Friday, 21 March 2014

Divergent - Veronica Roth

Surprise review!

I know I said the next review would be of The Complete Father Brown Stories, but frankly, at over 800 densely packed pages, it’s very long. I thought I’d intersperse some light relief in the form of Divergent, the first novel in Veronica Roth’s teen trilogy.

I hadn’t heard of this novel until I saw a trailer for its film adaptation in the cinema, and had been looking out for it since. I thought the trailer looked interesting, but a little like it was jumping on the Hunger Games bandwagon.

Divergent did remind me of The Hunger Games, but mostly in a positive sense, in that it’s a teen dystopia with a strong female protagonist. The setting is a society divided into five distinct, sequestered factions, based on primary personality traits – Abegnation for the selfless, Dauntless for the brave, Candor for the honest, Erudite for the intelligent, and Amity for the peace-loving. On reaching 16 each child undergoes a test to determine their most suited faction. While most get a distinct recommendation, Beatrice’s results are inconclusive, making her a Divergent, someone who doesn’t fit neatly into any one of the factions. She chooses to leave her family and join the Dauntless faction, and the novel follows her struggles to adapt in her new life, in a world about to fall apart.

I thought the obligatory teenage romance aspect was rather more simplistic than that in The Hunger Games, but then again I really liked the more complicated and gender-stereotype-reversing romantic situation between Peeta and Katniss, so Divergent had a lot to live up to there. In terms of grittiness, this novel got its collateral damage in almost from the beginning, and the sense that  there are real consequences to the characters’ actions is with you throughout.

I felt as though I could see the larger of the plot twists coming, but was pleasantly surprised to be surprised by some of the reveals that took place. I can confidently say that, if you enjoyed The Hunger Games, you’ll like this, and I look forward to reading the other two novels in the trilogy and to seeing what they make of the film adaptation.

Next up: The Complete Father Brown Stories, by G K Chesterton

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