Monday, May 16, 2011

Divergent by Veronica Roth

 Summary (courtesy of GoodReads):   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.

And here's what I thought:   At first, it seemed like the book might be a slow starter, but before I knew it, I was whipping along.   I found the idea of the different factions to be fascinating - that people are divided into these groups for societal reasons.  It's all explained on page 42 - "Decades ago, our ancestors realized that it is not political ideology, religious belief, race, or nationalism that is to blame for a warring world.  Rather, they determined that it was the fault of human personality - of humankind's inclination towards evil, in whatever form that is.  They divided into factions that sought to eradicate those qualities they believed responsible for the world's disarray."   Thus, the formation of the different factions to keep society at peace.    This idea drives the story, even though the focus is on Tris and her personal journey.  I suppose I can see the appeal of the factions to a society that has known nothing but strife; if you divide people into tightly focused groups, all working together, then perhaps society can find balance.   

However, nothing is really that simple.  As much as people may believe they should belong to one faction, perhaps their personality would make them more suitable to a different faction.   Some people seem to suppress their inner selves, choosing instead to follow their parents and remain members of  a faction.  And some .... follow their own hearts and minds.    Tris chooses a faction completely unlike the one she has known for her early life, and isn't quite prepared for what might happen.  However, the initiations, although tough, seem to prove to her that she may have made the right choice.   Or has she?   I'm not telling, as I try to avoid spoilers.

What I will say is that I found Tris to be a really compelling character.  She doesn't take the easy route, to be sure, but she is pretty sure of herself, trusting that she has made the right decision.  She's smart, and she's determined - and has a strong sense of self.   I liked that even though she was conflicted at times about what she was doing, she always trusted that she was where she was supposed to be, and figured out a way to succeed.   And she's not relying on being beautiful, or physically strong --- she gets stronger throughout the initiations, but what she really relies on is her mind.  Very cool.

The author does a nice job of keeping the pace quick, and there is a nicely maintained tension throughout the story.    Once I got going, I was completely hooked (and was resentful that I had to put the book down on Sunday and go to work for a few hours).    Between the well-written characters (not only Tris, but the supporting characters, as well), and the storyline of the factions, I was captivated by this book.   It's a great read!!!

First sentences: "There is one mirror in my house.  Our faction allows me to stand in front of it on  the second day of every third month, the day my mother cuts my hair.  It is behind a sliding panel in the hallway upstairs."

Thoughts on the cover:  At first, I wasn't sure what the cover had to do with the story, other than showing a skyline that looked like Chicago's.  However, as the story went on, the large image with the flames made complete sense (it has to do with a particular faction).

Note:  I received an ARC of this book courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales ARC Tours.  Thus, any page numbers and/or quotes from the book may change upon final publication.


Allison said...

I can't wait to read this book- I'm on the library waiting list!

Melissa (i swim for oceans) said...

I seriously haven't read a single bad review for this. I'm just dying to try it! Awesome thoughts :)

Carol @ There's Always Thyme to Cook said...

Great review! I'm just now getting back into reading so I'll add this one to my list! Thanks!

Amanda Makepeace said...

One great review after another! I can't wait read this book.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a really interesting book. Hope it comes out in the UK! I'll look out for it.

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