I wasn't crazy about this. It's holding on to its three stars by its toenails, because I did finish wanting to continue on to the last book--but, well, almost not. What first intrigued me about this series from the first book were the factions, which so reminded me of the Houses in <i>Harry Potter</i> and the implied critique of "sorting" people into groups with a few or one overriding value, and how those values can become corrupted. I also liked our action heroine/narrator Tris quite a bit, even if she at times didn't strike me as a very plausible teenager, nor is she as distinctive and appealing a character as say Rowling's Hermione or Collin's Katniss.
Overall, I wasn't thrilled with how Roth continued to develop the factions in this book, even if I did appreciate how she showed the dark side of most of them. But if I didn't particularly care for how Gryffindor-centric the <i>Harry Potter</i> books were--well, I'm out and out repelled by the Abnegation faction, Roth's answer to "What Would Jesus Do?" That may be the reason right there, since I'm no fan of Christianity even though I was raised in it--I'd never choose to live their way, and I'd resist being ruled under them. Although Roth does have some ambiguous and ruthless characters coming from Abnegation, I'm still left feeling we're supposed to embrace their ideals of selflessness. Moreover, about half-way through the book Tris acts in a way that embodies those ideals, in a way so stupid I almost slammed down the book and gave up. There was also another plot point in the book where supposedly brilliant people acted in a way stupid beyond belief. The series got a pass on that one only because a comment of one character implied not all was as it seemed, so I'm holding out hope it's explained in the last book.
Also, I have yet to fall in love with any of the characters, even though I'm sure Roth is only slightly less in love with her Tobias than Stephenie Meyer is with her Edward. At least neither Tobias nor his relationship with Tris is anywhere near as nauseating and dysfunctional as that central to the <i>Twilight</i> series and if Tris is no Hermione or Katniss, at least she's no Bella--for which, much thanks. (And Roth is a better writer than Meyer, even if not imo as striking and imaginative as Rowling or Collins.)
It is at least an easy fast read--and I was left just curious enough about the outside world about to be revealed to us I am now speeding through <i>Allegiant</i>. The friend who first brought this series to my attention says the series gets better, and Tris' arc is strong. We'll see if I find that true in the last book.