Review Blog

Sep 20 2011

Divergent by Veronica Roth

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HarperCollins, 2011. ISBN 9780007420414.
(Age 14+) Highly recommended. This is one dystopian story that I had to finish in a day and that hasn't happened to me for quite a while. Reminiscent of The hunger games by Suzanne Collins; Divergent is the engrossing story of Beatrice (Tris for short) who has to choose what faction she will live in when she turns 16. The factions are Abnegation (selflessness), Candor (honesty), Amity (kindness), Dauntless (bravery) and Erudite (knowledge seeking). Each faction has placed enormous value on their own particular trait and members live their lives completely involved in it, believing that it keeps their world peaceful. Once a faction is chosen then that person must abide by its way of life or become displaced with no support and no group to belong to. When Tris makes her choice she has no idea of what she has let herself in for or that there are evil plans afoot to take power.
Tris is a fascinating main character. She is short, not pretty and finds it very difficult to live the selfless life that is expected of her in her Abnegation society. She is curious, wants to know what is going on and yearns for something more than always looking after others. When she is tested to see what faction she belongs to her tests are inconclusive and she is told that she is a Divergent - a person who has more than one trait - but her tester tells her to keep it a secret as it is dangerous.
There is action galore as Tris is pushed to her limit both physically and mentally in her training in her new faction. Many exciting moments had me holding my breath as Tris struggles to learn how to control both her mind and body and her growing attraction to Four, her trainer. She makes friends, one of who will betray her badly and uncovers a plot that could change her whole world. There is violence, murder, a near rape and bloodshed to content with.
I have read a lot of novels with dystopian themes and this is up there with the most engrossing. It wasn't difficult to place the factions into today's society - scientists being Erudite, the risk takers as the Dauntless and people like doctors and teachers who are often selfless as belonging to Abnegation. It had me thinking the roles that they play and what sort of society we would live in if, as in Tris' world, those selfless from Abnegation were the only ones allowed in government. But of course in any world there are the power seekers, the greedy and the selfish.
Nominated for ALA's Best Fiction for Teens award, this novel has every ingredient to make it very popular with both girls and boys. Tris and Four and secondary characters grab the reader's interest immediately, the theme of survival of the fittest is gripping and the world making is original.
Pat Pledger

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