So, I’m a huge (HUGE) fan of The Hunger Games. Like, obsessed. I’ve been looking for a new YA series to tide me over until the next movie comes out/to replace the void that has been left in my life since I finished the series. So it was only a matter of time before I picked up Divergent, the first in a series than many have been saying is the natural successor to The Hunger Games.
The problem? Divergent is pretty terrible.
I loved the premise: it takes place in a dystopian future where, to ensure peace, people are divided up into groups based on their personality traits once they turn 16. Tris is part of the Abnegation group, but doesn’t quite feel like she belongs. When her choosing ceremony arrives, she discovers that she, unlike most others in the world, falls into her own category that draws characteristics from each group: Divergent. She decides to turn her back on her family and her old life to join the thrilling, dangerous Dauntless group. She struggles to survive in her new world while attempting to keep her categorization a secret, dealing with new enemies, and–because it wouldn’t be a YA book without romance–falling in love.
I just felt like this was such a blatant Hunger Games rip-off with worse writing, a flimsier concept, and weaker characters. World-building is SO important in dystopian novels–I want to know what the world is like and how it came to be that way. Roth just throws out an (admittedly interesting) idea without explanation and seems to hope that the holes in logic will just go away. Thinking more carefully about the premise just reveals that it actually doesn’t make much sense, and she never shows the reader why/how the world is the way it is, or whether the world outside of Chicago, where the book takes place, is the same way.
Tris is a decent protagonist, if a little bland/predictable. She didn’t really hold my interest–I never really felt like I got to know her as well as I would have liked. Roth also had the tendency to have Tris over-narrate, which bugged me (basically over-analyzing the action and not giving the reader any room to think/process what was going on).
I think part of the reason I disliked this book so much was that it was SO overhyped. If my expectations had been lowered a bit I would have probably enjoyed it more, but because I was thinking it would be an awesome/mind-blowing read, I was disappointed.