Author: Veronica Roth
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
The plot leaves us where the second book ended. The faction system has been abolished and Tris and her friends are awaiting trial. Although the faction system is gone, the lack of freedom remains. Evelyn tells everyone that they have choices as long as they don’t stay loyal to the factions – which is brutally enforced – and it isn’t long before Tris and Tobias realise this. I have a couple of issues with the plot. Firstly, Edith Prior has her memory wiped and it’s suggested that this is because she must have seen something terrible but it’s never actually specified and though we could deduce that it’s associated with the fringe, it would have more impact if we knew exactly what she saw or endured. Secondly, we know that David loved Tris’ mother. That’s not a spoiler. You can see that clearly very early on it’s hinted that the code to the Weapons lab could be her mother’s name. Maybe I’m reading to much into this (?) but if this is the case, it creates a flaw in Tris’ character in that she’s not all that smart and a flaw in the plot. I also don’t feel that the world is fully realised; that the superiors of the Bureau would just accept the conclusion to the events. Worse than this, Jeanine’s connection is never fully explained and it just confuses things. The Bureau send in Tris’ mother to save the Divergents but give Jeanine the attack simulation to weed out and exterminate the Divergents? This makes zero sense. The whole outside the fence explanation is weak as well. Experiments to promote good genes and rid the world of bad genes. Overly ambitious, wholly unnecessary and 100% ludicrous. Genetics is a branch of science but you can’t eradicate bad genes, especially not in the crazy experiments the Bureau carries out. The ending feels like a bit of a let-down, given the build-up of tension across three novels.
The narration doesn’t work for me as well as it did in the previous instalments. Tobias’ episodic glimpses at the end convey more of his character than I get throughout the novel. There’s no real distinction between Tris and Tobias. For the most part, they’re together and Tobias doesn’t offer us much more insight to their world. If you covered the name, you still wouldn’t really have any clue who’s speaking because both voices are pretty much the same. And worse, the narrative styles become so similar that you have to constantly remind yourself who’s speaking.
I love the characters in Roth’s world. I love Tris as the self-sacrificing hero – the one who runs into battles to protect the ones she loves – even though she probably irritates most people. She’s not dissimilar to Katniss in The Hunger Games. I like Tobias and the relationship he has with his mother and his parents in themselves are interesting characters and their conflict adds a spark to the story – a sense of conflict and much-needed tension. Cara really grew on me. As always, I love Christina and how much she’s grown since the first book. And though this might sound unusual, I have soft spot for Johanna Reyes. The most important thing for me is that Roth’s characters are consistent and they evolve and change with each book. I didn’t buy David as an antagonist. He wasn’t as formidable as either Evelyn or Jeanine even though he has more power than both. I question the concluding moments of Tobias’ and Evelyn’s relationship. I’m not going to spoil anything but yeah, seems like a quick way to tie up loose ends.
Quality of Writing:
The writing quality is superb, There are some beautiful phrases and analogies:
- “But now I know I am like the blade and he is like the whetstone- I am too strong to break so easily, and I become better, sharper, every time I touch him.” (416)
- “I look at her, and I can see the way time has worn her like an old piece of cloth, the fibers exposed and fraying.” (463)
Just a couple of example but Roth avoids clichés and writes in a way that connects back to her characters and the world she has created.
Similar to Lu’s world in the Legend trilogy, Roth focuses on a small aspect of her world – the Dauntless compound – in Divergent, zooms out on the faction system, exploring Amity and Erudite among other areas and zooms out further again in the final book demonstrating just how small their world is and showing us that the people in the experiment never had any power to begin with.
The style is similar to Lu in that we see more and more of the world with each book though, unlike the Legend trilogy, Tris’ and Tobias’ voices aren’t distinguishable like June’s and Day’s. It’s a faster-paced novel than the Ally Condie’s Matched series thought the parameters aren’t always as clear. Like The Hunger Games, the conclusion of the trilogy falls short of the first and second books though The Hunger Games offers continued action and brutal force from a cruel, calculating leader in President Snow unlike David who doesn’t seem that altogether for the most part.
NOW SKIP TO THE GOOD BIT…
- An interesting world divided into factions
- A daring hero that must fight to survive
- Great fight scenes
- An explanation that might leave you baffled
- Plot holes that compound your confusion
Books You May Also Like:
Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman – if you loved the dual points of view and the cruelty in this dystopian world
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – if you loved the savagery and brutality of Roth’s world
Legend by Marie Lu – for a corrupt, dystopian world, lots of action and strong male and female protagonists