Divergent by Veronica Roth Reviewed by Dani and Steph.
Dani’s rating: 5 stars Steph’s rating: 5 stars Overall rating: 5 stars
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.
If you judge a book by its cover, you might notice the cover’s resemblance to The Hunger Games symbol of a mockingjay enclosed in a circle. You might also wonder what the word “divergent” means.The dictionary definition of divergent is “tending to be different or developing in different directions”. The key word is different. Dystopia young adult fiction is becoming more and more popular since Suzanne Collins’s introduction of The Hunger Games. I have read young adult dystopias such as The Hunger Games (of course), Matched by Ally Condie, and Delirium by Lauren Oliver, but this book provides some serious competition for the king (or queen?) of dystopias, The Hunger Games.
Tris is such a strong female protagonist, something that has become rare in the realm of YA fiction. The book begins with Tris preparing to take her aptitude test. The aptitude test supposedly will decide which faction she will fall into. Later in the story, Tris learns that the aptitude test is not a good judge of who you really are. The factions have become more corrupt over the years, as Tris learns when she encounters Eric, one of her instructors in the initiation process. Eric is one of the major antagonists in Divergent and wants the factions to be run a different way. He has a different view of what each faction should be doing.
Of course, there is a romance. Tris’s other initiation instructor, a mysterious and somewhat aloof boy nicknamed Four, begins to work his way into her heart from the very beginning.
“I roll off, and I would have fallen face-first onto a wood floor if he had not caught me. “He” is the young man attached to the hand I grabbed. He has a spare upper lip and a full lower lip. his eyes are so deep-set that his eyelashes touch the skin under his eyebrows, and they are dark blue, a dreaming, sleeping, waiting color.” -Tris’s first impression of Four.
Four is not your normal swoon-worthy YA book boyfriend. He is not a particularly sympathetic person, but Tris wouldn’t love him if he was. He tries to protect Tris in every way that he can, but he has his own fears that Tris must help him conquer. I love that this was not a “love at first sight” story. The romance started slowly through a student-crush-on-hot-instructor relationship, a kind of admiration for this ideal member of her faction. Four sees how brave and selfless Tris is, and sees someone who might actually understand his broken past. And yes, Tris does help Four begin to unravel the tangles and snags of his past.
The basic plot of this book if Tris trying to survive her initiation process. Only the top 10 of possibly 20 (not telling you how many initiates there are) initiates will fully join the faction they chose. Some were born in the faction, and others were transfers. Those who do not make it become factionless, essentially the homeless of this dystopia world. Loyalty is very important in this world, as shown by the phrase and pledge “Faction before blood.” Also, there is a shocking surprise near the end of this book that involves Eric, Tris’s instructor, and another major antagonist. Tris is one of the few who is able to save her original faction and the faction she transferred to because of a special “mutation” in her mind. She will have to hide this special aspect of her mind because the leaders of each faction will most likely kill her if she reveals it. Why does she have to hide this? Will Tris be able to claw her way up to became a full member of her new faction? Will she be brave enough to fend off the various obstacles, both mental and physical, thrown in her way? What happened in Four’s past and why is he called Four? All of these questions and many more will be answered if you read Divergent!
Steph’s Review (she feels the need to do one for this book):
Before picking up Divergent (actually, the only reason I even bothered to pick it up was because of Danielle’s recommendation), I had some serious skepticism about it. I admit I read plenty of reviews on Goodreads and lots of people said things like ,”It was so Hunger Games like”, and “just unoriginal”. It got pretty high ratings, but I thought the 4-5 stars were from people who just wanted, and got, another dose of Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games. I started reading Divergent, thinking I would only be disappointed in the end.
Well gosh was I wrong. Remind me not to doubt your judgement too much again Dani. Why thank you.
One lesson I learned from reading this book: Just because a book is in the “dystopian” genre, that doesn’t mean that it will be a Hunger Games or 1984 copycat.
Divergent follows the story of Beatrice (Tris), who has a choice to make among the 5 factions of her nation, which will map out certain actions in her life: Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave), and Erudite (the intellectual). She has to take an aptitude test to see which faction she fits the most strongly into, which is supposed to help her in her decision-making process, even though it honestly isn’t a good test for your real feelings.
But things don’t go as expected for Tris, and she is left with a decision: her family, or her independence and freedom. She wants both, but she can only have one. Which one does she want more? If she chooses family, she will be shackled to the rules of the Abnegation faction for the rest of her life--“you must always put others before yourself”, something that is has never been easy for Tris from the start. If she chooses her independence and transfers to a different faction, she will never be able to see family again. Her choice is pretty obvious at this point, but I won’t spell it out, just in case you don’t put the pieces together. She must face the challenges that come with her decision, obstacles that she never knew she would have to overcome. She learns, the hard way, that your decisions can bring consequences unto yourself and those you care about.
This plot is NOTHING like the Hunger Games. Hell, this book doesn’t even have a dystopian feel to it in the beginning since Tris has a choice. The aptitude test didn’t decide for her, it only gave her strengths and weaknesses. If I was a total clueless and I didn’t ever hear about Divergent as a dystopian novel, I would have read the 1st half of the book thinking that its world was just a completely fictional world with the story of a girl’s problems in her faction. Things do seem to turn upside-down for Tris later in the book, but I love that her earlier experiences can make her tough and strong for what is inevitably going to pass. There is a love story here--between her and the one nicknamed “Four”, but it is pretty subtle in the beginning especially since Four seems like the cold-hearted bad boy :). It was nice to see Tris help Four with his fears; I think they really strengthen one another. No, this love story is not a “ridiculous-love-story-that-Steph-hates”.
All in all, I would recommend this book to people that are particularly fond of the dystopian genre. It’s a great model book. If you aren’t a big fan of dystopias, I would still say to give this one a chance, because it might make you like the genre a little more. It isn’t a book that is heavy on the oppression, so much so that it is noticeable within the first few chapters of the book. You never really get a empty-stomach sense of foreboding, only butterflies because you are so excited about what’s going to happen next. I was reeling throughout the entire book, and I had a hard time falling asleep after putting it down. The dystopian feel creeps in slowly, so that it feels natural and that it should be there by the time you actually notice it. Veronica Roth shows the reader glimpses of the corruptness in the system while Tris is learning of the same thing. You can...become Tris in this book. A full 5-stars!P.S. I stayed up until 3 A.M. to read this book. Then I had to force myself to go to bed when I had 50 pages left of it.