I am sure that everyone and their mother have heard of the book “Divergent”. I mean it is beyond popular, made Veronica Roth a household name (deservedly so) when it comes to dystopian fiction and is now a major motion picture (also very popular from what I have gathered, much like “The Hunger Games” and now that I have read this, I am allowed to see the movie 🙂 ) but I always seem to be behind the loop when it comes to the fiction that is ‘in’. I think I am somewhat skeptical and rather than believing the masses, wait for enough of my friends and peers whose opinions I trust to let me know how they like it. (Time is the most valuable commodity after all.) I didn’t need to wait long, before I made a decision to read this book (but the wait list at my local library was another story – 119 people = nine long weeks of waiting). I’m glad I did, and I am happy to report that this book lives up to all of its hype and more!
by Veronica Roth (May 3, 2011)
The world is a very different place in Veronica Roth’s debut novel “Divergent”. Society is broken into five factions: Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the honest) and Erudite (the intelligent). The book’s narrator Beatrice (who later goes by Tris) is sixteen, which means she has to choose the faction that she will devote the rest of her life to. She can be who she really is or stay with her family, not both and every faction believes the saying “faction before blood.” During the competitive initiation Tris struggles with who her friends really are, a romance with a fascinating and infuriating boy and the life she has chosen while holding onto a secret that she has been warned can mean death. When she uncovers a plot that could crumble her seemingly perfect society she learns that that very secret may help her save the ones she loves or it may destroy her.
I think there are two camps of people: those who have read “Divergent” already and can hardly believe I just got around to it or those who have heard about the book and shoot me a look that says ‘anything that mainstream is not worth my while’. The second camp would be wrong. This book is nearly 500 pages and yet I finished it in three days – and when you run your own business, manage a house and are helping your husband launch his own business (and dogsitting!) that is really saying something. This book was excellent from the dystopian society Roth has created to the book’s characters, pacing and its many intriguing adventures.
The title refers to Beatrice’s secret. An aptitude test states what faction she belongs in, but when someone is ‘divergent’ the results are inconclusive. I wish Roth played up the ‘divergent’ angle a little more in this book, but I have faith Roth will let the rest of us in on the secret when she is ready to do so. For now, we know that being “Divergent” makes a person special, but is something that also must be kept a secret. Because divergence is dangerous, a secret that can kill you… and one that is worth killing for.
Tris does read as much younger than sixteen in my opinion, but most of the other characters read as much older than they are so perhaps it evens out. That being said, she is still one of the most engaging narrators I have read in a very long time. She is rebellious, stubborn, fascinating, pained, conflicted, brave, selfless and selfish, raw and entirely real. What’s more, while this book is told in the first person, Roth does an equally fantastic job with the rest of her characters. I can see them, hear them, experience them – and they all have their quirks, their individual voices, their strengths and their flaws. I already have characters I am mourning in this first installment (sadly, not all of my favorites made it), and characters I seriously hope have an elaborate death scene I can revel in (don’t judge me). Most of the characters are achingly vulnerable and people you care about, even if the things they do are less forgivable. One of the things I appreciated the most about this book was that the characters were all completely flawed in honest and beautifully human ways. Here Roth explores how people who are not so terrible (decent even) can do terrible things just as easily as terrible people can do things for the greater good, even if it doesn’t necessarily make them good. Everyone is a little bit of both.
Roth has created an entirely new society in this book. I loved the disturbingly simple world she created, even if it is this simplicity that makes the society in this book so ready to fall apart. This book says so much about human nature and the structure of a society is very different from real life and yet parallels our society today. Does power ultimately corrupt? What does it mean to be human? What things are avoidable and what things are inherently human no matter how society operates? While you may not find the answers, this book will certainly have you thinking about these questions and more.
I surprised myself at how quickly I whipped through this book and you know I am already on another waiting list for the next installment. I can’t wait to read the second book! 🙂 You won’t want to be left out of such a fantastic story that everyone is talking about (and was made into a movie I can’t wait to see). This book is about the power of a single choice. Make your choice to read this book today – don’t wait!