Review – Divergent by Veronica Roth

“Divergent is about making choices, learning about and depending on yourself, and doing the right thing in the face of insurmountable odds.”

Divergent’s story takes place in Chicago, sometime in the future. Society has been restructured. It’s been long enough since whatever great cataclysm happened (probably war), that the younger generation has no idea what is beyond the city limits.  Within the city, people live very structured lives in accordance to the faction they belong to.  Factions are defined by the personality traits the people in the faction value.  The five factions are Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent).   Each faction believes their way of life is best. When people turn sixteen, they are given an aptitude test to determine what faction they belong in. This one test determines the path for the rest of each person’s life.

It’s Beatrice “Tris” Prior’s turn to choose.  But she feels like she doesn’t fit in.  Is there something wrong with her?  Should she stay where she doesn’t belong, living a life of meek selflessness in order to be with her family?  Or should she leave them behind forever and face a harrowing and violent initiation, in order to be true to herself?  What if she fails?  Failure to successfully complete the initiation is a real possibility and means being factionless.  The factionless live on the streets, with no way to support themselves.  They have to depend on the kindness of the Abnegation faction. No one wants to live a factionless life.  As if contemplating all of that isn’t scary enough, her decision is further complicated when she learns she has a secret that could mean her death if she reveals it.  But it looks to her like she isn’t the only one hiding something….

Divergent is about making choices, learning about and depending on yourself, and doing the right thing in the face of insurmountable odds. Oh, and there’s a bit of romance as well.  I enjoyed the book because the characters are well drawn. The plot is compelling, believable and thought provoking.  People who like strong female characters will love the book.

Divergent reminded me of Matched by Ally Condie.  (In Matched, Cassia lives in a highly structured Society that makes a ritual of the marriage process.  But her unusual experience with the process makes her believe maybe the Society isn’t as perfect as she thought.)  It also reminded me of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  (The Hunger Games is  character-driven and tells the story of a post-apocalyptic government that forces representatives of each of the 12 Districts to fight to the death in an arena every year.  But what kind of sadistic government would force this penance on teenagers?  Can Katniss Everdeen survive the ordeal?)

Veronica Roth has done a wonderful job with this, her first novel.  I’m looking forward to the second in the trilogy, Insurgent, due out in May of 2012.

Fun Fact: Divergent has been optioned for a feature film. Who would your ideal cast be?

You can learn more about Divergent and the rest of the trilogy at the books’ fansite. The unabridged audiobook is read by Emma Galvin.

– Heidi

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7 Responses to “Review – Divergent by Veronica Roth”

  1. I’m looking forward to reading this:)

  2. I just finished Divergent and agreed with a lot of what you wrote. I definitely saw parallels with The Hunger Games.

  3. Allison,
    Thanks for writing. *smile* Have you read any other dystopian novels? I’m thinking about reading “The Forest of Hands and Teeth” by Carrie Ryan.

  4. jgross81,
    I hope you enjoy it! 🙂

  5. Hi Heidi. I haven’t heard of Carrie Ryan. I am kind of a new fan of the genre. Although I loved “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card and “The Giver” by Lois Lowry, which I think both can be classified as dystopian.

  6. Alison,
    I just saw that you wrote back. I’m sorry I’ve been so slow. I loved “Ender’s Game” too. I had a great time reading
    Ender’s Shadow for the first time and then going back and reading :Ender’s Game” for the 2nd time. It was fun to compare the two books as it is the same story from two different view points.

    I agree that the “Giver” and “Ender’s Game” could be classified as dystopian too. Did you know there are two other books by Lois Lowry written in the same universe? “Gathering Blue” and “The Messenger.”

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