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.
Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.
In some minds the fantasized idea that our world is crumbling and could be constructed in a more equal fashion seems the easy way out. Our society is struggling with an environment and occupants of our world seeming to be working against each other in order to survive. The first book of the Divergent series,Divergent, gives one impression of what human society could be like when everyone has the same social status and are forced to make all of the same painstaking decisions.
Beatrice Prior’s sixteenth birthday has arrived and she does not know whether to feel nervous, anxious or purely excited. In Beatrice’s dystopian world, there is an honorary tradition of choosing one of the five factions based on their given virtue to spend the rest of your life once you reach the age of sixteen. The five factions are: the selfless Abnegation, the honest Candor, the brave Dauntless, the peaceful Amity and the intelligent Erudite. For such a uniform society, Beatrice’s has to decide if the best place for herself is at home with her parents or in a different faction that is home to a whole new way of life for any potential outsider. Once Beatrice makes her decision, she realizes that her choice will not only change her life forever, but also shock herself more than anyone else.
Once faced with the aggressive transition period after her birthday, Beatrice decides that she wants to redevelop herself in the process by renaming herself Tris, while competing alongside her the other initiates. As if there isn’t enough stress and chaos happening around her, Tris meets a mysteriously remarkable boy, but she cannot decide if he is someone she wants to trust since she is carrying a very dark secret, one that could get her killed at any moment.
As Tris struggles with new friends, physical obstacles and more questions than ever about the past, the reader is continually faced with the internal conflict of wondering if a morally balanced society such as this could ever exist. Veronica Roth’s leading novel of the Divergent series gives us a sense that sometimes it is understandable to think in a different direction than everyone else as long as the reasons are an equal balance of selfish and selfless goals.
This novel allows the reader to attempt to understand the unique ways of life in Tris’s world, while testing the boundaries of such a futuristic experiment at a utopian society. Such a ‘perfect’ lifestyle brings new hope and wonder to any person forced to deal with problems and unfairness in everyday life. The true quandary is not what form of society is meant to truly work best, but rather which form will allow characters like Tris to find true happiness in its purest form and the readers who live vicariously through her.
Reviewed by Nicole Williams
Publication date: 5/3/2011