I enjoyed it. But there was just nothing about it that blew me away. I actually found it to be a rather typical young adult dystopian. We have a main character who thinks she is small
, but really she is big
to everyone else. She makes decisions about the course of her life that present new difficulties; she meets a pretty boy; she has to deal with a worldwide problem because she is a unique position to do something about it. Yada yada yada.
There were many slow moments toward the beginning of the book, but the ending was pretty exciting. Throughout most of the book, I was planning to give it a three-star rating, but there was some good stuff going on at the end.
My main issue was inconsistency in characterization. Most people in society belong to one of five factions: Abnegation, Dauntless, Erudite, Candor, and Amity. Each faction respects a specific personal quality, which affects that faction's distinction between right and wrong. As a practical matter in the book, this led to a lot
of explicit explanation about why people acted the way they acted. He thinks this is bravery. Sometimes selflessness and bravery are the same thing. I am selfish. I am brave.
And on and on like that--a lot. In my humble opinion, if the characters actions don't speak for themselves, the issue is with characterization. I never knew most of these characters; I knew what the author told me about them.
The "brave" people were also quite cowardly, in my opinion--except maybe Tris. Selfless people were selfish--except maybe Tris's mother. Granted, perhaps the problem is one of unreliable point-of-view character. Perhaps I simply disagree with Tris about what it means to be brave and what it means to be selfless and what it means to be honest. So when she told me someone was brave, my thinking was . . . if you say so. But that's a whole new can of worms that I probably shouldn't open in this review.
Lastly, I found the entire society rather unbelievable. The factions initially arose because of differing opinions as to which values are most necessary. Frankly, this is just silly to me. I just can't imagine real people saying: "What's really important is bravery. It's so important, in fact, that we should create a faction about it and fight with the factions who disagree with us." Say what?