Book Review: Divergent

DivergentI will admit right away that I didn’t read these books until after the first movie had come out.  I really, really enjoyed the movie.  I liked the concept, I liked the characters, and I liked how everything played out.  And yes, I totally loved the love interest.

After watching the movie, I went to the library and got the first book.  I know that movies don’t always get every part of the book, so I wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing parts going into the second.  I was actually surprised at how into the first book I was even though I’d just watched the movie.  It was the same story, with some scenes playing out differently, but it felt like a totally new experience.  I liked the book as much as I liked the movie.

The main character Tris is both meek and strong.  She’s not exactly shy or timid, but she’s not overly outspoken either.  She has this quiet strength to her that is very easy to get on board with, and she never gives up.  Her brave decision to take a chance and choose Dauntless instead of Abnegation was empowering.  She starts from the bottom, but works incredibly hard, no matter how many times she’s beat down.  She has moments of wavering confidence to make her real, but overall, she is a fighter.

Her relationship with the intimidating leader Four is just as angsty as every teenager wants it to be, but it’s also quite and sweet.  All the tension in the book is left for the main storyline, of her being Divergent, and doesn’t bleed too much into the relationship.  They’re an odd couple, so it’s uncertain and slow at first, but there isn’t much standing in their way.  What makes this relationship even more interesting is Four’s back story.  We really know everything there is to know about Tris.  Because the story is in her point of view, we know her background, her skills, her doubts.  But Four is the mystery of the story.  We don’t know his real name, why he’s called Four or why even the leaders of Dauntless look at him in a jealous kind of awe.  He’s powerful, but not power hungry.  He’s as quiet as Tris is, but not shy.

The Characters are very well written and very easy to follow.  I found that I hated the people I was supposed to hate, but also felt bad for them.  The main characters were not completely wholesome, so they felt real.  Everyone has their baggage, but it wasn’t made a massive part of the story, only added color to each person.

And when we finally find out who Four is and why he’s in Dauntless, it’s both heartbreaking and inspiring.  What he’s accomplished, by himself, with everything he’s been through is worth reading about.

Now here’s where things turn for me.  Divergent, the first book in the series, I loved.  I mean I loved it so much I’ve already read it a third time.  But that’s where it ends.

Insurgent, the second book, takes a quietly strongly girl like Tris, and turns her into a whiny angsty teenager who can’t stop and think about another persons point of view for ever a second.  She goes from strong and smart, to belligerently stubborn about what she thinks.  She has this ‘you should all listen to me because I’m usually right’ way of thinking, and she becomes the type of girl that I seriously can’t imagine someone like Four staying with.  I wanted to say to him ‘you deserve so much better than her!!’.  I loved Tris in the first book, I hated her in the second two.

Four is the only redeeming feature.  He continues to struggle with what he wants vs. what he knows is right, but he’s a strong, good person who believes in fighting back.  He quietly takes on the role of leadership even though he’s not comfortable with it because people look up to him.  He struggles with the re-emergence of his horrid past, and thinks about his actions.  He’s always trying to protect Tris, but she won’t help him out on that point.  She’s way more interested in doing what she wants than considering him for a second.

It gets worse in the third book.  I can’t believe they’re still together by that point.  I want to reach my hand into the books and smack her.  She doesn’t deserve him.

At the end of such a tension filled story with characters always in danger and on the run, there should be some kind of relief in the end.  Relief can be found in may ways.  The fight is finally over.  The characters are finally together.  The end is in site.  A new beginning.  Even if your characters lose the fight, there’s some kind of relief.  Alleigent, the third book, took me through pages of pages of frustration and annoyance until I almost gave up on it, to give me and ending that made me throw the book across the room with frustration.  Seriously?  I felt like I just invested hours of my time to be told someone had been playing a really cruel joke on me.

Holy cow, it makes me mad just writing about it.

Let’s go back to the first book again.  Divergent.  Loved it.  Even the anger I felt in the second two books couldn’t chase away how much I enjoyed that story.  I will think of it as a stand alone book.  It is what Tris and Four will always be, that relationship.  That is what I want for them.

I am looking forward to the next few movies.  The thing about movies, is that you can pick and choose your moments.  There are a few moments in the second book that, when put to screen, could be amazing.  I believe that instead of focusing on the belligerent version of Tris, they’re going to make her more powerful.  And with that will be taking out the constant fighting between her and Four.  You’re not going to make a movie where two characters fight through the entire thing.  I think that the second book has the chance to be a great companion movie for the first one.

I’m not sure about the third one.  I’m shaking my head right now, sitting at my desk.  I can’t imagine how they’re going to make that something I’d want to see or experience again.

Go read the first book.  It’s worth it.  It will make you want to read the other two, just be prepared.  I wish I could wipe the third one especially from my mind.

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