I can see why so many people like this book. It has probably filled a void that was left when the Hunger Games ended. A few years ago now, but this appears to be the hottest dystopian fiction to hit the shelves since then.
After John Green recommended this book, I had high hopes. Hopes that were not quite met, but the book ended better than it started. After only a few chapters in, I thought that getting through this book would be tough and that I really wouldn’t like it. I found the writing style to be average, the main character was rubbish, and that the whole setup of the five different factions to be ludicrous.
The first part of a book is the toughest to write. It’s very difficult to entice the reader in. All of the world-building and characterisation that needs to be done in the first few chapters usually takes away from the action. It’s a very difficult thing to balance. Veronica Roth decided to dispense with the world-building altogether to add some action, which only made me concentrate more on the flaws! Seriously, a world where everyone lives according to five specific “virtues”? I have to quote a fellow goodreads reviewer on this because it’s just too brilliantly phrased:
“Because by their very existence, structure, and way of living the factions promote things like segregation, discrimination, inequality, oppression, and competing belief systems. Sound familiar? They should. They are after all the leading causes of discord & war among human civilizations throughout history. What a way to shoot yourself in the foot while simultaneously getting butted in the face by your gun’s recoil. Bravo!” — review here
Luckily this whole thing is explored in the book, but honestly I don’t have any idea how Chicago got into such a state in the first place! And what about the rest of the world outside Chicago? Do they still exist? No society would ever….ugh. Let’s just hope that this is explained in the rest of the trilogy…
Still I muddled on through the book, but it wasn’t until near the halfway point that it began to grow on me.
The story is never dull. There is just the right mix of action and reflection. There aren’t so many secondary characters that you lose sight of who’s who, and they each have enough characterisation that you can picture them well in your mind.
Tris never fully grew on me and I still don’t like her that much, though I don’t hate her Tobias grew on me a bit more, though I still resent the ridiculous nickname of ‘Four’. I was kind of hoping we would be wowed with an ingenious explanation for his terrible nickname, but it was predictably lame. Also predictable were the definition of a Divergent and Tobias’s identity. Saw those two coming a mile off.
I did end up being gripped by the story, and enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would after a rocky start. I am going to read the second book now, and I hope that I get some decent world-building that is sorely needed. I also hope that Tris and Tobias develop into more likeable characters. They are not quite there yet.
P.S. Veronica Roth has clearly never gotten a tattoo.