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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth: Review

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I guess I am a little late in reading the series (though the 3rd and final book came out only recently), but yes, after kind of enjoying the dystopian world, I did get to read the much talked about and much hyped dystopian series Divergent.

Written by author Veronica Roth, the series is a trilogy and features 3 books - Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant

The entire book tube community has been raving about this book (in case you don't know, book tube is the hugely strong book network on the video sharing community YouTube...they are a category in themselves!). I heard about this book from almost ALL booktubers whose channels I am subscribed to. The book is a YA and is set in a dystopian world. If you have read The Hunger Games, then the plot line of the book is loosely similar, but that is where the comparisons end. For one, this book is no where as gross or violent as The Hunger Games series. Of course it has the survival issues at play.

*I am reviewing the entire series here book by book and will not share separate reviews

Since there is much chance of spoilers if I discuss too much about the storyline, I won't be doing it here, so if you want to know more about the story, you can check some other places online :-)


One of the main reasons why there is so much buzz about the trilogy is because the author wrote her debut novel (Divergent Book 1) during her university break and even before she finished her University course, the movie rights for the book had been sold!

Details about the books:
Title: Divergent

Author: Veronica Roth

No. of Pages: 487

Year Published: 2011
Title: Insurgent
Author: Veronica Roth
No. of Pages: 525

Year Published: 2012
Title: Allegiant
Author: Veronica Roth
No. of Pages: 544
Year Published: 2013






About the plot:


(*this is from the first book Divergent. There are no spoilers, and to avoid spoilers, I will not reveal the plot line of the next 2 books)
 
The story is set in the future and is based in the city of Chicago. But this is a very different Chicago from now. Society is divided into 5 groups, or factions as it is known in the book, and they are - Abnegation (selflessness), Candor (honesty), Amity (peace), Dauntless (brave) and Erudite (knowledge). Every faction consists of people who show the mentioned traits. Each year on a particular day, all the 16-year-olds of each faction have to take a test, which is a kind of aptitude test, that will decide for them what is their primary characteristic. Depending on the results, they will then have to start living in the faction of their calling. This may mean that they will have to give up their faction and family forever, as the main saying that runs through all the factions is 'Faction Before Blood.'

The protagonist in the Divergent book is Beatrice Prior, and on her 16th birthday, she has to take the test. She lives in Abnegation with her parents and elder brother Caleb. But Beatrice has never really thought of herself as selfless and constantly worries how she can continue living her life selflessly, when it is not something that comes naturally to her.

My thoughts on the series:

I picked up the first book Divergent after I saw all the hype that was surrounding the series. I have read The Hunger Games trilogy and liked it quite a bit. For all those who have read The Hunger Games series or The Maze Runner series, the Divergent series is said to be a must-read, as they are set in similar situations.

Divergent:

The book is really fast paced from the word go. What I loved about Divergent was the fact that though it is set in a similar time and setting as The Hunger Games, it manages to have an entirely different plot line altogether, and you don't really feel too much of similarity. I, in fact, liked this plot structure more than The Hunger Games. The author manages to keep up the pace and there is no dull moment. In fact, there is a lot of tension and what-will-happen-next moments throughout the book and I ended up reading all of the 487 pages in 3 days with my work and family and baby and kid and all....It was so gripping that all I could think was what would happen now!

The characters are really well drawn and you start identifying with their fears and problems and emotions, even though you can't imagine living in this kind of a society. Another good thing I liked about the book was that though the setting is so moved from what we know, it gets kind of believable, and you feel as if you are almost inside the factions, living side-by-side with the characters.

One thing I didn't really like about the book was the romance that is shown. I am extremely critical of the romance angle in books, as most books make it sound very cheesy, and that is an absolute spoiler for me. Though it was okay here, I wasn't really interested and skipped the romance parts. I anyways am not very interested reading about young kids or teenagers in love - sounds very comicy to me, sorry about that!

For me, the overall book was very good, I really enjoyed it and made a great read. It managed to hold my interest till the very end, so much that I really wanted to read the second book as soon as I finished the first. The book is filled with twists and turns and as a reader, you are constantly hooked on.

I am surely hooked on to watch the movie that is coming out this March. Btw...did I mention the other main character, the male lead Four, is really interesting too? I won't go into much book detail here as I want you to read on your own, but I am thankful for the fact that the movie adaptation shows a much older guy playing the role of Four than is originally shown in the book (ogling without feeling guilty) ;-)


Insurgent:

Okay, so as much as you can gather from above, the reason I read this book was because of the first book. I was so in love with the first one that I absolutely wanted to read the series. Hence I ordered Insurgent online even as I was halfway through the first one. 

As much as I loved the first book, I must say that the second book, Insurgent, was a total flop. It is definitely on my top 10 list of really boring and lacklustre books ever! I am quite surprised to see that sooooo many of the readers have actually praised and praised this book to no extent! No, it is not true, and this second book in the trilogy is definitely not worth any of the hype and support it got.

One good thing about the book is that it begins as if you are still reading Divergent, the continuity and flow are kept intact and showcased very well. But that said, there was nothing in the book that I liked. In fact, it was very obvious that the only thing on the author's mind while she was writing the sequel was that she HAD to get another book out there as part of her deal (maybe) and that's all. There was no 'life' in the book, and in fact, she took to making the book really lame, repeating and re-repeating scenes and emotions again and again and again. She really had no material to go on with, at least not enough to turn into a full-blown 525 page book, and I have a feeling she knew it pretty well. I started liking the book after it was over 300 pages, and for a book that is 525 pages, that is not a good thing.

I don't believe in talking negative about a book, so I will stop here for this one. I absolutely did not like this, but since I loved the first one so much, I still read it as I wanted to finish the series. For me, it was a total waste of time and money.

Allegiant:

Yes, after the really boring and bad experience with Insurgent, I still did read Allegiant, as I wanted to finish off the series and didn't want to leave it in the middle, especially as I was only 1 book away. So I read it. And it was strictly okay. The premise had already been set in Insurgent, and Allegiant was only dragging it on and on. At some point in the book, it all started to get really pointless. I mean, it seemed like the author was going on and on and creating plots just because she had to 'grow' the book in terms of number of pages. The only thing I really liked about the book was the ending. This book starts getting interesting only after you've read more than half of it...which again is not a good thing and I wouldn't want to pay so much to read half the worth of the book.

Overall, I did like the first book Divergent a lot, but otherwise that is where it ends, and I did not really enjoy the series as such and wouldn't recommend it to anyone.

- Debolina Raja Gupta