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After reading the Four stories, I was in the mood for some Divergent rereading.

And then I couldn’t track down my copy.

This angered me a little. Or maybe a lot. Luckily, fate was going to intervene. I had a road trip coming up, so I went to the university library to see what audiobooks they had on hand.

While their collection wasn’t great, it did yield a couple of books I’d been wanting to reread but didn’t have copies of, one of which being Divergent.

Like the post about Playing for Pizza, this one’s a little on the weird side because I’m reviewing a book I’ve read before, but I’m going through it in a new format. I’ll break this into two parts. First, I’ll cover the format. Second, I’ll cover the actual book.

Audiobooks killin’ me softly

Format: Audio CDs

Emma Galvin narrates Divergent. I know nothing about her beyond the fact that she does a great job narrating. Not all narrators are created equally. I’m not sure she’s quite on par with the Good Omens (Martin Jarvis) and The Night Circus (Jim Dale) narrators, but she definitely holds her own. There were some times where distinctions between characters was muddled a little, but there were a lot of characters to track, so it makes sense.

As for audio CDs, they still suck. Fumbling with them while driving is dangerous, and I have to be very careful. That said, I’ll probably do it again, though I did finally find the app the library uses for free audiobook rentals so maybe I don’t have to endanger everyone around me.

Also, the Divergent audio CDs were especially rebellious. Maybe the manufacturer was trying to stay on theme with the book, but they kept trying to dive out of their holders every time I swapped discs (and I’ll let you figure out why a few CDs diving out into my lap in traffic might be a bad idea).

Listening to a book I’ve already read? Fantastic. I think that’s the best type of audiobook, though I’m sure I’ll still listen to new books too.

Fumbling for CDs every hour or so? Awful. Absolutely awful. I’m just happy I wasn’t messing with cassettes.

Divergent rebels killing everyone and not softly

I feel like if you’re on a book review blog, you’ve probably read Divergent by now, but just in case: The story follows a dystopian future in Chicago where people are divided into 5 factions because that was deemed the best way for society to thrive. Our factions are

  • Abnegation – The goody two shoes who are the selfless leaders of the city and basically do the things no one else wants to (except for the part about leading the city)
  • Amity – The really nice people (and in book 2, we get to see why they’re so nice) who are responsible for growing food.
  • Candor – The obnoxiously honest whose role I honestly can’t remember. Maybe they were lawyers.
  • Dauntless – These are the crazies, like that friend in high school who convinced you to go cliff-diving. They might kill you but you won’t be bored.
  • Erudite – These are the insufferable know-it-alls, except instead of being with their best pals until Voldermort is destroyed, they pretty much are Voldemort.

I’m not sure why she felt the need to stretch our vocabularies with the faction names, but there you go. Each faction serves a function and factions come before family.

The story starts with an Abnegation girl who just doesn’t quite fit in. Long story short, when it’s her time to choose a faction, she becomes Dauntless. She goes from helping the needy to becoming a trained killer.

The real story for her is the title of the book though. Turns out not fitting in is pretty dangerous in this world. (Psst, she’s divergent).

Without going into spoilers land, you’ve got a somewhat typical YA dystopian fiction story along with a somewhat atypical YA story.

As far as dystopian futures go, this one’s pretty normal. Weird rules that don’t make sense to my 21st century anarchist self. People being divided into nice, clearly discerned groups. A government that doesn’t appreciate being questioned. Nothing to see here, thank you very much. And of course our female protagonist who has some inner strength the rest of us can’t see at first.

As far YA fiction goes, it’s not that typical. The main thing is that there’s no love triangle. There’s a love story, but there’s no competing interests (#teamedward, in case you wondering). And while our character grows, she’s pretty much a badass from the start.

This isn’t a novel that’s going to change your worldview. But it’s an interesting take in a well-tread genre. As with any book like this, what gives it its most compelling moments are the normal things we all relate to (friendship, growing up, facing a new challenge) but thrown into the blender of whatever the magic of the series is (even if it’s a nonmagical series like this).

And while the second and third books aren’t quite as good as the first, I think they still hold up well. And unlike many readers, I appreciated how the series ended.

Long story short, this is a good book to check out if you haven’t. Whenever I get to the second book’s reread, I’ll have to get into the spoiler zone, but I think going into this book on a relatively clean slate is important, so that’s all I have to say about that.

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