Sunday, February 3, 2013

Book Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Title:  Divergent
Author:  Veronica Roth
Series:  Divergent #1
Genre:  YA dystopian
Pages:  487

Rating:  A+

Synopsis from  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.
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I cannot believe it took me this long to finally read Divergent.  This book was so amazing; it is an incredible young-adult dystopian novel that I would place on the same level as The Hunger Games.

I loved the plot and the concept.  The idea of society being split into five factions based on personality preferences was creative, and it got me to thinking - "Where would I end up?"  The five factions are Dauntless (bravery), Amity (love/peacefulness), Abnegation (selflessness), Erudite (knowledge), and Candor (honesty).  When a teenager turns sixteen, they take an aptitude test to discover where the tests say their paths lie.  Someone who has a strong passion for learning would be told they're an Erudite, or someone who's very brave would be a Dauntless.  But the teenagers don't have to follow the test results; they're allowed to choose whichever path they want.  Tris grew up in Abnegation, where she's taught to put others first before herself, but she realizes that she wants to be somewhere else.  And it's when factions transfer that the tensions begin to start.  It definitely makes me wonder where I would be.

The best part of the book is the characters.  The main character, Tris, is believable as a girl struggling to find her place in this factioned society.  When she learns that she's different, a Divergent, she still chooses the path she intended to, but constantly lives in fear of being discovered.  Her fight to be accepted in her new home and to earn her place among her peers is gritty and real.  I was a little nervous at first, because I wasn't sure if I liked Tris in the beginning.  But as her character grew more and more comfortable with her surroundings, I started to like her more.  Her mentor, Four, is a great character as well.  He's strong and hard and proud of being part of the Dauntless faction, but he still holds onto his ideals and his vision of bravery and selflessness.  There are so many secondary characters; my favorites were Uriah, Will, and Christina.  Because there are a lot of characters, I was worried the secondary ones would seem flat, but each one gets enough character development and personality to make them seem as real as Tris and Four.

The romance in this book was awesome, because it wasn't insta-love.  It built slowly and believably over time.  Tris and Four are my new favorite dystopian couple since Katniss and Peeta.  

The setting of dystopian Chicago was brilliant.  I've never been to Chicago, but I really felt like I was there.  I could picture the Sears Tower, or the Hub as they called it, and the surrounding suburbs.  I'm really intrigued to read more about it in the next books since the story takes place in only a few parts of Chicago.

I think that Divergent is one of the best dystopian novels I have ever read.  With great characters, an incredible setting, and an intricate plot, this book was an extremely satisfying read that left me wanting more.  Now I just cannot wait to get the sequel and see what happens to Tris and Four next.  A+

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