YA Series Recommendation: DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth

I came to this series later than most. I didn’t read the first book until September, but I’m actually glad because then I didn’t have to wait very long for the final installment. To be honest, I wish I could do this for all series–particularly those that deal in cliffhangers–but sometimes I get hooked in with the first book and have to wait for each one. (Like The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. Why didn’t I wait to read CINDER? Oh well. Too late now.) Anyway, for the purposes of this review, I’m going to use the description from the first book, which I pulled from Veronica Roth’s blog.

Note: The first part of this review is spoiler-free. You will be warned when to stop reading if you haven’t read ALLEGIANT.

DivergentIn Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves … or it might destroy her.

Here are the five things I loved most about this series.

1. The premise – It’s like the houses in Harry Potter. Don’t pretend you aren’t trying to figure out where you belong. I would totally test into Erudite, which isn’t the best place to be in this series. Of course, in real life we are more just one attribute. Oh wait. That’s the point of this series :).

2. The romance – I really like the element of reserve Tris and Four’s backgrounds in Abnegation lend to their romance. There’s a lot more tension due to the fact that they both come from a faction that doesn’t condone PDA or giving in to physical urges in general. As a result, the physical side of the relationship isn’t the main focus. I like a good kissing scene as much as the next person, but I appreciate it when the tension’s about more than how far they’re going to take things.

3. The pacing – These books are pretty much impossible to put down once you start reading. The action never stops, and Veronica Roth doesn’t pull any punches, either. Even though the main character is a girl, these books will appeal to guys. I’ve already told my husband he should read them :).

4. The mystery – From the very beginning, it’s clear that all is not what it seems in this city that doesn’t even have a name. The first book does a good job of keeping the mystery within the walls, but by the middle of the second book, I was wondering about the outside world. The mystery of their existence expands with each book. It’s very well done.

Here is where you should stop reading if you haven’t finished the series. My last point isn’t exactly a spoiler, but it could lead you to certain conclusions about the series. I’m going to put the covers of the second and third books here as a buffer. Consider yourself warned.

Insurgent            Allegiant

5. The ending – I know a lot of people disagree, but I thought the ending to the series was entirely appropriate and fulfilled my expectations for the character arcs based on the groundwork in the first two books. For those of you who have read ALLEGIANT and/or don’t mind spoilers, Veronica Roth has a great post on why she ended the series the way she did.

Anyone have thoughts? I’m happy to discuss spoilers in the comments.

Responses to “YA Series Recommendation: DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth”

  1. Noelle

    This series has been on my TBR for a LONG time! I really need to get reading it! And I love your recommendations…they’ve never steered me wrong! 🙂

    • Michelle I. Mason

      That’s always good to hear. Definitely bump this one up! There’s only so long before you can’t avoid the spoilers, plus the first movie comes out in March…

  2. Joanne Fritz

    I loved the first two books but haven’t read the new one yet (already had heard spoilers, unfortunately – you’re right that it’s hard to avoid). Michelle, I totally understand what you mean about waiting to read them all when they’re all available, but as a bookseller I had no choice. Had to know what this new dystopian was about back in 2011. Silly of me, probably, but I predicted it would be bigger than Hunger Games! 🙂 I had an arc giveaway and made people get creative in their comments: they had to tell me which faction they would choose. The winner, Stephanie Oakes (author of MINNOW, coming from Dial/Penguin in 2015) actually made a youtube video as her answer.

    • Michelle I. Mason

      Yeah, I didn’t see specific spoilers, just people being upset about the ending, so that made it pretty obvious what must have happened.

      It may end up being as big as Hunger Games. It will be interesting to see what happens with the movies, especially as the last book wasn’t yet out when they moved forward with the first one. I wonder if that ending will put a damper on sales.

      Your contest sounds like fun!

  3. Marianne

    Glad to hear that someone else liked the ending. 🙂 It did feel a little…anticlimactic…at the time, but I also agree with Ms. Roth that it was the only ending possible for the story.

    • Michelle I. Mason

      Yes, I wondered, “Is this really happening?”, even though I’d seen enough chatter in advance to expect exactly that to happen. I guess it’s kind of hard to write a death in first person.


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