Book Review – Divergent by Veronica Roth and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins


I thought I would do this as combined review/comparison of the first in Trilogy of The Hunger Games books and Divergent, which is the first in the trilogy.

The reason for this is that Divergent is recommend with one of those ‘If you liked the Hunger Games, then you’ll love this’ tag-lines by many people and people are also saying it is ‘like’ the Hunger Games. So, having read all three Hunger Games books and Divergent I thought I would give you my take on why I think they are being compared, and what I think of them…

First a synopsis of Book 1 of the Hunger Games and Divergent…

Cover of "The Hunger Games"

The Hunger Games (Book 1)

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister Primrose, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before — and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

From Good Reads

Divergent

Divergent

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves… or it might destroy her.

Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance

From Good Reads

Okay so let’s start with the similarities, my daughter and I spent a long time discussing this (She has also read both Divergent and the Hunger Games Trilogy). I have been careful to avoid spoilers as much as possible!

Similarities

Both books are of the Young Adult Genre, set in future dystopian societies which on the brink of new civil unrest.  The main character in each is a female aged 16 who has to face a challenge that could lead to her death. The challenges in each involve high levels of violence.

The Main character is perceived as a threat by other characters, in both settings, from early on, despite appearing weak (being a ‘small girl’.) She has to make certain alliances, do things that go against her personal beliefs and discover her hidden strengths in order to survive.

Male characters seek to gain the affections of the main character, who seems mostly unaware of them initially but gradually these lead to the sexual awakening of the main character.

Both books have lots of twists and surprises, which keep you reading, wanting to know what will happen next.

Comparisons

In Divergent the society is divided into  5 Factions which are based on ‘virtues’. Citizens are born into their Faction but can move to another Faction at the Choosing Ceremony when they are 16.  Whereas in the Hunger Games the society is divided into 12 (once 13) districts, which are based on the natural resources available in that area and therefore citizens skills are related to the district they are born into, however they do not have an option to leave and join another District.

The Challenges faced by the main character in The Hungry Games are the result of becoming a Tribute (having volunteered to replace her younger sister) in The Hunger Games, two tributes are chose from each District, one boy, one girl but only one person can win/survive so you must kill the other tributes in order to get out, you then return to you District. In Divergent the main characters challenge is the Initiation, having chosen to change Faction at the choosing ceremony she must pass the initiation challenges to join her new Faction, fail and you become Factionless, even if it’s your birth faction still have to pass to stay and in some Factions there is a  could die in initiation.

Differences

You have a ‘choice’ in Divergent but in the Hunger Games there is no choice to participate – unless you volunteer to take someone else’s place.

The Capitol is in control in Hunger Games but in Divergent each faction has own leaders, and there is a Government made up by Abnegation citizens with a few representatives from other Factions in minor roles.

There is no regular interaction between districts in the Hunger Games but the Factions interact much more in Divergent, including attending school together – even though they tend to ‘hang out’ with others from their own Faction.

A love triangle develops in the HG but not Divergent.

You are left with a lot of questions at end of Divergent, but not so much with the Hunger Games. So, you could read the first HUnger Games without reading the rest as there is enough closure that you don’t have to read the next book to understand, but Divergent leaves you needing to read the next book to get the answers and tie up the loose ends that are still waving around at the end of the first book.

Nothing ‘changes’ in the purpose of the districts, they ‘are what they are’ as they are based on resources e.g mining in District 12. But being based on virtues the Factions are ‘drifting’ from the original dividing purposes e.g the meaning of ‘bravery’ is not what it was in Dauntless…

Conclusion

While there are parallels that can be drawn between Divergent and the Hunger Games they are different enough that each has it’s own merits and interesting in it’s own right. I can see why people are comparing them, the basic premise is similar, but personally I think each stands out on it’s own as an exciting read that makes you want to read the next instalment; Divergent leaves you feeling more that you have to read the next one, due to the loose ends as I say above, while Hunger Games give you more of a want to read what happens next.

Overall I agree with the sentiment that if you like one you will like the other, but don’t expect them to be the same (or worse avoid reading one because you’ve read the other and don’t want to read the same thing again!). Seriously they are both great reads, very worthy of your time! I for one will be reading Insurgent – the second book in the Divergent  trilogy. AND I am also already counting down the days till the first Hunger Games movie comes out in March – I would love to go to the première!! (but I doubt I would get that opportunity :/ )

Hunger Games Movie Trailer

What are you waiting for? If you haven’t read these awesome books yet go get them NOW!!! ;D

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18 comments on “Book Review – Divergent by Veronica Roth and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

    • I haven’t read the series, but looking at the synposis for the first book it appears to be more of a fantasy than a future dystopian society. While there may be some parallels with being another YA series and teens fighting against evil adults, but the inclusion of ‘monsters’ and demons separates it somewhat from Divergent and the Hunger Games in my opinion. 🙂

      • The Mortal Instruments is definitely urban fantasy. Demons, demon hunters, vampires, werewolves, and angels. The teens fighting evil adults also aren’t fighting against those in authority, but in rogue bad guys. Btw, that series is fantastic. I strongly recommend Cassandra Clare’s books.

  1. While I gobbled down every bit of The Hunger Games and feel I could read the book several more times and continue to learn from it, I personally did not get the same satisfaction from Divergent. I lost interest about half way through and just skipped around here and there. I probably will seek out Insurgent when it comes out in May to see if it is worthwhile to continue the series.

    • Yeah, I liked Divergent, but it didn’t have quite as much impact as Hunger Games – which bought me to tears! I’m hoping the author has picked up a few more tips to make Insurgent better for continuing the series as Divergent left a lot of unanswered (or partly answered) questions! 🙂

  2. Thanks for this blog post, Sharon! I’m in the middle of the second book of The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and can hardly put it down! So I can avoid withdrawn symptoms after I’m finished with the third book, I’ll be sure to pick up a copy of Divergent.

  3. I agree completely with the statement that you have to read more Divergent but you want to read more Hunger Games. They are pretty similar, though. Even the covers look the same.

    • Yeah the covers are very alike – I get the feeling that Veronica Roth wanted to ‘copy’ the formula of Hunger Games as they were published several years ago while Divergent was only published in 2011!

  4. Divergent sounds interesting; I haven’t read it yet. But I strongly dislike cliffhangers in series, so if the next book isn’t out yet, I’ll wait. Thanks for the recommendation!

    • Yeah, if I had known how much I would ‘need’ to continue reading I would have waited for the second book so I could continue straight onto it! Waiting is a good plan! 🙂

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  7. I found this review very helpful thanks! Am currently writing a book review myself on the similarites and differences between these two books and this review helped me greatly! so thanks!

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