Let me start with book one: Divergent (2011).
It is post war… what war? We don’t know, but like most wars it resulted in great devastation. The survivors have been fenced in a large decimated city. The leaders have assigned everyone to factions as determined by a personality tests – it sort of sounds like a Myers Briggs for all you psychology graduates out there. The story follows Beatrice who has been raised by her parents in the Abnegation faction. This faction is for self-less people. The other factions including Erudite (those who favour Knowledge), Amity (those who foster Peace), Candor (the Honest) and Dauntless (the Brave).
When Beatrice is 16 years old she must undertake the test and it will help determine which faction she belongs to. She may also choose which faction she wishes to join, despite the test, although there will be no going back once her decision is made. Otherwise she will be made factionless (those who don’t belong to any faction). Unfortunately at Beatrice’s Choosing Ceremony the test doesn’t work on her. This is because she is Divergent – she is made up of more than one faction. Beatrice, chooses Dauntless, and changes her name to Tris. There you will follow her journey through initiation. I won’t go on, but you get the idea.
Like all books targeted to younger audiences it was easy to read and it wasn’t particularly complex. But it was intriguing. It kept me intrigued long enough to finish it in a couple of days. I enjoyed learning about the characters and understanding how their upbringing in the factors and to abusive parents have shaped who they are today. Like the Hunger Games there is a lot of death, and a lot people not understanding the value of life.
Book two: Insurgent (2012).
Tris learns more about her family and discovers the secrets of those around her. Their relationship continues to evolve and as does her desire to continually put herself in harm’s way. There is also a great deal of 16 year old sexual tension going on. At one point I think to myself, just get it on already, and then I remember that she is sixteen and I feel wrong. Perhaps Roth should have made her older. You certainly do forget the main protagonist is 16 with all she is able to achieve.
This book delves into a lot of grief and loss, and it is interesting how it presents itself through different characters. For the record, I hate Peter. He is a dick! This book also makes me think, more than the first did, about what faction I would be in. This is because you get to understand the other factions in greater detail and to some extent live as the people of that faction do. Writing a book in this way would require a lot of understanding of different people’s personalities and behaviours, so hat’s off to Roth in this regard. I am not sure what the purpose of the data stick is though, that was a waste of storyline, which is why I suspect it didn’t get picked up in the first movie. Despite this, I found this book pretty good too. Book one still my favourite though!
Book three: Allegiant (2013)
Tris and Four learn to manage their relationship in this new world. They learn the truth, and then they learn the truth again.... They ride the turbulent roller coaster that is love!
My favourite part of this book is that it is not only written from Tris’ perspective but from Four’s as well. I loved getting to know his perspective and the reasoning behind his decisions/behaviours. This third book, however, is be far my least favourite of the three books. I sort of got the feeling that Roth didn’t know where she was going and just made the storyline up as she was writing. This book revealed a lot more secrets and you finally understand about their life and their world. Hooray!! I enjoyed less than half of this book I’ll be honest. And I HATED the ending.
Okay quick rant here: It is my opinion that writers have a responsibility to their readers. For many booklovers, reading a book is a sense of escapism from whatever it is that they need to escape from. Many readers put their emotional wellbeing in the hands of story tellers – this is what writer’s want, right? To engage their audience on an emotional level. So when the writer f#$!’s it up by writing a terrible ending it leaves the reader devastated. I will take the words from another blogger also named Lauren…. She writes about the books, “I expected there to be a point [in the ending], I expected it to have a purpose, I expected it to provide closure. This book did none of these things”. I wholeheartedly agree. I thought the ending was absolutely unnecessary. There was no point to it!!
But I digress. It is because of this book that my satisfaction for this trilogy is basically gone. In fact, because of this book’s ending in particular, I wish I had never started the trilogy in the first place!! Yes, you heard me, I wish I had never started reading it. And when reading other reviews I was surprised to find that the general fanbase for this series feel the same. I hope to God that the movie makers change the ending, otherwise they will be sorry at the box office.
This trilogy left me hanging in more ways than one. I loved the idea, I love the two main characters, I loved seeing their relationship develop, but I hated the ending (in case that isn’t clear already). Plus there was not enough of the lovey dovey stuff. But then I remember, it is a book for teenagers so it has so suit the 12-18 year old age bracket. But it many ways it doesn’t suit this age bracket anyway - there are many adult themes – death, fear and suicide (its heavy stuff really). It’s confusing, I sense that Roth doesn't really want to write for a teenage audience, but her character is 16 so in many ways she is just like her characters in the factions, she doesn't really have a choice.
After starting off with a great first book, it basically dwindled from there. And it is because of the ending of the third book (the big finale!) that I have no choice but to rate it poorly. Damn you!
So when I say that you must “Be brave” to read this trilogy I mean it, because you will need to be brave to invest in a story only to be let down with a really unsatisfying ending.
Divergent (2011): 4.5/5 fear landscapes
Insurgent (2012): 4/5 orange serums
Allegiant (2013): 2.5/5 stupid endings
Divergent Trilogy Overall: 3/5 sexy Fours.
Read more reviews here:
The Maze Runner
When did children's books become so gruesome?