Day eight of this challenge and now we’re moving on from most underrated to, what I believe, is the most overrated book. (Click here if you are lost and want to know what this challenge is about.)
Maybe I should have mentioned this yesterday, but when it comes to choosing which book is overrated or underrated, it is all about personal taste and preference. Maybe I didn’t mention this for the previous post because stating that a book is underrated may be seen as a form of flattery, but today choosing one that is overrated would be considered as a form of insult.
So, I hope that whoever reads this review takes it as constructive criticism of the novel rather than me blasting it for how terrible it is – because I honestly believe that any book, if published or written, holds some form of expression to it, regardless of its quantity or quality. The only difference is that I find this following book unworthy of the amount of attention it receives. The book in question being:
The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth
I write here series instead of Divergent because I initially wanted to target Insurgent alone, but decided otherwise. For those who watched the movie, you probably have the general gist of this young adult novel. It revolves around an enclosed post-apocalyptic Chicago where people are sorted according to their personalities. The idea itself is quite interesting – but that is about as far as originality goes. The rest of the story revolves around Beatrice Prior who leaves her original faction of Abnegation (the selfless) to enter Dauntless (the brave) after her personality test results reveal she is Divergent (she has more than two personality traits). The rest of the first novel revolves around her going through the training process of being in Dauntless and realising that the Erudite are seeking to overthrow the factions through a peace serum which controls everyone except the Divergent.
The problem I have with this series is how, apart from the intriguing concept, the execution of the events that follow Tris (her Dauntless nickname) throughout the novels is extremely lackluster. The first novel is generally as good as it gets, and by the time Roth is finished killing off the more important characters (spoiler but not really spoiler cause, trust me, you expect all of them to die), she is left to pick at the scraps of her plot and characters as though she were a Factionless herself.
Another problem I have with the series is how it is so difficult to distinguish the secondary characters apart. It is so difficult to identify all the female characters and to remember whether they were from Dauntless or Erudite or Candor or Amity – which suggests that they served very little purpose to begin with and were just not given enough attention to detail to make them memorable. This defeats the purpose of having a female heroine when all the other female characters are whitewashed into the background.
Roth as a whole is able to have interesting and dangerous scenarios, but when it comes to character attachment in the book, it is difficult to relate or find much to love about them. Henceforth, when a character died, I found myself often relieved rather than emotional – it was one less character for me to strain to remember. And this is probably the opposite effect Roth intended to have for all these characters falling apart.
If anything, Roth makes better villains than heroes. I found myself far more intrigued by the adult figures of Jeanine and Marcus who appear far more nuanced than, say, Tris or Four. Tris, at times, was annoying and rash and even cowardly.
Next, being Divergent and the gravity of being Divergent was never fully explored in the books – even worse still, it appeared that, by the second book, Insurgent, every other person in the city was Divergent. “Oh, you’re Divergent too? Cool!” With all these attacks on Divergent humans and seeing all of them being revealed, I began to get the impression as a reader that it was not such a rare trait after all. Sorry, Tris, you’re not that special!
Lastly, getting through Insurgent was a difficult task for me. I thought Divergent was alright; I loved the entire initiation period as the characters appeared to have a purpose to strive towards – but Insurgent was painful, like eating extremely dry bread in the early morning. There was a serious dearth of plot. I mean, even Harry, Ron and Hermione wandering through the English countryside looking for horcruxes was more entertaining than Tris and Four wandering between factions and pointing an accusing finger at all the authorities. If Insurgent was a meatball sandwich, it would be like all the meatballs were slowly slipping out the bottom of the loaf of bread, so that while you expect to bite into the thick of the meat at least halfway through, you end up sadly disappointed by all the residual marinara sauce you bite into instead (- was the metaphor appropriate?). So in other words, all the meat was left at the end and the rest of the book (the majority of the first three quarters) was all lumpy sauce.
Therefore, due to these problems in the series, I found it stunning how some teenagers still adamantly believe it to be as adrenalin-pumping and thought-provoking as they exclaim. I do not believe that Divergent is anywhere near on par with The Hunger Games. At best, the series’ concept is worth considering – the characters and events that unfold are, however, far from perfection.
So, for more overrated books, please go over to Rhey of Sunshine‘s side for her pick. I think if I don’t stop myself now I could probably add in two or three more books here which I believe don’t deserve the hype they are getting (*cough* Twilight *cough*).
Till next time!