Veronica Roth is an author based out of Chicago, which gave inspiration to her dystopian series’ setting. Though I was a late addition to her fanbase, I was completely compelled by the world that she created, and drawn to her characters. Her writing had me emotionally invested in the well being of Tris, her romance with Four, and their development as a team while they ran from those who feared the Divergents. I may never forgive Roth for the ending of Allegiant, but I cannot deny that her novels are among my favorites.
About the Series
The series is comprised of backlist bestsellers, but they deserve a little spotlight here on this blog. I devoured Divergent in two days, and the rest of the series less than a week later (with the exception of Four, which I hope to get to later in 2020). Dystopian YA is my favorite kind of YA, and it has always appealed to me regardless of age.
Published: April 2011, May 2012, October 2013,
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Trigger Warnings: This series contains the following potential triggers: survival, death, murder.
TL/DR: The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth is a dystopian young adult novel that follows Tris Prior as she learns about what it means to be Divergent.
Read it? Absolutely!
Recommend it? Definitely, especially if you’ve shied away from it because of the hype or genre. It’s a great series for all ages!
Buy it? Yes! You can find the series in it’s completion pretty much anywhere, as it’s a backlist bestseller.
Watch the Movie? Ah… we’ll get to that. I mean, the answer is yes but…it’s complicated.
Book 1: Divergent
Beatrice Prior (Tris) lives in dystopian Chicago. At sixteen, she is about to make the biggest choice of her life by decided what faction she is meant to live in. Growing up Abnegation, she has always felt a part of her doesn’t belong in the selfless and reserved faction, and her curiosity has her admiring the Dauntless, who are brave and appear to fear nothing. On the day of her aptitude test, she learns that she doesn’t specifically fit into any of the factions- Abnegation, Dauntless, Candor, Amity, or Erudite- but has an aptitude for multiple factions… making her Divergent. Unsure of what this means, Beatrice chooses Dauntless, and through her guilt tries to convince herself of the saying, “Faction before Blood”. As she sheds her old identity and becomes just Tris, her initiation is nothing like what she expects. Determined to make it through initiation, Tris learns more than what it takes to become Dauntless- she learns what it takes to be Divergent.
I’m not sure if it’s the dystopian setting, the strength of the main character, or the barrage of intense action scenes, but I am HOOKED. Like, I even did the “What faction are you?” quiz. (Divergent, with Amity as the highest score). But I’ll contain my fangirling and keep this professional. Roth’s writing had me completely absorbed. I could imagine the Chicago trains always in motion, the Dauntless leaping on and off. I could see Tris’ train of thought, not as if I was reading her mind, but as if I was doing the processing myself. I could barely breathe during the fight scenes, and felt the punch in my gut when Tris states,
“The bullet hit him in the head. I know because that’s where I aimed it.”
I’m so glad that this book lived up to the hype…in my opinion, it’s actually better.
Book 2: Insurgent
When I opened up Insurgent, I was just as absorbed in it as I was reading the first in the series.
The book starts with Tris and Four seeking refuge at the Amity headquarters after the Dauntless, under a simulation transmitter serum, attacked the Abnegation sector and killed innocents. The faction system as they know it is shattering after Erudite and traitor Dauntless members have teamed up to hunt Divergents and they will sacrifice anyone that gets in their way of finding a serum that will control the Divergents. Leading the pack in Janine Matthews, creator of the control serums and mastermind behind the attacks.
Tris and Four try to seek help from Amity, but they refuse to offer their aid, as they seek only peace in their faction. Knowing that conflict will have to occur, Tris and Four try to plan a way to take down Janine. When the Erudite seek them and other refugees out in Amity, a few select rebels are lead by Tris and Four into the city, to rendezvous with the Factionless. After this meeting, Tris learns more about Four’s past, and they have problems trusting each other. After some time and circumstances, Tris decides that the best way to save Four and aid in the revolt is to turn herself in to Janine- leaving her life as her parents did, as her origins taught her in Abnegation.
It’s a complete roller coaster of action and emotions. Like before, Roth does an excellent job putting you inside Tris’ head, allowing the reader to see the action and process it as Tris does. I also don’t think I pointed it out before, but Roth is very acute with her details, never letting them fall through the cracks. If someone was shot, she continually displays that ailment, for instance. I find that those details really impact the story, making it more realistic to the reader.
Insurgent is left on a bit of a cliffhanger, purposefully causing readers to itch for the third novel in the series.
Book 3: Allegiant
There is no way to write about Allegiant without spoilers. I’ll try to leave out what I can, but there is just SO MUCH TO TALK ABOUT.
Let’s start with a quick summary. At the beginning of the book, the Factionless have taken control of the city, declaring that there will be no more faction system. Tris is under arrest for treason, for trying to help stop the attack on Janine- which was done only to help release information that has been hidden for years. Tobias and Tris were at odds, since he was working with his mother and not with Tris, until the very last minute, when Tobias helped release the hidden information behind his mother’s back. The information contained a message from one of the original settlers of the establishment, revealing that there was life outside the city limits and why the establishment was originated.
Now, as the novel continues, the point of view switches between Tris and Tobias every chapter. This was a little tricky for me, because for the last two books, I’ve been completely inside Tris’ head, and then getting into Allegiant, I had to start thinking like Tobias as well. There were a couple of times where the pace got fast, and as chapters whipped by, I had to go back and double check who’s point of view I was reading from. I disliked having to do that as it slow my pace, but at the same time, it was interesting to get the multiple points of view. I believe it made sense for the story to split the views, and come the end of the book, it was definitely necessary.
As the novel goes on, the reader finds out what is beyond the city establishment, and the whole story of how the economic structure came to be and how the ongoing genetic reconstruction experiments occurred completely redefine the lives of the main characters. As layers of the truth are revealed, you can predict an uprising coming from Tris and Tobias, but how it played out completely astounded me. This revelation complicates the fierce relationship problems between Tris and Tobias. One minute, they are on the same team, ready to fight, absolutely absorbed by each other. The next, they’re racing against each other, throwing the harshest dagger-like comments at each other, and barely speaking. Add the additional character’s conflicts, and you can see why this novel packs a punch. Basically, your heart is the punching bag, and Roth knows how to hit it- and even if you saw it coming, it still hurts.
I don’t want to give the ending away, but I have to talk about that ending. The minute that the rebel group decides to send in a certain someone to set off the “reset” serum, I knew Tris wouldn’t let that happen. When she makes it through the first set of doors, I was thrilled that once again her Divergence won out. But then I knew that when you-know-who showed up, it was over. And I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that Roth would do that to her readers. And I fought back tears because I was both sad AND angry. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book where this situation occurs, and I wasn’t expecting it. At least there is resolution, and I guess in retrospect, one of the themes running through the series is moving on despite the past.
Book 4: Four
I have yet to dive into Four, but when I do, you can bet I’ll add it here! I’m curious to see how Roth took things from Tobias’ point of view. It’s told as a prequel to Divergent.
So, with that in mind, I’m moving on from this series a little battered, but with no regrets. It was captivating and exhilarating, and I’m crushed that this is the end. Well, at least until I get my copy of Four, but even so. Despite the ending, I completely recommend the read. Additionally, I still recommend the movies, even though they did not finish Allegiant the way that the novel does.
Categories: Book Series