Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Release Date: May 3, 2011
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, 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 alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are--and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating 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 unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.(courtesy of Goodreads)
I won Divergent in a blog giveaway. It sat unread on my shelf for almost two years. Person after person raved about it but still I didn't pick it up. Why? Too much hype, my distaste for dystopia, too many other things to read...you name it. I finally succumbed to peer pressure and read Divergent.
Did I like it? I'll put it this way: I finished Divergent in two days. I gave it to my husband and insisted he read it immediately. Then, I gave it to my parents and made them read it.
Divergent is probably the best dystopia I've read. I think it is BETTER than The Hunger Games.
Tris is a wonderful protagonist. I loved her mix of personality traits - what made her divergent. Her bravery, her selflessness, her sheer logic. The fact that her self-preservation sometimes outweighed her selflessness or that her intelligence made her sometimes thing twice about doing the gutsiest thing just for the sake of it made her more human.
And Four...wow....Four. He's a hard shell to crack. He's built up defenses to protect himself from his fellow Dauntless but mostly from one particular person. I loved getting to know the person behind the tough persona. I loved how he trusted Tris and also pushed her to be better.
The romance between Tris and Four sets Divergent apart from The Hunger Games. It's much more passionate and squeal-worthy than anything between Katniss and Gale/Peeta ever was (at least in the first book). At the same time, it never overwhelms the mystery and adventure of the main plot.
To say that Divergent is a page-turner is an understatement. I tore through the book. The book is full of action, but there are enough lulls that we get thorough character development of both the main and side characters. Plus, Tris goes through palpable and realistic growth, which is always nice to read. The story moves quickly enough that we are exposed to many different aspects of society - from family life, to education/training, to government and politics (I'm trying to be vague here to avoid any spoilers).
Roth did a fabulous job with the world-building. The utopian dystopia is nothing new, but setting up four different societies based on personality type and turning it into a seemingly functioning society is a great twist. After reading Divergent, I had a good understanding of the four groups (five if you count the factionless) and how the society worked as a whole. There was still a lot that I didn't know, but Roth structured the book well enough that I wasn't confused. Information was provided fast enough but without creating an info dump. I finished the book looking forward to finding out more in the next book but not feeling like anything was lacking in Divergent.
I can't recommend Divergent highly enough. This from a dystopia-hater is praise indeed. You will love the characters, the plot, and the fascinating dark world.