I can’t remember The Hunger Games’ writing now, but I don’t recall it being horrible, and my standards are low. I also quickly grabbed the next two in the Hunger Games trilogy, as it reminded me of (and in lucid moments I would say outright stole) Battle Royale, which I loved.
This book, however, was poor. Very very poor in a lot of respects, be it prose or story. I was reading Little Women and now The Good House alongside this and cannot overstate how incredibly bad this book’s writing is next to these works. For instance, Roth likes to show emotion through stomachs. I literally lost count of how many times Tris had her stomach turned, twisted, dropped, emptied, punched, knotted and other acrobatics, depending on the situation. Roth also attempts to draw our the romantic tension between the leads, but fails, and as a result Tris comes across as comically dense at reading the most overt social signals.
The entire premise of society founded on 5 prime social values was also weak. Seriously? Why would anyone who don’t feel affinity to these 5 values warrant being outcast? The book doesn’t go deep enough to explain why it would make sense to have familial ties broken just because they thought differently from their born-into factions. This artificial limitation bugged me, and the leads’ titular divergent behaviour was contingent on them feeling bad for not truly belonging to the status quo. In other words, they are heroes in the book for being *normal*.
Still. I finished the book. I kept having two thoughts as I read this book. First is the mystery of it all. The ridiculousness of the story and writing rivaled the likes of Cassandra Clare, for example, whose works I simply could not finish. However I was irked at this Divergent concept. What the hell was this? How did Roth managed to get this published? There must be something quite spectacular (or spectacularly bad) at the end that I must see for myself. False hopes, and a genuine letdown.
Let anyone who extol the role of culture curators the traditional publishers supposedly play, that self publishers don’t do, explain this one.
The second thought is a personal one, reminding me that if I ever harbour hopes of publishing something, let this be a lesson. Roth has plenty of books under her belt, and I have none. And she’s found success with it. Here I am bitching about the book, but not sitting down writing something better. If the bar is supposedly low, then get writing!