Friday, April 27, 2012

Review: Divergent

Divergent by Veronica Roth
Release: May 3, 2011

In a future Chicago, 16-year-old Beatrice Prior must choose among five predetermined factions to define her identity for the rest of her life, a decision made more difficult when she discovers that she is an anomaly who does not fit into any one group, and that the society she lives in is not perfect after all.

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So little ol’ me arrived late to the Divergent bandwagon. It wasn’t until two months ago that I cracked open the cover of my brand new Divergent paperback copy. I didn’t know much about it, really. Only that it had a VERY high goodreads score and raving reviews.

I was intrigued.

First off, let me say that the world Veronica Roth created is interesting but not believable. It’s highly unlikely that a society divided into five factions could survive the way they did--isolated from each other. What are these factions? Each represents a “virtue”, so to speak. A virtue that is held in highest regard to it’s faction members. There are five: Abnegation (the selfless), Erudite, (the Intelligent), Dauntless (the brave), Candor (the honest), and Amity (the peaceful).

When people in this dystopian society “come of age” they take a competency test that reveals that individual’s singular value. The results of the test don’t dictate the person’s choice of faction, but there's no denying it's influence during the choosing ceremony.

But at the heart of the Story is Beatrice (aka Tris). She was born into Abnegation, and when tested, discovers that she is of a rare species: she is Divergent. This means she has an affinity for more than one faction. And honestly, I think every person today is divergent. No one virtue really defines us all, but I suppose what matters in the end is what virtue we valued the most. So yeah, like I said, I had issues. However, I was able to get past the believability. And when I did it was QUITE an enjoyable ride.

So what faction does Tris choose? She aligns herself with Dauntless, the brave.

And then the story kicks off with the Tris' initiation into the Dauntless faction.

Tris is a very interesting character. She goes from rigid and conforming to brave and kick-butt and now she's one of my favorite heroines (up there with Katniss Everdeen). I enjoyed her growth and strength as she's forced to fight other initiates, as she learns out to wield a gun and a knife, and as she learns about love and friendship. The initiation is pretty brutal though (so much so that one initiate gets stabbed in the eye!) Yeah.

And it’s a far cry from the manifesto that states: we believe in every day acts of bravery.

Violence is not bravery, but somehow over time, this has become the norm of the Dauntless.

Tris learns all this during her initiation and it all leads to a pretty epic ending. It was brutal, heart-pounding, and edge-of-your seat action. I don’t know WHY I enjoyed this book so much, but it had me turning pages. Even in the quieter moments of the book, I devoured each and every page. Tris intrigued me, and her relationship with Four (which was NOT love at first sight, thank God) was very sweet. To say much more would spoil the book, but their relationship is sweet and born out of interest and compassion. Not lust. 

Whatever gripes I may have about Divergent's world building, I want people who haven’t read the book to understand that Divergent is more of commentary on human morale than a commentary on society as a whole. Many grey areas exist, and even the best of traits can be molded into something bad. Also, I find it interesting that Veronica Roth decided to write this book in response to her own moral struggle. I understand this and this is why I chose to give this book 4 stars instead of 3.

Oh, and that ending also had me salivating for MORE. Veronica Roth is a very talented writer, whose prose is flowing, readable, and engrossing. I have already suggested this book to a few of my friends, and they all loved it. So check it out and see for yourself. See what the hype is all about. And don't forget to check out my review of INSURGENT, come Monday. I was fortunate enough to win an ARC from Claire LeGrand's blog. 

And don't forget...


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