Divergent by Veronica Roth
In sixteen-year-old Beatrice Prior’s world, society is divided into five factions – Abnegation (the selfless), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent) – each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue, in the attempt to form a “perfect society.” At the age of sixteen, teens must choose the faction to which they will devote their lives.
On her Choosing Day, Beatrice renames herself Tris, rejects her family’s group, and chooses another faction. After surviving a brutal initiation, Tris finds romance with a super-hot boy, but also discovers unrest and growing conflict in their seemingly “perfect society.” To survive and save those they love, they must use their strengths to uncover the truths about their identities, their families, and the order of their society itself.
Divergent was published on 28th April 2011 and is Veronica Roth’s debut novel, and I can already see that this will be the first of many novels to come. Dystopian fiction has become extremely popular within the young adult market over the last year. We’ve all seen the success of Suzanne Collin’s The Hunger Games, which is currently in the process of being made into a film. I would suggest that anyone who is a fan of The Hunger Games, Divergent has to be your next read!
Divergent is set in the near-future where everything has dramatically changed. To avoid wars and political unrest, the people of this world are now forced to join a ‘faction’. A faction is based on a set of morals that these people choose to believe. The five factions are Abnegation (the selfless), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). These factions together create the ‘perfect’ society. Or do they?
Sixteen-year-old Beatrice has grown up with her family amongst the Abnegation faction – the selfless. She must always think of others before herself. They have no mirrors, no fashionable clothes, no make-up, no transport – nothing that will benefit themselves. However, Beatrice realises that she isn’t all that good at being selfless. She is not a true member of the Abnegation, so when it comes to her Choosing Day, she finds herself joining the Dauntless – the brave, and she must leave her family and the only home she has ever known.
Beatrice has now become ‘Tris’, but to be a true member of the Dauntless she must complete a series of tests. These tests teach Tris how to fight, how to use a gun, how to be reckless and brave, and how to face your fears. If Tris ranks low in any of these tests, she may be cut from the Dauntless faction and be forced to live factionless – with no home and no family. Tris must fight harder than ever to get to the top, but in doing so she discovers something about herself that is extremely dangerous if the faction leaders should discover it. She is a Divergent.
Not being a big lover of The Hunger Games myself, I was very surprised to find myself enjoying Divergent, and I think this is because Roth has managed to give her story a purpose. I could understand why the world had become this way – it isn’t just a game of ‘kill or be killed’ like it is in The Hunger Games – there is a reason why the factions exist, to help create this perfect world. Roth doesn’t focus much on why the world is the way it is – and I do think at times it could have used these extra details, but I am hoping that the second book will focus much more on this.
This is a novel about making choices. This is something that we all have to do frequently throughout our lives – but especially in our teens, when everything seems so earth-shattering if you make the wrong decision. To go from being selfless, to suddenly being brave and reckless, there are a lot of ethical and moral questions that are raised for Tris to try and get her head around. Is it right to be physically fighting with your friends, just to try and out-rank your opponent? Is it right to put yourself and your life before others in this way?
Of course, no teen thriller exists without a bit of romance included! Usually I’m there rolling my eyes at the predictability of such relationships, but Roth has managed to bring a touch of realism and originality into the relationship between Tris and her training instructor Four. It’s a very quiet relationship that builds up slowly, as they realise they somehow trust each other. You want them to be together and the fact that he’s a bit older, and in charge of her makes it all the more exciting. Roth doesn’t beat around the bush, so to speak, when the topic of sex arises. I often find sex is usually only hinted at in teen novels, but in Divergent Tris and Four discuss it with awkward attention, but in a way that is very ‘young adult’.
The ending of Divergent is left very much open for a sequel – which I believe Roth is currently writing, and I feel that the second book may actually be better than the first. There is a lot more Roth can do with this world and the people in it and I hope she manages to answer a lot of the questions that we, as readers, are left with after Divergent. For anyone who loves dystopian fiction, and Sci-Fi and Fantasy you should definitely give this a read, and if you’re now left wondering exactly what a Divergent is, I urge you to find out! I highly doubt you will be disappointed.
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