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Divergent  - Veronica Roth Read for the August buddy read with The Challenge Factory.

Erudite. Amity. Candor. Abnegation. Dauntless. Five factions, one choice. It should have been easy for Tris to make the choice; her duty was to remain in Abnegation, with her family. But her aptitude test is inconclusive: she is Divergent, and must hide it or die. However, there are bigger dangers than her new faction discovering that she doesn't really belong. Bigger plans have been set in motion, and Tris might be the only one who can stop them.

The hype for Divergent seems to have died down somewhat since I first heard of it. I admit, I've been put off reading it for quite a while because I didn't want to be disappointed, so when ~♥ Kat ♥~ put it as a buddy read option, I held my breath and took the plunge.

And, I'm happy to report, I wasn't disappointed.

I guess I should begin with the negatives, because there were a couple. The biggest issue, for me, was the world building. Even though it was explained, I was not convinced by society's decision to split into five factions based on which trait they blamed for war: dishonesty, cowardice, ignorance, agression, selfishness. As far as dystopian futures go, this was one that I just couldn't see happening. I can't really think of a specific reason why I was so unconvinced by it, just that I doubt that society would ever split so seamlessly.

Secondly, still to do with the world building, what happened to the rest of the world? This might be addressed in later books, but at the moment it seems as though this one big city is all that's left of humanity. I doubt that. It's possible that Tris doesn't know and doesn't even think about it, but I'd have liked at least a little hint of outside.

As well as this, the big twist as to Four's identity was so obvious that I knew from the moment he appeared. However, I did like the method in which this information was finally delivered to Tris and confirmed to the reader, and I am aware that subtle foreshadowing takes a lot of work and practice, so this isn't as big an issue as the flimsy world building.

Problems aside, I really enjoyed Divergent.

Tris, as a main character, was great. She had to overcome a lot of obstacles, physical and mental, but, most often, her biggest obstacle was herself. Although she did end up becoming really good at everything, she didn't start out that way. I loved the fact she got completely flattened during her first fight and didn't just pull out a win due to luck or through super-speshul-hidden-skills. I was rather worried when she said she was clumsy at the beginning (clumsy is not a personality trait, people!), but that never really came up again. If she was clumsy, she probably would have fallen off some train, building or walkway and died. So... yeah, kind of glad that got forgotten about.

I also really liked the character of Four. *fans self* I don't know what it is. I seem to have a Thing for vaguely threatening, hot/cold, mysterious bad boys. Four is a particularly good example of this, because he wasn't randomly cold for no reason. In fact, most of the time, despite his mysterious nature, he was quite warm towards Tris. I also really enjoyed the slow build up of their relationship. It wasn't random and sudden, though there was definitely attraction at first sight.

One thing that surprised me about Divergent was how brutal it was. Seriously, this book is not for the faint-hearted. In a way, it was a bit like The Hunger Games for me. I expected Veronica Roth to flinch away from violence, or from difficult situations, but she didn't. If she put Tris in a tough spot, Tris had to fight her way out of it. I also didn't expect there to be as much death as there was, but wow. Be warned if letting younger teens read it.

Another thing I enjoyed was that the book definitely needs a sequel. It is not one of those books where it could quite easily end with the one book, but the author makes sequels anyway. Divergent has set the scenes for a sequel (or several) quite nicely. Some things are wrapped up, but there are a lot of unanswered questions and all of the 'villains' are still at large.

I also really like the fact that Peter and Marcus have been forced to come with them whilst they've escaped. I hope to see some growth in Peter's character in the next book. That would really surprise me. Marcus... I just hope he gets his comeuppance.

All in all, I really enjoyed Divergent and, although the society and world building seemed flimsy and unrealistic, Veronica Roth really knows how to tell an exciting story. As it is, I can't wait to read the next one! I'll just have to wait until my little sister gets hold of it. :)