In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, 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 alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are–and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating 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 unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.
For a long time I’ve been aware of Divergent and have been seeing the copious amounts of praise it gets. I have no idea why, but I just never felt the pull to read it. The announcement of the book being made into a movie jumpstarted my want to read it… and boy, I’m glad I did.
I’m not going to lie: when I first started reading Divergent I wasn’t exactly sold on it. I even started to dislike it at one point because it was so full of fighting and… bleck. I thought it would never end. The fighting wasn’t the problem, just the amount of it. It cleared a bit eventually and I moved on. If you don’t like books with fighting/combat/war or the like then you might want to move on from this one. It doesn’t take over the book, but it does play a very important part in the overall story.
With that rough patch aside, I was very impressed with the plot of Divergent. Obviously, the idea of a divided society isn’t anything new, but I don’t know that I’ve read anything where the characters are divided by mannerisms, characteristics, or personality in general. It’s interesting to think about where you would end up in that type of society. As a whole this book caused me to do a lot of critical thinking. Where would I end up? What would I do in XYZ situation? How would I react to XYZ? I honestly have no answers for any of those questions, which serves to show the strength of the characters in this book and most importantly, Beatrice (Tris), who had to make important decisions like that everyday.
Tris goes through a lot in the span of Divergent. She left her family, was constantly harassed and assaulted, and tested all the time alongside all the other Dauntless initiates. She was trying to find herself, but at the same time she already knew herself and her boundaries. I really liked how even when she was doing something she normally wouldn’t have done she still knew and kept in touch with who she was and how far she was willing to go. Tris was transformed into a major risk-taker by the end of the book and I loved it. Even when she was screaming inside she managed to think clearly and just get things done. I have a lot of respect for Tris, but still… I don’t know if I quite like her. I’m more neutral.
I really liked the role fear took in this book. Dauntless people are supposed to be brave and willing to go running into trouble when no one else is. They’re fearless, but not technically without fear. The Dauntless go through a ton of training to learn to control their fears, so throughout the book we get little glimpses of what certain characters were afraid of. I was impressed with Veronica Roth’s thought on the subject. There were common fears (heights, significant people in a person’s life, etc.) that totally made sense, but also random things that seem completely irrational to most people–like the fear of an insect or a totally unlikely situation happening. I loved how realistic it made the characters and give major kudos to Roth for even having the imagination to think of these things.
For the most part I really enjoyed Divergent. It stood up to the hype and kept me engaged the whole way through. I have some lingering questions, but hopefully they’ll be answered in the next book. This is definitely worth the read, but of course you’ve probably read it and know that already.
Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Reviews from the rest of the series: