Thursday, May 08, 2014

Bookish Thoughts: Divergent Series by Veronica Roth

The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth
Katherine Tegen Books
Science Fiction (YA)

From the Publisher:  
Divergent: One choice can transform you. Veronica Roth's #1 New York Times bestselling debut is a gripping dystopian tale of electrifying choices, powerful consequences, unexpected romance, and a deeply flawed "perfect society."
 Insurgent: One choice can destroy you. Veronica Roth's second #1 New York Times bestseller continues the dystopian thrill ride. As war surges in the factions all around her, Tris attempts to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love. 
Allegiant: The explosive conclusion to Veronica Roth's #1 New York Times bestselling Divergent trilogy reveals the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent. 
A part of me was reluctant to start the Divergent series, but I also really wanted to read it before seeing the first movie.  Young Adult novels are hit and miss with me, and, while I often enjoy them, I find them lacking more often than not.  It's more a matter of taste, I think, on my part. Still, I have read enough that I enjoy to keep reading the genre.

I am keeping my thoughts about Insurgent and Allegiant brief and down to just general impressions in order to avoid any major spoilers.


Divergent by Veronica Roth (2012; 487 pgs)

There is one mirror in my house. ~ First Sentence of Divergent

Everyone in society is divided into factions.  Each of the factions are based on a particular value and has its place in society.  The idea is to maintain peace and order among the people.  There are the Erudite who seek knowledge; the Candor faction in which everyone values honesty above all else; the Dauntless who guard and protect the city; and Abnegation, which is made up of people who value selflessness and the only ones trusted to run the government as a result.  

Beatrice Prior was born in the Abnegation faction and has tried all her life to be selfless.  That is what she is supposed to be after all.  When the results of her faction test come back as inconclusive, Beatrice is put in a very difficult position.  She has just discovered she is Divergent which marks her as different and not of one faction like everyone else.  It is something she needs to keep a secret or else it could mean her life.  Someone is trying to kill the Divergent population, and soon Beatrice realizes she is not alone.

What follows is a story about identity and finding one's own path.  It is a coming of age story at its most basic level.  Beatrice, aka Tris, is just beginning to really define herself and she comes up against some very real obstacles that even young people of our world face--questioning authority, reality versus the ideal, discovering who she is, bullying, and finding first love.

The novel itself is quite entertaining, and I really grew to like Tris.  She is a strong female character with a good head on her shoulders.  I also really liked her friends, including Four, who I found mysterious and charming at first.  The more I got to know him, the less of a mystery he became, but I grew to have a lot of respect for him.  I found myself wishing I could be in the pages of the novel, a part of the world Veronica Roth created, if only for an instant.

I absolutely loved Divergent.  I found the world created by Veronica Roth interesting in all its complexity, the story intense, and the characters endearing--well, some of them anyway.  The novel is action packed and heartbreaking, while, at the same time, an interesting study on society.  Despite its size, the novel is a fast read, and I raced through it.  I enjoyed it so much that I rushed right into Insurgent and then followed that up with Allegiant. I also read a couple of the short stories related to the trilogy in between, which were just okay.  I think it was more a case of my not being a big fan of re-tellings of the same story or scene from another perspective (in this case Four's).

I thoroughly enjoyed the Divergent movie when I saw it in the theater after having finished reading the trilogy.  It was action packed and the actors fit into their character roles so well.  There were minor changes made in translation from the book to the movie, but nothing that I felt hurt the story.  If anything, I loved seeing Roth's world come to life as well as her characters.  After being disappointed in several movie adaptions of books recently, this was quite refreshing.  I would have liked the movie even having not read the book, I am sure.  It's my kind of movie.


Insurgent by Veronica Roth (2012; 544 pgs)

I wake with his name in my mouth. ~ First Sentence of Insurgent

Insurgent picks up at the very spot Divergent left off.  The world Tris knew has been torn apart.  Tris is feeling desperate and her grief is beyond measure.  Insurgent tackles the difficult subject of loss and guilt, and how heavily both can weigh on a person.

