I wanted to start off my series of book reviews with a trilogy that contained one of my favorite books, as well as one of my least favorite. The Divergent trilogy and I have a bit of a love-hate relationship because I completely fell in love with the first book when I read it nearly two years ago, but I felt the series decreased in quality as it continued. Also, I thought it would make for an interesting review as it is a popular enough series that many people will know what I’m talking about.
The story of Divergent centers around a sixteen year old girl named Beatrice “Tris” Prior who lives in a futuristic Chicago. In this dystopia, the citizens are divided into five factions, all representing one aspect of what they believe caused the downfall of previous societies. Our protagonist was born into Abnegation, the selfless faction who also act as the governing body of the city. Of course Tris feels different from her peers, and debates on whether or not she should desert her faction during the Choosing Ceremony. After her aptitude test that would determine which faction would best suit her, the main character is told that her results were inconclusive, and Tris is revealed to fit into three factions: Abnegation, Erudite, and Dauntless. Being put into more than one faction makes her dangerous as the government cannot control her kind which they coined Divergent. Throughout the series she goes on a large scale journey of self discovery when she joins Dauntless - the brave faction - and later fights against the Erudite - the intelligent - who are trying to throw Abnegation out of power.
First Book - Divergent
I absolutely loved the first installment of the trilogy. I don’t think a Young Adult book could do a better job at introducing characters, the universe, the conflicts, etc. In many YA dystopian novels, such as the Matched series by Ally Condie, the world in which they live is only developed enough to carry the story and then not much else is expanded upon. However, with Divergent I felt the world was so incredibly vivid, imaginative, and elaborate. It may not have had the lore factor that Star Wars or Harry Potter has, but I would still argue it was impressively developed. The culture of Divergent itself was fascinating, especially how the factions represented society’s tendency to put people into boxes or categories. The entire story was full of action and unexpected plot twists, but also had plenty of down time to form sympathy for the main character. However, the plot contained numerous stereotypes and tropes that a lot of dystopias have. The main character felt different from everyone else (because she’s Divergent) and of course she also had a romance side-story. I will give the story credit for not falling into the love-triangle with the romance. The Hunger Games is probably my favorite series of all time, but even I hated the love triangle. Plus the romance was by no means overdone, and stayed in the background for a majority of the time as Roth chose to have Tris’ relationship with Four be a part of her search for identity and not the journey itself. Though Tris’ was a an overblown version, I believe that every teenage goes through a period of not knowing where they truly belong in the world, and I found that within itself to be very relatable. Overall, the first book was strong introduction and I would highly recommend the first book.
Second Book - Insurgent
Insurgent was a good second book. If I have noticed anything in my fourteen years of reading is that second books can be a challenge to do correctly as it can be hard to recapture the magic of the first book while also building up to the grand finale of the last book properly. Insurgent itself was a pretty good book, but it was somewhat disappointing compared to the first. It still had the great fast-paced action, characters were developed even further, but the full impact of the first novel just wasn’t fully remade. A problem I have with the series but did not point out earlier was my lack of empathy with many of the side characters. I only found a few of them to be distinguishable while others seemed to blur together. Roth attempted to give them defined characteristics, but none of them had intriguing enough personalities or motivations for me to feel somewhat compelled to care. What made it worse was Roth began killing these characters off and these deaths were expected to punch me in gut metaphorically, but as I said before I never had a strong feeling for any of them. That was probably the biggest problem I had with this book, and really the series overall. If Insurgent were its own book, I probably would still recommend it despite its flaws.
Third Book - Allegiant
My biggest problem of the entire series derives from the last book, which was meant to be the big finale. One of my main compliments of the series was that it had a fast-paced plot, but with enough down time to allow you to care for the characters. This formula was pretty much thrown out the window for the last book as it was boring for seventy-five percent of the time. It took me two days to read Divergent, and I finished Insurgent in an afternoon. It took me nearly a month to finally finish Allegiant. Many large revelations were revealed in this book, and almost every single one of them are disappointing my opinion. They weren’t the thrilling plot twists that I had become accustomed to in the first two books, and the ones that were there I thought were anti-climatic. Tris’s search of self discovery is furthered in the book, but I felt it wasn’t as extensive in this book compared to the last two. Granted, that is to be expected as it is the last book since her search for herself is coming to a rapid close especially because of the ending of Allegiant. Not to give too much away but I also felt the climax was an unneeded trope so the story could experience five pages of excitement. If Allegiant were its own book I would likely not recommend it.
As a whole, I thoroughly enjoyed the Divergent trilogy. The plot was fast paced with near constant action, but well mixed with enough down time where we grew to care for the main characters. This writing style has become quite popular these past few years with books like The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner, and Divergent followed this formula pretty closely. I don’t really think Divergent brought anything new to the table as there are numerous comparisons that can be made with other books in the same genre. Another critique I have, as a whole, is that the only character I actually cared about was Tris, and Four at times. The other characters, I feel, were not well fleshed out or developed and were really glorified extras with some lines. With that being said, I feel like Tris was a very well-developed character. It was an entertaining experience to watch her grow within the span of the series, and I feel like her story arc was pretty well executed until the last fifty pages of Allegiant. Though I will say the series declines in quality with each suceeding book, I still recommend the series.