8.07.2011

Divergent

As the hot YA book of the summer, Divergent is a fast-paced and very interesting dystopian fiction from so-young-it-hurts Veronica Roth. Fans of the ever-growing dystopian genre will appreciate that, while many tried-and-true elements are here, Roth manages to keep the story fresh and fascinating. A perfect summer read, I highly recommend this as a great book to include on any weekend beach getaways. Oh, and it's set in a future Chicago, so folks from the Windy City will likely enjoy this even more than others.

Beatrice Prior lives in a Chicago where factions determine the kind of life you lead. Each faction highlights a particular virtue, suggesting that its members value this virtue above all others and it is how those members are defined -- Abnegation (the selfless), Candor (the honest), Amity (the peaceful), Erudite (the intelligent), and Dauntless (the brave). You may be born in to a particular faction, but that doesn't necessarily mean that's where you'll cast your lot when you turn sixteen and make the biggest choice of your life. Beatrice and her twin brother were born in to Abnegation; for Beatrice, the question of leaving her family is too painful to even really consider, but when Beatrice undergoes the dream test that is supposed to confirm the predictions of where each person will end up, Beatrice's test results come up shockingly (and dangerously) inconclusive. With this information suddenly placing the weight of the decision entirely on her own shoulders, Beatrice makes a surprising decision -- and, incidentally, so does her brother, though their decisions leave their family scattered in ways they never saw coming. There's little time to mourn what must be left behind, though, as Beatrice is whisked off towards initiation rites that leave her gasping for breath and horrified that she might not measure up, and so be cast out to become Factionless. As Beatrice struggles with what her inconclusive test status might mean for her, she throws herself in to the initiation rights and renames herself "Tris." She makes friends and enemies, and even takes tentative steps towards something more with one of her instructors, a rather withdrawn young man known as "Four." This is definitely the first step on a long road for Tris, but Roth presents a fast-paced and compelling world, riddled with interesting choices for people who believe they have none.

There are a large number of dystopian novels out there these days, but Divergent definitely one of the better ones. Granted, it is still one where, at this point in the game, you just kind of have to accept the societal structure (seriously, HOW would we progress to a point where these factions would form?), but once you've done that, you can enjoy the fascinating details and repercussions of focusing on one value. Tris is a character that audiences will love and her "divergent" nature presented right up front is an interesting concept. (Most books would let her whine and wonder if she's different before confirming it was late in the book, if ever.) While you know she's eventually going to be fine (or at least still be alive at the end of the book), its quite interesting to watch her friends and try to understand their trajectories towards success or failure within their faction. Roth doesn't shy away from killing characters, folks, so be prepared. The inevitable romance with Four still has a few tricks up its sleeve, I think, and I'm betting we can count on Roth to make sure that there's no such thing as smooth sailing in Tris and Four's future.

Overall, Divergent is a great summer read if you're ready to just enjoy something and not overthink it. Since Veronica Roth is so young, I think we can expect to see a great deal of YA lit from her in the future. Fingers crossed that it's all as good (if not better!) than her debut.

Please note: while I do not work on this book, it does factor in to my professional life, so weight my review as you see fit.

2 comments:

Angelica Joy said...

Have recently read "Divergent" yet to write my review LOL but I should just link to yours as I love your review!!!

scatteredpaper said...

Ha! Thanks for reading and I'm glad you concur on the Divergent front. =)