Hi book review blog – its been a while and I am sad about that. Mostly because it means it has been a really long time since I read something I wanted to blog about.
If you read my film blog you’ll know I have been on somewhat of a film binge of late – 48 new movies in 30 days folks, not counting the ones I have re-watched and others I have been watching on Netflix. Which was why on Saturday night, having dedicated the last weekend to being as antisocial as possible, I was a bit movie-d out and decided to pick up a book instead.
I had seen Divergent on the plane to New York a few months ago and thoroughly enjoyed it, so when I saw the trilogy for a tenner I had to buy it. The film helped me to visualise the dystopian future set out by Roth and determined what Tris, Four and the majority of characters looked like. No bad thing as I think they actually cast everyone pretty much spot on, even if physically Eric should have looked a lot different to Jai Courtney.
So, the story:
Set in an unknown time in the future, the city of Chicago has separated into factions in order to survive. Amity, who believe in love and peace above all else; Erudite, who value intelligence and knowledge; Candor, who always speak the truth; Dauntless, who see cowardice as the world’s main flaw; and Abnegation, whose main purpose is to be as selfless as possible.
Beatrice is a sixteen year old living in Abnegation, who has to be tested for which faction her personality fits best before choosing which faction she will spend the rest of her life in. While the tests should be a simple way to decide where to go, Beatrice is informed that she could belong in any of three factions and is, in fact, Divergent.
Divergent’s are not welcomed, wanted or even encouraged to keep breathing in this new world. They cannot be placed in boxes, made to follow one simple line of thought, and frankly because they are different they scare those in power. Beatrice must keep her secret whilst trying to pass initiation in her new faction, falling for a mysterious man and avoiding being killed by her peers, mentors and even her friends.
Verdict: I was incredibly surprised to even like the movie, so having demolished this book in one day it is safe to say I was pretty hooked.
There are of course similarities with a lot of other young adult literature, notably The Hunger Games owing to its central female heroine. To me though, that was where the similarities ended. Yes Beatrice has the strength of mind to survive, but this isn’t a fight to the death scenario where everyone except a few are starving and our girl is thrust into a fight she doesn’t want to be part of. This is a different form of dystopia where Beatrice chooses her fate and decides to become a fighter.
I actually think there are more similarities with the movie Equilibrium – where peoples emotions were found to be the underlying cause of the human race’s continuing to destroy itself in ever more creatively violent ways. This book takes on the premise that, rather than subdue emotions like in the aforementioned film, people would follow their strongest personality trait to the benefit of all, be it a leaning toward violence or hugging.
The love story element too differs, in that there is no love triangle. Even James Dashner’s Maze Runner had a kind of love triangle. Thank god I haven’t found one in this series (yet, I’m not even halfway through Insurgent).
The writing isn’t Dickens, but then not many people can write that well. I would say the quality was a little less than Collins but hugely superior to the likes of Meyer. Beatrice is an evolved character who you get to know and to really like throughout this book, which is good because its her point of view we are getting.
I have to say a genuinely enjoyable reading experience came from my night with this book. Definitely worth a try if you enjoy dystopias, young adult fiction, or enjoyed the movie.