Review: Divergent & Insurgent by Veronica Roth

DivergentA dystopian trilogy with a strong female lead character who makes sacrifices for the sake of her family – no I am not late to The Hunger Games party, this is also a look at the Divergent series by Veronica Roth. I read the first book Divergent back last year and see a review for the book is missing from my site (missing as in, I never wrote one — it must have been while I was taking my unannounced hiatus). I came to the series when a few friends posted about it on my Facebook call for a good summer read. And the book did fit the bill, I quickly feel into like with the heroine Beatrice, aka Tris. She’s cool, but uncertain and so she plays up being dark and sullen. If there were Emo in this undated future of the fallen apart Chicago society, she would totally be it.

I liked the concept that the book explored, a society that is divided by the type of personalty set that you are – if your main focus is book smarts and knowledge you are Erudite, selfless you are Abnegation, put truth above everything you are Candor, strive to keep the peace you are Amity and if you’re bold to the point of reckless you are Dauntless. Tris was raised in an Abnegation household, but at the time of choosing she chose to move to Dauntless. And in this society, you do sort of get to choose – you take an aptitude test (it’s the future so it’s a brain simulation and all very Matrix-like) and are told what you are meant for. Of course there is one other group that no one speaks of, they exist in old-wives tales – the Divergent, those who could fit into multiple groups, they really can’t be categorized.

I doubt I am really spoiling anything here (and if I am don’t read on …) but Tris is really Divergent. To avoid being found out as Divergent she chooses to advance her Dauntless tendencies, turning her back on her parents and brother.

OK, so that’s the set-up for Divergent. A showdown happens that brings us to the second in the series Insurgent, which picks up where Divergent ends. I have to be honest, I waited a few months in between and I already have a bad memory when it comes to many books. So, I was a little lost in the beginning because it didn’t have a great recap and at times I found myself being pretty far into the book before a little light bulb went off on some of the plot points. But that aside, I enjoyed this book and watching Tris develop and start to realize who she is as a person and not specifically a “type.” That doesn’t mean I always liked or agreed with who she was becoming – as a dystopian teen she has an overinflated sense of obligation over things.

I haven’t yet read the third and final book, Allegiant, but I have it and will get to it in the not too distant future. So while it’s not fair to judge the whole series yet, I’m going to say that it’s not as good as The Hunger Games — in the writing, flow, story, etc. — but it’s still an enjoyable YA series that explores important topics of personalty and control.

You might have heard the rumblings, or even seen a preview that Divergent will be a movie coming out this spring. I’m looking forward to seeing that. As I was reading it I could see that the story would translate well on the big screen, and I think this movie might be one of the few where I enjoy the movie better then the book, but all in all I am not disappointed in the time I am spending reading this series.

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