Divergent – Veronica Roth
Genre: YA; Dystopia
Summary: After an apocalyptic event has occurred, Chicago portioned itself off into five groups in an attempt to thwart off any more violence. These very distinct groups, Dauntless, Erudite, Amity, Abnegation, and Candor, live out their lives in very different fashions, and at the age of sixteen, everyone is required to choose which group he or she would like to be a part of. Born into the group Abnegation, or those who are selfless, sixteen-year-old Beatrice is forced to choose between remaining loyal to her group and her family, or striking out on her own and joining a completely different group. What decision will she make, and will it ultimately prove to be the right one?
Review: Divergent came highly recommended to me from some well-trusted and respected sources. I was really excited to read this book, as I’ve heard such great things about it, but I tried not to set the bar too high for fear of disappointment. While I did mostly enjoy this book, I also had several problems with it that has left me with an overwhelming feeling that can best be described as ‘meh.’
First, the good: I really liked the world that Roth has imagined in this effort. It was interesting to see how the world was divided. The divisions reminded me very much of the sorting hat in Harry Potter, which is a good thing because that series will always be one of my favorites. The characters were also really compelling, and I thought Tris was a great narrator.
Now, the questionable: While I did think the division of this world was creative, the explanation behind it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. I read this book a month or two ago so my memory is a bit fuzzy, but I believe it was explained that the world was separated in order to avoid more violence and conflict. Correct me if I’m wrong, but historically, hasn’t separating people based on things that don’t really matter much in the grand scheme of things been the root cause of violence and dissension? Despite its best intentions, since separation is oftentimes not equal, especially when there’s a ruling class involved, wouldn’t this plan just cause more chaos? In the same vein, wouldn’t Erudite have been the actual ruling body, and not Abnegation? I understand why Abnegation was chosen for this job (they were selfless, so they’d make unbiased decisions), but wouldn’t you want the most intelligent people (Erudite) to be the ruling body?
Another thing that I found questionable was Tris’ decision as it relates to the community she chose. I don’t want to reveal which community she chose just in case you haven’t read the book yet, but I suppose I feel this way because, personality wise, I felt she could’ve fit in better with a different group. While the path she chose was interesting, it didn’t quite make sense when her personality was factored into the equation.
Despite my problems with Divergent, I still consider it a worthwhile read. The book raised plenty of questions, and I’m looking forward to hopefully finding the answers I seek in Insurgent.
Action abounds in this book, so if you’re a fan of dystopias, give it a try. Even though the main point-of-view is Tris’, I think both boys and girls would enjoy this book because of its pacing, characters, and action sequences.
Other Books in this Series: Insurgent (Book 2)
Read-alikes: The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Legend, Enclave
If you lived in this society and had to choose a faction, which would you pick?