Beatrice ‘Tris’ Prior has a big decision to make: will she stay with her family and friends in Abegnation, leading a life of selflessness and devotion to the greater good, or follow her dreams and desires into a life with the Dauntless, performing brave feats and protecting the city from harm?
Tris lives in a near-future dystopian Chicago, where after a long war that destroyed much of the city, residents decided the best way to ensure peace was to divide the society into five factions, each aiming to be a living embodiment of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). Each faction serves a specific purpose in keeping the society going.
At the age of sixteen, on an appointed day each year, residents undergo an aptitude test to determine which faction they belong in – but regardless of the results, they may choose the faction they wish to live with. The choice is for life. Most test for and stay with the faction in which they were raised. Others choose to leave. A rare few – the Divergent – don’t test for any particular faction. The Divergent are feared as a dangerous threat to society and must hide their results.
So, I had mixed feelings about this book really. It started well. Then there was a whole lot of ‘so what’ and then it picked up again in the last 100 pages or so. I’m having a hard time figuring out why I liked it, but didn’t love it. There is no particular reason, but overall the package just wasn’t quite right. The characterization was inconsistent, making it hard to bond with a character when they were constantly acting in ways you did not expect. And generally, while I found the world Roth created to be interesting, I couldn’t really buy into it. Would people ever divide themselves up according to virtues – and would they choose these five virtues out of all possibilities?
Would I recommend it? Hard to say. I already have recommended it to a few people who I know love YA dystopia, but outside that group, I don’t think I would. But then, as mentioned, the book got much more interesting near the end, and I do intend to read the sequel Insurgent when it is released next month.
Hardcover: 496 pages
Publisher: Katherine Tegen (May 2 2011)