Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Book Review: The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth

I picked up the first two books in the divergent series (3 books in total) last summer, they were Divergent and Insurgent.  This whole dystopian phase is going pretty strong right now and frankly it is right up my alley.  I loved the Hunger Game and Matched Series.  Then there is of course the new show Revolution on NBC. I just can't get enough of this stuff, so it was natural when I saw this on the shelf at Target to throw it into my cart. At last this fall the third and final book of the series Allegiant came out and it was flying off the shelves (of my Target anyway). I finally got my hands on it and was very pleased with the results. 

Before I get into the story too much, I have to comment on the writing style. It is a young adult novel as the first two books in the series are told by the main character, Beatrice, aka "Tris", a young girl embarking on her life after the choosing ceremony in a dystopian society - which in a way is a little bit like the whole "sorting hat" deal from Harry Potter, but who's keeping track?  The third novel in the series is told by two voices, Tris and Tobias, also known as "Four", who is the leading young man in all three books.  This was an interesting way to take the final book of the series and even though I enjoyed the content of this trilogy, I think that Ms. Roth could have done a better job with the writing style in the third book.  Tris and Four are so much a like that at many times, I forgot who was speaking.  There wasn't a different dialect that separated them or even much of a thought process at times.  This made it very difficult to follow and I'm an experienced reader.  I wonder how the younger crowd kept up with it.  In my opinion, to date the best person to write in this fashion is Chris Bohjalian.  I've read a few of his books and this is his favorite method of writing therefore he is spot on.  I can always tell who is narrating in the chapter in his books and without much thought about it.  Frankly that is how books like this are supposed to be written.  Check his out if you enjoyed this method of writing.  With all of this said, I believe these are Ms. Roth's first books to be published as she started the series while still a college student - kudos to her!

As a nod to the overall series, I did enjoy all three books and felt like they all contained content that served the story and plot.  Most importantly, I wanted to read them - all of them through to the end - which is unlike my feelings toward the Hunger Games where I thought the third book was misplaced and very difficult to read.  All three of the Divergent books fit together and the story unfolds in each one with the third one wrapping it all up but not in a weird or out of place fashion.  The flow is great and the character profiles build in each one.  Ms. Roth is not afraid to take risks throughout the books which I also really enjoy. I feel today that too many authors are writing just to please readers and book sales - but for some reason I did not feel like this series did that.  She had a definite outcome for her story and characters and she committed to it.  Her blog actually addresses this as many readers were upset with the ending - I however thought it was spot on.

I hate reviews or Wikipedia that essentially tell you the story or have spoilers in them, so I'll just tell you that the characters are strong, it is a new-ish take on a dystopian novel, and a superb read.  Please take the time to buy or check these books out from the library, you will not be disappointed.

If you are one of those types who would rather see the movie than the book, then you will not be disappointed.  Right now, the Divergent movie is set to release in March 2014.  I am a little bit worried about the actress selection for Tris, however.  Shailene Woodley is best known for her performance on The Secret Life of an American Teenager (ABC Family).  Yes, I watched the show - it was a total teenage train wreck and it was on ABC Family which is a fav network of mine.  Shailene was ok but not worthy of a strong, kick ass leading character in my mind, we'll see how it pans out. Theo James on the other hand looks like he'll make a great Four.  I'm excited to see how it turns out next spring!!!

Until next time,
J.K. Sasse

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