Tag Archives: divergent

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent by Veronica Roth (unabridged audiobook read by Emma Galvin; 11 hrs 11 min on MP3): This is not a good book to read while on a YA dystopia kick unless you simply cannot get enough of it. The influence on Roth by giants like Collins and Westerfeld is too painfully evident. Our heroine is Beatrice, native of the Abnegation Faction which values selflessness and comes across a bit like an extreme form of Amish. Each Faction is built around a separate value: Candor (honesty), Dauntless (bravery), Amity (peace), and Erudite (knowledge). At the magic age of 16 (what is it about that age in young adult fiction?), you choose the Faction you will spend the rest of your life in – that is, if you pass the initiation. Feeling like she’s not nearly selfless enough to live in Abnegation, Beatrice chooses Dauntless at the last second, and is launched into a crazy world of thrill-seeking and combat. There was plenty of action, and it was kind of fun watching Beatrice grow from a timid Abnegation to a self-assured Dauntless in little jumps. That was enjoyable and believable. The rest of it, while perfectly fine as far as it went, felt like something I’d heard before. It’s certainly not a bad novel. Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more had I not recently read so many other YA dystopia novels. As it is, it was nothing more than a pleasant diversion while recovering from surgery.

It’s interesting how many YA dystopia novels focus on societies where your life path is chosen from a limited number of possibilities and can never change. My guess is that this is in response to the typical teenage angst regarding all the choices they find themselves facing: colleges, careers, relationships. Sometimes it feels like it might be nice to have it all decided for you. Of course, these stories always involve someone who breaks the mold, thus showing the importance of being free to make your own choices. I also think it’s interesting that it’s mostly women (though The Giver by Lois Lowry is a notable exception). Despite the occasional repetition of theme, I still find myself drawn to dystopia stories, YA and otherwise.

A note on the audio: Galvin was fine. Not very memorable, but the characters’ voices were distinct without being caricatures, which is really all I can ask for in a narrator. I’d like to thank Bewitched Bookworms for this book: I won it in one of their monthly Whisper Stories in My Ear contests. Thanks so much!

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