Book Review: Divergent
You can count on this one being on everyone’s list of best books of 2011, including mine. This is a delicious example of dystopian YA at its best. The main characters are struggling with coming of age and finding their place in society, only to find that their society is not all that they want it to be- nor that it should be. I love how in good YA dystopian, the world starts out completely ego-centric, and blooms in a way that makes selflessness necessary; this book is an exceptional example.
The story is told from the viewpoint of a 16-year-old girl named Beatrice, who has been raised in a community where selflessness is the guiding virtue. The setting is Chicago, sometime after the fall of the USA as we know it. Like most other kids of her age, Beatrice longs for adventure and fun. She thinks she sees what she is looking for in another local community- but what she finds there is hard work with few comforts, and danger with little help. And amid the difficulties, she finds herself: a girl who is more determined, more capable, more selfless than she could have imagined.
Of course, most really fun YA has a great love story incorporated in the plot, and Divergent is no exception. Beatrice finds herself falling for a breathtaking boy- the kind who first inspires fear and hatred, but who eventually reveals his true nature only to her. Please, charge on even if it bugs you that he is known as Four; you will get an explanation eventually, and it’s a great story.
Please pardon the comparisons, but as I was reading, I kept thinking, “this is Westerfeld’s Uglies series meets Collins’ The Hunger Games.” I am a big fan of both series, so I was absolutely captivated from page one of Divergent.
If you take my advice on only one book this year, make it this one. Get it, read it, now. Then join me in waiting for the sequel, Insurgent, due in 2012.
Summary from GoodReads:
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.
Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.