Published: February 2nd 2012 by HarperCollins
Format: Paperback, 489 pages
Series: Divergent #1
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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.
I am reviewing Divergent after reading it for the second time, and I have to say it was even better than the first time I read it! Last year I was really excited and raced to finish it so I could find out what happens. This time, a large part of that urgency was gone and I was able to enjoy the book slowly. I picked up on a lot of small details and nuances in the character’s interactions that I had missed previously.
Divergent is an explosive read. It’s incredibly well paced, but this doesn’t stop Roth from fleshing out detailed and deep characters, having a killer plot line, and creating a vivid and believable dystopian Chicago. The setting is well described and I always feel I’m right there with Tris, and the social structure is clear and makes sense. Initially I felt that defining human character with five broad traits is a bit ambitious, but Roth makes it work, and as the book progresses it becomes clear that the point of the story is that it is NOT possible.
There are so many great things about this book, but I feel my favourite are the characters. Tris is immediately relatable from the first page – she is strong and fierce, but this does not alienate the reader because she is also realistic and admits all her vulnerabilities. Since the story is told from her perspective, we get to examine her thought processes, but because she is incredibly perceptive and empathetic, this doesn’t take away from the reader’s experience of the other characters. My other favourite characters are Four (again, an immediately likeable character, and not at all like the usual smug, hot-as-hell YA hero) and Christina (a genuine friend who is grounded in reality and, unlike many other YA “best friends” neither trails behind Tris like a side-kick nor treats her like a charity case).
I recommend Divergent to everyone I talk to. Actually, more accurately, I always find ways to bring it in conversation so I can recommend it to people. Dystopian young adult at its best, Divergent will have you begging for more. Lucky, since the sequel, Insurgent, was released on the 1st of May.