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.
Every once in a while a book comes along I have difficulty reviewing. I don’t know what prevents me putting into words my thoughts but I do know that it isn’t logical for a review to consist of just one word. In the case of Divergent by Veronica Roth that one word would be WOW or AMAZING, something along those lines; a word that no matter how complimentary still doesn’t do the book justice. Divergent can be compared to Suzanne Collins Hunger Games in that there is an astounding amount of hype surrounding it. Me being me, I was reluctant to read it as I didn’t want to be left disappointed. Yet again, upon completing Divergent, I was left with the thought that is becoming familiar to me now: “Why didn’t I read this book sooner?” Consider this a lesson learnt; hype is there for a reason and I need to start trusting it.
Divergent is set in a future version of Chicago whose residents are divided into factions determined by their primary virtue. There are five factions: Abnegation (selflessness), Amity (peace), Candor (honesty), Dauntless (courage) and Erudite (knowledge). The story centres on sixteen year old Beatrice Prior. Brought up within the Abnegation faction, Beatrice should be accustomed to a life of selflessness. Yet, she has always felt that she doesn’t quite hold all of the values needed to truly belong to Abnegation. At the age of sixteen, individuals are allowed to choose which faction they want to dedicate the rest of their lives to. Ahead of this decision, Beatrice takes an aptitude test which is designed to determine which faction she is truly suited to. The unthinkable happens when Beatrice’s results claim that she is in fact Divergent; not suited to one faction but three: Abnegation, Dauntless and Erudite. She is warned to keep her Divergent status to herself as it could be potentially very dangerous to her. Beatrice enters the Choosing Ceremony aware that she doesn’t exclusively fit into one faction but must make her choice regardless. She can choose to remain with Abnegation and her family, or choose a rival faction with the likelihood that she will never see her family again. Knowing she doesn’t belong to Abnegation and wanting more from her life, she chooses Dauntless. She has always admired the Dauntless free spirit but in order to remain she must undergo the challenging initiation process. Fail and she will become factionless and that is a position no one wants to be in.
Roth has well and truly delivered with Divergent. Right from the start, I was hooked. I was sucked into this entirely new world and the characters that inhabited it. I was intrigued and enthralled to read about this new society. A society that segregates its population into factions focused on different values is a scary thought. In the back of my mind throughout the book was the thought of “imagine if this was reality”. Although not much detail is given to how and why society ended up this way, I was still entranced by the world Roth created. The plot was fast-paced and full of plenty of action. If you’re looking for a read that will keep you on the edge of your seat, Divergent is a pretty safe choice. There was no shortage of plot twists; just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, it continued to surprise me.
The characters were superb. Beatrice Prior, later known as Tris, is an example of a strong female character which is a rare gem in the Young Adult genre. I admire her immensely. She was brave but still had this vulnerability about her. Most of all, she knows it. Don’t expect Tris to be a damsel in distress, that’s not her style. Then there is her Dauntless instructor, Four. A complex character, whose hard exterior hides a lot of things. I was definitely intrigued by him. As the book progressed and more came to light about his character, I found I still wanted to know even more about him. Who Four is today is a result of his past and as that past is revealed, I couldn’t help but love him more. Tris and Four make a dynamite pairing. I look forward to getting to know them more in follow up book, Insurgent.
Overall, I can’t fault Divergent. The hype was right once again. It had everything I wanted from a book: fast-paced and action-packed plot line; strong, realistic characters; and that after-book feeling of “I want more”. If you’re putting off reading Divergent because of the hype, don’t make the same mistake I did. I wish I’d read this sooner.