Divergent? More like Disappointment.

26 February 2014

Veronica Roth's Divergent trilogy popped up several times when I was looking for a new series to immerse myself in so I figured I'd add it to my never ending and infinitely growing to-read list. Because the movie adaptation of the first book in the trilogy will be shown on March 21 already, I bumped it up on the list and started reading last Saturday.

Before anything else, please understand that it was difficult for me to write this review. I love stories no matter what form they were told. It breaks my heart, but I have to be honest.

I finished it in just two days, and wow, what a letdown it was.

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In the post-apocalyptic dystopian universe of Divergent, the people are divided into factions based on the virtue they uphold most: the peaceful belong to Amity, the selfless belong to Abnegation, the brave belong to Dauntless, the intelligent belong to Erudite, and the honest belong to Candor. When they reach the age of 16, they would have to take an aptitude test to determine where they belong, and decide whether to remain with their families or follow the results of the test and transfer to a different faction where they would have to train and be tested as initiates before they can be full-fledged members. Due to some inexplicable twist of fate, Beatrice (who later changes her name to Tris) proves suitable for Erudite, Abnegation, and Dauntless. Apparently it is very rare to have inconclusive results like that, so Tris must hide the fact that she is a divergent lest she is branded a rebel and becomes a target.

Setting aside the fact that this is dystopian literature and fiction almost always calls for suspension of disbelief, I can't get over the premise that humans can have such a one-sided existence - I guess I'm just too fascinated with the human mind's complexity  to believe that you can tie them up with just one virtue for lfe.

But yes, okay, since it's a dystopian world, I'll let it pass. I just wish it could've been fleshed out better since when you think about it, it's an interesting premise. I couldn't help but think the act of dividing people into different factions is kinda like a more hardcore way of sorting Hogwarts students into different houses through the Sorting Hat, though.

Also, does anyone else feel like someone is urgently whispering the word three times back to you whenever the word 'divergent' is mentioned? Divergent...Divergent...Divergent.

It took me a long time to decide whether I liked it or not because I tried to like it. I really did. For something that has so many fans going gaga over, I expected I would enjoy it a little bit more. (Well, Fifty Shades of Grey also has a lot of following and look what happened there; I stopped reading after two pages.) But then, I figured if I had to think that hard, then the odds aren't good. Don't get me wrong, I was entertained by all the action. There were a lot of jumping off and on trains, violence and intimidation, senseless deaths, physical fighting, climbing up and zip lining down high buildings, and senseless deaths, among others. But somehow it felt a little...hollow, like the story's not really moving at all. Did I mention senseless deaths? I waited I waited I waited, nothing. (There were a lot of words being repeated three times as well, probably for emphasis. I didn't not like it, though. I actually like that writing style, but only when it doesn't feel forced nor pretentious.) I kept on looking at the bottom part of my Kindle that tells what percentage of the book I was in, and I distinctly remember that I was already 83% in when something of real consequence started to happen. Basically, the first book in the Divergent series felt like a reeeally long exposition. Kudos to Veronica Roth for painting an expansive picture of post-apocalyptic Chicago, though.

I loved and even highlighted a few quotes, mostly about bravery.
Becoming fearless isn't the point. That's impossible. It's learning how to control your fear, and how to be free from it.
I was meaning to read Insurgent the next morning, and after that, Allegiant. But after coning across several reviews of the two books, I decided not to. I don't feel *that* affected because I didn't get too attached with any of the characters anyway, since they felt like robots to me. I just decided that life is short and I shouldn't waste it on not-so-good books. Not liking the first book in the trilogy was my first clue.

Maybe I'm just dystopia'd out.

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Of course I'm still going to watch the movie (even if I'm not a fan of the casting). I think Maggie Q and Theo James are perfect.

Did you read Divergent too and liked it? Please don't hate me because of this review. (^_^)

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