Title: Divergent (Divergent #1)
Author: Veronica Roth
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Check this book out on Goodreads.
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. (Source: Goodreads)
In Tris Prior’s world people are divided into 5 factions: Amity, Dauntless, Abnegation, Erudite, and Candor. Tris was raised in Abnegation where they believe in selflessness. She never really fits in though, and when she takes her placement test her results are inconclusive – she is Divergent. She shows traits of multiple factions. She chooses to go to Dauntless, the brave. The book follows Tris as she struggles to adapt to her new life and as she tries to successfully finish her initiation. What she finds during this period scares her though, as a Divergent she is enemy number one to the Erudite who are trying to overthrow the power of Abnegation. Can she save herself and the people she loves?
Okay, I know, I know, I am the last person alive to jump on the Divergent bandwagon. Sorry. I avoided this book as long as I could. I’m not a big dystopia person, and with The Hunger Games already under my belt I didn’t really want to tackle anymore of the major dystopias. But…maybe I am a dystopia person? I find them to relevant to what is happening in our society right now, it’s hard to ignore them.
I really kind of…loved this book. It was so unexpected, I went into it thinking this will be a less good version of The Hunger Games but it’s really not. I suppose there is some overlap to it, the division of people is kind of similar, but I don’t really think the politics of the societies are even remotely the same. Anyway, this book proved me wrong. I had seen the movie already so I had an idea of what it would be like. (A fact: the only reason I caved and read this book was THEO JAMES who is kind of sort of gorgeous.) Anyway, the characters are really great and complex. The action in this book is fabulously well written, Roth knows her action. The politics are complex and interesting. The romance is bang on fantastic. My only big issue…it’s a bit too long.
The book follows Tris during her initiation process at the Dauntless facilities. All of this is really fun and interesting and it’s definitely what brings the character depth out. But (!!!) it is not at all what really drives the tension of the plot, which is the kind of Abnegation vs. Erudite plot that’s sort of shoved in the back until the very, very end of the book. I really liked this aspect of the book the most, there was lots of tension and intrigue in the tension between factions. I don’t think it got nearly enough notice, though I assume the other books are pretty much entirely about this. I think Roth created a fairly complex political landscape in the book. I do think it’s a bit weird to split things up by personality rather than resources or what ever, as in The Hunger Games, but I also sort of see what she was trying for. Certain personalities can kind of be attributed to certain types of work which would create the divide anyway. I found the initiation process interesting but I think it dragged on a little too long. Pretty much the entire book is only a few short, repetitive weeks. Yes she doesn’t do the same things all the time, but there were certain things that didn’t really need to be there for the book to work which would have shortened things up a little.
Roth wrote some very complex and interesting characters. They’re not necessarily likeable but they are well written. Tris is Divergent, which means she is a mix of many characteristics. She’s supposed to be Erudite, Dauntless, and Abnegation, which sort of comes through. I don’t think she’s particularly selfless, pretty much only in regards to her family, which definitely gives her a feeling of cold-heartedness. This makes her really hard to like. Honestly, I didn’t like her much at all. (SPOILER HERE, SKIP AHEAD TO RED) Despite the fact that she says things like Al’s death weigh on her, they really don’t. She just doesn’t care at all. (HELLO SPOILER IS OVER) I liked minor characters like Al, Will, and Christina for their complexities. Al in particular is really interesting because he is lost in Dauntless, and it doesn’t suit him. The reason this book really works for me though: Four. Four is such an amazingly well written character. Four is very complex. He is romantic, caring, sweet, tough, cruel, fearless, fearful. HUMAN. Four is the most human character in this book, and that’s why he is so heartbreakingly beautiful. So easy to read about. Because he’s us. I loved Four and I loved the way he cared for Tris. I bought into the love story even though I didn’t like Tris because I loved Four.
The action in this book is one of the strong parts. Action is a little difficult to write without getting too repetitive, but Roth definitely pulls it off. She has repeated scenarios but always pulls out a fantastic new twist on the previous situations with new moves, new movement, new flow to the action. It is great. There are some awesome fight scenes during the initiation process which kept me excited. Nothing really beats the final bit of action throughout the last few chapters, which was intense and interesting.
I really liked this book, loved this book even, and I’m glad I finally read it. The characters in particular are some of the most intricately written ones in the genre of YA dystopia. There’s sort of an issue…I don’t really want to read the rest of the books. I probably will, but I’m just not interested enough in Tris to continue. I’ll do it for Four though.