Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Book Review: Divergent

Title: Divergent

Author: Veronica Roth

Spoiler free description (as explained here): In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, 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 to determine who her friends really are. 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 a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves... or it might destroy her.

A History of Divergent: Divergent was written while Roth was in university, and is her debut novel. It was published on April 24, 2011. The book placed #6 on the New York Times Children's Chapter Books Best Sellers list. Divergent remained on the list for 11 weeks. Summit Entertainment purchased the media rights to the book and is currently in the process of casting.

On the author, Veronica Roth: Veronica Roth was born on August 19, 1988, and was raised in the suburbs of Chicago in Barrington, Illinois. She attended Northwestern University where she studied creative writing. Roth says that she wrote Divergent when she should have been doing homework. She is 24 years old and writing for young adults.


My friend urged me to read this book, saying it was one of her favorites. So,  I ended up buying it at the airport so I could read it during my flight. It turned out to be a real page-turner, distracting me even from sleep and food. While it does share the violent themes of Hunger Games and the factions are similar to Harry Potter houses, I feel this book manages to hold its own and incorporate some of its own themes and styles.

One of Divergent's greatest strengths is its protagonist, Tris. Even if I didn't agree with all of her decisions and opinions, I could still relate and sympathize with her. She's very human in the sense that she wants to belong somewhere while remaining the person she truly is (not the person others want her to be). Another thing was was well-written in this book was the realistic and well-crafted relationships, both romantic and otherwise.

While her love interest, Tobias, was a bit harder to relate to, he is still admirable in his courage and vision. As a reader I wasn't falling in love with him. However, I could see why Tris was, and that was enough. Tris' relationship with her parents was one I'm sure every teenager can relate to. Tris loves her parents, but feels as if she will fail them if she doesn't make the decision they want her to. When she decides to choose the Dauntless faction over the Abnegation faction, she worries about how her parents will react and if they will feel she has betrayed them. Everyone who faces parental pressure will relate to Tris in these scenes. I wasn't particularly happy with the middle of the novel, since I was disagreeing with a lot of the Dauntless faction beliefs and actions. I felt that some of the things the Dauntless members did weren't brave, they were more stupid and reckless.

I did not expect the plot twist of the Erudite controlling the Dauntless and trying to take over the Abnegation faction. Still, I wasn't shocked by it either. Veronica Roth did a great job of foreshadowing and planting the seeds for the twist. After this big twist, the action really starts. The tension keeps you on the edge of your seat.

While I enjoyed this book, it wasn't as good as the hype surrounding it. However, I did enjoy it enough to read the second book in the series, Insurgent.

Who would I recommend it to?

I would recommend this book to ages 12 and up, especially teenagers who are fans of dystopian YA literature.

Favorite Quote:

"Human beings as a whole cannot be good for long before the bad creeps back in and poisons us again."

What are your opinions of Divergent? Which faction would you join? Leave a comment below!

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