I Owe Divergent an Appology

 

“Human beings as a whole cannot be good for long before the bad creeps back in and poisons us again.”

 

I am guilty of a grave book crime. I judged the book by its movie. I’m sorry Divergent. I’m sorry.

Author: Veronica Roth

Divergent is set in a world where society is broken into factions based on how people think. Beatrice grew up serving the poor of the city, but she doesn’t think she’s any good at it. She thinks she would be better at protecting the city. But that is supposed to be against her nature. She hopes her aptitude test will tell her what to do, but the results are inconclusive. Beatrice is Divergent, she can think in multiple different ways, so now Beatrice must ask herself, what does she believe?

I saw the film version of this and I hated it. Now I understand it is really just flawed in the adaptation.

The factions make more sense in the novel. The idea is that after some unspecified catastrophe, humanity wanted to ensure that the evil in human nature was squashed for good. but what is the root of evil? fear? ignorance? dishonesty? selfishness? distrust? enter the factions, each one dedicated to standing against one of these great human weaknesses. but they forgot about the biggest human weakness: tribalism.

Each of the factions in this series seeks to better themselves and their community by trying to counter what they consider to be the greatest evil in their society. We got the discount Amish (Abnegation) the dystopian hippies (Amity) snotty academics (Erudite) the litigious ones (Candor) and the jocks (Dauntless)

The faction in-fighting makes more sense in the novel. We are told that while there are courts and elected officials, they can only bring issues to the ruling council. This ruling council- the real power in this world- must be members of Abnegation.

Abnegation rules everything because their whole mission statement is about serving others and being selfless. Of course, this means that Abnegation is running an oligarchy, and let’s all cross our fingers that they are not corrupt.

It’s easy to see why other groups would be upset at this. The problem is that rather than making a clear logical case for why there should be checks and balances of power among all the groups, they start a civil war. because that what smart people do apparently.

The term “divergent” makes more sense in the novel than in the film. The film plays up Tress being divergent as this crazy weird thing, no one had heard of before. In the book though, it’s much more common. People who are divergent, keep their mouths shut and try to stay in the background. Tess is only unique because she didn’t “playing along” with the aptitude test and get a safe result. It is explained that the real reason that divergence is considered bad is that mind control tactics don’t work on them. That makes so much sense and made me realize that the Abnegation leadership really is evil.

I really did enjoy many parts of this book, but I’m not sure the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The Dystopian elements are not flushed out enough for me to say that it is a true Dystopia in its own right. While I may not like that Dystopian Romance as a romance subgenre, I do recommend this book to fans of it.

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