Divergent by Veronica Roth
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.
Here’s the scoop: Upon turning sixteen, kids are tested to find the appropriate faction in which they will live. On Choosing Day, they have the opportunity to go with what was recommended or to choose their own destiny. Most decide to stay in the factions in which they are raised, comfortable with their families and in the lifestyle in which they’ve always known, but some gamble and leave to train in a new faction. If they fail during training, they are considered factionless and are forced to live on the outskirts of society. If they succeed, they find a new home and a new purpose. But either way, the life they once knew and the parents who raised them, are far removed from their new destiny.
The problem for Beatrice is this: when she was tested, the results were inconclusive. The woman who ran the test acted shocked by the outcome and urged Beatrice to keep her results a secret. It’s only later that she finds that this type of result means she is considered Divergent—but she’s not certain what that means. Despite her love for her family, on Choosing Day Beatrice leaves her faction, Abnegation (the selfless), and joins ranks with Dauntless (the fearless). From the moment her training begins she is both terrified and exhilarated.
Her initiation is pretty vicious. She doesn’t know who is a friend and who is an enemy, but all are her competition because there are only a few spots available for new initiates. Along the way, Beatrice (now Tris) makes a connection with one of her trainers, Four (yep, that’s his name). He’s hot and cold and very intense, but they have a strange bond. At times they seem to rush together with full force, and other times they seem angry and heated even in the way look at each other. Four helps Tris push forward in her training, even after she’s attacked by fellow trainees. He begins to show her his own weaknesses and helps her harness hers.
As tensions between the factions arise, the stability of society as a whole comes in the question. Tris begins to see that life is not quite what it seems and that someone somewhere is pulling the puppet strings in her world. She must take action if she hopes to save the people she loves, both inside and outside her faction, but to do this she has to truly be fearless (and, I think, selfless).
This book is fierce. It is awesome. I loved it!
Tris is fantastic because though she is completely frightened, she confronts her obstacles despite her fears. She has inner strength in her desire to care for her family, in her loyalty to her old faction (which is really the polar opposite of her new one) and in her abilities as a member of the Dauntless. Her feelings for Four are perfectly written and while they aren’t swoony and tingly, their encounters are intense, like everything else in Tris’s life.
The whole idea behind Divergent is brilliant. This society is ideally supposed to function perfectly, with each faction playing to their strengths and each forming an integral part of the success of the community as a whole. But human nature can never be contained in such a way. Greed, selfishness, jealousy and lust for power always seem to muddle things up and in this story it takes the intensity to great heights.
On another final note, I loved that Roth hints that there may be more to the story. The city is gated and locked from the outside, leaving us to wonder what else is going on both inside and outside of these factions. Why are the members of society being locked in? I have no idea, but I can’t wait to find out more.
Divergent is the first book in a planned trilogy. The second book should be out by the Spring or Summer of 2012 (no date as of yet).
Crush Intensity: 5/5 Was there really any question?
Soundtrack: Linkin Park, Bleed it Out. I’m not a huge fan of the f-bomb in songs (because I always forget and end up scrambling for the volume control before my kids hear it and once, in a terrible moment of stupidity, I actually turned the volume UP instead of down), but this song has the perfect vibe.