02 March 2012

Divergent, by Veronica Roth (Audio Review)

I was hesitant. This book was marketed for The Hunger Games fans. Was it possible there was another book out there that I would enjoy as much as The Hunger Games? After my disappointment with Wither, I wasn't sure if I should pick up another YA dystopian book for a couple months, but this one did not let me down at all.

Years ago, it was deemed there were certain actions that without them, would cause ultimate chaos in society. Because of this belief, five factions were created and while the Chicago residents in Divergent work and go to school with other factions, they are fiercely segregated. The five factions are Abnegation, selflessness; Amity, peacefulness; Erudite, intelligence; Abnegation, selflessness; and Candor, honesty.

Beatrice and her family are part of Abnegation. She has known nothing but sacrifice for others, whether for her family or for strangers. It's Abnegation's belief that selflessness is the most important quality and without it, society will break down. Although other factions ridicule the Abnegation, deeming them weak, it's the only life Beatrice has ever known.

At the annual Choosing Ceremony, sixteen-year-olds from each faction will make a life decision to either stay within the faction they were raised in (and ultimately stay with their family), or to choose another and forget everything they ever knew before. In this world, faction comes before blood. When Beatrice uncovers a secret about herself, she daringly chooses to leave her family behind and join the courageous Dauntless, and endures a difficult initiation under the watchful eye of Four, the enigmatic and cryptic training coach, in order to prove that she is brave. Now known as Tris, what she uncovers about herself, her "friends," and the world in which they live, is daring, secretive, and surprising.

Marketed for readers who loved The Hunger Games, I was skeptical. After all, I thought there couldn't possibly be another book that would rival my affection for the crazy nonsense I loved so much in the world of Katniss, Peeta, and Gale and the Districts. But Divergent was surprising and, I freely admit, it convinced me to stick with the audio versions of these thrill-ride dystopian novels (provided the narrator is spot on amazing). The audio kept me rapt with attention: I was loyal to it and didn't stray to any other audios or to my regular book to give myself a break; instead, I was turning Divergent on every chance I got. It sort of makes me think what The Hunger Games may have been like in audio. Anyone out there listen to it?

Veronica Roth created a wonderfully odd world of the future in which people segregate themselves into five factions and strive to be the best examples of it; the Dauntless throw caution to the wind and do everything they can to prove how unafraid they are, wildly dare-devilish actions that made my fear of heights even more pronounced. The Candor are honest to the point of being rude and inappropriate, and the Erudite wax philosophic and snobbishly exert their intelligence over others. It's a creative and eclectic order and in this story, works extremely well.

Events and characters were fully established and I had a clear picture of it all, along with their personalities. It wasn't hard to root Tris on in everything, and while I was a bit frustrated with her family (well, they were the selfless Abnegation), I did enjoy Four's hard edge and gritty approach to situations. Tris' friends in Dauntless were also surprisingly multi-layered and it was a positively challenging experience to know if they were truly friends, or if there were deeper secrets that questioned credibility. Perfect for this dystopian landscape!

I'd highly recommend Divergent to anyone interested in dystopian fiction. Veronica Roth created an extremely fun ride that was difficult to put down, and I eagerly await Insurgent in just a few months.

Audio Notes: Emma Galvin was remarkable. She had the perfect voice for the character of Tris and had just enough of a tone variance to distinguish other characters. As Tris began to grow from innocence in Abnegation to unabashed fearlessness in the Dauntless group, so too did Emma Galvin's voice successfully project this evolution. I will definitely pick up Insurgent in audio when it's released, especially if Emma Galvin is at the helm. Click here, and then click on the play button underneath the Divergent picture, to listen to the five-minute sample on Audible.com (you might need a membership, so if you do, head to iTunes to listen).

Others said (If I missed your review, don't be shy! Let me know so I can add it here):

Publisher: Harper Audio
Release Date: 5/3/2011
Audio Time: 11 hours, 11 minutes
Narrator: Emma Galvin

About the Author
Veronica Roth is the twenty-three-year-old New York Times best-selling debut author of Divergent, the first in a trilogy. The second book, Insurgent is expected to be released in May 2012. She lives in Chicago with her husband.

Follow the author:

Although the Science Fiction Experience hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings has concluded, I had to include this book and one more I still need to write up. So, this is my fourth selection for the event. All reviews from Experience participants can be found here.

Another audio selection for the 2012 Audio Book Challenge hosted by Teresa.


  1. I really liked this too - what Tris was going through was so vivid ... my only complaint was about the explanation for the dystopian society seemed a little weak to me. Bu, maybe that's just nitpicking, because I did love it.

  2. My husband and I did listen to the entire Hunger Games trilogy on audio, and the experience was incredible. The narration was wonderful! I do have this book on my e-reader, but now that you have mentioned how amazing the audio version is, I might have to see if I can find it. I have been reading nothing but good things about this book, so your review was a welcome accompaniment to all the other voices who have lauded this book. Fantastic review today, Natalie!

  3. I also liked this one very much. Having read 8 million dystopias in the past year, I would stay this one is definitely one of the standouts!

  4. Love this one! Can't wait for Insurgent! Wonderful review!

  5. This book is getting such raves - I feel like I need to get a copy. Can you believe I haven't read The Hunger Games yet?

  6. I normally stay from books that have the line "For those loved xyz..." but your review has made me reconsider my policy. I should still finish books 2 and 3 of hunger games before I read this one though. Thanks for the review Natalie!

  7. I've been hesitant about this book too. I love dystopian fiction but this book... I don't know. So I'm glad you gave it the thumbs up. Maybe I should just go for it...

  8. Fab! I will check this out on audio. Thank you so much for the review and recommendation.

    PS I lllllllllllllllllllove your new look but the gray font is slightly hard to read :)

  9. oh i've seen this one at the store and around the blogosphere but yours is the first actual review i've read - and wow, i think i'm going to jump on over to audible and use my recent credit to get this one! i need a new audio that will blow me away! thanks for the great review

  10. Yes, yes, yes...I agree with EVERYTHING that you said in this review (other than the audio portion so I read a print copy). Ha! I LOVED this book and can't wait to read Insurgent either. Such a good read. In fact, all I did was gush when sharing my thoughts on this book :)