Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Book:  Divergent 

Author:  Veronica Roth 

Grade:  C

Recommended To:  Young Adult Fiction Fans 

SPOILERS:  Approach with CAUTION.

 I feel like I'm going to catch a lot of flack for this review, but since this is the internet, I don't care.  Divergent wasn't the book that I expected it to be.  I did not expect it to be like the Hunger Games, but I did expect it to be well written.  In a world where Fifty Shades of Grey is considered the greatest story to have ever been created, I realize that expecting good writing is a lot to ask.

My one big issue with the writing of this book was the present tense.  It is hard to write in the present tense. Typically, we relay events and stories about our lives in past tense, because of course, those events have already happened.  Not so in Divergent, the present tense of this book is distracting simply because Roth is bad at writing in the present tense.  The book also seemed unnecessarily dumbed down.  This book is Young Adult fiction, but does that mean the sentence structure has to be poor, or that the vocabulary limited?  No, of course not.

My other issues with this book center on the plot, so if you are reading this and you don't want the plot to be spoiled, just stop right here, read the book, and come back.  Don't say I didn't warn you, twice!

This book is post-apocalyptic fiction.  Everyone has been divided into one of five factions, or they live poor and factionless.  I suppose that people typically choose the faction that they are born into, but some deflect from their factions on faction-choosing-day and then they are basically shunned for life from their families.  Obviously, the narrator of the book shuns her old boring grey faction and chooses the exciting Dauntless faction where the characters regularly die by jumping off moving trains.

The first 70% of the book is about how the narrator, (god help me, I've already forgotten her name, that's how average this book is) is trying to survive initiation into the Dauntless.  Then shit starts to get weird and there is some vague plot to overthrow her old faction by the smart people faction.  Then, everyone gets injected with some stuff and they become robots and start killing......I don't even know if I can finish, it sounds so realistic absolutely ridiculous when I write it out.  

I expect my apocalyptic fiction to at least be believable.  Okay?  Yes, of course you have to suspend your disbelief about the apocalypse or whatever when you read books like this.  Of course.  But, World War Z was about zombies and it was hands down one of the best five books that I read in 2011, so I don't have a problem using my imagination.

My issue is that the characters and the backstory of this book are incredibly weak.  The book ended with many many more questions than answers, and the characters were not strong enough to make me care about the answers.  The characters were flat and shallow.  The writer frequently told me instead of showing me and these flaws I cannot forgive.  You cannot hide behind the guise of "Young Adult Fiction" and have poor writing, plot and characters.  Young adults and this occasional reader of teen fiction deserve better.

In all fairness, Roth has seriously hit it big with this series. They are making a movie out of the Divergent series which is sure to make her gobs of cash so she never has to write an under developed novel again.  She's raking it in and good for her, someone has to make it.

There were some good parts in this book; it did keep me guessing.  I could not predict how the story would end and there were some good surprises along the way, but these were not enough to overcome the flaws.

I will likely read the rest of the books in this series, not because I particularly liked Divergent, but because I read this book in a day and I really want to make my Goodreads goal this year.

Happy Reading!

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