Tuesday, October 11, 2011

REVIEW: "Divergent" by Veronica Roth

TITLE: Divergent
AUTHOR: Veronica Roth
SERIES: Divergent #1
GENRE: Young Adult-Dystopian
SETTING: Futuristic Chicago
READ: October 2011
SOURCE: Bought-Target
Beatrice "Tris" Prior has reached the fateful age of sixteen, the stage at which teenagers in Veronica Roth's dystopian Chicago must select which of five factions to join for life. Each faction represents a virtue: Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, and Erudite. To the surprise of herself and her selfless Abnegation family, she chooses Dauntless, the path of courage. Her choice exposes her to the demanding, violent initiation rites of this group, but it also threatens to expose a personal secret that could place in mortal danger.

Like many other readers, I am a huge fan of the Hunger Games trilogy and the dystopian genre it introduced me to.  But, I have had a difficult time finding a book that moved me the way that Suzanne Collins's series did.  This is not to say that I did not enjoy the other dystopians, far from the truth.  But, none of them have had the same spark that Katniss's journey had for me. 

Then I heard about Veronica Roth's Divergent.  It was getting quite a bit of buzz around the blogosphere, but I'll admit I was hesitant about it.  After all, it seemed like every YA book was being marketed as the next Hunger Games, Twilight, Harry Potter, etc.  Well, I am glad to say that my cynicism was unfounded.  This book blew me away and made me eager to read more from the author.  Okay, enough background, on to the review!

Divergent takes place, as mentioned in the above summary, in a futuristic version of Chicago.  War has isolated the city from its surroundings and made Chicago a self-governing entity.  The citizens of the city, in reaction to the war, were determined to find a way to keep peace and avoid such tragedies again.  As expected, there were many debates about how they should go about insuring peace. 

The result was five factions that focused on a particular virtue believed to be the sole way to avoid war.  The factions are: Dauntless-courage, Abnegation-selflessness, Erudite-knowledge, Candor-honesty, and Amity-friendship.  Each of these factions has their own unique culture, values, traditions, and roles in the new Chicago.  When children reach the age of sixteen, they are allowed to choose which faction they will belong to for the remainder of their life. 

Beatrice Prior (Tris) is the protagonist of Divergent and has been raised in Abnegation.  She has been taught to be selfless at all costs and avoid anything that may tempt her to stray from that goal.  But, when her choosing ceremony approaches, she finds herself in a complex situation.  She feels like she could belong in multiple factions and must decide whether to stick with her family in Abnegation or branch out on her own.

Tris is a fabulously written character.  She has been raised in an environment that strives for selflessness above all things and believes in many of those attributes, but she also rebels against the black and white ideas of Abnegation.  When she surprises her family and chooses the Dauntless faction, she does not mope around about it, but throws herself head first into training.  While Tris is not the strongest of the new members, she more than makes up for it in determination and mental preparation.  She learns how to balance selflessness and courage in order to survive training, but also learns about some darker aspects of her personality that had never had the chance to shine through.  Tris is a flawed, but adaptable heroine that will have readers rooting for her success.

There are many secondary characters that Tris encounters throughout the factions.  Primarily, readers learn about the members of Dauntless in this installment.  Tris makes friends and enemies among the initiates to Dauntless.  The new members came from a variety of backgrounds so they provided an introduction into the other factions.  We also got insight into Dauntless from the initiates who were raised within that faction. 

And then we have Four.  Four is one of the instructors/trainers of the new Dauntless initiates who catches Tris's attention from the very beginning.  He is considered to be one of the bravest of the Dauntless and has a reputation of being tough, but fair.  But, there is more to Four than meets the eye.  His background is mysterious as is the origin of his nickname.  Like Tris, Four is not a perfect character and deals with his own weaknesses throughout the book, but this only makes him more intriguing and appealing. 

There is so much more I could say about this book, but I don't want to spoil it for any prospecting readers.  Let me just say that there are mysteries, twists, tragedies, and thought-provoking moments throughout the book.  Roth delves into a variety of questions such as what consitutes bravery and how does one truly achieve selflessness that stayed with me long after I finished reading.  I highly recommend this book to any young adult fans or just fans of good, thoughtful stories in general.  I personally cannot wait for Insurgent to be released in 2012!



“We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another.”


"A brave man acknowledges the strength of others.”


"Who is he when he isn't Dauntless, isn't an instructor, isn't Four, isn't anything in particular?  Whoever he is, I like him. It's easier to admit that to myself now, in the dark, after all that just happened. He is not sweet or gentle or particularly kind. But he is smart and brave, and even though he saved me, he treated me like I was strong. That is all I need to know.”



1. Divergent
2. Insurgent (Coming May 2012)
3. Untitled (Coming 2013)



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