Book review: Divergent

A nail-biting,  (well-deserved) best-selling dystopian fiction novel that will leave you teetering on the edge of your sanity; leaving you breathless with the sheer force of wonderful character development, fantastic world-building and its intense and highly original storyline.

Note: A shortened version of this review appears on,  the link of which appears here.

Divergent by Veronica Roth (HarperCollins)

In the aftermath of war, the dystopian world that Beatrice Prior lives in has been divided into 5 different factions;  each faction  created with the sole purpose to promote and cultivate a harmonious society in a world previously ravaged by war.

The factions have been divided into the following groups:
- Candor - for those who value honesty
- Abnegation - for those that dedicate themselves to living selfless lives

- Dauntless - the brave and unflinching
- Amity - the peaceful
- Erudite - those in constant pursuit of knowledge

Every year, all 16-year olds members must undergo aptitude tests and select the faction which they'll join and dedicate the rest of the lives to. For 16-year old Abnegation member, Beatrice, the decision is a hard one. 

Born into Abnegation, she'll have to decide whether staying with her family is what she wants or whether she wants to stay true to herself by choosing the group that most reflects the person that she is.

Unfortunately she ultimately cannot have both - and makes a choice that astonishes everyone, including herself. But, making the choice, although a hard one, is only the beginning, because what follows next is an intensive, brutal and highly competitive initiation rite, and not everyone who goes through the gruelling tests will necessarily make it.

Changing her name from Beatrice to Tris, she, along with her fellow initiates have to undergo extreme tests of physical endurance, psychological simulations and learn to harness her newfound skills in the most trying of circumstances.

As the initiation shapes and changes her and those around her's lives, Tris has to decide who she can trust and whether or not she can trust those with the dangerous secret that she's harbouring.

Between life and death situations, a burgeoning romance with an enigmatic boy and the growing discovery that all is not well in the perfectly created faction-based world, she'll have to rely on all her wits and the very dangerous secret that may just be what is needed to save them all.

Let me start off by saying that this book is, hands-down, the best book I've read this year and the best dystopian fiction novel I've read to date.

It's currently  sitting on the New York Bestselling Times list and deserves every accolade that it has been receiving so far (And to think the Veronica Roth, author of Divergent is only 22 years old).

The concept is sheer genius and the world that Roth has created is utterly captivating for all (and in all) of its bleak, grey and desolate exterior. The direct contrast between the dystopian settings and the lively, intense, engaging and unapologetically alive characters will bring you to your knees with the sheer force of the entire book in all of its divergent splendour.

The characters are blisteringly superb and Tris, as a protagonist, is just absolutely phenomenal.

I've read a good amount of books where I've seen some fantastic character development, but never on the level that I've experienced with Tris. It's an absolute joy watching her grow from being the selfless, timid and reserved girl to the strong girl with an inner core of strength that not even she knew she had.

Her character development is realistic, real, compelling to watch and utterly believable and being witness to her ever-changing interactions with the secondary characters, including the antagonists, will keep you glued to the pages.

Speaking of which, if you think that Tris is a phenomenal character, then you'll be in for a fantastic surprise when you discover just how well-developed and engaging the rest of the cast in Divergent are.

Veronica has created an interesting dynamic between the characters who come from different factions and who clash over their different belief systems. It's a dynamic that accurately reflects the real disparity between people who come from different backgrounds in our world today, and because of this, makes the book even more relatable for the reader.

And of course, this review wouldn't be complete if I didn't mention the romance factor. I think I may just have a new fiction crush. The romance between Tris and Four ( I can't say more about his important role) is absorbing, thrilling and has a sizzle factor of about a hundred.

Four is incredibly intriguing and such a contrast unto himself. He's ruthless, but kind. Unapologetic but fiercely protective and above all else, flawed but alluring. I loved that the relationship between Tris and Four unravelled gradually and experiencing the build-up of romantic tension between them certainly made for a page-turning and crackling read.

The book is also filled with a labyrinth of unexpected twists and turns and will force you to sit up, drop every other book you're reading just so that you can finish this. I don't want to reveal any more for fear of spoiling it for you, but if there's one book you should read this year, make sure it's this one.

This book has the perfect combination of excellent storytelling, character development and sizzling romance.

It's about being brave and learning to jump without any predefined knowledge of what may happen when you do, or knowing that there is a safety net to catch you. Mostly, it's about the choices you make and how it transforms you, regardless of whether the choice was the right or wrong one.

 Even if you're not a fan of dystopian fiction, you will love this book. It's one of my favourite reads of 2011 so far. I highly, highly, highly recommend it.


Aisle B said…

In a nutshell I am delirious that you LOVED it too!

Another fab review and the memories of how I felt reading this book came gushing back. I sped here where I saw the Finished Tag on Goodreads. Voila and elated to hear you are a Tris fan.
Jenny said…
AHHHHH!!!! MUST READ THIS!!!! As you can see by my excessive use of exclamation points, I'm really excited for this one. I've read one fantastic review after another and I just have to meet Tris and Four for myself. Love a sizzling romance and a contradictory hero:) Beautiful review Tammy!
Jan von Harz said…
Fantastic review of a extremely well written and conceived dystopian novel. I thoroughly enjoyed Divergent and agree that it is one of the best books I have read this year.
I have read so many glowing reviews of this one, that I'm just going to have to check it out. I am not the biggest fan of dystopian YA fiction, but this sounds like a good one.
Anonymous said…
As an avid reader and writer of YA fiction, I am so glad I discovered this blog! I've already gone to my library's catalogue and placed a hold-request for this book (all the copies are checked out at the moment, which I suppose is a good sign). Thanks so much for the recommendation!

Also, I haven't read through your whole blog yet, but have you read/reviewed Ship Breaker, by Paolo Bacigalupi? It's a sci-fi/dystopian story about a future where fossil fuels have run out and the main character (a 15-year old boy) is part of a crew working to dismantle all the old oil-tankers in the Gulf of Mexico--until he rescues a beautiful shipwrecked girl whose wealth might mean his ticket out of there. It was the winner of this year's Printz Award and is so worth reading.

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