So, I finally got around to reading Divergent by Veronica Roth. When I heard that it was going to be made into a movie, and that actors/actresses had already been slated to star in it, I knew I had to read it. It's like a no-brainer, for me, at that point.
I'm really torn about this book; I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it. I liked it okay, but I feel strongly that my affection for Tobias/Four compels me to like it more than I actually really do like it. If that makes sense. If the story had had no romantic angle, and was just about Tris and her family and the factions, I wouldn't have cared for it. For me, I kept reading for Tobias and/or Tobias and Tris, when she was with him. Unequivocally, in my estimation, he was the most compelling and swoon-worthy character in the story. Roth knows what she's doing with him, too, because she had me at the color of his eyes alone. "His eyes are so deep-set that his eyelashes touch the skin under his eyebrows, and they are dark blue, a dreaming, sleeping, waiting color." (swoon) Let's be real: he could have been a mime in this book, and I still would've loved him.
Bottom line: I had a hard time connecting with the main character and heroine, Tris. Once I felt like I had her figured out, she would go conflicted, wishy-washy again and change it on me. She's like a freakin' Rubik's Cube; you get one side figured and you've got five more to go. Although, to be honest, I use the Dan Brown (genius!) cheat system myself. Seriously, I read the book and I'm still trying to figure her out. Spoiler...
And I can't believe that she didn't know if she loved him or not by the end of the story. HELLO! He's the best thing you've got going for you. Again, another example of her somewhat self-involved, wishy-washiness. I wanted to give her a swift kick for that one. Additionally, the way she was with Al...she deserves another swift kick. Hurry up and give this protagonist some empathy quick. At times, I found myself almost pitying her, which I'm sure is not what the author intended for her brave, heroic, going up against society's oppression, heroine.
I will give Mrs. Roth props for creating such an interesting world with so many different layers and in her debut novel, at that. Backstory: this dystopian novel is set in Chicago and because of natural disasters and war, society has broken into factions that are based on virtues (i.e., selflessness, bravery, honesty, intelligence, and peaceful) If you not in one of these factions, then you are not only without a faction, obviously, but you're homeless, as well. When someone turns sixteen, like Tris and her brother, Caleb, they are given aptitude tests to determine their personality traits and to identify what faction they are most like. They then have to decide whether to stay in their family's faction, or join another one, thereby cutting them off from their family and their old faction. This is where the title of the story comes from. If during the aptitude test, ones test results are inconclusive and they match up with more than one faction, they are considered divergent (which is a bad, bad, unspoken thing). *As an aside, I read somewhere that Mrs. Roth starting writing Divergent while she was in college, and color me impressed, because when I was in college, I didn't even have time to write the papers that were required of me. lol.
Another point in the book's favor: secondary characters that I actually cared about. Will, Christina, Al, Caleb, Uriah... Their storylines weren't just fluff or filler, and they were fleshed out more then I expected, for secondary characters. I found myself caring about what happened to them, and hence the scene with Will...disappointing and totally unnecessary. And another reason to give Tris a swift kick! She's racking them up, too, but I hope that in the second book, Tris's behavior is more in line and more true to her character.
I would have to give Divergent, four out of five stars. However, one of those stars is for Tobias alone.
Reviewed by Susannah B. ;)