It is very much Dystopian fiction in its idea, but I really enjoyed the way Veronica used her knowledge of exposure therapy, and her fascination with personality tests (as well as a few other things) to come up with Divergent. (I myself like personality tests- I'm an INFP). The story sucked me in from Chapter One, and Tris's voice, though it took some getting used to her clipped to-the-point way of speaking, moved the story along wonderfully.
Character Personality and Development:
I had to read the first book a few times, and then the whole series, before I really liked Tris. Once I understood her, saw all of her strengths and weaknesses, I liked her character. The thing that I admired the most was her desire to find out the truth, even when no one else supported her, when no one else believed her. She never gave up. In book 2, “Insurgent”, she made some pretty stupid mistakes, got stuck in a few ruts, but by “Allegiant”, she grew into someone who learned from the mistakes she made in “Insurgent”, and turned into someone who was likeable. In my opinion, Veronica developed Tris very well.
As for Four/Tobias, he is my favorite character, as I am partial to characters who have difficult backgrounds, but I was very disappointed when I got to “Allegiant.” Veronica Roth did not seem to have a good grasp on Tobias's voice. Several times I had to look at the chapter heading to remind myself which point of view I was reading. The voices, when switched to first person, were not very distinct. The strength I had always admired in Tobias, the unwavering ferocity, dwindled away in “Allegiant” as he spent a lot of time moping about how he was “genetically damaged.” My annoyance with him increased as time went on and he fell for Nita’s stupid plan, causing Uriah’s unnecessary death, and I was very disappointed. I liked how he finally learned how to forgive his parents in order to move on with his life, by the end of the series, but by far, Tris was the most developed.
Divergent dealt with a lot of moral issues, but the biggest theme was human nature. The government tried to fix the problem of human nature by genetics and it was an epic fail. After war, they placed the people into experimental cities, dividing Chicago into five factions and waiting for their genes to heal. It didn't work. None of the efforts made by the leaders worked. As Tris said; “One bad thing goes away, another replaces it.” No matter how smart we think we are, no matter how hard we try, we cannot fix our evil natures. No amount of genetic tweaking, or hundreds of rules, will ever change that. Tris has many of her own struggles, some include being compassionate and forgiving, her actions contributing to Al's suicide. Tobias fears becoming like his father, fighting against his tendency to relish violence and masochism. By the end, he has almost succeeded.
Ah, and now we come to one of the most controversial subjects concerning the series. The ending. Many people were satisfied, but many more were not, I myself being one of the many more. On one hand, Tris dies heroically, taking the place of Caleb, who deserved to die, but volunteered to take the suicide mission for the wrong reason-escaping his guilt. While Tris's recognition of this is noble, I was left with a very empty and somewhat angry feeling. We, as readers, wanted to watch Tris and Tobias live the life together that they deserved after all they had been through. We wanted to see Tobias finally happy. Instead, we watch as Tris dies in a stupid way-surviving the death serum only to be shot by David- leaving Tobias alone. This was not the ending we deserved, and I think it was a poor decision on Veronica's part. Though she says she had planned Tris's death from the start, I honestly think she could have changed it.
No Justice Done:
The villains, Marcus, Peter, and David. They drove us crazy the whole series, and I could not wait for Marcus to get what he had coming to him. The fangirl in me was really hoping for a Tobias vs. Marcus showdown, or even Tris shooting him would have been satisfactory. But, this did not happen. Instead Marcus simply walks away. No one knows where he went, he just simply vanishes into society, no consequences for the many years of violence he inflicted on his family, nothing. Then Peter, who attacked Edward, tried to kill Tris, and never knew the meaning of the word “loyalty”, was allowed to simply erase his memory and start over, in the hopes that he will be a nicer person afterward. He says he hates what he does, but he makes no move to better himself. Instead he takes the cowards way out, which, logically, is not likely to work. Just because you take away memories, it doesn't change your evil tendencies. And lastly David, the man who tried to wipe millions of people's memories and murdered Tris, was not punished either. This was another major let down as I finished the book.
Solution Never Given:
While Veronica Roth seemingly had a good grasp of the evil human nature, by the end of the book, she does not give us the solution to the problem. The factions are disbanded, and everyone has gone back to the way things were before the war, and they begin the rebuilding process, but what happens several years from now? Does history repeat itself? The answer must be yes because we will never cease to be evil. And if the answer is yes, then everything that Tris stood for and everything that everyone fought for, was for nothing. Factions cannot wipe away the evil, genetic engineering cannot either, so what can? That is the question she leaves hanging. The solution is obvious to us Christians though because we know only God can change our sin. The more Christian a nation becomes, the better life will be for everyone. I just wish Ms. Roth had made that clear.
The Four Stories:
And last of all we come to the short stories about Tobias. I was very excited to read these and I was not disappointed. We get a great glimpse into Tobias's home life and his transfer, his making it through Initiation, and then some overlap into Divergent. There are even special scenes included in the back, written from his POV for our enjoyment.
So to sum up the series, I loved it, and still do, with it's many strengths in its pages and
awesome characters. The wrap up was a disappointment however, and maybe Veronica Roth will keep this in mind when she goes to write another story. I won’t hesitate to check out her next work and I will hold out the hope it will be as good as Divergent could have been had she taken advantage of it's full potential.