Review of DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth
Katherine Tegen Books, May 2011
Since society broke down, Chicago has recreated itself building on five factions--each of which cultivates a specific virtue. Together, these factions try to sustain culture and society--except, of course, when the factions come into conflict. Those who cannot fit, who make the wrong choice, who simply do not follow the rules, become factionless and are supported by charity from Abnegation.
At sixteen, Beatrice, who has been raised as Abnegation, must choose which faction she will join. Fortunately, an advanced test has been designed to help sixteen year-olds select the faction with which they best fit. Unfortunately, the test is incomplete. For a few, called Divergent, the test is inconclusive--and Beatrice must decide without this guidance.
Chosing Dauntless, the faction which stresses bravery, Beatrice (Tris) quickly learns that initiation is not automatic--and failure in the tests means becoming factionless. Tris's adjustment is complicated by her feelings toward one of the instructors/testers. There's a definite attraction, but "Four" seems to have destructive secrets of his own. Beyond her struggle to survive, Tris learns that the faction-based society is less stable than she'd thought and that the Eurodite, in particular, hope to overthrow the current social order--no matter who is hurt in the process.
Author Veronica Roth creates an intriguing near-future in a story that simultaneously explores coming of age, first romance and social responsibilities. Tris is a fish out of water both because she's an intruder in the alien world of Dauntless, and also because she's Divergent--with insights that go beyond those experienced by the ordinary human. Roth also deals with bullying and abuse as the Dauntless hopefuls struggle for their place in the small number of openings available to them--a sort of macro-version of the experiences faced by many of her readers.
DIVERGENT is a well-written and powerful story. I found it hard to put down.
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