Divergent by Veronica Roth
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 496 pages
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release date: May 3, 2011
Series: Divergent #1
Reviewed by: Tynga
Source: Gift from Harper Collins Canada
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 threatens to unravel her seemingly-perfect society, she also learns that her secret might be what helps her save those she loves . . . or it might be what destroys her.
The world & the government as we know it now is a faraway past for the characters of Divergent. They live in a futuristic community, divided in five factions, each believing one specific value is the best of all. Abnegation, the selfless. Amity, the peaceful. Candor, the honest. Dauntless, the fearless. Erudite, the knowledgeable. Each faction plays a role in society and every year, the 16 years old kids of each factions, after a simulation test, choose which faction they want to belong to. Beatrice, aka Tris, is a girl from abnegation and even though she believes in the principles of her faction, she feels like she doesn’t belong. Her simulation test results were also inconclusive, something she should keep a secret according to the Dauntless woman who ran her test. Her life depends on it. Tris will make a very hard choice on Choosing Day, but nothing could prepare her for what she will face in her new faction…
I finished reading Divergent a few weeks back and it took me a long time to write this review because I loved it so much I had a hard time finding the right words. Hopefully, my love of Veronica’s debut novel will stand out!
I LOVED the world Veronica created and its uniqueness was refreshing. It’s hard to create a world so different from ours, while making sure the readers understand the dilemmas and convictions of the characters, but Roth succeeded hands down. Tris’ situation is very tricky in her new faction, and her small physique makes the transition even harder on her and even though I’ve never faced anything remotely close to her situation, I could relate to her. Veronica’s writing made it very easy to empathize with the lovable underdog girl.
All the characters are truly amazing actually and my favorite aspect was that every single one of them was in shades of gray. Nothing is easy as black & white and characters will make mistakes. Some terrible and unforgivable, actions that seemed cruel from one character’s perspective were merciful from another’s. Tris & Four are definitely my favorite characters in this book and I rejoiced in their complicated relationship. Zeke holds a small role, but definitely stood out for me. I also liked Al, Will & Christina even though some of their actions broke my heart.
The whole book is full of action and tension. It’s a battle for survival and only the strongest will prevail. But strength isn’t always obvious, and can take multiple forms. Veronica truly challenged her characters in multiple ways, and it was a delight to follow their struggles. And even if the world is dark and harsh, there are some really funny moment to, here’s an example:
The characters are talking about their fears:
“How were your moths?”
"You promised you would never tell!” cries Christina, smacking my arm.
“Moths,” repeats Will. “You’re afraid of moths?”
“Not just a cloud of moths,” she says, “like… a swarm of them. Everywhere. All those wings and legs and…” She shudders and shakes her head.
“Terrifying,” Will says with mock seriousness. “That’s my girl. Though as cotton balls.”
The end was a killer. The tension, the loss, the betrayal. A lot of strong emotions colliding to bring an epic ending to a fabulous book. The end isn’t really a cliff-hanger, more like a chapter ending, and I CAN’T WAIT to get my hands on the second book. When I finished reading Divergent, all I wanted to do was start reading it all over again. That’s just how good this book is.
Thrilling and fascinating, Divergent will grab you by the throat and drag you in a world where you must stand up for yourself or die trying. The characters will have to fight in this ruthless and cruel world, hoping to create a better future for themselves and you can’t help but cheer for them.
Divergent is for me the best read of 2011. High five to Veronica Roth!