Audiobook Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

14 01 2013

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Read by Emma Galvin

Harper Audio

Length: 11 Hrs 11 Min

Genre: Young Adult Dystopian

Quick Thoughts: Veronica Roth has built a fascinating world, and filled it with interesting characters, an intriguing plot, a lot of adventure and of course, the obligatory kissy kissy. Divergent is definitely an upper echelon entry in the YA Dystopian subgenre, and while there were times I was frustrated by the microcosm of the plot, I believe the world will be more fully explored in future editions of the trilogy,

Grade: B+

I know most people, including myself, tend to put Apocalyptic and Post Apocalyptic literature into the basic same genre as dystopian literature. There are a lot of good reasons for that. Very often, a dystopia forms in the aftermath of an apocalyptic event, although this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. I have always preferred Apocalyptic literature to Dystopian because I enjoy that journey. Many Dystopian novels seem to start with an interesting oppressive World structure, and then build around that. An author will ask, what kind of journey we would need to take to get us from our current world to one where the government forces our children into Death games and then place just enough hints about that journey into the narrative. Most Apocalyptic fiction comes at it from the opposite direction. What kind of society would form after the world suffers ecological breakdown, or a nuclear war? This is the journey that often fascinates me. Take humanity, strip away its accoutrements, alter its values and what rises to the surface. What new religions are born? What new archetypes enter our genetic memories? This is why I often get frustrated with Dystopians. I want to know why the world became what it is. I become distracted looking for clues to what external forces pushed society to adapt in such a way to lead to these new societies. Many Dystopians have really good setups, but rarely feel natural. I always feel like I am missing an element to the story, a sort of Dues Ex Machina that has guided the world to this point. This is often why I like to start with the bang, and work my way to the new society, instead of being dropped right there, without all the pieces.

Divergence is set in a future Chicago, where society has shifted and now breaks itself down into groups based on key values that people believe are needed to keep the world on the right course. Beatrice was born into the Abnegation Faction who value selflessness. This faction provided most of the governmental leaders and is in constant conflict with Erudite, the faction that values Intelligence. Yet, Beatrice feels unsure of her own selflessness, and finds herself in even more conflict when during a test to determine faction proclivities, she is told that she is Divergent, but she must keep that outcome secret. Beatrice then chooses to join another faction, Dauntless, who value Fearlessness. During a brutal initiation process where the losers become Factionless, Tris must try to find her place, while search out what exactly it means to be Divergent. I know, 99% of the world has already read this book, and I am quite late to the party. I finally gave in after reading too many of my favorite YA bloggers add this author’s work to their favorites list. Still, I expected to be disappointed with it. I expected to let the hype diminish it for me. Luckily, I really enjoyed Divergent. I may not have been blown away as some were, but it’s a pretty solid adventure, with some nice twists and a really well thought out world. I think Roth has created a very interesting Dystopian set up, with some interesting hints to what may have lead to it. Still, I wanted to know more. Divergent is set in a very isolated setting, built on the ruins of a fallen city, set within the predominate social structures. While this set up was brilliantly built, I couldn’t help but wonder about what else was going on. I wanted to know more about the factionless, more about what Dauntless needed to protect and guard the city against. This was probably why I didn’t love this as much as some, I was more intrigued by these issues than Tris’s actual story. Not that the story was bad. Sure, there are some lovey kissy moments with a mysterious boy-man, but the whole Divergent subplot gave to adventure and intrigue a grounded purpose, Yet I wanted more. Now, as this is a trilogy, I am sure that more is yet to come. Veronica Roth has built a fascinating world, and filled it with interesting characters, an intriguing plot, a lot of adventure and of course, the obligatory kissy kissy. Divergent is definitely an upper echelon entry in the YA Dystopian subgenre, and while there were times I was frustrated by the microcosm of the plot, I believe the world will be more fully explored in future editions of the trilogy,

Of all the narrators that typically handle Young Adult novels, Emma Galvin is probably my favorite. She really manages to bring a fresh perception to each reading. Sometimes I feel some narrators sort of force the voice of the story to fit their narrative style, yet Galvin never does this. She allows her voice to reflect the story being told. Just hearing the progression of Tris’s journey, as she move away from the soft spoken Abnegation girl, to the Fearless Dauntless shows just how much thought Galvin puts into her characters. It was interesting, with each character, you could almost feel their journey, a blending of their original faction with their current. For example, Erik was read with a sort of mocking cockiness that showed his Erudite background blending with his Dauntless position, while Four’s soft confidence gave plenty of clues to his background. As usual, Galvin’s pacing was precise, giving the reading a visual feel that played well with the elaborate set ups of the author. Divergent is definitely a novel that translates wonderfully to audio thanks to its talented narrator. 

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5 responses

14 01 2013
Lucy

Emma Galvin is one of my favorite YA narrators too. Glad you enjoyed Divergent and that you could see past the hype.

14 01 2013
Lucy

Also. You’re listening to Level Two? I’m a little jealous! Can’t wait for your review.

16 01 2013
Rachel Bradford

I loved Divergent when I read it last year. I rushed right out and got Insurgent, in fact. In fact, I rather liked Divergent better than The Hunger Games. Insurgent was good, but it didn’t QUITE hold up to Divergent. I can’t wait until the third comes out! 🙂

19 01 2013
lynnsbooks

I’ve also read Divergent and I really enjoyed it. i know what you mean about wanting to know the ‘how’ of things. I sometimes feel like that although I can’t remember whether I felt that way reading this particular one. I do remember reading a book called Delirium by Lauren Oliver. I had a lot of niggles with that even though I like the author’s style of writing. It’s based on a world where love is thought to be a disease and therefore at the age of 18 everyone undergoes surgery in order to suppress their emotions. I had so many questions with that story. Why would you ever go down that route in the first place? Anyway, I can appreciate your sentiments is the point I’m trying to get across ;).
Lynn 😀

14 10 2013
Divergent | Veronica Roth | Audiobook Review

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