Friday, August 05, 2011

Divergent by Veronica Roth

If I hadn't listened to the hype, I never would have picked up The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins last year, so you'd think I'd have learned my lesson but that is definitely not the case and I was quite skeptical of Divergent, the debut novel by Veronica Roth and also a much-raved about first in a dystopia trilogy. Divergent takes place in a future Chicago where at the age of sixteen, teenagers are forced to choose which of the five factions they want to join for life. Each faction represents a different virtue and the options are: Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity and Erudite. Beatrice, or "Tris", grew up in a selfless Abnegation family, but when she makes the courageous choice for Dauntless her life changes forever in ways she couldn't even imagine. Now, Tris not only has to try to make it through the Dauntless initiation, but she has to do so while carrying a secret that could put her life at risk.

There are lots of comparisons between Divergent and The Hunger Games: both are intense, page-turning, thrilling, adventures, both have very strong female main characters and of course both are dystopia trilogies. Although I will always be grateful for The Hunger Games getting me into reading YA dystopia, I have to admit Divergent blew me away and is the novel I am most likely to reread multiple times in the future. Not only is Tris a strong, vibrant main character, but she has real human flaws and she's both intelligent and a bit insecure at times. There's a believable and intense romantic spark, but no love triangle (thank goodness!) just one really intense boy named Four. Really, Divergent has everything you could want in a dystopia. There's a thrilling plot with twists and turns you won't see coming. There's a complex and authentic world- I've never been to Chicago but Roth makes me feel like I have, albeit a twisted and warped one, and unlike many other dystopia novels which I may have also enjoyed, like Wither, I really understand how the world became the way it is, and what's more, I believe it.

Although Divergent is a young adult novel, there are many graphic distractions of violence, similar at times to Fight Club. Some of the male characters also make some disturbing, though realistic, decisions. Although the storytelling style is straightforward, Roth fills the novel with rich and exciting language. In my skepticism, I decided to test out the first 100 pages of the novel online at Harper Teen, and by the time I was halfway through them I had ordered my copy of the book and was impatiently waiting for it to arrive. When the brutal wait was over I dived into the book instantly and lost myself in the world Roth had created, devouring the book and even after nearly 500 pages I was left lusting for more. Fortunately, the sequel Insurgent will be released next year.

Another fantastic thing about Divergent- seriously, I can't think of anything bad!- is that the book works great as a standalone as well as a part of the series, I definitely want to hear more about Tris and her friends, but I also felt satisfied, albeit pretty sad, when I finished the book.  This is definitely an emotional novel, but dystopia rarely results in a happy ending and the way events unfolded and how the characters responded felt believable. Overall, I found Divergent engaging, well written, and full of awesome characters, and I am very curious to see where Roth takes the story next, wherever it is, I'll be there (and you should be too).

Release Date: May 3rd, 2011
Pages: 496
Source: Personal Copy
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