Veronica Roth – Divergent

One choice decides your friends, defines your beliefs and determines your loyalties … forever.

When sixteen-year-old Tris makes her choice, she cannot foresee how drastically her life will change. Or that the perfect society in which she lives is about to unfold into a dystopian world of electrifying decisions, stunning consequences, heartbreaking betrayals and unexpected romance.

One choice can transform you.

Divergent was one of the books that was recommended to me by Liz. It’s a book I probably wouldn’t have picked up on my own, because the YA section is one I often overlook, even though I really like most of the YA books I’ve read, but I loved it! Divergent is set in an post-apocalyptic and firmly dystopian Chicago. Society is split in five factions, and if you don’t make it past initiation in your chosen faction, you’ll be living factionless, doing the most menial of jobs and often going homeless and hungry.

The concept of the factions is fascinating; they are like the Hogwarts Houses writ large. They are centred in on one character treat, to the exclusion of all else. The Abnegation, for example, live their lives according to the philosophy of selflessness, always putting others before your own needs. Candour believes in telling the absolute truth at all times in all situations, even if it might be hurtful to others. Similarly the other houses are Dauntless (bravery), Erudite (knowledge) and Amity (kindness). The thought that at some point humanity split up according to what they thought would be the way to bring peace-everlasting, is an interesting one and the fact that Ms Roth chose benign treats (at face value at least) even more so. She shows us that anything taken to extremes can be bad and that humans are always human and perhaps not meant to live in a utopia.

I love Tris. I love how she struggles to find her true, divergent, self and how hard she tries to fit in. She’s flawed and she knows it, but tries to be her best despite that. Tris is special not just because she is divergent, but because she has a good heart and a good head on her shoulders. She is taught to do some pretty hard stuff during her initiation and ends up having to do even harder stuff to save her life. And while she just gets on with things and does what she has to do, she doesn’t do it without consequences to her spirit. I liked that Ms Roth doesn’t just let everything glide off her protagonist, but that each action, or non-action, has emotional repercussions. It makes Tris’ growth seem more real and natural.

I loved Four, the main male lead. I actually fell a little in love with him myself. He’s fierce, brave, and strong – everything a Dauntless should be, but also kind and smart. He is another one that follows his conscience, rather than the rules. And while he is protective of Tris, he never underestimates her strength and always pushes her to her limits. Their slow romance is enticing and never feels forced of abrupt. I cheered out loud when it finally fully bloomed. Next to the romance aspect, Tris builds other relationships in her new home. She makes some amazing friends, not just among the transfers, but among the Dauntless-born initiates as well. I hope we see some of them return in the rest of the series.

While I loved the plot and found it riveting, I did miss some of the exposition; how did the world end up like this, what is beyond the city gates, why is everything going to hell in a hand basket only now? Hopefully we’ll see some of these questions answered in the next book.

Divergent was a smooth read, written in first person present. This lent it an immediacy and intimacy, that made it almost impossible to put down. While part of a trilogy, the book can be read as a standalone. Divergent is not just about the politics, but also a story of growing up, letting go and finding oneself. I really loved this book; it’s among my favourite reads so far this year. So thank you Liz. And yes… You told me so.

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2 Responses to Veronica Roth – Divergent

  1. Mel says:

    I bought this book on the back of so many positive reviews but haven't started reading yet. Yours is another glowing review that makes me want to read it but I'm worried now it's been other hyped for me. I wait a little while before I start so I can look at it with a fresh eye. :-)

  2. Pingback: Joelle Charbonneau – The Testing | A Fantastical Librarian

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