The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth
Now that I've finished the series, I understand why some of my friends were hesitant to recommend it. For me, the ending was one star. Well, sort of. I hate the way the story resolves, and I think it could have had just as much impact without it going the way it did, yet I still couldn't put it down. It had me so emotionally entangled that I had no chance of getting lose, and I was glad I was home alone so no one could see me getting worked up by a fictional story. Is it still making a fool of yourself if no one is there to see it? And when I say the ending, I don't mean the last few pages or even chapter. It was a large chunk of the book. Of course, there were also nice things about it…
I usually review books individually, but in this case the books are so tied together that I don't feel the need to separate them. I appreciate that they didn't feel distinctive. Sometimes it feels like characters change between books, but not in this case. I felt connected to Tris the whole time, probably because I feel like her in a lot of ways. I get angry about the same things she does, and frustrated about many of the same insufficiencies in myself that she does. The times when she irritated me were times when she did things I never would, like going to Erudite headquarters in book 2. My thought was that they would still have made their threats good, and going to them would have solved nothing. I still think it was out of character for Jeanine to keep her word (if she did, that is. No one ever said otherwise, as far as I can remember, so I assume so.)
There were a few things like that over the course of the books, when events or people didn't seem to follow a logical progression, but then, I guess I could say the same about real life. Several things bothered me in the first book, but I think they were all addressed in the second, and they were all explanations I could swallow.
I think my biggest gripe about the series, aside from the ending (which was well done, just not the kind I like), was all the making out. Sometimes I wondered if Tris and Four had any other interest in each other. They did, and it was proved several times, but I got tired of the kissing and groping and wished they would have more conversations, or at least get back to fighting people.
I've been turning this series over and over in my mind since I started reading it, and now that I'm finished, I wonder if I'll ever leave it behind completely. Others have told me they didn't feel this way at all, that they had a hard time connecting with the story, but I guess it's just a difference of perspectives. I'm having a hard time deciding how to rate it. In many ways it was a solid five stars, but in others I felt let down and wanted to smack someone. I think I'll go with 4.5.
Language: One or two mildly offensive words in the entire series.
Sexual Content: Lots of kissing and touching, a little bit of clothing removal, and plenty of, 'Oh, his muscles', 'Oh, his tattoos'. It's probably not all that big of a percentage of the books, but it was a little too much for me. There were two times in the story where I got the 'pan away' feeling and thought people were 'going all the way', but then later I found out I was wrong. Well, with the last time I never was sure what had happened. Neither character thought about it afterward, which I thought was strange. Losing your virginity or even just almost losing your virginity isn't something you forget to think about. I really appreciate that Mrs. Roth didn't give me reason to skip pages or even paragraphs, but I do wish things hadn't felt so ambiguous.
Violence: Lots and lots of fighting, bleeding, and characters dying. I cried in this book, and I don't generally do that unless I'm hormonal.
Over-All Message: Excellent. There were lots of things to make me think, and even to change the way I look at things. I especially love the part where Tris is angry at Four for not doing as she thinks is best, and then she realizes that she was trying to make him a follower. As I mentioned before, I can see a lot of myself in her, and it was good for me to think in those terms. I'll probably still get upset when people ignore me to their detriment, but I'll look back and remind myself that my not being followed isn't a reflection of my credibility, it's a reflection of other people's free will.
Plot: I think it held together pretty well, especially considering how much there was to hold together. Several times I saw holes, but then I'm pretty sure they were all filled later in the series. The writing itself was short on description and long on internal thoughts, particularly in book 1, but for an introvert like me, this wasn't a bad thing. Tris does a lot of explaining, which again, didn't bother me, but I'm kind of surprised that it got picked up by an agent and publisher, since it seems like this kind of sparse writing style isn't held in high regard by many. I know I've been gently (and sometimes less gently) criticized for it on occasion. But I'm glad it did get picked up, or I might never have had the chance to read it. And then I wouldn't have spent so much of the day blubbering because not only did my series end, but it ended in a way I didn't like.
You can follow my reviews on goodreads, or you can subscribe to this blog and get notices of my reviews as well as lots of other interesting news..