Author: Veronica Roth
Series: Divergent #1
Published: 3rd May 2011
Length: 496 pages
Other info: This is Veronica Roth’s debut novel. The sequel, Insurgent, should be out one day.
Summary : Beautrice “Tris” Prior has reached the fateful age of sixteen, the age at which teenagers in Veronica Roth’s dystopian Chicago must select which of five factions to join for life. Each faction represents a virtue-Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity and Erudite. To the suprise of herself and her selfless Abnegation family, she chooses Dauntless, the path of Courage. Her choice exposes her to the demanding violent initiation rites of this group, but also threatens to expose a personal secret that could place her in mortal danger.
Review: In Beatrice's society, people live in one of five factions; Candor valuing honesty, Amity for kindness, Erudite for intelligence, Abnegation for selflessness and Dauntless for courage. At 16, after being brought up by the rules of their parent's faction, each person must choose what faction they will live in, what rules they will follow, how they live life. As this may be quite hard, they take a test which should give a clear answer as to what faction they are best suited. Should. In Beautrice's case, she was equally cut out for three. She is different. She is Divergent. She is dangerous.
She chooses in the end to join Dauntless, where initiation is learning to face and control their fears. And half of them will get cut and live factionless. She renames herself Tris and gets on with life in Dauntless. And discovers a plot against Abnegation. And falls in love with her instructor Four. A fairly typical dystopian book here.
But Roth has put her own spin on it. The world is realistic and easy to understand. At first it was a little difficult to remember which faction was which, but I got there after a bit. it was quite annoying that you had to wait until halfway through the book to understand why the factions actually exist. And on a complete side note, was this really Chicago? I never noticed... good or bad, I don't know.
The plot was good. I liked how it takes us thoroughly through all her training, and adds extra little sidestories throughout, not just concentrating on training and, in the later part of the book, the revolution.
The characterisation was very good. I loved seeing Tris get braver, and break free from Abnegation without leaving it behind completely. I liked the way that Four was a nice guy who had his own bad history but not enough to think “he’s pathetic”.
The romance in it was good. I’m glad it wasn’t a love triangle story, because I don’t think it would have worked with all the action. I also really liked the way that, when Four’s past is revealed, it all fits together cleverly.
I liked it being written from Tris’ point of view, where we see how she feels at each stage. She has her own voice throughout, which I think also really added to her character.
Overall: Strength 5 tea to one of the best dystopians I’ve read, that kept me interested throughout, and waiting for the next.