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Man, the young adult novel genre looks like it's taking over Hollywood. I just found out that they are adapting Divergent into a movie to be released next year. Another one of my recent reads, The Fault in Our Stars, is also being made into a movie as well -- and both movies star the same lead actress! While I might check out the movie (since I'm such a sucker for movies adapted from books) my feelings about Divergent were similar to my feelings about The Fault in Our Stars. I did not like it. I will say that TFIOS had a more sophisticated and intelligent narrative style that, although an unrealistic portrayal of teenage dialog, was slightly more enjoyable for me to read.
My Rating: 2.5 out of 5  

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Don't get me wrong, Divergent had some good things going for it. The plot was an interesting concept, although the dystopian society and conflict with the ruling powers sounds eerily similar to the Hunger Games.

The protagonists in both novels were smart, strong females who cared deeply about their families and stood up for those being oppressed, even going into battle for a better society. Yet, author Veronica Roth insists that she did not read The Hunger Games before writing Divergent, and that may be true but I have to wonder whether Roth's novel would be as much of a success if it hadn't been for the suspiciously good timing of its release in the midst of The Hunger Games frenzy of success. I'm not knocking the talent of this young author (seriously, she's younger than I am) and am very happy to see another successful female author in the sci-fi genre. In fact, I look forward to reviewing her next project following the Divergent series.

Divergent is set in the future where society has broken into five factions that seek to preserve the virtues of humanity (selflessness, peace, honesty, bravery, intelligence).  Each year the sixteen-year-olds must choose the faction they will join for the rest of their lives. This year is Beatrice "Tris" Prior's turn to choose if she will stay with her family in the faction she was born into or be true to herself and join another faction. You can image how easily a story like this can veer off into Preachy-ville. And it did, way more times than I would have liked.

There was a bit of action too as well as a substantial amount of teenage romance when Tris finds herself falling for a boy during faction initiation (not going to lie, I gagged a few times at how corny this love story was playing out). Tris must also struggle with keeping a secret from the rest of the faction initiates and the boy she likes because it may get her killed. However, when she discovers a threat that could destroy her society, her secret might be the only hope to save them. While I did not enjoy this novel overall, I'm glad there are thousands of teens who did. There were good messages in there about overcoming your fears, being true to yourself and finding your inner strength. Those are particularly important things for teenage girls to hear and I hope many teen girls do identify with Tris's strengths. 

I don't know what I was expecting. I just want more from the young adult genre. I believe that teens today are smart enough that they can appreciate intelligent stories that also challenge them. I hate to say it but when I was a teen I read more intellectually challenging books. There are YA authors like M.T. Anderson who are writing these kinds of stories for teens today but he's not nearly as popular as Roth or Suzanne Collins or John Green. Maybe I'm being too picky. I suppose I'll just have to learn to be content with Harry Potter being the only YA novels on my bookshelf. 

#1 - The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
#4 - Divergent by Veronica Roth

 #5 - Stardust by Neil Gaiman