Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent (Divergent #1) by Veronica Roth

Release Date: April 25, 2011
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Romance
Pages: 487
Format: Print
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
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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, Tris also learns that her secret might help her save the ones she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Roth’s Divergent series is usually compared to Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games, and it’s very easy to tell why. They have the same feeling to them. That may be a little vague, but basically what I’m trying to say is that if you like The Hunger Games you’ll probably enjoy Divergent.

Like Collins’s trilogy, the Divergent trilogy is written in first-person present tense. This is probably why it got a star off from me. I don’t know why, but I just have a personal prejudice against first-person present (Emily Interjection: I have no such problem, and would've given it 5 stars personally!). I understand the appeal: it’s more personal and it’s easier to get into the action, but it’s just grating for me to read…. Nonetheless, it’s still a riveting story.

I love dystopian novels. I especially love dystopians that highlight the dangers of the mob-mentality. In Roth’s post-apocalypse society, members are brought up in a faction and then given an Aptitude Test in their sixteenth year to help determine what faction they will belong in for the rest of their life. Maybe it’s because I don’t like being told how to think, but I find this characteristic terrifying. The Aptitude Test determines which faction the subject’s mind conforms most to… unless you’re a Divergent.

Roth presents a classic individual vs. society theme, but with a lemon-fresh twist. Sorry, I just happen to love lemon-scented things. Her protagonist, Tris (formerly Beatrice), takes her Aptitude Test only to discover that she’s Divergent. She doesn’t know what this means, or why it’s dangerous to be one, but she knows that she has to hide it.

Tris is a breath of fresh air. She’s a strong female protag (and we all know how that’s my thing), who loves pushing past her limitations. Tris isn’t one to quit—she will keep punching until she comes out on top. And that is what I admire about her. However, with that said, I would probably punch her if we were ever to meet in person. While I admire her, cheer for her, and cringe for her, I would probable slap the abrasiveness right out of her if we ever met in person. Yet, on paper, I am willing to accept and love her with all her socially challenged traits. I mean... she really does kick ass. Though, I suppose to be a member of the Dauntless faction you have to do your fair share of ass kicking.

Those guys scare me. And they need to stop jumping from multi-storied heights—it’s giving me heart palpitations!

Anyway, tensions between the factions are at an all-time high, thanks to Erudite’s Anti-Abnegation Propaganda. The society in which Tris lives in is on the brink of collapse, and somehow the Divergent are the key to understanding why. Tris, now a member of Dauntless is on a mission: to survive initiation and to remain unnoticed. She will soon realize that the two aren’t necessarily reconcilable….

So, if you want to a story about a girl who overcomes adversity to become a leader during a time of war—this book is for you.

Extra Incentive: There is the customary Young Adult love interest. Oh yes, he’s angsty, he’s sexy, he’s kind-of-but-it’s-not-as-creepy-as-it-sounds her mentor. It’s kind of weird, kind of cheesy, but you’ll get over it and grow to love it. (Emily Interjection: Oh, Four... How I love you so...)

So go ahead, read this series. I’m working on the second installment: Insurgent, but life (and by life I mean school) keeps getting in the way. Expect a review in the somewhat near future!

About the Author

Veronica Roth is a twenty-two-year-old debut author and a recent graduate of Northwestern University's creative writing program. While a student, she often chose to work on the story that would become Divergent instead of doing her homework. Now a full-time writer, she lives near Chicago.

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