Divergent  - Veronica Roth

I wanted to like this book, I really did. I had a freaking dream about it for crying out loud. But I can say now that I really do not like Divergent

The world-building has its flaws sure, but I was able to put them aside to actually find it rather interesting. Yes, the convoluted, nonsensical dystopia of future Chicago was perhaps my favorite part of this book.

The characters were unappealing to me. Tris, the heroine, is the typical waif of ULTIMATE POWER, which isn't inherently a bad thing. She just happens to be unforgivably annoying. Four is the mysterious bad boy (who's really not all that mysterious) that gives her feels she's never feeled before. All the friends she makes throughout the book? They don't matter anyway. As evident that Tris just up and leaves them at the end of the book while she brings along two of the more monstrous characters in the story. My favorite character is Tori, who appears in about five scenes.

Let's talk about Al for a moment.

I loved Al. He was the big oaf who just wanted to help and protect people. He was scared shitless by the initiation and the thought of being factionless (which apparently is a bad thing? That was never convincingly depicted). He didn't want to fight or to hurt people. So it was strange and out of character that he would team up with bullies to scare/hurt/kill Tris -- the girl he had a huge crush on. He then begs for her forgiveness, which she refuses to give. Then he kills himself, after which Tris completely destroys his memory, calls him a coward, and generally pisses on his grave. Sure, I probably wouldn't have much sympathy towards a guy who attacked me, but I'm completely mystified as to the point of Al's existence in this book. I can find no plausible reason for his inclusion in the story and I'm forced to make the assumption that: 1. He was there for Tris to go, Oh well at least someone thinks I'm pretty, too bad it's him, and 2. The author wrote herself into a corner, knowing that she wanted Tris to be with Four but having no plausible reason for Tris to reject Al, so she decided to break his character completely.

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The violence was unnecessary. And I don't mean that in a, this has gore just for the sake of gore, I mean it in a, really? She really needed to shoot that guy? It's time to make the inevitable Hunger Games comparison:

Violence in The Hunger Games is there to show the horrors of war, cruelty the Capital, and exactly how far society has fallen. Violence in Divergent is used in the same way explosions are used in Michael Bay movies: To look cool, or more directly, to make the main character look cool. After only a couple months, Tris has become proficient enough to take out several enemies at once and hit a moving target in the head. More importantly, there are no consequences to the killing, no feeling behind the experience of taking a human life like there is for Katniss. Though I will say my copy had a couple chapters from the next book and it's good to see at least one of the unnecessary deaths haunts Tris in a believable way.

Death carries no weight either. The death of a random Dauntless initiate near the beginning of the book seems to have more impact on Tris than the deaths of people close to her most notably the death of her parents. Her father is nearly forgotten when her boyfriend is in the room. Katniss, on the other hand, is haunted by every single death she experiences, even of people who tried to kill her.

All this being said, I'd be willing to pick up a couple of the next book, Insurgent at the library to see how the whole thing plays out. The ending is almost completely rushed, skipping over what I believe could be one of the more interesting parts of the story. So I will give the author that, that she's got me interested in seeing where it goes. However, I would not pay to read that story.