Last week I started to review the Divergent series and I confessed my traditional dislike of serialised stories. I mentioned that I had loved the Divergent film and my review of the first novel was extremely positive and I was pretty excited to continue with the series.
Sigh. It quickly went wrong.
So to recap. The Divergent series is a trilogy of dystopian-style novels set in the Divergent Universe. The books are categorised as young adult fiction but the first book is written in a style that will no doubt be praised by universal audiences alike. The first novel in the series – Divergent – is set in a post-apocalyptic version of Chicago and follows Beatrice “Tris” Prior as she explores her identity within a society that defines its citizens by their social and personality-related affiliation with five factions; erudite, dauntless, amity, abnegation and candor. If you want to know more about the first book and this dystopian world in general, check out my review.
The first book in the Divergent series finished on a major cliff hanger and I immediately started reading the second novel and I love that they neatly follow on from each other. I hate it when authors write novels that have huge gaps in between the books, a lot can happen in a year and it feels naive to write the characters as exactly the same as they were in the initial book. I don’t know about you but I’m a different person from who I was this last time last year. Yet if they change too much between books, they become too different, characters that we might not like as much as we first did and characters we feel we don’t know. It’s a had a balance to strike but I loved how the Divergent series easily connected and it made getting in to the second story a lot easier.
The second book- Insurgent- begins literally hours after the first book ends and having been involved in an incident that will change the city forever, Tris is emotionally traumatised. Having witnessed the worst traits people can posses, sights that no one should ever see and having had to make decisions that would destroy any 16 year old, it seems a natural emotional action.
As the novel develops so to does that conflict and the fugitives begin to learn more and more about their city and what they thought they knew begins to fall apart. As everyone struggles with what is real and what is not, what they should tell and what they should hide, relationships quickly begin to suffer. Amongst all this Tris begins to contemplate what her life really means, what it is worth and if it is really worth anything. She finds it difficult to imagine the world post-factions, a life without her family and a life where the shadow of her past actions hang over her head. In many ways death seems like a preferable option and we watch her balance her emotions. I love that Roth gives the reader the opportunity to learn more about the other factions and this is something that kept me hooked.
In the first book I loved watching Tris and Four’s relationship develop but the second novel left me feeling really disappointed. There is a huge shift in the dynamics of their relationship and while I praise Roth for acknowledging this because it would have been naive for it to have stayed the same after everything that had happened, their constant bickering is a bit exhausting. I find their arguments to feel incredibly forced, unnatural and they take away from the overall emotion of the story. It was the first time I found myself frustrated with Tris and I found her character really irritating.
The story itself however is action packed and there is enough for you to get your teeth stuck in to. There are a number of twists and turns which keep your interest and the world in which they live remains mystical and fascinating. Once again it raises some interesting questions about life. Yet toward the end of the book I found that I was reading just to finish the book and not because I necessarily loved it. I read the third book for the same reason and found myself a bit bored by the time I finished.
I was really disappointed with the second book in the divergent series in the series and in a way, I wish I had finished at the end of book one. I still love Roth’s writing style and on the whole her characters are well developed and well written, yet the I wasn’t keen on the way the characters expressed themselves. I’ve already finished the last book and will be reviewing this soon but I am glad I have finished the divergent series.
Have you read the Divergent series?