plugged in for hormonal teenagers, but it could have been a lot worse.

Lastly, Roth ended on a cliffhanger, which got me hooked. No matter how poor the writing was or cheesy the romance was, her story was enough to have me interested and leaving me hanging left me wanting more.

    While “Divergent” was not a life-changing book, it was an enjoyable read and a great way to kill a few hours during winter break. For avid readers who like unique plots and some free time, I recommend it. For those of you who love young adult fiction and have jumped aboard the dystopian craze, get a copy of “Divergent” as soon as you can!