I’d heard the novel “Divergent” was worse than the novel it was based on. I found this hard to believe, since I’d seen the movie and thought it was very bad.
See my review for details. link to review
But as my curiosity grew, I realized I was just going to have to read the book myself and find out. I’m a quick reader and its a young adult novel, so it wasn’t a huge time commitment. As I began reading it, I found the novel highly amusing, because it was so absurd.
A quote, “He has a spare upper lip and a full lower lip. His eyes are so deep-set that his eyelashes touch the skin under his eyebrows, and they are dark blue, a dreaming, sleeping, waiting color.” I have absolutely no idea what this guy looks like, (maybe a Neanderthal?) But I’m confident he is the love interest. And don’t worry, his eyes are described again later, in case you wanted more detail.
After I read the part where they learn to shoot, I love their method of teaching, btw. Zero safety or orientation, just, watch me shoot this gun once, then here, you do it. I didn’t understand how there was 400 more pages… they should all be dead after that shooting lesson… and the gun safety issue came up again later as Tris is running and its stated, “with her hand on the trigger” and she’s running behind her friend. Yup, they really should have covered gun safety.
The book also has underage drinking, cause why not? And of course, the student Tris is infatuated with her teacher. Total cliché, student in love with her teacher. The attempt at the whole, this is wrong, this is favoritism, is done sloppily. And no one mentions that this love is also statutory rape, since she is sixteen and he is eighteen. I think we are supposed to believe that in this dystopia world a person is considered an adult once they are sixteen.
The characters are pitted against each other in fights, and there is no real reason behind this. Weight classes are discarded and the strongest seem to be paired with the weakest, the goal being to knock the other unconscious. They literally can’t stop until they accomplish this. What exactly does that teach you? Maybe I could believe this, except the students are forced to do this three days in a row, and some of them are suffering some serious injuries. All of them lose fights, and to me, none of them should have been capable of still fighting or even getting out of bed by day three. I think the Seal training the military goes through is less brutal. But these kids (all sixteen) continue to go about their day to day lives, as if having their ribs and noses broken is something you can recover from after a good night’s sleep. One easy fix to this problem would have been if the society had some technology that can heal you rapidly, like they did in “The Hunger Games.”
Another random and pointless scene that made no sense, (there were a lot of them) was when Four takes Tris on a train ride, just to show her a building that has its lights on at night. He then explains the big conspiracy going on. But I couldn’t help thinking, uh, why did he have to show her that? I’m pretty sure she would have believed him if he’d said, hey these guys leave their lights on. If I was Tris, I would have been pissed that he’d drug me out in the middle of the night to show me something that stupid. They didn’t even explore the building or anything.
Not only were there the unrealistic items I mentioned above. But the book itself is poorly written. Maybe its because I read the entire book in one setting, but I was able to notice that things conflicted with each other from chapter to chapter. Some examples:
Tris apparently forgets and then learns again, reacting as if it’s new news, that her mother grew up dauntless. She is told to not stand out and score in the middle, but she scores number one in the rankings after she is told this. She is a bad liar one minute, then a good one. She’s told they will discover her if she uses her divergent abilities during the simulations, so what does she do? On the final exam, she totally uses her abilities to manipulate the test. But then, she is congratulated for doing so, by the same people we’d been told would kill her if they found out. Huh. The bad guys go on little rants explaining to her their plans, very convenient. And I keep getting told that dauntless is rare, but then on the next page it will say there are a lot of divergents. So which is it?
The only good thing about this book, is that it makes the movie seem GREAT. They really did improve the movie by leaps and bounds over the book. Both are still horrible. And I suggest staying away from both.