Synopsis: Beatrice Prior is sixteen, which means it’s time for her to choose the Faction that she’ll live the rest of her life in. In post-apocalyptic dystopian Chicago, everyone lives in one of five Factions, each dedicated to a different value. In Dauntless it’s bravery, in Abnegation selflessness, for the Erudite it’s intelligence, in Amity peace, and for Candor honesty. Beatrice and her brother have grown up in Abnegation, but Beatrice never felt like she belonged there. So on Choosing Day she surprises everyone by leaving Abnegation for Dauntless, and entering a world of cruelty, strength, and intrigue, where something sinister threatens to destroy life as she knows it.
Is this a “must-read”?: Yes.
Why?: Divergent is one of those rare intro books that’s fascinating enough in its own right, though it still needs its sequel, Insurgent, which I plan to read as soon as possible. It’s one of those clever YA novels that sets up a bunch of clichés, and then turns them around. I can’t quite explain this without mega-spoilers, but let’s just say that for those of us who have read a lot of teen books, there are more than a few darkly hilarious moments. Beatrice (or “Tris” as she renames herself), is refreshingly non-whiny, as she prefers to seem strong all the time. Learning to be vulnerable, either for survival purposes or just because, is actually a big part of her journey. Her love interest is equal parts fascinating and frustrating, and her friends provide interesting perspectives on the world itself while displaying the different ways Tris is perceived by her fellow Dauntless.
On a personal note, Tris is an excellent representative for all us fun-sized girls who are sick of being treated like the 12-year-olds we may or may not resemble. You don’t have to be average height or taller to be a BAMF. Roth also does a fabulous job of worldbuilding, and of creating a believable buildup of tension and intrigue up until the denouement. The contrasts between different factions that appear as Tris gets to know her fellow initiates serve to highlight the up and downsides of all of them, while simultaneously showing us their similarities. I especially liked how Roth didn’t give everyone in each given Faction a singular hive mind; which could very well have happened and would have been easier than actual characterization. There are many ways to be Dauntless, Abnegation, and Erudite, and each person within a given Faction has a different definition of their Faction’s chief value.
However, there were a few things I didn't like about the book, such as how Tris has to stop and tell us the deeper meanings behind things. While not entirely out of place, it happens a lot in YA and I wish the author would sometimes let us figure it out on our own. Roth also has a tendency to tell us Tris’s every thought during the action scenes, which disrupts the flow, makes it harder to picture what’s actually happening, and begs the question Who can think that coherently while being shot at? Besides that, however, Divergent is very awesome and has all the potential of becoming the next Hunger Games. You should read it now so that if/when it becomes a movie, you can claim superiority as a “real” fan (and we all know that’s half the fun of fandom).
Next time: Legend by Marie Lu
Post by dac213! Catch up on the rest of her series here!