Divergent (Divergent #1)
Summary from Goodreads:
In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue–Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is–she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are–and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, Tris also learns that her secret might help her save the ones she loves . . . or it might destroy her.
After reading The Hunger Games Trilogy and Chaos Walking Trilogy, I said I wouldn’t read any dystopian, specifically dystopian trilogies/series, anymore in the near future. First, I felt that I’d already reached my quota for dystopia. The dystopian world is just too bleak and dark, I can’t take in too much despair anymore. And second, reading trilogies/series are time consuming, and I didn’t want to get sucked into what I personally felt as a commercial and marketing strategy. But why did I decide to read this book/series? It was all my sister’s fault for saying that this one’s much better than the first two books I’ve mentioned. Of course, I just had to see for myself whether what she said was true.
Anyway, since it was not my first time to read books on dystopia, I kind of already knew what to expect – that there would be war, rebellion, betrayal, despair. What I didn’t expect was the romance. Unlike THG and Chaos Walking where the romance between characters were merely side stories, with Divergent, it was the focal theme. I tend to stay away from reviews of books I haven’t read yet, so I didn’t know that the major portion of Divergent was about Tris’s and Four’s romance. And I was frustrated. The moment I read how Tris first noticed Four’s lips and blue eyes, I had to roll my eyes. I was misled. Divergent is a romance story cloaked as dystopia. Not that I have anything against reading romance, because I do read romance. But as I’ve said, I felt duped. Or maybe I was stupid for not reading the blurbs well enough.
The easy tone of the story and the engaging narrative, however, kept me going despite my initial distaste of the Four-Tris love story. These were also the same reasons why I did not ditch the book altogether. Had it been difficult to read, I would’ve readily put it down unfinished. Also, I wanted to know whether there will be character developments and of course, I wanted war. I wanted action. And so far, Divergent had given me that, but only in the later parts, and still they were not enough.
I had reservations on the practicability of the concept of factions, so I’m going to withhold any comments until I read the sequels. I want to say, though, that I felt distant from the main characters. I didn’t feel any affinity with Tris and Four. Whenever they talk about their struggles and difficulties, I didn’t feel any compassion at all. Worse, I didn’t feel any anger or any desire for revenge towards Eric or Marcus or any of the “evil” guys. I was indifferent. But as I’ve said, I still wanted to finish the entire series because I wanted to see how everything would end. And what being divergent really means.
Insurgent (Divergent #2)
Summary from Goodreads:
One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.
Tris’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.
Despite saying that I was not affected by the characters, I had a feeling that, subconsciously, while reading this book, somehow I was actually rooting for Tris. How will I explain the fact that I kept on reading despite several eyeball-rolling moments every time Four and Tris kiss? I didn’t care much about Four, because in this book, he had become even more whiny and pathetic. So juvenile, both of them are. BUT. I felt I’ve grown up with Tris, learning the real meaning and value of bravery and selflessness. There were lots of times, though, that I wanted to pull my hair in frustration over Tris’s really stupid decisions.
At least, in Insurgent, I got to know more about the factions and their histories, and I got to see more action and suspense. I still felt icky about the injections and serums (the scaredy cat that I am), though I was still not entirely sold out (yet) about the idea of factions. There were more killings and plot twists, and I enjoyed meeting the factionless. I sensed a rebellion brewing.
One thing that really struck me with the series is the portrayal of strong female characters. Veronica Roth truly foresees a future where women leaders are a norm.
As in the first book, there were no wow moments, but the ending sure was a cliffhanger, I had to start reading Allegiant asap.
Allegiant (Divergent #3)
Summary from Goodreads:
The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.
But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.
So, I finally got to the last book in this series. My feelings have slightly changed in that the concept and reason for the factions were fully explained in this part, and all my questions were finally answered. But with respect to Four and Tris, I went back to my unaffected spectator seat. There were the usual plot twists and some surprising betrayals, but I was not totally awed. Reading the first parts of Allegiant felt like that Friday night when all your Friday night plans to go out were cancelled so you were stuck instead watching TV with a bowl of popcorn and with your legs propped on a chair. It was that relaxing, but you would have preferred doing something else.
And then I got towards the end.
After I was done, my mind was running in circles, processing my thoughts, weighing my feelings, and most of all, assessing the ramifications of that ending. I was momentarily stumped, and I had to reread the previous chapters to check if what I’ve read really happened. Initially, I thought that such an unexpected circumstance was senseless, but on hindsight, now that I’ve fully recovered, I could say that that actually made sense. I would have preferred a different ending, one that was not as gimmicky as the original, but I doubt if my preferred ending would be the talk of the town. No, I didn’t shed any tears and I felt that the prologue was anticlimactic, because, as I had been saying, Four didn’t evoke any emotions from me other than annoyance.
My other complaint was the shifting POVs did not at all help me appreciate the book. I found it another gimmicky attempt just to be different from other dystopian books, but the gimmick was not well carried out. In fact, it confused me because there was no distinct difference between the voices of Four and Tris. It was as if I was listening to only one of them. Miss Roth should work more on a male’s POV, in my opinion. Four just didn’t catch my fancy, or maybe because I felt too old for him. Haha.
The morals on bravery and self-sacrifice were very well taken but all in all, the series didn’t leave any mark on me. At least, I was right all along. The concept of the factions was so flawed from the beginning and had I been living in Chicago that time, I would definitely be with the factionless.