Inspired by Jon Acuff’s Empty Shelf Challenge I am pushing myself to read more. Like, a lot more. I’ll be reviewing the books I read here as well as keeping track of the books I read on Pinterest here. These were books four, six and seven for me this year.
When I read, I tend to read non-fiction. I’ve been pushing myself to try more fiction lately after reading Why Men Should Read More Fiction by The Art of Manliness. Granted, the Divergent Trilogy isn’t likely what they had in mind for readers of “The Art of Manliness,” but if I’m going to get myself to read fiction it has to be an easy read. The only fiction I read last year (that I recall) was The Hunger Games trilogy. So… yeah. At least I’m reading three books, right?
Anyway, on with the review.
Because this is a similar genre, and I’ve read both, I’m going to compare this series to The Hunger Games. I’m going to do my best to avoid spoilers for both. I think, with two movies already being released (and just from conversations with others) The Hunger Games has been more widely read, so I think it’s a way to level set.
Like, The Hunger Games, Divergent features a female, teenage protagonist in a future version of the US. Unlike The Hunger Games, which takes place in new “districts” throughout the states, this trilogy takes place mainly inside of Chicago, which I enjoyed because it was easier to picture exactly where things were happening and what the scene looked like. (Although that wouldn’t necessarily ring true for those that haven’t visited the Windy City.)
In Roth’s Chicago, the teenagers face a choosing day when they decide what “faction” they will join. This may or may not involve leaving their family behind and their choice decides what type of function they will hold to serve their city. Each faction is defined by a characteristic such as bravery or selflessness.
The story follows the main character, Beatrice (later Tris), in her decision and the events that follow, which I won’t get into due to possible spoilers.
There is much more girly teenage angst in Divergent than The Hunger Games, which I’m sure works for it’s intended target audience but may take away from the broader audiences that has embraced Suzanne Collins’ trilogy. There were far more many “Do I like him? Does he like me? Do I like like him?” moments in Divergent, which really weren’t necessary to the story. The balance between Tris’ weakness and strength were emphasized enough without it. It was enough I almost gave up a few times due to that alone.
Overall the series was… ok. Obviously it was good enough that I read all three books, and I read them within two weeks (largely due to sleepless nights with a newborn in the house). When I finished the first and second books I wasn’t as eager to get to the next as I was with The Hunger Games. I planned on trying the next one each time, but I wasn’t in a hurry, and I kind of thought if it took too long to come from the library I might lose interest. However, they each came very quickly so I kept reading.
I don’t regret reading them, but…I don’t recommend them as a must-read… if that makes sense. They may have been better for me had The Hunger Games not set the bar so high for the genre (as much as female teenagers in future American societies is a genre).
If I had to give it a star rating, I’d say three out of five. One thumb up out of two. If you need a quick read give it a try, but if you haven’t read The Hunger Games yet, your time would be better spend in District 12 with Katniss than in Chicago with Tris. Take this with a larger grain of salt than you normally do with my reviews as I’m obviously not the target audience.