Oh hai, YA dystopian. We meet again. Actually, we’ve met so many months ago and this review is a long time coming. 😄
Divergent is one of those sleeper titles that came up at the wake of The Hunger Games‘ success. And because of that, comparisons between the two books and movie franchises are bound to happen. But I’m not going to do that here. Sure, they follow parallel trajectories but put Katniss in Tris’ shoes, you will not get the same results – and vice versa.
Beatrice Prior lives in a post-war, dystopian Chicago divided into five “factions”. You get categorized when you come of age by taking a test… but you’re free to choose anyway. You can choose to stay within the faction you were born in and stay with your family, or change factions and forever leave your family. Most people have clear-cut test results. But some show an aptitude fitting for three or more factions. They are called “Divergent”. And they are a “threat” to the Society. (Take it as you will, it’s all very vague. Just the further discussion of the factions alone can take up another blog post.)
The five factions are: Amity, their trade is agriculture and they are inherently kind; Candor, they uphold justice and always tell the truth; Erudite, the scientists, the brains; Dauntless, the brave, the soldiers of the society; and Abnegation, the self-less, they are the public servants. Beatrice was born into Abnegation. But when she had to choose, she chose to be Dauntless. And she has a secret to keep… she is Divergent.
While in Dauntless, she had to hide her true “test result” as well as to fit in with the rest of the faction. Being from Abnegation, her ways were a total opposite to her new faction. She starts by renaming herself as Tris. There, she meets the mysterious Four and makes new friends – and enemies – from her fellow initiates. Through tests, she rises up the rankings, almost too good to be possible. She struggles to hide her true self but it seems that revealing it might be the one thing that saves herself and her loved ones.
Is it a coincidence that her last name is “Prior” and she belongs to the self-less faction, Abnegation? Putting the needs of others prior to your own. But then again, I might be just reading too much into it. I really liked the cast of characters from Tris to Christina and even Eric, who tormented Tris because she pushed back. A sign that I’m totally into a book is when I feel so strongly about a character. I wanted to hit Eric every time he was mean to Tris. I swooned whenever Eric made his obvious attraction known to everyone but Tris and himself. I questioned the Erudite plan to takeover. Suffice to say, the world sucked me in good.
The book felt like one whole training diary. It certainly was for the Dauntless initiates but it was 400+ pages of introduction to the society and how it worked, the different characters and how they fit into the general scheme of things, and a character sketch of Four. We’re given bits and pieces of he was and we realize it with Tris. It’s great. I love it when books do that.
Veronica Roth… oh man, I wonder how long it took her to cook up this world, this system. Granted, I do have issues regarding the factions but it is so complex but airtight at the same time. Tris is a very good character. Brave, yet there’s still that young girl inside of her. I mean, one of her fears is intimacy with Four, hel-lo. That is as real as it gets. Four is also a good male protagonist because he’s not an all-powerful, untouchable hero. He also has his fears and the book talks about them. The twists and turns their lives make in the book are unexpected and it just goes to show that even in the quest for total control, expect the unexpected. It is a very POWERFUL debut novel.
So how about you? Have you taken your test? I have… and about 10 others. All of them point to the same result: “You are #Divergent- But Closest to Erudite.” I would agree.
Rating: 4/5. I reviewed the movie here.