Monday, June 11, 2012

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Book Details:
By Veronica Roth
Genre: Young Adult
Published 2011, Katherine Tegen Books
Hardback, 487 pages
ISBN: 9780062024022

          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.
So this book is a bit of a recycled plot - whether or not Roth was aware that it resembled Hunger Games. Honestly, though, I really don't care. The book was entertaining, the world-building was still unique, and I can't wait to read the next one.
I found the idea of dividing society into factions based on a specific personality trait interesting in that I wanted much greater detail about each faction, much more so than the main character, Tris, was willing to provide. Tris is a teenager being forced into making the greatest decision of her life, and there just is not time for dwelling on the details. I found the simulation that is designed to help decide the faction of each individual too simplistic. Human beings are complex creatures, and an individual's personal prerogatives can change very easily from year to year. Abnegation, Amity, Erudite, Candor, Dauntless, or the rebellious Divergent - I could easily fit into any of these at different times in my life. The characters in the book are no different.
Much of the book centers around Tris undergoing the trials of becoming Dauntless, with details of the other factions trickling in, as well as the state of the political current. While this world of factions was originally created with the best of intentions, corruption has set in at all levels, and Tris's world will be toppled by the end of the book. While her trials are a journey of self-discovery, she is also forced to grow up quickly to protect the people she loves.
The only thing I would have liked to end differently is what happens to Tris's mother - with everything that we discover about her, she could have been a fountain of fascinating plot elements. Unfortunately, in most YA books, parental figures rarely stick around. Hopefully, I will get my hands on Insurgent soon!

The Cover: I love the image on the cover, though it is not explained right away in the book. It's both exciting and mysterious, even if it does remind me of the Hunger Games book covers.

First Line: "There is one mirror in my house."
An interesting way to begin the book, and it perplexes me enough to keep reading.

Favorite Quote: "Sometimes crying or laughing are the only options left, and laughing feels better right now."

Read For: Young Adult Challenge, Dystopia Challenge


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