Hardcover: 496 pages
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (May 3, 2011)
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.
Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.
*Might Contain Spoilers, Read With Caution*
There are five factions: Dauntless, Abnegation, Candor, Erudite, and Amity. And the factionless, who live in poverty. As the Choosing Ceremony approaches, sixteen-year old Beatrice Prior must choose which faction will define the rest of her life; but soon, her simulation results change everything. She is told it is dangerous to be Divergent, but she is not told why. When "Tris" finally chooses her faction, the initiation that follows is grueling but she knows that what she's doing is what she was meant for. As she makes friends--and enemies--among the other initiate transfers, Tris grows to love the freedom they represent but she also appreciates the correlation between her old faction and her new one. Challenges and obstacles soon become a daily occurrence and as conflict levels intensify between Abnegation and Erudite, Tris knows there's more scheming being done than the Erudite are exposing in their articles and trash-talk of the Abnegation. Her Divergent status rapidly becomes too hot to handle and she finds help in an unexpected instructor. In this dystopian Chicago, Tris learns to make choices and that when things seem the most hopeless, she is not alone.
I feel like I have to break this book in half because it's the only way I can structure my review. Even though most of you won't understand why I titled the two sections this way, it'll make more sense as I go on.
Before the "Edward incident" (This covers about the first two hundred pages or so.)
Beatrice gave the initial impression of trying to fit into her faction desperately in order not to go against her parents wishes. I understood the constant necessity of her "trying" so insistently. Roth did a great job in explain Beatrice's dilemma and her fight to stay in the world she's always known.
I didn't grasp the author's description of what the Chicago-dystopian world she created looked like. It seems like I kept encountering sentences that were along the lines of "This building..." and "That building...". Sure, there was also a marsh where a lake used to be but I didn't understand her structural outlining of where the many buildings were standing, or how that park connected to that dilapidated fairground. I just couldn't visualize much of the scenery through the main character's eyes. It was only when she focused on specific structures when I got the picture of where she was standing or what she was looking at.
The Choosing Ceremony was very symbolic considering that the "one choice" a sixteen-year old has to make is how they want to spend the rest of their lives. After "Tris" makes her choice, she'd determined not to look back on her decision because she knew the life she now led to live. However, from the start, her choice of faction was predictable and her cowardice attitude tended to get aggravating. I believed the book could only get better as she progressed through her initiation rankings, and her fight to go unnoticed as a Divergent but be in the top ten of the group of all initiates--transfer and in-born alike.
After the "Edward incident" (The last three hundred pages.)
I chose to divide my review into two parts because this "Edward incident" I speak of is like the climax that pivots the ruthlessness of some of the initiates and how things are handled in Tris' new faction.I liked reading how she developed herself into a harder person knowing that there were going to be attempts on her life but not willing to give up and lie down in submission. My favorite scene comes after the "Edward incident", where some of the in-born initiates make Tris feel better with a little zip lining. That might be a spoiler but I felt the most emotion and a bit of adrenaline rush through me when I read that scene.
The conflict that Tris gets caught in between Abnegation and Erudite because she's Divergent was underdeveloped and not though-out as much I'd expected it to be. It was like one night Tris got up and everything was going haywire and then the action continued in a subdued pace till the very last word. Nothing immediately triggered the "war" climax in the ending, it just seemed to automatically happen. There is a thriller aspect to Divergent that is exploited closer to the ending and it tests Tris ultimately when it makes her consider doing things she would have never thought to have done in her old faction, Abnegation.
Last but not least, I have to admit that Tris' relationship with a certain instructor was confusing at times but heart-wrenching when it wanted to be. Confusing because Tris does have intimacy issues and doesn't necessarily know what affection is or what limits to set for herself and others. Heart-wrenching when it wants to be because as the ending came to a pivotal moment when everything was on the line, Roth's writing was deliberately drawing out that moment of selflessness and anticipation, where you're on your toes just wanting everything to work out romantically between the two characters in their worst situation.
I know with a complete certainty that there will be some sort of sequel to Divergent--they really can't just end it there, too cruel--and I am looking forward to it. I hope to see more action taken place and view more of Tris' dystopian world of factions.