Divergent is the kind of book I stay awake reading until 4am. It gripped me and didn’t let go, staying with me when I closed the book with a rush of adrenaline and a serious hankering for its sequel.
The novel takes place in Tris Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, where society is divided into five factions: Candor (the honest), Abegnation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). Every year, all sixteen year-olds select the faction where they will spend the rest of their lives. Tris has to choose between who she is and staying with her family—ultimately, she moves from Abegnation to Dauntless and must face a highly competitive initiation. Her choices begin to define who she is and she must determine who her friends are, where a budding romance fits into her life, and how to keep a secret that could mean her destruction. Tris is divergent: she doesn’t fit into a faction.
The plot of Divergent wasn’t anything that surprised me—in fact, I found it predictable. Regardless of that, Veronica Roth’s characters and the world that she weaved did surprise me. In Divergent, Roth created a strong, relatable female protagonist, a respectful and real love interest, and supporting characters with flaws and strengths that I found so believable I did not question it once.
Tris is a great character. Not just in the literary world, but also for young girls to look up to as a role model. There is something vastly different about her from the girls we normally see in YA novels—Tris is not pretty. She is not pretty and no one tries to tell her that she is. Her friend Christina, putting makeup on her for a night out, says, “Who cares about pretty? I’m going for noticeable.” At one point, Tris asks her love interest, Four, what he sees in her. She tells him that she isn’t pretty. Instead of reassuring her that she is, he responds with, “So what?” The power held in that sentence wowed me. So what if Tris isn’t pretty? She is so many other things that are far more important. Tris is smart, capable, strong, brave, and selfless.
The characters in Divergent make the novel great. Christina, Tris’ best friend, is flawed but tries her best to be loyal and honest. Tris’ parents, her other Dauntless friends, they do the same—they pushed me to keep reading. I cared (and still care) about them and what happened to them.
The romance between Four and Tris is wonderfully done. It’s not forced and not the main point of the story, but certainly something beautiful. They complement and help each other. When she is nervous about sex and says that she is not ready, he respects that. He is respectful of her wishes and together they make a powerful team. I wanted badly for them to find love and happiness and peace together.
In addition to its strong characters, I found that Divergent deals heavily with identity—and deals with it well. Because of Tris’ divergence, she is never going to fit into the world that she lives in or their moulds. Much of the book is her dealing with that and struggling to find somewhere to belong. Human beings struggle consistently with loneliness and the Divergent series tackles this head on. Being in Tris’ head and taking this journey with her lent a lot to that, and even left me with some questions about my own identity. This is another aspect of the novel that I think is incredibly important for young readers (and older readers).
I think the reason I loved Divergent so much and was so involved in its world is because it’s a fun read. It’s fast-paced and it kept me engaged, and I enjoyed the characters and the plot. This is a book I would recommend to others interested in YA dystopian novels. Its sequels, however, are a little different.
Written on 12th May 2014 by Vanessa.
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