I enjoyed Insurgent, but not quite as much as the first book the series.  I still found the world Veronica Roth had created fascinating and was engrossed in the story and the characters.  I still raced through the book like there was no tomorrow.  I found myself annoyed with Tris, however, even as I tried to keep in mind all she was going through.  Her and her love interest's back and forth got to me though and there were a few times I wanted to shake them both and tell them to get over themselves.  I could blame it on the fact that they are teenagers, but adults act like that in literature all too often.  Probably in real life too.

What I liked most about Insurgent was the continued in depth look at society and human nature.  It is a dark take on human nature, mind you, but all too realistic under the circumstances as people lust for power and control over their own lives.  I also appreciated the way the author dealt with Tris's grief and guilt, and her continued struggle to define herself through it all.


Allegiant by Veronica Roth (2013; 544 pgs)

I pace in our cell in Erudite headquarters, her words echoing in my mind:  My name will be Edith Prior, and there is much I am happy to forget. ~ ~ First Sentence of Allegiant

This is the book where the secrets of the world created by Veronica Roth are revealed.  While not all surprising given the direction the trilogy had taken at the end of the first book, it was still an eye opener.  I swear I felt just as lost and insignificant as the continuing characters must have felt once they entered the compound.  I cannot help but wonder too if that is another reference to how teenagers feel entering the "real world" after leaving school and entering adulthood.

In Allegiant, the characters continue to grapple with issues of guilt and grief.  Their view of the world has been completely altered and now new issues are coming to light, not all of which are good.

It is impossible to talk about this book without giving something/anything away, especially because I had several problems with it as I read.  I liked Allegiant okay, but I did not love it the way I did the first two books.  I ran into logic problems with Allegiant and there were choices made, particularly toward the end, that did not make much sense to me.  I had a harder time buying into this book than I did the others.  Maybe it was too ambitious.  It felt that way.

Even so, there were aspects I liked about the novel, so it wasn't a total loss.  Overall, I would recommend this series to those who enjoy the genre.  


You can learn more about Veronica Roth and her books on the author's website.

Source: I purchased the e-copies versions of these books for my own reading pleasure.  I also paid for my own movie ticket, in case anyone is wondering.


© 2014, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

30 comments:

  1. Enjoyed reading your thoughts on this series, Wendy! I still yet to read this series and didn't want to watch the movie before reading the book. I hope one day I'll pick up this series soon; I'm just waiting for the right mood to strike. :)

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    1. Melody - One good thing about waiting to see a movie outside the theater is that you can watch it just about any time--and read the books. I think you'd like these books, Melody, if you do decide to read them.

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  2. I liked Divergant but have t read the next two books. Why? Been disappointed with YA trilogies of late. I am happy having just read book 1. Glad you liked the first two books and the last book was ok for you :)

    The first book was really good though I would hands down recomended it to anyone.

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    1. Mandy - I know what you mean. There have been a couple YA series for which I've read the first book and just haven't been motivated to continue.

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  3. I know this series is wildly popular but I don't think it's for me.

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    1. Kathy - Yes, I don't think you would like this series knowing your tastes. :-)

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  4. After a great beginning, I felt the books went downhill. Divergent wasn't perfect, but it grabbed me and held my interest, and I was eager for Insurgent. Like you, I liked it OK, but not as much as Divergent. Allegiant? Not so much. Felt completely different.

    Glad you liked the film!

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    1. Jenclair - I'm really glad you and I got to talk about this trilogy right after I read it.

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  5. Your experience with this series pretty much echoes mine. I did love the movie, and parts of the movie helped me understand a little more the big event at the end of book three, and why it makes sense. At first, I hated that ending. I still don't love it, but I at least "get" it a little more.

