Book Review: Divergent Series
Book 1: Divergent
Book 2: Insurgent
By Veronica Roth
Background: Beatrice Prior lives in a world where society (dystopian Chicago) is divided into 5 factions, each which values a different virtue above all else. During the 16th year, young adults must take an aptitude test and decide whether they want to remain in the faction they were born into or switch to another faction. There is Abnegation, who value selflessness, Amity, who value peace and harmony; Candor, who value truthfulness; Dauntless, who value fearlessness; or Erundite, who value knowledge. All of those who are not part of a faction are factionless; they are impoverished and homeless.
Divergent: Divergent begins at that time in Beatrice’s life where she must choose her faction. Born into Abnegation, Beatrice takes her aptitude test and is told that there is not just one faction that she fits into but three. This is unique and dangerous. This makes her Divergent.
Beatrice decides that she is not selfless enough to remain with family in Abnegation and chooses to switch to Dauntless. This first book follows Beatrice, renamed Tris, during her initiation into Dauntless. She learns to handle weapons, to fight, and to be fearless – she has to in order to be accepted into the faction. If she is not accepted, she will be factionless.
Training is incredibly difficult for Tris. Not only is she is a faction transfer, but she is very small and compared to the Dauntless-born initiates, unprepared for the physical and mental feats demanded of her. If training isn’t enough, Tris must also face her feelings for her older teacher, Four and hide the fact that she is Divergent. And the icing on the cake? In the midst of her training, Tris and Four discover unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel their seemingly perfect society.
Insurgent: The second book in the Divergent series, Insurgent picks up where Divergent leaves off – delving deeper into the unrest and conflict that is discovered at the end of the first book. War breaks out between the factions. Friends and family are pitted against each other. Neutrality is next to impossible. Insurgent is full of secrets and betrayals; sadness, guilty, and hidden agendas.
Yes, the summary of this second book is short but it is a pretty good description of the constant turmoil that takes place throughout the book. You don’t need the play-by-play, you should read the book instead.
Review & Recommendation: I really enjoyed the first two books in this young adult dystopian series. The strength of Divergent was the introduction and evolution of the characters. There was one main plot line that carried the book, with smaller stories on the sidelines, but that would ultimately be pulled back into the larger story.
In contrast, the constant plot turns was the strength of the second book. It was like watching an action movie – as soon as one story resolved, another one immediately began. That’s the reason why the summary above was so brief – it was a constant chain of events that will keep you hooked. I think I read the book in less than two days. The one downfall to Insurgent is something that I think is fairly common in the later books of young adult series – the main character becomes a bit whiny, a bit too self-centered, a bit too enveloped by her own self-pity.
I’m looking forward to book 3, Allegiant, set to be released on October 22, 2013. Stay tuned for my review of it upon its release.