Monday, January 6, 2014

1. Divergent by Veronica Roth

End of Day 5 of the new year, and I finally have my first read for the year! Divergent! While I have planned most of my reads for January, this one, ironically, was the last addition to the list. January is the month when we (with folks at LibraryThing) start with the year long Group Read of the Vorkosigan Series (Bujold), AND the year long read of Culture Series (Ian Banks) AND the quarterly read of Middlemarch AND the quarterly read of Bleak House, apart from a few other books of my own, planned for this month. Luckily, I finished my RL Book Club reads for January (Sputnik Sweetheart by Murakami and Disgrace by Coetzee) in 2013 itself. I knew it to be the author's publishing debut, a Dystopian work, with a female lead character. Surprising isn't it? The surge in the number of strong female lead characters in Dystopian works lately? Or maybe not all that surprising, since most of these new authors venturing into Dystopian works are female authors AND that historically, female lead characters have been grossly under-represented in Sci-Fi / Dystopian works AND that there exists (existed) a huge (latent) demand for such work.

Getting back to the book in question, a strong plot, simplistic and executable, just like it should be - 5 factions, based on (dominant?) characteristics and traits - and while we don't get to see a lot of Amity or Candor or even Erudite, for that matter, one gets a good idea about those factions would be all about. The entire story is enacted within a city, and there is no clarity about the world outside the walls, which I am assuming will be left for the subsequent books. This is actually not a bad thing, rather, this was one of the things I liked about this novel, it didn't try to do too much, too soon. This was one of my complaints with Samantha Shannon's debut work, Bone Season.

Beatrice's is a delightful character, with all her values and contradictions, it was very well done. Unfortunately, this clarity seemed to be lacking in most of the other characters, including in that of Four, the main male character who is part scary, part brave, part mysterious and yet romantic? Clearly, this character needs some work. Many of the other characters (mostly other initiates) have been dealt very superficially, which could probably be an indication of Beatrice not being properly able to evaluate them herself, but I doubt she would know as little as we do.

The rating of 4*, is indicative of how much I still enjoyed this book, and anticipate reading the sequel.



  1. I read Divergent a couple of years ago and I would probably have labelled it my most disappointing book of the year. I don't have a great opinion of modern children's literature but when I started this book, I got excited. Her planning of the 5 factions (even though it resembled The Hunger Games) I thought was brilliant, and she developed each well enough to set up an intricate and fascinating philosophical dystopian novel. Sadly though it putrified into a silly teenage romance (at least I thought so) and I was very miffed at the end. A wonderful opportunity missed.

    In any case, I enjoyed reading your review and you made me think that it might not be a bad idea to read the second book in the series. I'll look forward to your review on it!

    1. Hi Cleo,

      I have reconciled myself to the fact that there will be an element of romance in all YA Literature, (at the risk of stereotyping) specially written by female authors. Now it has stopped bothering me as much, and I have been able to enjoy these books regardless. I also give a lot of leeway to the debut novels of the budding crop of 20 something authors, some of whom I believe will evolve for the better and we might have another Margaret Atwood or two.