I'm always reading something, usually multiple books at a time.
Rounded up from 2.5 stars--narrowly escaped being an even two.
Like many other reviewers of this book, I found its basic premise implausible. Here we are in a post-apocalyptic future-Chicago, formerly devastated by war, and we are supposed to believe that anyone thought that the route to ensuring peace was to subdivide the population into rigid, exclusive factions organized around one privileged personality trait? Each faction chooses a quality that is supposed to counteract what that group sees as the cause of wars. But somehow nobody anticipated the effect of inter-faction conflict?It's as if some genius decided society should model itself after the oh-so-functional cliquetocracy of your typical high school.
Much is made about the importance of the aptitude tests that all 16-year-olds must take, in order to help them choose a faction. But then there is apparently immense pressure from family and faction to choose one's home faction. Changing factions is characterized as a huge betrayal. Considering all that, and considering that the results of the aptitude tests are merely a serving suggestion, I wonder why they even bother with the testing. Why not just say "stay with your home faction unless you feel compelled to switch"?
Another point--switching factions is supposedly rare. But Tris's initation group has 20 people--11 that are "dauntless born" and nine that are "transfers." If it's so unusual, then why are nearly half of the intitiates transfers? And that's not counting the couple who never made it onto the train after the choosing ceremony. Then it was 50-50.
Another thing that didn't ring true was the rarity of divergence. I've seen this pointed out in other reviews: is it so hard to believe that most people would have a variety of traits? It seems more likely that "divergent" would be the norm. I know I'm not the only one to make this comparison, but "divergent" being a sign of our narrator's very special brain reminded me somewhat of Bella having a very special brain in the Twilight series. And along those lines, we have another narrator who thinks she's plain and ordinary, and goes through a process of finding out she is special and pretty and awesome. You probably know the drill.
Much of the narrative focuses on the long initiation process into Dauntless. As others have pointed out, it takes a long time for the real plot to show up. But once it does? I confess: I was intrigued. I wanted to see what happened and am still interested enough to continue to the next book. Begrudgingly, I came to like Beatrice/Tris, even though earlier on I spent much of the narrative rolling my eyes and commenting in my head, "That's because you're stupid." And by the end of the book, she is kind of awesome.