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Divergent by Veronica Roth. What am I missing?

As much as I try to read those "next big thing" novels, I sometimes miss reading the hot commodities before they grow cold. I also very rarely buy books, borrowing from the library or waiting for a good used sale. But Divergent by Veronica Roth has so much buzz that I felt inadequate by not having read it. So when it called to me from the Target bookshelf on Friday, I tossed it into my cart. Friday night it started off good; Saturday I began to ponder its uniqueness; Sunday I wondered if I would ever invest in any of the characters. On Monday, I threw in the towel and skipped from mid-book to last chapter so I could just get it over.

My problem? It's prescriptive and not unique. Prescriptive in the formula of adolescent breaks away from parents, faces adversity, meets romantic interest, becomes an adult. This I could give a pass, after all we can assign this formula to many kid lit classics. However, there isn't a unique page in this book. The protagonist, Beatrice, is underdeveloped. Her cohorts off-putting by their very nature. Big themes are never really developed and opportunities to expand either character or theme are brushed aside in favor of moving on to the next scene.

The New York Times' Review by Susan Dominus probably said it best, "For a book that explores themes about the right to be individual and the importance of breaking away from the pack, “Divergent” does not exactly distinguish itself"

This is a genre book for students who like dystopian stories. But make sure they've read The Giver or The Hunger Games before you send them off with this formulaic rip-off.  

1 comment:

Ms. Yingling said...

Ah, yes, but you f orget--middle grade students essentially want to readthe same book over and over and over!

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