Thursday, May 24, 2012

Divergent - Veronica Roth

Let's see a show of hands.  How many of you are weary of hearing about the YA dystopian trilogy?  Angsty teens?  Where there is a "thing" that happens when they are 16, 17 or 18 years old...a surgery, an assignment, a marriage, a cellular change?  It has gotten to the point where I read a synopsis and then proceed to eye-roll myself into a headache.


I shouldn't be so cynical.  I know many of these books are really good (I am the biggest fan of Lauren Oliver).  It is just...can't we come up with an original idea?  Must we go there, over and over again?


Yet, goodness did I hear about this book.  It was like a hoard of fevered teenagers stormed BBAW last year and anointed this book the best thing to happen to the literary world.  Honestly, though, I would have ignored the frenzy had it not been for my daughter, who selected this book for a lit group at school.  If I have a chance to find common ground with The Alien Who Was Once My Child, I take it.  So I hopped on board the train.


Synopsis:  Beatrice Prior has been born and raised in one of five "factions" in dystopian Chicago...Abnegation, where all are selfless.  Once she turns 16, however, her nature will be evaluated, and she will be required to decide where she will spend the rest of her life.  Will she stay with her parents in Abnegation, or move to Candor (honesty), Dauntless (bravery), Amity (peacefulness), or Erudite (intelligence)?  With a deadly secret in her heart, she makes her decision.


She renames herself Tris, assumes an identity akin to her new faction, and begins the process of a rigorous, and often brutal, initiation.  An initiation that will  eliminate the weaker candidates via death or at a minimum, banishment to homelessness.  In this struggle she becomes acquainted with (and attracted to) one of her trainers named Four, who is mysterious about his past but also feels like a kindred spirit.


Soon it becomes apparent that there are tensions brewing between the factions, and that something sinister is going to erupt and destroy their carefully-planned society and anyone who gets in the way.


My thoughts:  I have heard many people compare this book, and the obsession it inspires in its readers, to The Hunger Games.  And I can see that.  There is a strong female character...a non-traditional beauty with the spirit of a pit bull...who has to literally fight for her life.  There is also sexual chemistry  (nothing inappropriate for teens) but is incidental to the overall plot.  And the powers that be cannot be trusted. 


But the book stands on its own.  It is definitely fodder for the teen brain, judging by the reaction of my daughter and her friends reading it.  But it was a compelling read for me as well.  I read it quickly, and when I finished, I was wanting for the second book in the series, "Insurgent", which released on May 1. (Side story...I pre-ordered "Insurgent" from Amazon at a good discount, but when the rubber met the road, I ended up canceling the order and going to Barnes & Noble on May 1st to get it.  The Alien Who Was Once My Child couldn't wait.  I guess I understand.)


The writing isn't all that spectacular, but there is a good deal of action, and the character of Tris was my kind of girl.  And Roth isn't afraid to throw important people under the bus (that is closest thing to a spoiler you will get) - I admire that in a writer.  I also really just love Chicago, and got a geeky thrill from various scenes that featured this fair city.  Like climbing the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel, or zip-lining from the roof of the John Hancock Building.  Eh well, call me a nerd but I thought it was pretty cool.


So onward and upward!  I must wait for the daughter to finish salivating all over Book Two, then I will get my hands on it and report back!




4 out of 5 stars


       

18 comments:

bermudaonion said...

You crack me up, but I kind of feel the same way about all the dystopia - it's the same story rehashed over and over again. Having said that, I think any book that makes aliens who used to be children excited is a good one.

Heather @ Book Addiction said...

I liked this one a lot. I LOVED the Chicago stuff (of course) and I enjoyed Tris immensely. I'm definitely excited for the second book.

Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

I am right there with you about dystopian trilogies. Enough, already! But, like you, I enjoyed this story considerably, but I would highly recommend the audio for these sorts of stories. For some reason, it just seems to work in that format. I get much more engaged and interested when I hear the narrator describe the scenes with Four at the end, and it made me eager to get Insurgent, too!

Zibilee said...

I have this one, and want to read it, but as you know, so little time! I might consider going with the audio. I have also heard all the praise for it, and have been more than curious. It seems that this book has taken the book world by storm, and I don't want to be the last one to read them, like I was with the Hunger Games! Very enticing review today. I can't wait to hear what you think of book 2!

Ti said...

I checked this one out and plan to read some of it over the long weekend.

Peppermint Ph.D. said...

Amen to the dystopian YA tidal wave...I was looking through a "Coming Soon" list yesterday and I know my eyes rolled more than once. :p Geez. Talk about a marketing machine. I guess it's ok if the kids are reading?

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I ordered the second one, and then I couldn't get the first one back from the library, so I had to order the first one! gaaaah! And now of course I have 8,000 obligations and 6 back reviews to do.... But you know I can't resist the dystopia thing for long!

Julie P. said...

My daughter isn't keen on these types of books yet, but I have a feeling that our mother-daughter book club will be going in that direction soon! Not so sure I'm excited about that.

Nise' said...

Yep, I am there right with you. BUT, I will be reading Insurgent.

caite said...

It's like you read my mind..I saw that cover and thought "no, not another teenage dystopian book! " but now you liked it! What to do...what to do? Lol

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

I hear you. I keep hearing about this one, but I am a bit burnt out on this genre. I think I'll wait for the hype to die down and maybe I'll read it this winter.

Jenny said...

Well, the fact that teens are reading the series and getting excited about the next book is definitely a good thing. I feel like one of the only ones who hasn't read this yet, but it's definitely on my radar. I like Chicago too.. I'll have to consider this one.

Jackie Bailey said...

I'm rolling my eyes just thinking about this book!I know I'd read a book to be able to talk to my children about it so I understand your reasons for reading it, but I don't think it is for me.

Carrie K. said...

I love dystopia - but I agree that some of the plot devices have gotten stale - the procedure, matching, choosing, sorting, etc. I think that's why the Chaos Walking series was so amazing for me - it was so different! But, I did love Divergent when I read it, and Insurgent, as well - I just have to be in the right mood.

Jenners said...

I listened to this on audio and it was a "better than average" YA dystopia but I love that it got the Alien all excited about reading and talking and she couldn't wait to get it. I'm all for that!!!!1

samantha.1020 said...

I really enjoyed this one when I read it as well! I guess I should bite the bullet and read The Hunger Games since everyone does seem to compare the two. Great review!

Melissa said...

This kind of books do seem to come out in bunches. It works for one person, and everyone jumps in!

I may get to it eventually, but I'm not in a rush.

Kathleen said...

It's great anytime you can find common ground with a teenage child!