Friday, July 6, 2012

Bontle's Review of Divergent

Hi y'all, Welcome to YA Book Club's Book Blog. After what I shared last night, thought I should give you a proper review of Divergent so here it is, re-posted from the original I wrote got my day job:
There’s a lot of buzz around this book but for a changed, it’s warranted: this book really is an incredible debut by Veronica Roth. Tris’s life is transformed when she joins the fearless Dauntless faction. Unlike Abnegation, the faction Tris was born and raised in, Dauntless values courage over selflessness, kindness, knowledge or truth. The implications of this are understandably sinister and Dauntless is far from the honourable, brave faction Tris always imagined that it was.

Facing the choice that many young people must eventually make and having to figure out where she fits in to her world makes Tris believable but also likeable. She doesn’t have all the answers but she also doesn’t dwell on the uncertainty and teenage angst. She chooses to embrace Dauntless for what it is and learn all she can to make it through initiation. Being a young adult novel, there is naturally a swoon-worthy love interest and Tris still faces the ordinary problems of all 16 year girls; trying to accept their bodies and their shortcomings. However, the constant threat of death – or worse, failing in the Dauntless initiation and living a life without a community or a home, being factionless – makes the rest seem appropriately trivial.

The writing is lean without too much description or fuss and it’s paced perfectly to get the heart racing with violent and often brutal action from the moment Tris enters the Dauntless compound.   This best thing about this novel is undoubtedly the strength of its female characters. The Bella Swans and Katniss Everdeens of YA have not exactly been the epitome of strong, independent young women: often too caught up in love-triangles and their insecurities to notice that they accidentally become heroes. Tris Prior is a girl with insecurities and issues but also with focus and grit. While she has a somewhat controversial love interest in the form of her instructor, Four, her story is not about love and it’s not about her crush on a boy. Instead, it’s the story of a girl in a brutal environment, where children play with dangerous weapons for sport, people jump off trains for fun and everyone will have to conquer their greatest fears or literally lose everything they hold dear.

Tris’s mother, though initially seeming meek and submission, is just as compelling and complex as Tris is. In their own ways, they prove that it’s possible for a woman to be strong in many ways, to (literally) kick butt but also to be selfless, honourable and smart.   This is probably not a book that most parents would be happy for their 12 year old to read but it will be suitable for readers over the age of 16. While boys way enjoy it for the action, it will definitely strike a chord with any girl longing to find her inner Tris. It would be incredibly surprising if there wasn’t a Divergent movie in development already. And as a bonus, there’s no vampires, no werewolves, no drawn-out love-sickness and no backing down from this book.

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