Divergent, by Veronica Roth – It’s been some time since a YA book knocked me off my feet the way Roth’s Divergent did. I would put this book on par with Collins’ The Hunger Games in terms of its impact on the genre–and I’ll go a little bit further by saying that there’s a possibility that while Roth’s story doesn’t sock you in the belly like The Hunger Games, the writing is better. Something like “flawless,” maybe.
I wasn’t sure what to expect with Divergent‘s synopsis: A dystopian world where society has divided into five factions, each faction valuing one human trait above all others. Abnegation values selflessness, believing that selfishness is the source of all human discord. Dauntless values bravery; Candor, honesty; Amity, love; and Erudite, intelligence.
Beatrice, later known as “Tris” when she joins the faction of the Dauntless, was born a child of Abnegation. At the age of sixteen, all children are tested for their aptitudes, or the traits that determine to which faction they belong. Beatrice, however, receives a strange aptitude test result: she is “divergent.” She is fit for many factions–or perhaps for none.
Tris’s transformation throughout Divergent astounded me. Each moment of the book alters her in some way; each event leaves her changed, often scarred. The characters are all flesh and blood, with thoughts and ideas that make them believable and real. The love interest is compelling and unexpected. It develops from mutual admiration and respect. It is not a romance of many words, but a romance of survival, support, and strength.
On top of it all, Roth weaves her story with grace and poetry. Tris is the best kind of heroine, because she is powerful, never whiny, and fully aware of her surroundings. She analyzes; she has self discipline; she sees the truth beneath the veils of Dauntless, her new faction, and Abnegation, her old one. She never gives up and she never backs down, an emerging characteristic in modern YA heroines I am excited to see.
But Tris is still human, and still vulnerable in the ways that humans are. Her fears are real. Her love for her family runs deep and powerful inside her. She guides the reader like a lighthouse in fog through the maze of her dystopian world. Roth writes the tribulations that Tris encounters during the Dauntless initiation something like a gladiator story, and something like a scene from Harry Potter.
Long story short, Divergent is excellent. It is at times violent, but Tris never glosses over death. She faces it, and feels it, but never lets herself crumble. I’ll be looking forward to the upcoming sequel.
This book gets: ♥♥♥♥♥ out of 5