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—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating 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 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.
Divergent is based on an idea that society can be divided into 5 groups whose goals are to ‘eradicate those qualities they believed responsible for the world’s disarray.’ There’s Candor, the honest; Amity, the peaceful; Abnegation, the selfless; Erudite, the intelligent; and Dauntless, the brave.
And then there’s the Divergent. The complicated.
In this world, children become adults at sixteen, when they are forced to choose whom they are going to become– forever. But–wait– you thought that sounded difficult? Really? Try mixing in political intrigue, clashes between factions, corrupt authority, threats of an uprising, cute older guys, paintball in the dark, and a battle between selflessness and courage– between selfishness and cowardice. Mmhmm. Told you it got better.
Never before has a book forced me to ask so many questions; “What if–? How does that–? What would I–? But she said that–? How do they survive for so–? Tori–? Marcus–? Four–? How do you even pronounce Eru–??”
Yep. Divergent is one of those controversial books.
I was shocked to find so many reviewers dissing Roth’s world building. They all seem to agree on the fact that a society ruled by five, and only five, particular traits is repellent, insane, and unlikely. The only thing that I have to say to this perspective is, well… yeah. Duh. It’s dystopia, people! Dystopia. And since when does dystopia entail utopia? Since when is any oppresive dystopia agreeable, or even plausible, to readers in this day and age, at all? Oh, yeah. Right. It isn’t. So the whole psycho-analysis of Roth’s factions and government and all that shiraz is really getting on my nerves.
Actually, I found the world building in Divergent to be pretty freaking amazing. I love the idea that our world could be divided (for the most part) into five different groups of people. Call me young, but I’ve never read anything like that before. I love the concept that a faction could be corrupt– but still stand for something. I love that prejudices based on colour and religion and caste are replaced by prejudices based on faction. I love the whimsical ferris wheels and the adrenaline-pumping zip lining and the thrill of jumping off of moving trains and the abhorrent mention of muffins.
Sure, Divergent left me with more questions left unanswered than explained (Did Chicago pull a Wither and simply decide to bomb the rest of the world?), but I feel as though the explanations that were provided almost made up for that.
Roth’s characters are very realistic. I loved every last one of them (Okay, that’s not true. I loved most of them.) I thought that Tris was a down-to-earth, kick-ass heroine. My favourite parts of Divergent consisted of her trying to prove herself to other Dauntless members/initiates and defending others. I was also enamored with the way she put things so simply. It was so… bold.
That is death– shifting from “is” to “was”.
I equally enjoyed Will, Christina and Four as characters. Will was really cute, Christina was just entertaining, and Four was, well… brooding and mysterious and a man of very few words, but it was great to see an actual smart guy take the stage as male lead.
Tris and Four’s relationship was complicated. I loved that they pushed each to their limit and reminded each other of their strengths, but at some points, the ‘hot older guy’ thing was weird. However, I appreciated that Veronica didn’t incorporate a love triangle into Divergent. There’s already enough ruckus what with selflessness versus bravery, Erudite versus Abnegation, Peter versus everyone, Eric versus Four and Tris versus herself; no need to add a Four versus John-Mark.
In my opinion, Divergent has only one real downfall– and that’s the ending. Don’t get me wrong, it was just as action-packed and past-paced as the rest of the book, but it had a couple of issues. First of all, the onset was too fast. Reading it was like ‘Lalalalala, I’m so happy, yay me, let’s eat cake– oh wait we’re all gonna die!‘
Because they did die. So many of the characters just–poof–disappeared. Now, this is nerve-wracking, but understandable. Sometimes authors just have to kill off a bunch of characters for no apparent reason. What really got to me was Tris’s emotionless behavior towards these deaths. You’re reading the book, and suddenly someone’s killed, and you’re mentally breaking down because it was one of your favourite characters, but Tris just shrugs and moves on, because she’s strong. I find this quite hilarious, actually. Look, Tris, emotional strength is important– but sometimes admitting your vulnerability/weakness is strength. Breaking down or showing emotion isn’t always cowardice. Tris, obviously, hasn’t realized this yet.
I’m rating Divergent 5 stars despite its ungraceful ending. Why? Because, if you let it, this book will change your life. Its philosophy is quite powerful. And who wouldn’t want to read a book involving a faction whose favourite food is muffins?
We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another.
~the Dauntless manifesto
I’ll keep you posted,Divergent,