From Katherine Tegen Books (an imprint of HarperCollins):One choice decides your friends. One choice defines your beliefs. One choice determines your loyalties–forever. One choice can transform you.
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.
When Veronica Roth’s debut dystopian novel Divergent hit shelves last year I was skeptical. The hoopla over this new book cried for me to read it. “It is the next Hunger Games!” people said. And when I opened it up and read the inside flap, that is exactly what it sounded like: a twist on The Hunger Games. Hence my skepticism. How can it compare? I thought.
But WOW. Oh WOW. By the end of the first chapter my skepticism was gone. I wanted to know more about this society where people live in one of five factions, each defined by one value: bravery, knowledge, selflessness, honesty or kindness. I wanted to know what would become of this small girl who didn’t feel like she fit in. And from there on I was hooked by this adrenaline-fueled page-turner.
It is an intriguing thought that society would divide based on intrinsic values, rather than something superficial like class (divisions that have existed in our society for centuries). There are obvious reasons why such a division would not work—it’s just too extreme. And overlap between the values is inevitable. Nevertheless, Roth’s society has made it work for quite some time. Until one faction begins to seek power. And then all hell breaks loose.
I loved watching Tris fight against the pigeon-holed definition of her faction (even, and especially, when she didn’t realize she was doing it). I especially enjoyed how Tris and some of the other characters like Four, her romantic interest, expand the values of their factions. There is more to bravery than being reckless and there is more to selflessness than being submissive. Sometimes bravery and selflessness are the same thing. Tris’ divergence shows that there really is no such thing as black and white (though the Candor may want to believe it). Roth has created a very well imagined and compelling society in Divergent that amazes and frustrates me (in the best way possible).
And the characters are fantastic! Tris is smart, strong and learning to be her own woman. Four is a different kind of male lead that I absolutely love. He doesn’t see Tris as a weak female that needs protected. Instead he helps her find her strength and encourages her to push herself. He respects her instead of shields her and that trait is incredibly sexy. And don’t forget the villains (yes plural). There are some characters in here that you just love to hate. They are absolutely, wonderfully despicable.
Since Divergent’s release I have read it twice and I’m sure I will read it again and again. If you loved The Hunger Games (and in all seriousness, who didn’t?) you too will love Divergent, not because it is like The Hunger Games but because the calibre of story will captivate you in much the same way.