Tris lives in a world where war is no more. The citizens have been divided into factions dependent on what they thought caused the wars in the first place. They are Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, Candor and Erudite.
I will warn you now, I’m going to pick holes in this book. I know, loads of you absolutely adore it and I’m sorry if I offend anyone but I just didn’t buy into the world at all.
When I say world, I really mean city, Chicago to be exact. I’m not entirely sure what’s going on in the rest of the world, do they even exist? Has every city adopted the same principles? Why does no one care what’s beyond the city limits? Maybe if it were to stop gang warfare it would all make more sense but the wars of our time are international affairs. I can’t imagine every country agreeing to the laws that bind Chicago or even America. What good is dividing up one city if somewhere else decides they want to attack you? What actually happened to the world is not explained at all.
So, moving on, you’d think a world where everyone was selfless, honest, intelligent, friendly and brave is a good starting point for a utopian society. But, in Divergent they can only be one of those things to the detriment of the others. I can understand if this was done through conditioning, genetics or even drugs but they get a choice. When they are 16 they get a sorting-hat-esque assessment to tell them what their personality type is yet they are allowed to completely disregard this and choose whatever faction they like. So all those years of being brought up one way have to be forgotten and they don’t even get a handy mind-wipe to help.
Tris is divergent so she thinks, acts and feels like a normal human being. The story is told from first person and there’s no way to tell if the others really are different to her. Yet her friends show her loyalty, compassion and honesty at times, obviously not all the time, they are teenagers after all. They are human. It’s all very well writing a story to explore the human condition when faced with adversity but this doesn’t hit the spot for me.
Another thing, they have the technology to know about Tris. There are things she can do which she is told will tip the bad guys off. She does these anyway and everyone seems to forget what was mentioned earlier in the story. I would have thought that there would be more concern over the factionless, those that have failed initiation. To me, the failures show they have mixed personalities, not enough of just one type to belong. In other words, they are just like us.
There’s a lot of violence. Now I don’t object to violence used where appropriate, even in young adult, but the characters of Divergent are repeatedly beaten to a bloody pulp and then are up and walking around the next day. They are even sparring again the next day! I’m sorry, that is not realistic and also gives the impression that it’s OK to inflict grievous bodily harm on your friends.
Did I enjoy any of it? Yes, despite all the above. The reworking of the Room 101 concept (do read 1984 if you like dystopia) was the strongest part for me. Then there’s the whole making life changing decisions at a young age thing, what teenagers have to do in the Western world already. I even kind of liked the love interest.
The master plan didn’t make much sense to me, there was a sudden swerve in plot and then the ending seemed rushed. Maybe that was just me, rushing to get to the end.
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