Book Review: Divergent (Veronica Roth)

Divergent

Plot: In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Rating: 8/10

The Divergent series has been giving me the eye for a while now. You know, that WHY AREN’T YOU RE-READING ME look. Zoë got me the entire set for Christmas (was it last year or the year before, bestie? #oldage #quarterchickens) and I’ve been itching for a while now.

I really like this book. I have some issues with the second and third books, but it is a good concept, great layout and well written especially if you take into account that this is Roth’s first major book series. I like Tris Prior a lot more than Katniss Everdeen (book version), I won’t even lie. She is much less selfish and brattish. I also really like that this isn’t your average love triangle dilemma. It is Four for Tris from the start and she’s not even looking at someone else. I liked both male and female characters and thought Tris developed quite well from the shy Abnegation girl to the girl who came first in Dauntless initiation. I enjoyed the Faction idea wand how everyone had to choose what quality they wanted to develop in themselves. I really like the buildup of the romance of Tris and Four. It is barely noticeable at first but progresses well and eventually you just want them to kiss and be done with all this sexual tension. Really now! The antagonists were despicable – Eric with his meticulous cruelty, Peter being such an atrocious arse, Al with his weak character, spineless personality. I wish they had spent more time on Will and Christina and developed their characters – they were interesting and could have been integral to the story.

If you haven’t read these yet, and enjoy Dystopian novels, you should definitely give it a try! 🙂

Book Review: Allegiant (Veronica Roth)

Allegiant

Book: 66/100

Tris Prior and her boyfriend Four is at the Erudite headquarters. They, and most of remainder of Chicago, just learned why Jeanine Matthews was prepared to go to the extreme measures she did for the truth to remain secret. Edith Prior, the woman in the video they watch, tells them that their faction-based society was implemented to try and restore humanity, each faction focusing on a character trait that is needed for society’s survival: Fearlessness (Dauntless), Selflessness (Abnegation), Truth (Candor), Peace (Amity) and Erudite (Knowledge). Now, after Jeanine’s death and the coup of the government by the factionless, led by Four’s mother Evelyn Eaton, Tris, Four and some of their friends need to decide what to do – venture outside the fences and see what is happening out in the world, or try and fight the regime that is threatening the lives they were used to and want back.

Tris is kidnapped by the Allegiant – a rebel group determined to see what lies outside the walls. She and Four sign up to dare the escape. When she hears that her brother Caleb is sentenced to death for conspiring with Jeanine Matthews, she insists he joins them, and Four and Zeke (one of the Allegiant and a friend) break him out. The three of them are joined by Christina, Cara, Uriah, Tori and Peter, the spineless bully who’s live had been saved by Tris on a few occasions.  During their escape Tori is killed. After driving for a while outside the boundaries, they are met by a woman named Zoë, and Amar, Four’s Dauntless trainer who was assumed dead. The group learn more about how their society had developed – that the government had tried to restore the genetic faults in humanity by implementing the faction system in some cities, sealing them off. The Divergent that developed had become “genetically pure” and was supposed to mean that society was being restored.

When Four and Tris realize that the Genetics Bureau plan to wipe everyone’s memories in Chicago to re-implement the faction based society, they are panicked – all their friends will lose their memories. They concoct an elaborate plan to save everyone, carrying a huge risk for Caleb – who volunteers to risk his life to steal the Memory serum from the leaders of the Bureau.

Will their plan work and will their society be peaceful once and for all? Will Caleb come out alive?

Rating: 8/10

Allegiant is by far the most impressive book in the series. Everything becomes clear, and Tris and Four finally reaches a place where they can fully trust each other. I found the fact that their society was a huge clinical trial highly amusing because of the environment I work in.

The end was devastating. Without giving away the largest plot twist of the century – I WON’T DO THAT ON THIS BLOG – it was heart-breaking and unbelievable that the author had enough balls to do that. She outstripped JK Rowling and Suzanne Collins in the I’m-a-nutty-author department by a long shot, I will tell you that.

So, go read the books. You will most likely love them, and weep at end.

Book Review: Insurgent (Veronica Roth)

Insurgent

Book: 65/100

After the Erudite faction used simulation serums on the Dauntless faction to have them attack the Abnegation faction in dystopian Chicago, the trilogy’s main protagonist goes to Amity, the group in the city that honours peace above everything. She, her boyfriend Four, her brother Caleb, her enemy Peter and Four’s abusive Father Marcus goes to Amity, and they are granted refugee as long as they reside in peace there. One day Tris follows Marcus and overhears him speaking to Johanna, the leader of the Amity, and he tells her that the Erudite attacked Abnegation because they were planning to reveal a secret to the city that the Erudite didn’t want to get out. Tris confronts Marcus but he refuses to tell her anything, and she is agitated that he obviously doesn’t find her worthy to bear the secret.

