12 March, 2012

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Pages: 496

Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian
Format: Paperback
Published by Katherine Tegen Books

In a future Chicago, 16-year-old Beatrice Prior must choose among five predetermined factions to define her identity for the rest of her life, a decision made more difficult when she discovers that she is an anomaly who does not fit into any one group, and that the society she lives in is not perfect after all.

Following the wake of dystopian fiction made popular by the hype of The Hunger Games, Divergent is set in a world with a controlling authority. The status quo is set there to ensure safety and provide for the citizens’ needs. This is where Veronica Roth does it with a bang. What really grabbed my attention before picking up this book was the government and its division into factions. It’s refreshingly creative and I think it makes it stand out from books that may have ended up with too many similarities. The Factions split up society into different groups in order to keep the peace and productivity of society. The five factions are Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the fearless), Erudite (the scholars), Amity (the peaceful), and Candor (the honest). You can read a bit more about them here. In terms of the factions, I really do get it, Ms. Roth. If you separate people of vastly differing personality types, you just may cut out confrontation all together. It’s an interesting idea, and too bad for the government it ends up backfiring in the most exciting of ways!

The story follows a sixteen year old named Beatrice. She has spent her whole life trying to fit into the Abnegation faction that she has grown up in. She doesn’t want to disappoint her family by leaving them for another faction when she gets to decide at a public ceremony, but she can’t help but feel the gentle nagging of an identity crisis. When the time comes to take a virtual simulation test to determine her true character her results are inconclusive and end up giving her three possible faction choices. She is quickly told that this is very dangerous and that she needs to keep this a secret. She doesn’t know why this is dangerous, and she won’t find out until nearly the end, but the reader can definitely venture a guess. This is the only part of the book I find to be a tad predictable.

When the time comes for her to choose a faction, Beatrice chooses another faction (Dauntless) and separates herself from her family. The rest of the book is about her taking on her new identity by renaming herself Tris and transforming into a legitimate badass. In order to become a full member of the Dauntless, Tris has to survive training and the cuts amongst the ranks to fight for one of only ten slots of new initiates. And on top of that, she has to deal with the fact that other factions are dangerously criticizing Abnegation, her old faction, and hoping it doesn’t lead to an overthrow that could lead to endangering her parents’ lives.

My Review:

This book is intense, but I end up absolutely loving Tris as she becomes a girl who doesn’t shy away from the punches thrown at her. She’s a badass with good morals and a serious drive to become initiated. Because she has to deal with no one really liking Abnegation members or taking Abnegation transfers seriously, she really has to prove herself. On the flipside, I do love that she has some soft spots, namely a soft spot for one of her instructors, Four.

This book was set at a very satisfying pace. I felt that it was fast enough to flow right, carry some action, and do justice to the character transformation of Tris. The characters were very well developed and every single one of them had flaws as well as redeeming qualities. They seemed very detailed and believable. The setting was described in such a way that you feel as though you are there and that the factions have always been the way. I do get quite irritated with books that tell you what society is like rather than showing you. More authors should take note of Roth’s style, as I think she’s really got some. I also immensely enjoy that there is a romance in this book BUT that it takes a back seat to the important plot. Nothing can get annoying like too much YA romance.

Overall, this book is tremendous and I cannot sing its praises enough! You can bet that I will be out there on May 1, 2012 to get my copy of the second installment, Insurgent. Thank goodness it’s a trilogy!


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