Ironically, I like writer's interviews and writer's comments better than the actual book. Many aspects of Veronica Roth in those are interesting. However, many points reflected from her writing didn't reach profoundness as I hope it to be.
If Roth's ideas were based on psychological experimental and psychotherapy of phobia and those ideas inspired Dauntless, I think Roth did it quite great. I don't think that courage of Dauntless is something stupid. Each training has its own reasons. To be brave, one must be trained to confront many patterns of fear. Before we could be brave to protect others, we have to be brave against our own fear, so Dauntless had to train both physically and mentally.
The problem started at this point. Because I don't like to read action scenes or fighting scenes (very strange for one who also like Wuxia genre, I daresay). The book focus on Tris training to be a member of Dauntless faction, which took place around a half of the book. Certainly it was full of fighting scenes, action scenes which appeal most of reader but make me bored instead. Well, I have no problem for action scene if it help makes story progress. I didn't mean the scene that make the story move forward, but the one that make the story reach to the point or to the conflict of the story. For this book, I think those action scene is too long for story progression.
The next problem is labeling this book as dystopia.
From the writer's interview on the back of this book (My version, the Thai version) Roth said that she wrote this world like her Utopia, however, it's couldn't be that ideal, which is no surprised. Dystopian world, in my opinion, must contains some backgrounds base from our society, some aspects or events that has a tendency to distort our society and make it corrupted. The story has to accentuate that point to drive the story in a manner of social commentary. However, to divide people into factions based on the virtue you worship... well... I don't think normal people would worship only one virtue and neglect others. Mostly we worship many of them and each society has different approaching to practice those virtue. At the end, what virtue to be worshiped, which methods used to approach it, the authority is the one who decided.
For me, this book is an action-adventure novel, told us a story about power struggling between faction on the world that seemingly a dystopia. If you try to find any meaning of dystopia from this book, you would be disappointed. If you just read for entertaining, this book is a big okay. And due to the interview I mentioned, Roth didn't design it to be a dystopia from the start *me laughing*. The problem is just how publisher marketed this book.
The writing, I guess from the translation, is easy to read and quite clear. I hope the original script is as beautiful as I believed.
Tris, the main protagonist, has something in her that make me related with. She wasn't good in everything, but smart and surviving. Tobias is quite interesting, though I know from the start that which faction he came from. Too bad, I didn't feel much chemistry between them.
The ending is cliffhanger. If I finished it and really like it, I might instantly go to the bookstore now and buy the sequel. But I didn't like it that much. And since people said that the last book ended unpleasantly, I think I would rather read spoiler instead.