- Published: April 25th, 2011
- Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books
- Genre: Dystopian/Young Adult
- Series: Divergent Trilogy
- Pages in Paperback: 487
- Followed by: Insurgent
- Quote: “Human beings as a whole cannot by good for long before the bad creeps back in and poisons us again.”
- Barnes & Noble/Book Depository
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.
Review on the Characters:
Tris— I give her props for differing from the typical heroine in the sense that she didn’t need saving and not only wanted to be apart of the action but jumped in at every opportunity. Though she was cold at times, like when Al was homesick and she called him weak, it aligned with her character. And I’ve got to say, it was so good to see a female character take charge of her future. She actually learned from mistakes and grew from them (a rare concept in young adult fiction) and I felt extremely satisfied when she showed Peter (a creepy guy) who’s boss. While I felt that many concepts in Dauntless were pointless and stupid, it was really inspiring to see Tris kick butt.
Four— Okay everyone, listen, I loved Four, I really did. He was swoon worthy and brave and everything you could ask for in a guy, BUT HE WAS JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER GUY IN YOUNG ADULT FICTION. You know about the guy I’m talking about: the hot guy drawn to the ordinary looking girl (or really pretty girl but when she looks in the mirror she doesn’t see it) within the first few pages of their meeting. The guy that every girl wants and practically gets an offer every day but denies everyone because he’s the brooding and suffer alone type (until he meets said ordinary girl that is). The guy who although has a tough exterior, is actually a sensitive soul that he will only share with his true love (whom he recognizes after weeks of knowing each other). He was a cookie cutter, plain and simple. Did I like him, yeah, of course I did. He was created to win over the girls who spend more time with fiction than reality. Did I think he was original, complex and fleshed out? Mmmm, gonna have to say no on that one.
Al— A side character I loved because he was one of the more complex characters of the novel. He was a great example that sheer size does not necessarily equal to strength as he was the biggest of Tris’s fellow initiates but also so homesick and sensitive that it crippled him. For me, the author was demonstrating another layer of bravery with Al. Being brave is tough, it takes all your guts, especially in the little acts. Seeing someone like Al fall short of that actually in turn shows us that given the choice, we could all be brave if given the chance. If you’ll forgive me while I quote Harry Potter, “It’s our choices that define who we are.” and Roth demonstrates this nicely throughout the novel , just one example being Al.
Review of the Story:
The story was very action packed making a 500 page book an extremely fast read. The idea of divergence was interesting (even though it raises a few questions) and though Dauntless didn’t completely make sense to me I can’t deny that it was entertaining to learn the inner workings of the wild faction. And that ending was mind-blowing. It’s like you’re on a roller coaster steadfastly making your way up and the last twenty pages just zoom by with all the cool loops. Warning, it does leave you on a major cliff hanger, so it would be wise to have the second book on hand. (I didn’t and I have suffered for it).
Review of the Writing: (Warning: ‘Really?‘ is used several times in this section)
This is really where the novel loses points for me. Let’s talk about the world building for a moment. Chicago has been split into five different factions, each dedicated to one particular virtue. The reason for this as Ross describes is to prevent future war, but THAT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE. They have divided themselves, based on their beliefs in what is right, and these beliefs determine the jobs available as only one faction is in charge of a certain duty. Furthermore, they put one faction in charge of government, so please explain to me how this is not setting themselves up for failure? They really thought this would end discord? They really thought this wouldn’t cause discrimination or resentment? Really? Did the last war affect everyone’s IQ?
Why doesn’t the train ever stop? No really, why? Except for that one convenient time when Tris gets to see the very mysterious fence and run into friend that now belongs in another faction only to learn, that you shouldn’t rub shoulders with people in other factions. There’s that discrimination I warned about, but really, it just now started? Really? Also, the train starts on the ground but then suddenly is at the edge of the TOP of a building, because you know, trains just do that.
As for the factions themselves, it feels like Ross took no time to fully develop them. Out of the factions, Selfless, Smart, Friendly, Honest and Brave which one do you think the doctors would be assigned too? The smart faction right? Logical, but no. Ross says that the selfless are doctors because they sacrifice the time that is demanded to be a doctor. Really?
And lets remember, this is just Chicago. What’s going on with the outside world beyond the fence? And why doesn’t anybody else in the book have that question? NOBODY wonders why there is a fence in which no one goes out or in? Why do they need guards anyway? But Ross didn’t feel the need to explain those tidbits, so we’re left wondering why those details were included at all.
One last thing, why is being divergent so rare? Is this novel really saying that the MAJORITY of people only fit into one category? Really? I find that extremely hard to believe, but I guess for the sake of the story I have to get over it.
While I definitely had issues with the world Roth built, I can’t deny the fact this novel is highly entertaining with the bonus point of having a kick ass female protagonist.
P.S.– My next read is Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo