PAPERBACK; 487 P. KATHERINE TEGEN BOOKS, 2012/2011 SOURCE: FROM THE LIBRARY
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, Tris also learns that her secret might help her save the ones she loves . . . or it might destroy her.
I know I’m a little behind on this trend, but better late than never, right? Divergent was originally published in 2011, but I wasn’t familiar with this trilogy until last year when the final book in the trilogy was published. Since then I’ve mentally ticked it off as one of the ‘check this out later‘ books.
The story follows Beatrice (Tris) Prior who is 16 and lives in a society that has been divided in to factions – Candor (honesty), Abnegation (selflessness), Amity (kindness), Dauntless (courage), and Erudite (intelligence). Every faction has the traits and duties that define the position of its members. Different factions don’t usually mix which makes it common that people stay in their faction for their entire lives. However, at the age of 16, you get to choose your faction. Before choosing, there is a test that measures your suitability to each faction; nevertheless, the final choice is yours. Once the faction has been chosen, the initiates are trained to the task of the chosen faction – and if you fail, you become an outcast, a factionless.
I read this book in two days and found it very enjoyable. The plot was fast-paced and didn’t go too much into detail with the dystopian society. I did get a very acute deja vu of The Hunger Games, but that is purely because it was the last dystopian book that I’ve read. The book has some distinct dystopian elements, and though it is not my favourite genre, it usually makes me ponder about the society and humanity. That being said, I must agree with a few bloggers who have described it as a “potato-chip kind of book” (see Iris on Books). This basically mean that once you start reading, you feel the need to read more and more, until the very end. However, the story is forgettable and as a reader you move into the next book without too much thought.
Divergent is well-written and includes some great themes of finding yourself and belonging. The choices between what you believe in and your family and closest friends is a great theme which could have been explored more. The writing is very cinematic and I could picture the story as if it where a film – an action film, no doubt. However, for me the book felt at times a bit forced and predictable. I guess I would have liked more on the society and factions and less on the action and training. These will hopefully be explored more in the following books of the trilogy. What I would like to highlight in this book is the strong heroine, Tris. It was refreshing to have a strong, brave female protagonist, although I personally had some problems in connecting with her. Nevertheless, Divergent was entertaining and quick to read. I’d recommend to people who enjoy YA and dystopian books.
We’ve all started to put down the virtues of the other factions in the process of bolstering our own. I don’t want to do that. I want to be brave, and selfless, and smart, and kind, and honest.” He clears his throat. “I continually struggle with kindness.