What remains of the pure Dauntless faction and the Abnegation needs to flee again when the Erudite and Dauntless traitors arrive at Amity and discovers the group when they see Four’s trademark tattoos. They manage to jump on a train and find themselves among the factionless – people who aren’t in a specific group for a number of reasons. On the train they meet Edward again – the Dauntless initiate who got stabbed in the eye by Peter in his sleep in jealousy. They learn that the leader of the factionless is Four’s mother, who is supposed to be dead. Four tells Tris that he discovered that his mother never died, but faked her death to escape his abusive father, leaving him behind. They have one of their many disagreements about full disclosure there. Tris and Evelyn hit it off on the wrong foot, and Tris openly distrusts her. Caleb tells Tris that he is taking their friend Susan to safety where most of the Abnegation are hiding now.

Tris and Four leave the factionless to go to the Candor headquarters. There, they are subjected to a truth serum to ensure they aren’t telling any lies. Jack Kang, the leader of Candor, questions them and Four confesses he left Abnegation to be free of his abusive father. Tris confesses to killing Will, causing a rift between her and her friend Christina, who was in love with Will. Four is also angry with her because she didn’t confide in him and he asked her plenty times what was wrong. The Dauntless traitors once again cause distress when they attack the Candor headquarters with Eric leading them. Tris and Uriah (who is also Divergent) realise that Eric is trying to catch and kill all the Divergents. The Dauntless arrive after Tris injures Eric, and he is taken into confinement for questioning.

Jack Kang arranges a meeting with the Erudite, and Tris, Four and some of their friends secretly goes to listen what is happening. The Erudite demands that the Eric is set free, the Divergent are handed over, and that those who didn’t receive the latest serum, which gives the Erudite control over people from long distances, receive the injection.

Four has a fight with Tris because she is always endangering herself. He tells her that he will end things between them if she doesn’t stop her reckless behavior.

Four, Tori and Harrison are elected new leaders of the Dauntless, and Four kills Eric afterwards. Tris and Four meet with the Evelyn and Edward. Tris still dislikes Evelyn, feeling that she abandoned Four as a child to his merciless father.

Tris offers up her life once again to save the Dauntless. She and Christina discover that the simulation serum the Erudite used to control the Dauntless in their attack on the Abnegation causes a faction member to commit suicide every two days if a Divergent person isn’t handed over to the Erudite. Tris goes to the Erudite and is taken captive by Jeanine Matthews. There she undergoes tests to develop a Divergent-proof simulation serum. She discovers that her brother Caleb is a traitor and has been working with Jeanine the entire time.

Four rushes to the Erudite headquarters to save her. Peter helps them escape, telling Tris that he owes her for saving his life. The three of them travels to the Abnegation part of the city, and Tris and Four confess their love to each other.

Marcus convinces Tris that her parents died to save information that Jeanine Matthews wanted destroyed. He wants the information displayed before the attack on the Erudite that can permanently destroy the information. Tris, Christina and Marcus infiltrate the Amity headquarters to tell their leader Johanna what is going on. She and a few other Amity members choose to leave their faction after most of the Amity chooses to remain impartial.

The group infiltrates the Erudite, and they realize that the sensitive information won’t be on the computers everyone can access. Tris heads to Jeanine Matthews’ private lab. There she finds Tori and Jeanine, and tries to prevent Tori from killing Jeanine. She fails after a struggle and Tori stabs Jeanine.

Tris now looks like a traitor, and Four is angry with her for siding with his horrible father. Evelyn announces a new factionless government and society. This causes uproar, but they are unable to do anything because there are so many factionless. Tris and Four reconcile. The secret information is revealed, and they learn that Chicago’s faction system was implemented by an organization fighting for justice and peace. Amanda Ritter, the person relaying the information, tells them that Chicago was sealed off from the rest of the world so that they could regain the moral sense the entire world had lost. When the Divergent population had started to become greater than the other factions, the Amity was supposed to open the gates of the city and let everyone out. They realize that that is why Jeanine Matthews were so intent on killing the divergent – she knew that if they were part of the world again, she would become powerless. Amanda Ritter lastly discloses that she would enter Chicago and become part of its society under the name of Edith Prior, making Tris a certain descendant of Edith.

Who is Edith Prior and what lies behind the gates of Chicago?

Rating: 6.5/10

Insurgent certainly wasn’t my favorite book in the Divergent trilogy. It seems that Tris and Four is constantly fighting about nonsense, and the book was full of useless events that weren’t needed for the storyline.

