Review: Divergent (Divergent #1) Veronica Roth

Review: Divergent (Divergent #1) Veronica RothDivergent by Veronica Roth
Series: Divergent #1
Published by HarperCollins on 2011-05-03
Pages: 576
Goodreads | Buy on Amazon

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

Let’s talk about this movie tie-in cover for a minute. Holy crap it’s fantastic. She looks just like I thought she would.

Veronica Roth creates a dystopian world of five factions: Abegnation (selfless), Dauntless (brave), Erudite (smart), and Candor (honest). Each faction lives together in  their own commune of sorts. They dress similarly and act according to faction rules. For example, the Abegnation dress in plain, grey clothes and eat plain meals because they think anything else inhibits selflessness. The five factions are really interesting. It begs the question, how are we supposed to choose between being selfless, brave, smart, or honest? It goes against human nature to be one without the others. I think that’s one of the major themes of Divergent — discovering that we’re all selfless, brave, smart, and honest. We just prioritize them differently. 

Tris is such a refreshing female character. She’s brave, selfless, and both mentally and physically strong. I’ve been waiting for a character like her for a while. Hermione, Katniss, and Tris are all quite different but have the kinds of characteristics that young girls should aspire toward.

So. This brings me to Four. I really, really like Four (and don’t particularly care for the guy who plays him in the movie. I’ve only seen the trailer so I can’t judge too hard … but he doesn’t seem to have the sensitivity that Four has). I love that he chose Dauntless even though his test results clearly puts him in Abegnation. I love that he only has four fears. I love how much he likes Tris. He may be one of my favorite YA guys.

I have some questions about Roth’s world building. First up is the wall/gate. The factions are locked in (with the exception of Amity? That’s weird). And no one but Tris (possibly Four) has figured it out? I’m waiting to reserve judgment on this. It could be a plot hole or it could be explained later. Also, Roth explains dystopian Chicago as set “after the war.” Which war? What happened? What caused it? I hope it’s explained.

The Dauntless initiation process is really intense. Roth does a great job showing the tension between the initiates as they train and fight each other in an epic showdown for the spots in Dauntless. Initiates who don’t pass are kicked out of the faction and become “factionless” — homeless, jobless, and without direction. The motto, “faction over blood,” instills a fear in Tris — a drive to be the best initiate so she doesn’t end up listless and alone. I think it also drives the other initiates as well. Peter, in particular, seems to be driven by a competitive streak so intense that he isn’t afraid to maim and kill the initiates who rank ahead of him. 

I was left wondering what the initiation process was like in the other factions. Tris describes the Abegnation process fairly well but I’d like to know what Erudite, Candor, and Amity do to initiate their new members.

I feel like I’m not doing this book justice. I didn’t even talk about the war. Or Tris’s parents (so sad and awesome). There’s so much to talk about … and so much to think about. In the end, I think that Divergent is a unique take on the dystopian YA novel. I think we’re all a little Divergent and that’s what makes reading this book so exciting.


© 2014 – 2016, Jessica Workman Holland. All rights reserved.

  • I read this book last year, and the lack of world building drove me crazy. I’m glad that you liked it though. 🙂 There is a bit more world building in book two.

    • JessicaWorkman

      Sometimes I get so caught up with the characters that I don’t notice the holes in the world building. I think that’s what happened this time. I’m hoping the other books address the holes.

  • Bookworm Brandee

    I’m one of the few, I’m sure, who haven’t read Divergent yet. (although it’s patiently waiting on my bookshelf) Your review has given me reason to push it up in priority! It really does sound incredible. Nice review, Jessica.

    • JessicaWorkman

      Brandee, you’re definitely not the only one! I kept seeing the series around for years and I only now decided to read it. I’m so glad I did though. I hope you enjoy it!

      Plus, the movie looks fantastic and I had to read the book before seeing it. 🙂

  • JessicaWorkman

    Wow the ARC? That’s pretty fantastic! I wonder if the final product has changed since the ARC was sent out?

  • I love the cover, and still need to see the movie and err read my copy of Allegiant. Fantastic review 🙂 I just adore Four

    • JessicaWorkman

      I haven’t read Insurgent or Allegiant yet (though I DO know what happens at the end thanks to the spoil sports out there). I’m a big fan of Four. He’s so interesting and mysterious. 🙂

  • I love this book so much. Though… the last book not so much but hey it’s the journey that counts no so much the destination. My mom even recently read this and loved it!!

    • JessicaWorkman

      I’m so obsessed with Divergent at the moment. I haven’t read the other two (but I’ve been spoiled on the end). We’ll see how I feel about it. I’ll probably be ok with it as long as it makes sense to the narrative.