A Divergence and a Review: a Look at Veronica Roth’s Divergent Series

I read Divergent, by Veronica Roth, as part of my 2016 Reading Challenge. I’ve already reviewed it here, if you’d like to see my thoughts on that book. I loved the characters and the energy of Divergent so much, that after finishing it I couldn’t wait to continue on with the series, so I deviated from my Reading Challenge plan and immediately picked up Insurgent. I have now finished reading all three books, and would like to share my thoughts on the series as a whole.

In Divergent, Roth has set up a dystopian society based on “factions” chosen by citizens when they reach the age of sixteen. The factions are built around a specific personality trait: selflessness, bravery, kindness, intelligence and honesty. In the first book, this system is under attack as one faction seeks to usurp power from the one that has traditionally held it. The main character, Tris, is instrumental in bringing the hostilities to an end. This story moves at a breathtaking pace, the suspense is perfect, and the ending is just right, satisfying, yet clearly incomplete.

However, in book two, I felt slightly disappointed.

Why was I disappointed? Two reasons. First, Insurgent, more than either of the other two books demonstrates the primary weakness of a first-person narrative. The story is limited by what Tris could see and do. There were moments in this story where I felt this limit was stretched a little far, and Tris was forced to do things that didn’t quite feel right in order to move the story forward.

The second reason Insurgent disappointed me is that it didn’t seem to be the same story line set up in book one. I’m not sure I could explain where I thought the story was going, but it wasn’t where it went. I still enjoyed the book, and I’ll read it again someday, but it left me somewhat unsettled. Basically, there is a twist in the plot line that I simply didn’t see coming.

In Allegiant, Roth switches from a single first-person narrative, to a dual first-person narrative, adding Tobias, a.k.a. Four, as a second narrator. While this enables to story to go in different directions, and to end the way it does (no spoilers!), it took me a good chunk of the book before I could wrap my head around this. I continued to want to read it in Tris’s voice, making things a little confusing.

In the end, I think Roth finishes the story very well, and I was not left with my disappointment. I would still give the series as a whole a solid four out of five stars. If you find yourself getting hung up on book two like I did, I would encourage you to keep reading. It is worth it in the end.

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