However, the book was still readable and good in its way. Jeanine Matthews is still an impressive psychotic maniac, determined to remain in control of their world. Caleb’s betrayal was brilliantly done, displaying how flawed their system was becoming.

The end finally told the readers where the rest of the world was – I had wondered how they would implement the entire globe’s existence eventually.

The series is really good, and although not my favorite book, Insurgent is essential to understand the last book.

Book Review: Divergent (Veronica Roth)

Author: Veronica Roth

Book: 64/100

In the future, Chicago is divided into factions. Each faction is filled with people who show a trait of what their government thinks is needed to be a perfect society. Abnegation is the faction where selfless people live. They lead the government as officials should be completely selfless in their governing. Erudite is the faction where highly intelligent people live. They develop medicine and technology. Candor is the faction where people live who is brutally honest. Amity is for the people who seek peace above all. Dauntless is the fearless faction, where people who are brave above all go. They serve as the police force as well, and protect the citizens from what is outside the barrier of their city, although no one knows exactly what lies there.

The year a citizen turns sixteen they undergo aptitude tests to determine what faction they are most suited for. These tests only show you where you would fit in the best, but you are still able to choose your own faction or move to another one.

Beatrice Prior, the story’s main protagonist, grew up in an Abnegation home. She has struggled with selflessness her entire life, and knows that her aptitude tests will probably show she belongs to another faction. She and her older brother Caleb both go for their tests in the same year. Beatrice is certain that his will reflect his Abnegation qualities.

Beatrice’s test goes nothing like planned. She is injected with a simulation serum, and in her “dream”, she is attacked by a dog. Her reaction is to face the dog and then calm it down, and her simulation takes a completely different route as any other person’s would. Her instructor tells that she is Divergent, and she should never tell that to anybody, as she would be in grave danger when she does.

Confused, she heads home and tries to make a decision. She knows she isn’t completely Abnegation, but she knows how much she would miss her parents should she leave. Her brother Caleb surprises her when he, who is always selfless, tells her that she should make the best decision for herself.

The next day Beatrice chooses Dauntless, shocking her parents senseless. Even more shocking is her brother’s choice to join the Erudite. Beatrice always thought her brother belonged perfectly in their original faction, and it also comes as a shock because the Erudite has been publicly shaming the Abnegation for a while, accusing them of hiding supplies from the rest of the factions.

Beatrice is immediately taken to her new faction. She is now in her Initiation phase – if she doesn’t pass, she won’t be taken in and will become part of the factionless – people who have no community, jobs or support. Their first step of Initiation is to jump on a train, and then into the pit where the Dauntless live. Beatrice meets what will become one of her enemies, Peter, originally from the Erudite. He openly taunts her being the only Abnegation transfer among the new recruits, and coins the nickname “Stiff” for her. To annoy him she jumps first into the dark hole. It is her first sign of courage, not knowing what lies beneath. She safely lands at the bottom and is helped up by someone. She introduces herself as “Tris”, casting off her former prim name.

Tris makes friends with a few initiates. She meets Will, Al and Christina. They are all very nice to her, perceiving her as somewhat fragile. Al has a crush on her, and she tries to hide how revolted she is by his weakness and fear to spare his feelings.

The first step of Initiation is to learn defensive skills. They learn to fight, shoot and throw knives. Tris is the smallest of the Initiates and gets beaten up a few times before she learns that her speed and agility is her best weapon in a fight. She meets Eric, a Dauntless leader there. He is cruel and seems to take great delight in the violence he witnesses. She also learns that the man that helped her the day she jumped first is named Four. He also supervises their training, and although he is fearless he isn’t a leader for some unknown reason. The initiates are informed that only ten of them will become faction members, the rest will be cast out with the factionless.

It becomes obvious that Al isn’t meant to be Dauntless. He isn’t fearless at all, and suffers through training. It becomes particularly bad when it comes to knife throwing, and Eric orders him to go fetch his knife as he fails – while the rest of the initiates are still throwing. He recoils, and Tris offers to take his place. Four shows up and starts throwing the knives and she is fine, although nicked at the ear. She is furious with him, but he explains that he had his reasons and that she was safer while he was throwing the knives.

Tris finally becomes better in training, and when she kicks Molly’s ass, she needs to be restrained because she is mad at the other girl for the torment she was put through. She places sixth, and this makes her hopeful that she may have a chance. Peter is jealous that he didn’t place first, and stabs the guy who did, Edward, in the eye. Edward is taken away and becomes factionless.

