My household read Divergent by Veronica Roth. It is her first published novel and is also the first in the Divergent trilogy. It was released in 2011. The movie that is based on the book was released today (March 21st), which is why my household tried to gobble this book down in rapid gulps.
Well, I do not read a whole lot of (what is called) “young adult” fiction. I do not really like this new and really over-produced “genre” that I find more adults reading than actual “young adults.” Overall, after having read a handful of novels in this category, I have to say that these are really not good literary works. I mean, there is no “challenge” to reading them, no deeper meanings, no literary qualities, no substance, etc. I did not expect any, of course. Now, none of that is to say that these books are not entertaining and/or interesting. Many of the ones I have read were fast-paced, clever, and dripping with emotional moments! However, I also happen to see a lot more adults reading these books than youth…. and that concerns me a bit. I do not really find youth reading these books. All of this is just my personal opinion/experience, and I want to say that I do not mind reading puff or pulp. I just do not think it should be the majority of what one reads.
The thing is: this is another novel about a young girl who is the main character. She is the heroine. The book is told in the first-person perspective. The “takeaway” for the novel is that the girl is strong, independent, and can save the day. But this seems like most of the books that are in the young adult category. And while that is fine and dandy, I do not see that it is going to appeal to a male young adult audience. I mean not necessarily this book series – but this plethora of young adult novels with heroines. And if you notice that most of the readership seems to be adults (not youth) who is actually reading these? Or, is this sudden explosion of young adult media because it may lower the bar for creators? Something to ponder.
Anyway, this is a fast-paced read. Less words per page, lots of pages, quick chapters. The sentences are short and clip. The vocabulary is nothing difficult. But what we get is an interesting main character who is “conflicted” about where she belongs in her world. She has to look within herself to find strengths. And she has to learn to be a good judge of whom she would like to be her role models and leaders. Maybe she can take aspects of her teachers/parents/friends and learn from them all?
And, of course, the book is riddled with cliches. You must know that the Aloof Teenage Male plays a huge role here, for example. There are also a lot of typical scenes and moments that emulate the normal development of teenagers. They get embarrassed. They feel the pressure of tests and being successful. They experience challenges from their peers. After all, the author was only born in 1988, so she is probably able to remember a lot of these poignant moments better than some old folk do. I am not being obnoxious here: the connection, I think, a lot of young adult readers will make with this novel is that it does understand them. It does present these scenes that they should be able to identify with. Teenage angst is a real thing, I suppose, and I do think some novels patronize it or falsify it. I suspect Divergent rather gets it right.
I enjoyed this novel. It does not claim to be anything more than an exciting teenage adventure story. It was entertaining. I will probably see the movie this weekend and then promptly forget both. But I do hope the author keeps writing – beyond this series.