Divergent — Book Review

Rating: 2 out of 5.

ᴄᴡ: ᴠɪᴏʟᴇɴᴄᴇ, ᴘᴛꜱᴅ, ᴍᴜʀᴅᴇʀ, ᴄʜɪʟᴅ ᴀʙᴜꜱᴇ, ꜱᴇxᴜᴀʟ ᴀꜱꜱᴀᴜʟᴛ, ʙᴜʟʟʏɪɴɢ. 

In a dystopian Chicago, people are divided into five factions: Abnegation (selfless), Erudite (clever), Dauntless (Brave), Amity (Kind), and Candor (Truth). 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen—Oh, sorry, Beatrice Prior from Abnegation, like others her age, must select which faction they would dedicate the rest of their lives to. Unusual for Abnegation kids to change factions, Beatrice (now Tris) chooses Dauntless where she must undergo training and initiation to fully become a member of Dauntless. Fail, and she ends up factionless. And Tris has a secret that might change her future or destroy her life altogether. Either way, the stakes are high. 

Divergent Synopsis

Divergent is another series that I read as a tween and loved. Rereading it now has opened my eyes to the many flaws of this series. Let’s start with the basic—worldbuilding. There just isn’t information on how the faction was set up (more importantly WHO set it up) after the ‘war’ and why it was divided into 5 groups taking after different virtues. Why only these five virtues/qualities? The system enforcer, the caste system, the factionless all draw in gaps in the worldbuilding. It’s weird that one group is in charge of political power, another of security. It causes an imbalance of power and whoever thought of this system, wasn’t really clever, since things did end up falling apart.

Putting that aside, Tris wasn’t a great main character. She was a hypocrite, always ending up doing the opposite of what she said. I don’t mind flawed characters—in fact, flaws are what make the characters real. But Tris was what I like to call “perfectly flawed” and that’s jarring because that’s a shortcoming on the author’s part. The romance with Four wasn’t engaging and he started off belittling her, which isn’t a great trait to have. Tris being divergent, managed to put everyone else in a box and that was infuriating. It was like her judgments could never be wrong or challenged. 

I think it’s troubling what message this sends to impressionable audiences, more than anything. Keep in mind that Tris is only 16 and so are her friends. Being Dauntless is pinned to the bravery trait which is reflected irresponsibly. For example, doing dangerous stunts with no prior training, fear is used to prove ‘bravery’ and so is violence. The Erudite faction is painted as dangerous and power-hungry people because they are clever and knowledgeable. It’s such a negative thing to portray, making an entire faction of clever people the bad guys. The villains are one-track minds and completely dimensionless. And our ‘brave’ main character is judgemental, unforgiving but excuses herself, petty and stupid at times. She paints herself as someone different but ends up categorizing people the same way others do. And crying and showing fear is considered a weakness. Sure, let’s add more to the stigma surrounding ‘asking for help”. 

The only reason this got 2 stars is nostalgia and the attempt to build something (even though it failed). 

Qᴏᴛᴅ: ᴡʜᴀᴛ ɪɴᴛᴇʀɴᴀʟɪᴢᴇᴅ ꜱᴛɪɢᴍᴀ ᴀʀᴇ ʏᴏᴜ ᴛʀʏɪɴɢ ᴛᴏ ᴏᴠᴇʀᴄᴏᴍᴇ?

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