ARC Review: Divergent Thinking


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.

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