by Veronica Roth
Genre: Sci-Fi Dystopian
Big Themes: War, Death, Betrayal, Love, Identity, Guilt, Prejudice
Summary: Book two begins where Divergent left off. The factions are at war and refugees are trying to find a safe haven. Tris deals with guilt over deaths of family and friends, while also dealing with her new fame and hero status.
What I Liked:
Tris and Four: I adore both of them. I adore them individually, and I adore them together. Tris is going through an internal struggle in this book, and often pushes Four away (I can’t call him Tobias… It. Doesn’t.Work.) Four keeps showing Tris that he stands by her and cares about her, and honestly, I don’t know if I would have put up with some of the things Tris did. Granted she just lost her parents and killed someone she didn’t want to kill, but some decisions she made caused my brain to scream a little in frustration. But the moments that Tris and Four had together, showed how well they work together and reinforced the relationship that was established in Divergent.
The Development of the Factions: We learn a lot more in this book about Amity, Erudite, and Candor. I thought Roth did a great job of letting us see how each faction lives and each faction’s role in the community. I also liked how we met strong secondary characters from each faction with well-defined personalities that exemplified the mindset of each faction. It was interesting how Roth was able to show how similar and singularly minded people of each faction are, and then Roth contrasts that nicely with how the Divergent stick out from these faction stereotypes and clearly break the mold. The factionless were also an interesting addition and I assume they will play an even larger role in the third book.
What I Didn’t Like:
Start of Book Confusion: I read Divergent, twice mind you, in December/January. Barely four months ago. I really didn’t think I needed to reread the book or give myself a refresher, but MAN. I was so confused for the first fifty pages because I did not remember secondary characters by first name. Normally, I hate when authors do long recaps of previous books, but a few taglines to jog the memory on characters would have been helpful. I had to keep going on Wikipedia. I think part of my problem was we get very few physical descriptions of characters or any sort of distinctive voices for each character. (For example, Hagrid has a clear physical description and distinctive voice, whereas Caleb… or Tori… or Marlene…) Remembering secondary characters based on minor events and interactions is asking a lot of your reader in my opinion.
The Big End of Book Reveal (and the Lead Up): *Minor Spoiler Alert* Don’t get me wrong, I still liked this book. But if there was one thing that annoyed the pants off me it was this: for the majority of the book, we are being told there is some secret information, that no one can reveal (even though Marcus knows it) and this information is going to change everything. We are told over and over and over about this super secret data. It’s super secret. People have died for it. No one will tell Tris. It’s a super secret. So Marcus, the guy who knows this super secret, ends up making Tris risk her life to get the super secret he already knows. And then they just end up broadcasting the whole darn thing to everyone. And the secret… wasn’t THAT big. Here’s my problem with authors having big twists/reveals at the end of their books: in order for there to be a big payoff, you have to have laid clues and done the proper foreshadowing. When you carefully lay clues, and then they all fit together at the twist/reveal, then the reader has a huge WOW-AHA-WHOA moment where they think you’re a genius author for how everything fits together. (For and example of a genius reveal, think Brimstone and the teeth in Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone.) But if you just throw in a surprise, then the reader feels slightly cheated, like, “How was I supposed to guess that? Where is this coming from?” I don’t feel like Roth laid the proper groundwork for her big surprise. She simply said over and over there was a secret the whole book, without dropping hints as to what it would be about, and then revealed it in the last 50 pages to create a cliffhanger ending. So, I’m not impressed. And this is probably why it took me over a week to write a review and compose my thoughts.
My Rating: When I read Divergent, I said I thought I liked it more than Hunger Games. I still like Tris better than Katniss. I still like Four better than Peeta/Gale. I still think the factions are intriguing. But there were elements of this book that disappointed me. I can’t decide if this book is a 3 or 4 star… Maybe somewhere in the middle. I’m going to hold out on my verdict for the whole series until I read the final book, and then I’ll decide where this series stands (and whether it really is better than Hunger Games…)