One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.
Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.
Some of the most difficult decisions in life are ones that we never seem to forget. The concept of life and death is chalked up to a dramatic line in a story, but never associated with circumstances in a real life situation. When someone is handed a gun, we automatically assume protection for ourselves, survival. The other side of the coin is that we do not feel protected when faced with someone who is threatening our lives, especially if it is someone we love.
Tris Prior has lost almost everyone and everything she has ever known. Almost. She has lost her parents, most of her friends, and both her old and new factions. When faced with a sense of hopelessness in life, the only person she can turn to is Tobias. Tobias is hers. There is no other way to describe it; they would do anything to protect one another from the crumbling society around them. What Tobias does not know is that deep down Tris is hiding a bigger secret than anyone around her could understand, including Tobias. The ghosts of her parents and her friend Will are haunting her, and she cannot imagine there is any reason to live after all the bloodshed.
As Tobias and Tris work with their fellow Dauntless members to stand up against Jeanine Matthews and her loyal Erudites, the reader feels like a traitor within the war itself, following the suicidal mind of Tris while also wanting to fight for the collapse of the Erudite headquarters. The constant personal battle Tris is working to keep hidden from all of her friends fails to keep the ones she cares about out of harm’s way, but keeps the reader on the edge of their seat as time and time again Tris risks her life in selfish ways that never seem to hurt anyone but herself.
This second novel continuing the Divergent series focuses mainly on the inner relationships between the main characters, while giving the reader a chance to decide for themselves if they agree with Tris, Tobias, and their fellow friends’ decisions. Tris believes that by sacrificing herself she is selflessly keeping the ones that she cares about safe, but the reality is that the comfortable society with four polished factions and a stable and sensible government no longer exist. As I read this book I felt as though I was spiraling farther and farther into the depths of Tris’s grief, which in turn gave the story a stronger feeling of suspense because I never knew what stunt Tris might pull next. In the novel, Tobias labels Tris’s actions as that of a “Dauntless adrenaline junkie,” while I characterized her as someone who is folding in on herself by letting her grief slowly drown her.
When the suspense of battle no longer looms on the horizon between Erudite and the odd pairing of the factionless and Dauntless, Tris once again breaks away from Tobias, her friends, and follows her instincts to help Marcus and restore order to there once formal attempt at a utopian society. The strength and fearlessness that Tris and Tobias both possess left me feeling a sense of respect and support for these characters as they fought not only for the cause they believed in, but in the fact that they never once allowed their love for one another to fade or weaken.
Veronica Roth’s work in this novel is truly captivating and forces a reader to crave for the truth about the mysterious file that the Abnegation are withholding from everyone outside of the government. Also, the ongoing agony of secretly wanting to know the reasons as to why Tris’s parents would rather sacrifice themselves in front of her, their own daughter, in order to protect the contents of the file is truly staggering. Roth takes the futuristic plot line in an entirely unexpected direction as she leaves her readers with more than a cliff hanger, but rather a sense of bewilderment that humans are capable of so much more than pain and violence.
Reviewed by Nicole Williams
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 5/1/2012