You guys! I signed up for the half-cannonball, 26 books, and here it is, my 26th review! I’m going to continue to try and reach the regular amount of 52 books but if I don’t make it, I feel pretty satisfied at having made this goal. Now for the book, which was a pretty great book to cross the finish line with.
Divergent is the story of Beatrice Prior (whose name, by the way, makes me want to call her Beatrix Potter), who lives with her family in what used to be Chicago. Now the city is divided up into five factions, each one valuing a certain quality above all others – there are Abnegation (selflessness), Candor (honesty), Amity (kindness), Erudite (intelligence), and Dauntless (bravery). When members of these factions turn 16 they are given the option to choose the faction they’d like to belong to. Most stay in their factions, but some, like Beatrice, switch factions, which is a decision that is just short of taboo. Beatrice leaves the world she knew in Abnegation and is swept into a fiercely competitive climate where often decision making is literally life or death. Once she experiences life outside her factor, she begins to realize that although the factions were created to maintain balance and peace, there is unrest among many citizens. On top of all this, Beatrice is hiding her own secret that may not only compromise her position with her new faction, but could gain her a lot of enemies from other factions as well.
This, quite simply, was a great book. I hesitate to call it dystopian, but it certainly has elements of it. I’m sure that this will garner comparisons to The Hunger Games, as it involves a tough as nails 16-year-old female protagonist fighting to survive. However, that’s pretty much where the similarities between the two end. Beatrice (who takes the name Tris when she transfers factions) is strong and smart, with a little stubbornness and bullheadedness thrown in for good measure. She’s tough a lot of the time, but still shows vulnerability and cares a lot about her family and new friends. She is a very dynamic, enjoyable narrator and protagonist, and a pleasure to read about. The Dauntless world and initiation processes are equally fascinating and left me on the edge of my seat several times. What I like about this book is that, while technically YA fiction, it definitely speaks to an older crowd and Roth doesn’t pull any punches. She has created a pretty brutal setting and sometimes, brutal things happen. People get hurt, people die. I think this will appeal to teenagers and adults alike.
This is the first in a trilogy (I know, I know) and I haven’t been this excited to read a sequel in a long time. Roth has a way with words and does really well creating both strong, multi-faceted characters and very vivid images of what Tris’s world is like. I do hope that as the books progress, Roth explains a little more about the hows and whys of her world. This book focuses mostly on Tris and the factions, but we get next to no explanations about how society came to this point. Tris questions this a few times throughout the book, so I have to assume Roth tackles the subject eventually. I highly recommend this book. It’s fast-paced, captivating and interesting, and I cannot wait for the next installment.