Series: Divergent #1
Also in this series: Insurgent
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on 2/28/12
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopian
My content rating: YA (No more than kissing, but some intense violence)
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.
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are--and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating 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 unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, Tris also learns that her secret might help her save the ones she loves . . . or it might destroy her.
Since I’m pretty much the last person in the world to read this book and the synopsis explains it pretty well, I won’t bother summarizing the book. Here are my thoughts:
- Could have been more worldbuilding. As you can tell by my 5 star rating, this was not significant to me, but as I was reading this book, I realized that some people were going to be upset that there wasn’t more information about why and how society got to the dystopian state that it was in. Honestly, for me, there was enough information – we got some background on why the factions split up and learned enough about Abnegation and Dauntless (at least) to make me happy. Perhaps we could have learned more about the other factions, but I’m happy to wait for future books for that (since we didn’t see those other factions much in this book). Honestly, a dump of information and political history probably would have bored me, so the amount of information given in this book was just fine for me, but if you are a person who wants to know all the details of how a dystopian society got to where it is now, you will probably be frustrated.
What I LOVED:
- Tris. I loved that Tris was a complicated character – strong at times, but weak in others. Tris is constantly struggling to find herself – is she a selfless Abnegation or a brave Dauntless? Can she fit in anywhere at all? While Tris chooses to follow the Dauntless path, her life is shaped by her Abnegation upbringing, which makes her constantly question her actions and beliefs. I loved this struggle and felt that it made her a truly sympathetic protagonist. While I didn’t always like Tris’ actions, I always liked her which, to me, is a sign of great writing. I was always 100% invested in Tris’ story!
- The romance. I loved that Roth gave us a slow-building romance in this book instead of love at first sight. Tris does not spend her days pining over Four while her world is falling apart around her. Instead, she shows sparks of interest in an intriguing boy that eventually form into a stronger attachment once he has proven to her that he is on her side and can be trusted. Four is attracted to Tris based on her combination of strength and selflessness (which he has reason to appreciate), but he doesn’t act on this attraction early on. He even seems slightly cold at first, but this makes sense given his character’s role in Dauntless and his history. As we learn more about Four, it’s hard not to fall in love with him, right along with Tris!
- The society. The dystopian society that Roth created is incredibly unique and intriguing. I loved how each faction of society responded so differently and lived under a very specific set of rules. It was interesting to see how most people were molded by the society that they grew up in and stayed with their faction, but how there were some who felt called (so to speak) to a different way of life. Nature vs. nurture was constantly being tested in this society. I especially loved the Dauntless faction’s way of life – how their entire existence was based off of thrill-seeking and bravery (to the point of being unreasonably unsafe in many instances). The Dauntless testing was brutal, but I was incredibly engrossed in Tris’ story as she fought her way through it!
- The action. This book was filled with action that kept me flipping pages at an unreasonable speed! I needed to know what was going to happen to Tris and her friends (and even her enemies)! No one was safe in this book, which I loved. There were also many twists and turns – and I didn’t see any of them coming! Prepare yourself for an exciting adventure because this book will keep you guessing!