My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Veronica Roth’s first book in her dystopian young adult series is an entertaining read, if you can get past the first 100 pages. The basic premise of the story is that society has split into five factions committed to a virtue: Amity, Erudite, Abnegation, Dauntless, and Candor. The different ideologies of each faction act as checks and balances among each other to prevent humanity from becoming too corrupt or violent as in the past. The idea is a bit hard to swallow at first, but suspension of disbelief will kick in…eventually.
Beatrice or Tris is the main character of the story and she’s on the verge of choosing her faction. At the outset she’s part of Abnegation, a faction committed to selflessness and abstaining from worldliness. But Beatrice has struggled all her life to live up to high standards of her faction and when she takes a futuristic version of the Myers-Briggs test to evaluate which faction she should choose, things go awry. Beatrice realizes she’s Divergent and for the next ten chapters you have no idea what that means or how significant it is to the overall story. In fact, most of these chapters are just Beatrice’s indecisiveness towards what actions to take whether as a member of Abnegation or the faction she ultimately chooses to be in.
The story really picks up around the tenth and eleventh chapters when the Tris side of Beatrice’s persona starts to develop and the dull aspects of her character become less pronounced. The introduction of the love interest, Four, also shakes things up a bit. I found myself mostly wanting to read more about Four since his character is significantly more interesting than Beatrice.
So is Divergent, worth a read? I think it is. Despite the lackluster beginning and somewhat far-fetched premise, the plot really picks up and intensifies if you’re patient. I also think it distinguishes itself well enough from The Hunger Games to be a standout young adult series, but I’ll reserve full judgment until I read the other books.