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All You Need Is Kill
Hiroshi Sakurazaka
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J.R.R. Tolkien
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Divergent  - Veronica Roth Divergent started off slow with only very vague explanations for the setting but by the second half of the book, I was pretty engrossed in the action and Tris' journey to becoming Dauntless that I could (almost) stop caring so much about the shoddy worldbuilding. Still, nothing in here rings true as a possible future. I think I am just going to have to go into these newly published YA dystopias as alternate universe fantasy novels.

I can kind of see why the world might split into five factions but the factions in this book make no sense. Why make factions based on arbitrary characteristics like being brave or being amicable? I don't buy that the people in these factions can be conditioned to behave based on just one single trait and live their entire lives around it. The logic makes no sense. The description of the five factions themselves and the things their members do just come off as simple, stereotypical and downright silly at times. (Also, why didn't the factionless revolt?)

Furthermore, I felt like most of the violence in here was gratuitous. Yes, Tris did have some internal struggles over her cruel and violent behaviour throughout the book but they were so brief that they felt like an afterthought. Meanwhile, much of the book shows the characters trying to be "tough" by getting into senseless brawls. I don't like violence being glorified but I feel like it was here, especially considering the fact that it was a big part of Tris' empowerment as a person.

One thing that I really liked was Tris' complex relationships with her friends Al, Will and Christina. They were friends but they were also rivals, and all the hints of competition, jealousy and resentment running through their interactions were great. Their friendship was not always easy or simple and Roth did a great job in capturing its subtleties.

Overall Divergent is enjoyable enough if you like your books fairly fast-paced and gripping. It's a good turn-off-your-brain kind of read. I tend to prefer my science fiction a bit more thoughtful and thought-provoking so I did find it lacking in depth. I'm not sure if I will be reading the sequel.