I finished Divergent this week and I thought I really liked it. Silly me. The more I thought about it, the madder I got. (As mad as I can get about a free book from the library that took me a day to read, I mean, so mildly irked and shaking my fist a little.) The book was pretty tightly written for a first novel, and the plot was enough different from The Hunger Games to keep me interested. Veronica Roth’s creation is a community made up of factions, essentially the brave, smart, honest, self-sacrificing, and those who value peace & harmony are separated into separate groups. It’s a little Harry Potter, in that you know they’ll eventually learn that they have to band together to survive. (Dum. Dum. Duuuuummmmm.)
The main character fits into more than one category, and that makes her dangerous to the leaders, since they won’t be able to suppress her instincts into a single faction style. There are obvious influences to contemporary Y.A. literature in Divergent, with a heavy sprinkling (“sprinkling” being like those giant chocolate chunks in the cookies at the mall) of the dystopian themes of The Hunger Games. The part of Roth’s premise that I think might actually be better than the separation of districts in Hunger Games and houses in Harry Potter is that it has nothing to do with your birth or training.
The world had a mighty battle and if you thought that wars were caused by selfishness, you joined the faction that values self-sacrifice and service to others. You could make your own choice and choose a destiny, based on your natural inclinations and talents. As the years went on, the original reason for the factions to train and were twisted, until factions became more important than family and group-think was the only thought allowed. So, the people who fit equally into more than one faction, who could see more than one side to a situation, became increasingly dangerous.
The book was well-written and the premise was thought provoking, so why am I complaining? It’s written with a sequel in mind. And not like Harry Potter, where the book ends and the story is wrapped up, but further adventures await! No, this one just ends, leaving all kinds of trailing story lines behind it to get caught in the door. Could she not figure out how to end the thing? What if something happens to her and she can’t write more books? Are we going to end up with a Twin Peaks thing where they have to come back with some summary later to tell you who dies? Really, that’s just bad practice and I’m hoping it doesn’t become widely accepted. Each book needs to stand alone as it builds to a rich series, not end like an episode of Knot’s Landing.