Friday, May 31, 2013

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent by Veronica Roth, pub. 2012, 487 pg.
Rating: 5/5 stars

I can sum up Divergent by Veronica Roth in a single word: amazing! If you loved the Hunger Games series or are into the current dystopian fiction trend, this is a series you are definitely going to want to check out.

"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, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her."--From Goodreads 

I read this book in one sitting, because I could not put it down. I think the last time I did that was with Mockingjay, the final installment of the Hunger Games series. The idea of these different factions that each focus on one value and blend to make a community but also compete among each other drew me in almost immediately. It's clear from the get-go that this society is full of barely contained conflict, and it was easy to tell that interesting things were going to happen because of it.

Beatrice is an incredibly genuine character. She is full of flaws and imperfections that make her seem real, and her combination of wit and shyness with bursts of reckless bravery made her someone I wanted to get to know. Her conflicts between her love for her family, her personal values, and the values of her faction add an element of uncertainty so you never know just what she's going to say or do next. Her friends and fellow faction members are endearing and infuriating and do a pretty good job of evoking a whole range of emotions.

Like the Hunger Games, Divergent is a great combination of action (with a hefty dose of fight scenes and physical conflict) and love story (with a heart-melting romance that takes its time blossoming) that I think will appeal to readers across the age/gender spectrum. The characters are young, but they act very maturely (much like Hunger Games), and the content is broad enough to fit into several genres and avoid the classification of "Teenage Girl Fiction."

A few major plot points were a bit predictable, but guessing them ahead of time does absolutely nothing to ruin the moments when they finally happen. There are also many surprising twists that keep you on your toes. I can think of several huge events that totally caught me off guard.

Overall, I loved Divergent, and as soon as I was done reading it, I wished I had a copy of its sequel (Insurgent) in front of me so I could keep following Tris's story. To make things even better, now is a great time to jump on the Divergent bandwagon, because the final installment of the trilogy will be out in October, and a movie adaptation of the first book will be in theaters early next year! It's a great book to cure a Hunger Games hangover (it does a much, much better job than Matched or The Maze Runner).

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