Thursday, August 23, 2012
A Divergent Opinion on Divergent
I read a lot of books this summer, and I have a lot of catching up to do on my reviews. And as much as I hate to start off my review catch-up with a less-than-favorable review...I have something I really need to say.
I just did not like Divergent that much.
I know, I know. Crazy. The book has been a crazy best-seller and has a devoted fan base. So maybe it's me, not the book. But I think I have some pretty legitimate reasons for not liking it.
First, for those of you who don't know, Divergent is the first book in a triology (I think?) by Veronica Roth. The book follows Beatrice aka Tris as she goes through an important ceremony that will determine the rest of her life. In Tris' world, everyone is divided up into different factions, and all the factions have defining characteristics - one group is full of keen minds, another full of thrill-seekers, another full of totally selfless people - that last one is the group Tris is part of. However, when kids in this world turn 16, they get to decide whether they want to stay with their group or join another one, leaving their family and the life that they know behind. The book begins just as Tris is about to make this important decision and follows her as she deals with the consequences of her choice.
I think my biggest problem with this book is that it was just so predictable. I predicted literally every big "twist" in the plot. I don't want to list them out, because that might ruin it for other people, but if you've read it, you know. I predicted who was secretly evil, and what their secret plan was, and who all the characters truly were. So there were no surprises, and, since the book relies heavily on plot, that kind of ruined it for me.
It also felt really over-done to me. Maybe that's not fair to the author, though. It's not her fault that a billion teen dystopians have been published in the past few years. Then again, I read Lauren Oliver's dystopia, Delirium, just a little while before I read Divergent, and even though it contained a lot of the same elements that all these books seem to contain (conflicting love interest, evil government, weird rules, etc.), Delirium didn't feel like something I had read before. It was still exciting and it still surprised me. Reading Divergent I just felt like, "Oh God, not another bad-boy-with-a-heart-of-gold. Not another plucky-yet-vulnerable heroine." Also, the dividing-factions thing seemed like kind of a rip-off of Harry Potter.
Then again, I do wonder if it's really fair to always claim that other works "rip-off" others. No book is ever truly original, and if you look closely, you'll see that the same basic ideas get recycled over and over again. But as Picasso once said, "Good artists borrow. Great artists steal." And I think that when an old idea is used in a great story, then you don't notice, because you're too wrapped up in the story. And I just couldn't get into Divergent. I mean, it was somewhat entertaining, but I found myself skipping through huge chunks where I felt like nothing was happening, and by the end, I had no real desire to continue reading the series.