Saturday, July 9, 2011

REVIEW: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent is one of many young adult dystopian novels to come out recently and has received a lot of hype in the book community. I’m always a bit reluctant to read books that have a ton of buzz, perhaps because I feel like they won’t live up to my high expectations, or perhaps I just get bored hearing about them and lose interest. In any case, I picked up Divergent from the library and I’m glad I did.

The story takes place in a world where society is separated into five different factions: Erudite (the brains), Abnegation (the selfless), Candor (the honest), Amity (the peaceful) and Dauntless (the brave). When a person turns sixteen, he or she must choose which faction to belong to, with the help of simulations and aptitude tests.  In this society, your faction is more important than your family, and you are expected to devote your life to the group you chose.

Divergent follows the story of sixteen-year-old Beatrice, or Tris, as she makes the difficult choice of which faction she wishes to belong to. After she chooses, she undergoes a rigorous trial period to determine whether or not the faction she chooses will accept her or not. During this time she has to face challenges and fears that have her questioning not only her decision but her society in general.

I enjoyed Divergent and I do think it offers something unique amongst the plethora of dystopian literature that exists at the moment.  I enjoyed the characters and appreciate that they are complex. Tris is not typically beautiful and has personality flaws that make her human and relatable. Four, who is one of Tris’s faction trainers, has an interesting back story and is definitely swoon worthy despite his flaws.  There is a lot of conflict and action in this novel, which is something I don’t usually go for, but the action isn’t over-the-top and doesn’t move at an obnoxious speed.  For me, the best parts of the book were those that focused less on the action and more on personal and family relationships.

While Divergent didn’t render me speechless or blow my mind, it was an interesting story with some great qualities. It (of course) ends in a way that demands reading the next book in the series, Insurgent, which is coming sometime in 2012.  Rating: B+