Book Review: Divergent
Divergent by Veronica RothOne choice can transform you.
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.My Thoughts:
I didn't join the Divergent bandwagon until after seeing the movie trailer. Of course I wanted to see the movie, and of course I can't see a movie based on a book without reading the book first. So I snatched the ebook up during a free ebook promotion and eventually got around to reading it. I read all three books. Totally worth it, and yes, I recommend them all. Because I have a thing about posting spoilers online, though, I'm only going to review this one.
Honestly, until I read the last book, I didn't really get all the hype about Divergent. Most readers don't, I think. Yes, it's a good book. Strong characters, brilliant world-building, subtle foreshadowing, relationship depth, varied vocabulary choices. It's very well-written and deserves the acclaim (and the movie -- I saw it, it's great) it's receiving. But it's not really on the same level as its biggest-name sibling, The Hunger Games. Not until the end of the second book/beginning of the third, when things really get crazy.
That said, the emotions and stakes in this book match those in The Hunger Games. Fragile government falling apart, friends and family in constant danger, main character caught in the middle while her every move is watched by her enemies. In The Hunger Games, Katniss's entire existence is primitive and survival-based. In Divergent, things are a bit more advanced. The government is actually very well thought-out. Everyone is divided by personality, and factions are assigned the jobs that suit them best, in the pursuit of a strong, peaceful, unified community. There are tests to tell you which faction fits your personality, but in the end, it's always your personal choice. On the surface, this world seems to be perfect.
But it's not perfect for the top Erudite leaders who want political power, which is reserved for Abnegation leaders. It's not perfect for the countless factionless who have failed the system and live on the streets, in dirty clothes that don't fit, eating whatever leftovers they can get from the factions. It's not perfect for the families torn apart when children choose factions other than the one they grew up in. And it's definitely not perfect for the Divergent - people like Tris, whose tests tell them they don't fit in a faction. People the government sees as a threat. People that others want dead.
Character drives this book, this whole series. Everyone must make choices -- sometimes very hard and not at all clear choices -- that will change the lives of everyone they know. Loyalties are tested. Relationships are built or destroyed in a day. Eventually, the gaping cracks in this supposedly well-oiled system become too obvious to ignore. Throughout it all, Tris must determine for herself who she is and where she belongs -- as well as where her own loyalties lie.
Four stars for a book with strong writing and a great series beginning that just lacks punch of its own.
I received this book for free during a Kindle promotion. No review or other compensation was requested or promised in exchange for this book. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.