ARC Review: Divergent Thinking

ARC Review: Divergent Thinking
ARC Review: Divergent Thinking

Divergent Thinking

Written by Leah Wilson
(Smart Pop - 3/4/2014)
Genres: Nonfiction
Format: eARC (256 pages)
Source: NetGalley
Rating: 4 Stars

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Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy (Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant) has captured the hearts and thoughts of millions of readers. In Divergent Thinking, YA authors explore even more of Tris and Tobias’ world, including:

  • What Divergent’s factions have in common with one of psychology’s most prominent personality models
  • The biology of fear: where it comes from and how Tris and the other Dauntless are able to overcome it
  • Full-page maps locating all five faction headquarters and other series landmarks in today’s Chicago, based on clues from the books
  • Plus a whole lot more, from why we love identity shorthand like factions to Tris’ trouble with honesty to the importance of choice, family, and being brave
With a dozen smart, surprising, mind-expanding essays on all three books in the trilogy, Divergent Thinking provides a companion fit for even the most Erudite Divergent fan.

Contributor list: Elizabeth Wein, Maria V. Snyder and Jenna Snyder, V. Arrow, Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Mary Borsellino, Rosemary Clement-Moore, Debra Driza, Julia Karr, Dan Krokos, Elizabeth Norris, Janine K. Spendlove, Blythe Woolston
FTC Disclosure: This book was provided to me from the author or publisher (NetGalley), free of charge, with the understanding that my intention is to read it and provide feedback in the form of an honest review. I am not compensated in any way in exchange for positive reviews, and I don’t let anything other than the book's contents affect my opinions and review.

My Thoughts

Sometimes I randomly browse NetGalley and request books purely on a whim, and this is one such example. Though I really liked Divergent when I first read it, my satisfaction with the series declined with each successive book (not that I ended up hating it or anything — I rated Allegiant 3 stars). That being said, one of my favorite things to do with books is analyze and speculate. (And no, not like in English class; I like my reading, analysis, and speculation to be interesting and enjoyable.)

I didn’t really know what to expect with Divergent Thinking. All I knew was that it was a collection of discussions about the Divergent trilogy from various YA authors, one of whom is Dan Krokos. Once I started reading, I was excited by the analysis and discussions being done in each essay and surprised by how well the whole idea of this book matched up with what I like. I’d unknowingly picked up a book that was right up my alley!

Divergent Thinking, as you’ve probably gathered by now, is a collection of essays that explore various concepts, themes, ideas, and more within the Divergent trilogy. This was interesting and familiar ground for me, because this could just as easily have been a series of posts on a blog somewhere. (I suppose it’s worth mentioning that this book CLEARLY assumes the reader has read the entire Divergent trilogy, because spoilers abound. I will avoid spoilers in this review, though.) These essays varied in quality and interest for me, but that is probably to be expected.

My favorites were the ones that dealt more with psychological and scientific analysis. The book starts off strong with Rosemary Clement-Moore’s comparison of the factions to the multitude of personality tests and types we enjoy in our society. Jennifer Lynn Barnes followed that up nicely with her own interesting perspective on the psychology behind the factions. Even though I’ve never even been to Chicago, I was giddy with excitement as I read through V. Arrow’s attempt to map out the Chicago we see in Divergent with the Chicago of today. Blythe Woolston’s look at fear and its role in the series was fascinating.

Some of them satisfied my curiosity in a different way, but didn’t quite scratch my analytical itch. That’s really fine, though; I’d just been primed and spoiled with the analytical ones (my preference) in the beginning. I liked the way Dan Krokos pit the Bureau and the Rebels against each other to see which one is really worse, Julia Karr’s comparison of the faction system to other problematic groups in history (like Nazi Germany, for example), and the interesting parallels (and differences) that Janine Spendlove drew between the Dauntless and the US Marine Corps.

The essays I didn’t enjoy as much were the ones that seemed to have weaker arguments and less focus. Some of them felt like they were trying too hard or really reaching to expand upon their chosen topic of discussion. The contribution from Maria V. Snyder and her daughter Jenna read more like a mother-daughter conversation than an actual essay (that is, it felt like the kind of thing that only they would be interested in reading, not so much anyone else).

In Conclusion

I very much enjoyed this book! I was pleasantly surprised by this collection of essays. I do wonder, though, how many people will end up buying something like this (I have a feeling that compilations and anthologies don’t get a lot of sales, but maybe that’s my own bias?). Like I said: I would have been just as happy reading these essays on a blog somewhere; in fact, I might have even enjoyed that more, because then I would have been able to engage in discussions about them more easily.

Read 19 comments

  1. I’m not sure if something like this would be enjoyable to me. I do like reading the occasional review but for the most part, I’m scared of reading reviews because they might ruin the book for me. You know what I mean? Even if I loved it, reading someone else’s thought’s can make me doubt it..lol

  2. I actually love stuff like this! It’s so interesting to see a world explored more and to gain insight into how other people have perceived things.

    It feels very much like a ‘behind the scenes’ type of deal, and that really appeals to me. When I get sucked into a world like I did in Divergent, I really appreciate learning all I can about it and the characters.

    Thanks for letting me know this existed, because I was totally clueless!

    • Yes, that’s exactly it! You get to think a lot deeper into the world in the story and analyze the decisions and actions of the characters (and the author, who chose to build the world and write the story the way they did). It was really interesting to see how much of the book was probably influenced by Roth’s living in Chicago and being in college when she wrote Divergent! If you pick up this book, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! :)

    • The fun thing — for me, at least — about reading analysis of a thing is that you don’t have to have enjoyed that thing in order to enjoy the analysis of it. In fact, sometimes I enjoy analyzing something MORE if it’s something I didn’t like, because then I get to pick it apart and look at all the pieces and figure out what worked and what didn’t work and WHY it didn’t work, etc. Plus, it gives you a new perspective on that particular thing, which is always something I enjoy!

      (I mean, SO many people write and read analyses of Twilight, and most of them seem to be folks who didn’t like the series, eh?)

  3. I haven’t read this one, but I have read similar collections about Ender’s Game, The Hunger Games, and Harry Potter (the company that does these does all of them).I LOOOOOOVE this kind of thing, though I do think the audience who actually reads these is, sadly, quite small. I think these books are put out as filler on the display table at Barnes and Noble. But I also think there is a small market for them in schools. I’ve known teachers who have students read selected essays in The Hunger Games collection (The Girl Who Was On Fire) while reading the novel in school. It’s a great pairing for that purpose!

  4. I haven’t read any of these books analyzing other books, but they always appeal to my love of pairing books together. However, I agree that something like this might actually be better as a series of blog posts, so that you could easily discuss individual essays. Great review! :)

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