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A Reading Vocation

"I Must Read, Read, and Read. It is my Vocation." - Thomas Merton

This is where I chronicle my reading life.  I also blog about writing at Lacey's Late-night Editing.


Book 19/100: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent - Veronica Roth

Before I went to see this movie on Friday night, I texted a bookish friend: "Going to Divergent. Wonder if the movie is as mediocre as the book!"

Although I thought the book became more compelling as it neared the end, I still am not quite sure what all the fuss is about. Well, maybe I am. This book is a lot like the Hunger Games, minus the hard-hitting social commentary. That's not to say it's totally commentary-less, but it's not really a book that makes you think very hard beyond, "Gee, what faction would I belong to?"

I read the first 10 chapters of this book for free on my Kindle two years ago and didn't feel very drawn to read the whole book. The violence felt gratuitous, and the Dauntless "initiation" a Hunger Games knock-off minus the death (mostly). But when the movie came out, I decided to go ahead and finish the book at last. And I can't say reading the whole thing really changed my perception of it much.

I didn't find Roth's world totally believable, although that wasn't my main complaint. While I can't see a society like this actually coming into existence, I can see why its themes resonate strongly with teens who are seeking to find where they belong. I also liked that it took place in Chicago rather than on the East Coast, where a lot of post-apocalyptic/dystopias seem to be set. I also thought the idea of the fear landscapes was interesting.

But nothing about the book really grabbed me, shocked me, or creeped me out. The characters were all right, but I was uncomfortable with how frequently Tris was lying. I mean, I know that she wasn't candor, but still. And I didn't find any of her reactions to the tests to be that incredible -- I found it hard to believe she really thought *that* differently or was *that* special. I thought the romance did a good job of exploring the role fear plays in first love, although it did weird me out a little .

I can see why teenagers like this book, and I didn't think it was a waste of my time. I might even read the next books in the series (especially if they're made into movies). But in the current glut of dystopias, I have trouble figuring out why this one stands out; I was hoping it would be more than its surface similarities to The Hunger Games.