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.
Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.
Truthfully, I wasn’t interested in reading this book the first time I saw it. It wasn’t that long ago that I read The Hunger Games and the jacket description for Divergent just sounded a bit too similar for me. Fast forward to a few weeks later when I’d read several glowing reviews and my boyfriend was telling me he’d heard about a YA dystopian book HE wanted to read… that changed my mind.
Divergent starts off as Beatrice is faced with the decision, not only of what she wants to do for the rest of her life, but who she wants to BE. She’s been raised in Abnegation, surrounded by people who devote themselves to others. Selflessness is the name of the game if you belong to Abnegation, but Beatrice has never felt like she quite fits in there. Instead she is drawn to Dauntless, a faction that is pretty much on the complete other side of the spectrum. People in Dauntless are brave to the point of recklessness, unconcerned about the safety of others or themselves. It doesn’t take long for the reader to realise that Beatrice will soon be joining the ranks of the Dauntless.
I’m definitely glad I ended up reading Divergent. It’s well written, fast paced and I really liked the main character, but I did have a few reservations. The world is complex, but we don’t get to delve into that very much. It’s kind of an implied complexity that I found really frustrating. I know there are more books coming, but this is the set-up so it kind of seems like the best time to really immerse the reader in all those little world building details. There are good ideas here, but I wanted more explanation.
It was interesting to listen to my boyfriend’s comments on this book. He read it before I did, so I knew some of his thoughts about the characters and plot before I started. He’s more of a sci-fi reader, not really into much YA. I wasn’t too surprised when he mentioned not being a big fan of the more romantic parts, but I was a little surprised to find myself feeling the same way. I didn’t dislike it, but it disrupted the flow for me. I was drawn along for the more action packed portions and caught up in the intrigue and then the relationship centric scenes seemed like a time-out from all that, instead of fitting into the overall story line. There was a lot of focus on touching hands and shivers and “what is he thinking? does he like me?” I am aware that I am in the minority here. Four seems to have a lot of fans, and I am very much willing to feel differently when I read the second book, but he felt flat to me. I could see the twist coming about who he really was from the very beginning of the book. I was a lot more interested in Tris’s interactions with the other initiates. Those sparkled more for me than the romance.
In the end, this was an enjoyable read, but because of the similarities to Hunger Games it suffered at times. I read HG first and it’s one of my all time favorite series. It’s been a launching pad for SO many new dystopian books, and I think that’s a great thing, but it also means they have a lot to live up to. Divergent holds its own, but it’s not making it onto the favorites list for me.