The Erudite is still dividing the factions by spreading rumors about the Abnegation leaders. They release reports claiming that Tris’ parents obviously did something wrong as both their children switched factions. They also claim that Marcus Eaton, another Abnegation leader, abused his son Tobias and that is the reason Tobias left his faction. Peter and Molly tell fake stories that Tris murmurs in her sleep for her father to stop, and she is furious at them. Tris becomes friends with the Dauntless born initiates Uriah, Lynn and Marlene,

Tris begins to befriend the Dauntless-born initiates, including Uriah, Lynn, and Marlene, but she also continuos to irritate Peter and his friends. When stage two of the initiation starts, the initates undergo aptitude tests in the form of another simulation serum. They are learning to control their fears, and although Tris is terrified, she realises that she is within a simulation and breaks herself out. Tobias, who is testing her, tells her it is because she is Divergent, and warns her not to make it obvious. At the end of the second phase, Tris is first among her group, and Peter is furious. Peter, Drew and Al attacks Tris one night, and she escapes death when Tobias saves her. Tris spends the night in Four’s room to recover, and their relationship continues to grow. Al begs for forgiveness the next day, and after she rebuffs him he commits suicide.

The last phase of initiation is the fear landscape. The initiates will face their own fears and are allowed to fight them as they can. Four takes Tris into his to tell her why he has his name – in his entire time with the Dauntless, he has only had the same four fears – unheard of amongst their faction members. When he faces his last fear, Marcus Eaton, Tris realises that Four is Tobias Eaton, and he is the only other Abnegation member that ever transferred to Dauntless. After his revelation, they kiss, and she is stunned when he ignores her the next day. After her angry outburst, he tells her that they at least have to pretend that they are only instructor and pupil because she is still an initiate. Four tells Tris that he has discovered that the Erudite are planning to attack the Abnegation by using the Dauntless. She is horrified to learn this, as her innocent parents are still in there.

Tris successfully gets through her fear landscape and places first in her class. She kisses Tobias in front of anyone, not caring because it is okay now. The new initiates are injected with a “tracking serum” in case they ever go missing, but Tris realises it is an Erudite way to control them and stage the attack. She wakes up one night to experience her friends in zombie mode, on their way to attack the Abnegation. She goes with them, knowing that staying behind will reveal her secret, and realises Tobias is also not under the control of the serum, meaning he is Divergent as well. They try to escape but are taken to Jeanine Matthews, the Erudite leader behind the attacks. She injects Four with a serum that can control the Divergent as well, and sentences Tris to death. Tris is miraculously saved by her mother, also Divergent. Her mom explains that she was initially in Dauntless, which explains her defensive skills. Her mother is killed soon after, and Tris is forced to kill her friend Will who is also under the serum’s influence. Tobias is sent to guard the computers running the serum, and Tris has to stop him. He is physically superior to her, and she can’t find it in her to kill him. Her surrender and refusal to kill him wakes him up and they shut down the computers. They Dauntless are freed from the mind control. They find Marcus, Caleb and Peter, and head to the Amity, sure that they will find a temporary refuge at their peaceful counterpart’s quarters.

Rating: 7/10

Before Divergent, I’ve only read the Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins) in Dystopian Fiction. It is a shame since it is a good reading avenue to explore. I’ve heard good things about Divergent and its other two books, and was keen to try it out. I am so glad I did. The plotline is original. I can actually see the sense of their factions and why it should work. Especially in this book you notice that it could work if everyone remained in their place and didn’t get greedy (ahem, Jeanine Matthews).

This is not a Hunger Games vs. Divergent competition, but I have to mention that as far as female leads, Tris Prior is far superior to Katniss Everdeen. She is already selfless in the first book, and she only continues to develop the strongest characteristic from her former faction. She is only ever interested in Four, and I LOVED that there wasn’t some stupid love triangle. I am utterly sick of the “I don’t know who to choose” route.

Four became such a deep character later on, and I really liked him. I felt so sad when it became clear that he is Marcus’ son (a good twist) and that the rumors were true. To imagine the fearless Dauntless instructor as a cowering boy was heart-breaking. I didn’t mind his mood swings. It makes him much more interesting. He didn’t have that annoying phase where he decided it was best for them if they weren’t together – another famous tool for books.

I wish the books gave more info earlier on about being Divergent. It is such an important concept, and you wait ages to find out why Tris is so special and dangerous to the leaders in her world. I did think that Jeanine Matthews made an excellent antagonist. She uses her intelligence as an excuse to be cruel; it is so much more exciting than the usually basic cruel enemies.

The only point stealers came from the page fillers. It isn’t as bad in the first book, but I wish people could stop writing stuff just to make a book a certain amount of pages. As a first time author, Veronica Roth did an exceptional job. I think she can truly become exceptional with more experiences.