From She Reads: The Divergent Trilogy


This review originally posted on last month.


Veronica Roth’s DIVERGENT series has taken the YA literary world by storm, comparable to the popularity of TWILIGHT and THE HUNGER GAMES in previous years. Some readers are eager to jump on the bandwagon and experience the latest all-the-rage series, while others are left with questions:

  • Does it really stand up to the hype?
  • Could it really be as good as The Hunger Games?
  • Is it worth reading the book if I already saw the movie?
  • Can I go see the movie with young adults without feeling awkward?
  • Is the movie more than just a reason to go watch Theo James on the big screen for a few hours?

The answer is a whole-hearted YES on all counts.

DIVERGENT is a dystopian trilogy taking place in a far-future Chicago. War has left the city in disrepair, and in an effort to keep peace people are divided between five factions: Abnegation (the selfless), Candor (the honest), Amity (the peaceful), Erudite (the intelligent), and Dauntless (the brave). When the story opens, the main character, Beatrice (Tris) Prior is preparing for the test that will help her choose which faction she’ll enter for her adulthood: Abnegation, which she was born into, or one of the other four. The drama begins, though, when Tris’s test results are inconclusive and she has to navigate society as one who doesn’t fit with just one faction; she is what they call Divergent, and that makes her a target of society leaders.

As a writer, Veronica Roth is incredibly talented. She has created a future world that is fascinating and believable, yet far-fetched enough that it feels not like home. There are references to known Chicago landmarks, making the setting recognizable and relatable. Her characters, while futuristic, are also completely relatable – it only takes a few pages to get drawn into Tris’s story, which starts in DIVERGENT, continues in INSURGENT, and resolves in ALLEGIANT. I’m also intrigued by the fact that she started writing this in college and, even now, with three books out, a major motion picture, and a fourth book coming soon, is only twenty-five years old. That’s crazy!

I saw the movie on opening night, and it was great. Really. But, it didn’t get anywhere near the level of detail that you find in the books. I know that’s a common complaint with movies based on books, but in this case it’s not just a casual observation about the movie; it’s a compliment to the depth of Roth’s writing. I love the way she has broken people down into factions to describe personality types and how that forces you think about human nature as you read. I love that there’s plenty of romantic appeal in Tris’s relationship with Four (played by Theo James, as seen in the movie poster) and that their relationship is supportive and exciting without being sexual. I love the suspense and intrigue that keep you reading without being able to stop – I blew through all three books in a week and just couldn’t get enough.

Basically, I just love this trilogy. This is one case where, whether you see the movie before or after reading the books, you really need to read the books. I won’t say they’re an easy, lighthearted read – the emotional rollercoaster is a wild one, and the characters and storyline will dominate your thoughts even while you’re not reading – but I will promise that they’re worth your time!

When Books Become Movies…

books into movies 2014 from buzzfeed

I’m really excited about how many of these books are YA titles, and especially excited about three of my favorite books one the big screen this year: The Giver, The Fault In Our Stars, and Divergent. Now go read them before the movies come out!

A Bookish Beginning to the New Year…

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Last year, I gave you lots of book recs for Christmas gifts, and from the feedback I got it seemed like you guys really appreciated the help. I’m sorry my list is so late this year. Where did all the time go? How is it 2014 already?

Anyway, let’s consider these ideas for good ways to get your year started off with great stories.

For the upper HS/College aged student who would love to travel: Gayle Forman’s books, Just One Day and Just One Year, center around a girl traveling during the summer after her high school graduation and the guy she happens to meet while in England. That description doesn’t do it justice AT ALL, so just trust me. If you’re only getting one of them, get Just One Day.

For the high school/college girl who loves all things British: Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison. This series of books makes me laugh out loud constantly. It centers around Georgia Nicholson, a high school girl with a crazy sense of humor, a crazy family, a crazy cat named Angus, and a crazy crush on a very cool, very hot guy. This series goes on for ten books, and all ten are equally as hilarious. In fact, I love them so much that I once used every bit of my birthday money to buy them all in matching editions. True story.

For anybody who likes to think and be inspired: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card was just made into a movie about  month ago. The movie was good. The book is infinitely better. People need to read the book. In a lot of ways, Ender reminded me of Jonas from The Giver – both boys are young when they take on the responsibility of changing their worlds for the better, and I’m a sucker for a story showing a young adult making a difference. What impresses me about Ender’s Game, too, is a completely unexpected and really beautiful display of compassion and empathy at the end.

For those who like a good dystopian trilogy: The Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth. There are lots of things I like about this. The whole dystopian, perfect society that’s actually completely horrible mostly because of the government thing is really well done in Roth’s trilogy. I also love the protagonist, Tris, because she’s smart and is beyond driven to do the right thing in all situations, causing you at times to want to yell at her through the pages of the book because you actually WANT her to think about herself a little bit. Tris’s love interest, Four, is incredible and totally book-crush worthy. And, without giving anything away, the ending of the trilogy solidified for me a few things about Veronica Roth: she’s super brave, she clearly has faith, and she’s one amazing writer. I put the last book down full of emotions from the book and full of respect for Roth.mpathy at the end. That’s all I can say without giving it away, but know that it’s good. Really good. And it’s not an easy read – I’d even say it’s not necessarily a YA book, but people would argue with me – so it’s good for readers aged 8th grade and up through adulthood, really.

For high school and college girls, period, because we live in crazy times: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. In Speak, the protagonist lives through the repercussions of breaking up a big summer party resulting in several upperclassmen getting busted. How did she break up the big party? By calling the police due to something horrible that happened, though we don’t find out what happened until the end of the book. It’s a powerful and important book about the power of your voice and the necessity of speaking out against awful actions.

For the teen (or adult for that matter) interested in classic rock and the Woodstock-era: Are You Experienced? by Jordan Sonnenblick. I really, really loved this. I’ve been a fan of Sonnenblick for a long time, and this might just be my new favorite of his. In it, the main character is transported back in time to experience the Woodstock festival, where he learns crazy things about his family and befriends Jimi Hendrix. Really. It’s not at all cheesy, either, in the way it’s done… totally realistic historical fiction with a smudge of mysterious time-travel.

I’d love to hear what’s on your to-read list for 2014!


“Human reason c…

“Human reason can excuse any evil; that is why it’s so important that we don’t rely on it.”
― Veronica Roth, Divergent