Since it's October, I suppose I should get around to writing reviews of the books I've already read so that I can start my October pick.
I really enjoyed Divergent. Although the whole "let's all write trilogies about dystopian futures!" thing is kind of getting old, I like the way Roth tackled the subject. It actually reminded me a little bit of Delirium. Roth chose to have it set in a futuristic, dystopian Chicago, and I think that helps readers (especially US readers) feel more connected to the novel. It's not like a totally different world in a parallel universe where this could never happen. Although it's completely unlikely, this could still possibly happen at some point in the very distant future.
Roth's characters are very relateable, I thought. Beatrice/Tris struggles with being Divergent and still trying to fit in within her new faction. She also struggles with relationships with peers, leaders, and her family. None of her new friends were from Abnegation and so have had different values instilled in them throughout their upbringing. Which I actually think was a pretty cool thing for Roth to do. This way, Tris can see things from different viewpoints, and I think it helps her to be around others who have given up their families and everything they've ever known to try and become members of the Dauntless faction.
The differences between Eric and Four/Tobias and Tris' relationships with them were also presented very well, I thought. Eric is constructed as the ruthless leader, who cares only about obtaining as much power as he possibly can. He uses brute strength and fear to get his way, and doesn't care who he hurts in the process. Tobias, on the other hand, has a completely different idea of bravery. As a previous member of Abnegation himself, Tobias believes that bravery requires more than just overcoming your fears. For him, selflessness is a form of bravery, and he helps Tris by helping her come to this realization himself. Though he appears to taunt her, he's actually trying to help her continue to stand up for herself and for her friends. Of all the characters that Tris interacts with, I feel that Tobias should receive most of the credit for Tris' growth over the course of the novel. I also like that the romantic relationship between Tris and Tobias wasn't the main focus of the novel, and that it kind of just happened as a result of everything else. Also, that one of Tris' fears was their relationship. I think that humanizes her, and might even help readers struggling with similar fears to realize that it's ok to be afraid. I did feel though that Four being Tobias was pretty obvious fairly early on, and that if Tris hadn't been so self-absorbed she would have also caught on.
Tris' family is another mess that I think Roth handles well. Although Tris' mother appears to have been born and raised in Abnegation, she was actually born and raised Dauntless. Like Tris though, she is actually Divergent. Although I think it was a little too obvious that this was the case, I kind of liked that it took Tris a while to figure her mother out. I also felt like Roth constructed a mother as a mother should be - supportive and understanding of her children regardless of their choice to leave their family & friends for another faction. Tris' father, on the other hand, is kind of a jerk. I felt like he didn't really embody what it meant to belong to Abnegation, but that he was slowly getting there before he died. The fact that both of Tris' parents sacrificed themselves so that she could live and save everyone shows that they were in fact at least mostly selfless. I also liked the way that Roth created Tris' brother. Outwardly, he was selfless and seemed to belong to Abnegation. Inwardly, however, he had a thirst for knowledge that belonged to the Erudite. Although it's not explicitly mentioned, I think that Caleb might also be a little Divergent.
The bad part about not writing these reviews as soon as I finish the book is that I can't remember what I thought about the book as I was reading it. It makes it kind of difficult to review.
I felt that the plot moved very quickly, and that there weren't any parts that were excessively slow or boring. I like Roth's writing style as well, and I think it fit very well with this novel. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy, although I feel that this could have been a standalone novel had the ending been just a little bit more conclusive. Although it could have been a standalone novel as is as well.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the dystopian YA genre. It's not quite as good as The Hunger Games trilogy, but I'm not sure that much can be compared to that. I would definitely rank this up there with Delirium. Also, since Paul feels the need to implement a rating system, I'll use one too. I would rate this book a 4/5 overall. It has some flaws, but for the most part it was a very good read.