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    1. Carrie - I didn't mind the ending so much as just that final climatic set up and the reasoning behind it. The logic behind it didn't ring true to me. A friend and I talked a little about it after she finished the final book and I feel a little better about it. It's hard to talk about without spoilers. LOL

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  6. One day I would like to at least read the first book. I have it on my TBR waiting for the mood to strike. :)

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    1. Kelly - I'm so happy you are going to be fostering a dog!

      Back to the subject at hand, I'd be curious what you think of it if you do read Divergent.

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  7. I have never read this author but sure I have heard the name before, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I will definitely give them a go if I come across them.

    Lainy http://www.alwaysreading.net

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    1. Lainy - My interest in the books was piqued last year when I heard a movie was being made. I am glad I decided to read them. :-)

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  8. I really want to read this series and even more so, now that you have shared your thoughts.

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    1. Kathleen - I hope you enjoy the books if you do read them.

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  9. I read Divergent and loved it! I have been waiting for Insurgent and Allegiant to come out in softcover for over a year now......I really do want to finish this series! I found it interesting what you said about the last two, as it's something I've seen elsewhere too in reviews. You aren't alone. I'll keep it in mind. I find it interesting that both this series and The Hunger Games start strong and end a little weakly. For all that, they are interesting SF series for teens, and that's all good, isn't it? Also the idea of a teen girl who is a heroine - I like how it is done in these books, so matter-of-factly. I don't recall in either first books anyone saying they are just a girl.

    I will read them both as soon as they are out, I have to know how it ends. I'll keep your thoughts in mind. Thanks for a good review, Wendy.

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    1. Susan - I hope you enjoy the second two books, Susan. There was so much to like about the series, especially Divergent. I hadn't thought about what you said about how matter-of-fact the books were about the female heroines--you are right! I really like that too.

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  10. I loved Divergent too, but like you didn't enjoy Insurgent so much. But I didn't finish it, so one of these days I just might.

    btw, I was trying to comment using openid from my new blog (booksatvioletcrush.com) but couldn't. :(

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    1. Violetcrush - Insurgent takes an interesting turn towards the end. I hope you do get a chance to finish it at some point--but only if you are interested. :-)

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  11. I'm with you - I often find YA lacking and its been hit and miss with me. But I've seen quite a few people who don't normally read YA or normally like it enjoy this series. I may just have to break down and try it!

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    1. Lisa - It still has that YA feel to it, but I really did like the trilogy, especially the first book. If you do give it a try, I hope you enjoy it. :-)

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  12. sorry didn't know i had to setup an OpenID account. Figuring out how to do it now :)

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  13. YA books are a hit or miss with me too, and this series unfortunately was on the miss side. But I liked it enough to read all three books. :) I haven't watched the movie yet though.

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    1. Athira - I read a review right after writing mine and the reviewer pointed out a few flaws that I completely missed; but, on reflection, I didn't disagree with her. I just didn't notice as I was reading.

      I'd be interested to know your thoughts on the movie if you do decide to see it. While I've heard mostly good things about it, I know that some didn't like it as much as I did.

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  14. The books definitely declined in quality for me as the series progressed. It's funny, but I think the backlash against the last book helped me to appreciate it more than I would have otherwise. And having heard Veronica Roth speak, I can imagine her making the choices she did. I admire her for making unpopular choices, even if I did find the whole premise rather nonsensical when it was revealed.

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    1. Rachel - Ultimately, I think the decision the author made about one of the major character's fate was the right one. I think my biggest problem was that it felt like everything was for nothing in the end. Or at least for very little. I am glad I read the books.

      I visited the author's website after finishing the series and read a little of what she had to say about the final book. I really do like getting an author's take on their own work sometimes. It can shed new light on certain aspects, can't it?

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  15. Like The Hunger Games series, I am setting aside my book nerd and just watching the movies :) I've liked both series so far. Too bad it looks like this one may go downhill.

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    1. Stacy - Maybe they'll surprise us and the ending will be perfect in movie form, even if not in book form. :-)

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