Book 229 – Divergent by Veronica Roth

Book – Divergent
Author – Veronica Roth
Year – 2011
Pages – 487
Genre – Young Adult Distopian Sci-Fi
Series – Divergent Series

One of the big draw backs of being a teacher – a job I love – is that it leaves you with precious little time for recreational reading.  I spend most of my life reading students’ books, or GCSE specifications, emails from colleagues, working on the productions that we are doing at school or for exams, and therefore rarely take a break to read for pleasure.  I’ve bemoaned it several times on here, and it has resulted in a backlog of (literally) around a thousand books filling up my bedroom.  Some of them I know I should read (Alex has eternal disappointment in me for having not yet read To Kill A Mockingbird, and my nemesis – Catch 22 – seems a distant project), but it is so tough to read something that may be a slog.  There are so many classics I love, but they are rarely gripping to the extent that you can’t put them down.

So it is absolutely wonderful to be swept away in a totally engaging novel such as Divergent, and for the first time in many many years, I started reading and just could not stop.  As I finished reading last night, I realised that it was light outside.  I got through the whole five hundred pages in one sitting.

So why is it so gripping?  It is fairly standard YA Sci Fi fare.  Tris lives in a world where everyone is split into one of five factions dependant upon their personality types.  We join her at age sixteen where she must decide whether to stay with the Abnegation – a faction of selfless do-gooders – or join one of the other four factions promoting peace, strength, honesty or intelligence.  This first book of the series shows her initiation into this faction – a fairly standard YA first book trope where she must make friends and learn about herself – before segueing into a main story that will run for the trilogy.  It is full of action, fight sequences, interesting lore, characters with some level of depth and just sheer fun.  The pace is fast and the interest is maintained at a high level, and taking a cue maybe from books such as The Hunger Games, it instantly feels like it has been written to become a film.

I think this is a great way to write this kind of book.  There is a cynic in me that would suggest that writing a book to be simply made into a film (as this series duly was) is somewhat money grabbing.  But sod it, why not?  If you can hook young people to read more by writing in the exciting style of movies, then let’s do it!

I’m not going to pretend that it is Hemingway or Austen, but at the end of the day I am writing about how much I enjoy a book, not necessarily about its inherent literate qualities.  And I loved this one.  In fact, I loved it enough that despite finishing it at 5:30 this morning, I have just – seventeen hours later – finished the second book in the series. And that is my seal that it is worth reading.


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