One of the nice things about YA novels, and also one of their faults, is that they, almost universally have the skeletal feel of a story resting solely on plot. You’re almost never going to have a moment in a YA novel where you have to stop because the beauty and subtlety of the writing is too much. This is not absolutely true because I’ve read coming-of-age novels, and those probably count as YA, where I have had to put down the book for its beauty, but these genre-type stories are usually a rush of plot – kisses, deaths, revelation, and identity discovery. Divergent
is no exception to that, and I have to say I like it for that. I like that type of story, even though it is not exactly beautiful
or subtle. I kind of want Roth to go back and fill in the characters and dwell on the moments and even take out a few fights if she needs to in order to make the ones she includes more potent.
But, ah well. It’s still good.
There is one part in the book where Four says to Tris that another character, a sweet character, was cruel to her because he wanted her to be weak and frightened, but she was strong instead. I thought that was such a lovely thing to say. It was a brilliant way to explain violent cruelty, and I thought well done. You know, it is such a cliché in action stories for the characters to remind each other ask, not whether they have the guts to do something violent, but if they want to be the person they will become as a result of it. I thought this book did it well, though, and that it is an important thing to ask. Like, don’t ask, do you have the guts to kill, but do you want to be a killer. While the book addressed the idea of violence being cowardice pretty straightforwardly, it didn’t feel maudlin, and I liked it.
It was kind of funny the way the factions were set up in terms of good and evil, though, and the message felt very small-town American conservative. I think, actually, there is a note at the beginning that Roth wrote this while she was in college, so maybe her hatred for intellect is more bitterness about doing homework, but it felt very Republican “army good, college bad” at a lot of times - both Salvation Army and the military. But, then, with piercings, so more badass. And then there was the “If only they’d return to the founding documents” message that seemed like a good idea for them, but is troubling if we want to extrapolate it to American politics. Maybe I’m just mad because I for sure think that ignorance causes the most problems in the world, so I would probably be in the Erudite faction, and I DON’T WANT MY FACTION TO TURN EVIL!!
Anywho, it was a super fun read, and I read it late into the night. I thought the relationship between Tris and the boys was great, and all the characters felt like I could fill in actual characters, even though they were just skeletons. It has a lot of factual similarities to Harry Potter
, but a spirit of its own. Really fun.