Friday, November 15, 2013

Divergent (Divergent #1) 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.

Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.


I finished reading Divergent about a week ago, but I have been avoiding writing the review for several reasons. Mainly the fact that I have no idea what I really think about the story or how to talk about it without spoilers. I first encountered this book by audio a couple of years ago. I'm not sure why I picked it up initially other than the fact that I was going through audiobooks faster than I could find ones that I was interested in at the library & I was going through a bit of a YA-Dystopia phase. When I finished it, my initial reaction was that I wasn't sure that I liked it, but that it was going to be big.  Now, on the heels of the release of the final book & the movie just months away, I decided to re-read the first two books before trying to read the third one.

Divergent, like most dystopian novels, takes us a to a world we know that has been altered by time & an effort for a better society. The setting is a future Chicago where everyone has been split into five factions based on one's greatest virtue....honesty, selflessness, intelligence, peacefulness, & bravery. It asks you to imagine a world where you are only your greatest strength...which is determined by placing you into a computer operated simulation that monitors your reactions to several scenarios during that all-important YA Novel year surrounding your 16th birthday. Based on your aptitude test results, you are asked to choose your fate...remain with your family & all you know, or leave everything behind and transfer to a faction that is more fitting for your personality. If you are in the minority of people who might actually not fit into one of the categories of sheeple that the government has created, then you are considered Divergent...and not to be trusted.

My general reaction upon finishing the book was that it was gripping...and disturbing. I still struggle with whether or not I like it...but I definitely enjoyed reading it. Now, as I work my way through Insurgent, I am still caught up in the fate of these characters & the life-altering choices they are continually forced to make. Refreshingly, this is a story about life & survival...and not a story about which boy to choose while the world around you is going to hell. There is a hint of romance, but it's more in the direction of love being a part of life rather than the point of it.

All that said, my recommendation is to not believe the hype. It isn't the best book ever written, but it's a fun ride & and interesting (if disturbing) concept. If you like dystopia, give it a chance. I'm glad I did!

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