Author: Veronica Roth
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books (imprint of HarperTeen), 2011
In a futuristic Chicago, people belong to factions and exhibit the trait most valued by the one they belong to. Beatrice has just turned 16 and therefore must make a choice that will affect her life forever. Should she stay in the faction of Abnegation, where selflessness is valued, and where she has grown up and lives with her parents and brother? Or does she dare to abandon everything she knows for what she most desires? Once her choice is made, she plunges into an adventure she never imagined, not even after all the thinking she has done. And she has one very dangerous secret she must keep... if she wants to survive.
In the influx of dystopian novels out recently, it's hard for one to stand out from the crowd. Surprise! Yep, this is another very positive review of this book. Divergent succeeds in being original, suspenseful and completely enjoyable. In the world Roth has created, people are put into strict groups, which is not a new concept. What is new (at least to me) is the concept that the people of each group have ONE trait or quality that they value above all others (selflessness, peacefulness, courage, intelligence and honesty) and live their lives accordingly.
What I loved about this so much was that the characters aren't on a grand mission to overthrow their government or society or whatever because they recognize it's a flawed society or that they want to be FREE, dammit. No. I'm pretty tired of that, honestly. These characters all completely accept their lives and do the best they can in the world their given, which is what I would expect. Sure, things happen that show these flaws, but it's not like a light bulb ever goes on about how awful their world is. Only hints here and there. (This might change in the other books of the series, I don't know, but I liked that part of this volume.)
And speaking of characters, I loved how flawed they all are. No one is perfect, ever. In fact, I hated Tris, our narrator, a few times during my reading. But I was glad for it. Tris is often something of an anti-hero, though she shows some cojones quite often. I admired her and despised her, which makes a pretty good case for Roth's writing. And another awesome thing: There is some diversity in this cast of characters, hallelujah. What's interesting is people's skin color is not noticed so much as their way of dress, which indicates their faction. There is still prejudice in this world, just a different kind than we're used to.
Oh, did I mention I could barely put the book down for all the action and layers of mystery within the plot? Yeah, that was pretty great. This book has nearly 500 pages but I flew through it.
I am very impressed with Roth's debut, and I will most definitely be picking up the next book when it comes out (whenever that may be—soon please?).
Disclosure: This book was sent to me by the (very awesome) publisher.