As promised in an earlier review, here is my review of the immensely popular YA-series Divergent, written by Veronica Roth. I discovered this series when I was just getting started in the YA-genre, after having read Twilight and The Hunger Games.
By the way, if this is your first time on my blog: WARNING! Spoilers!
The stories are set in a dystopian world, where things are a little bit different. People are divided into five different “factions,” depending on their personality. There is the honest Candor, the selfless Abnegation, the brave Dauntless, the peaceful Amity and the intelligent Erudite. The factions rule Chicago together through a government that is comprised of elected officials from each faction.
We meet the female lead, Beatrice, in the first book Divergent when she is getting ready for her test that will decide what faction she belongs to. Unexpectedly, her results show an aptitude for three factions, instead of just one. She is what is called “Divergent”. So when her time to choose a faction comes, she decides to go for Dauntless, which surprises her family and everyone else greatly. Together with the other new Dauntless recruits, they move to the Dauntless compound where they take part in a series of tests and challenges to prove themselves worthy of joining Dauntless. Beatrice renames herself Tris and manages to finish the initiation ceremony in first place. Along the way she falls in love with her instructor Four, and they realize that the Erudites are staging a revolution and are planning to use Dauntless as their armed forces through a form of mind control. She escapes when the Dauntless march on the city and finally manages to free the Dauntless from the mind control. Their world is in shatters as everyone becomes aware of the Erudite plot to take over and their use of the Dauntless to do so.
The second book of the series, Insurgent, takes off right after the first one. The Erudite and Dauntless have formed a coalition and want to take over. After the devastating attack, Amity welcomes all factions into their territory where they will be given sanctuary so Tris and her friends head over there. Erudite and Dauntless traitors track them down there, but they manage to escape. They decide to hide away in Factionless territory – where people who failed their initiation ceremony or who were kicked out of their faction end up. The Factionless want to stand up to the Erudite and Dauntless and restore order. Things turn into an all-out war, with Jeanine, the Erudite leader out to eradicate Tris and all other Divergent. After the Factionless win and intend to start their own government, Tris finally figures out why Jeanine wants to kill all the Divergent so they decide to spread the old video that explains that the factions were set up through genetic manipulation to fight corruption in the world. Chicago was to be sealed until enough Divergent had been identified. Then, Amity was to open up the fence and the population was to re-enter the world. And that is where the second book ends.
Allegiant is the third and final book in the Divergent series. The city is in tatters after the video showed that the Divergent are needed outside of the city to help the rest of the world. The leader of the Factionless has taken up command of the city and tensions keep rising throughout Chicago. Tris and a group of rebels decide to venture beyond the city’s borders and find out what’s out there. They are taken to the Bureau of Genetic Welfare and learn the truth: a long time ago, the government believed that society’s problems were being caused by bad genes and tried to rectify this by “fixing” people’s genes. Chicago was one of these experiments. But not everyone is convinced of the Bureau’s good intentions and rebellion is brewing there as well. Four gets involved in the rebellion and plays a part in their plans that culminate in an explosion. This makes Tris doubt their relationship, and she gets more involved in the Bureau. They plan to invade Chicago and end the experiment. But the people of Chicago fight back, their leaders make everybody consume a memory serum that wipes their memories of the events, and basically starting over the experiment. Tris then learns that the Bureau was responsible for creating all the serums that led to the mind control, the enslavement of Dauntless and the destruction of Abnegation. She decides to leave the Bureau and save Chicago at the same time. They break into the bureau’s vault and steal the memory serum to wipe the minds of everyone in the bureau to give Chicago a chance to survive. In doing so, Tris is shot and eventually dies. Four (aka Tobias) is heartbroken, but moves back to the city to protect it as Tris would have wanted. The end.
Did I like the books? Yes. Did I hate the ending? Yes. Basically, I feel pretty ambiguous about these books. I absolutely loved the first one in the series. Roth has really put a lot of thought and effort into creating her world. I never even questioned why everything takes place inside the city, and why they never venture beyond. In the second book, the results of what happened earlier are taking shape. Basically, their entire world is thrown into chaos and things start spiralling out of control. Tris is becoming stronger and stronger and starts to show her colours. The end of Insurgent threw me off, and even though it was expertly done, it kind of ruined the series for me. Showing their world for being an experiment was genius, but a little too far-fetched for me. All of a sudden it was no longer a dystopian YA, but it turned into a post-apocalyptic YA, and I don’t like those. The entire business with the bureau was much too complicated for me, and of course I absolutely loathed the ending. Habitual readers of my blog know that I adore happy endings, and that I cannot stand it when books finish with an open ending or even worse, a bad one.
Killing of your main character is a bold move, and one I think was not necessary for Roth. That Katniss didn’t get a “and they lived happily ever after”, that I can understand. The Hunger Games really screwed up their main character(s) and it would not have been realistic for Katniss and Peeta to just end up happy. “All’s well that ends well” would not have worked for The Hunger Games. However, it was certainly possible for Tris and Four. I mean, Tris survived the aptly named “death serum” for christ’s sake! Only to be shot in the back? No. I mean, no! Just, no. I could definitely see her be happy to return to Chicago and enjoy the peace with Four. They should have earned their happily ever after, and it was, in my opinion, completely feasible. So I don’t really understand why Roth decided to kill of her main character, and leave the other one completely bereft and alone. A happy ending would have made up for the third book which I already didn’t like, but it failed to do so.
So am I happy I read the series? Yes.
Will I read it again? Probably not.
Will I watch the movies? I saw the first one and hated it, but I am going to watch the rest, because you know, it’s a series.
What do you guys think? Agree with me or not at all? I’d love to hear your opinion in the comments.