OMFG (Yes, I’m leaving the F in there). This was an amazing book. So amazing that I went on Amazon to read the synopses for the rest of the Divergent trilogy and utterly spoiled myself for the ending. This isn’t entirely my fault as someone had written it in CAPITAL LETTERS and in the TITLE LINE of one of the more recent reviews. Seriously???
Nevertheless, I’m going to review this first book for what it is.
For sixteen-year-old Tris, the world changes in a heartbeat when she is forced to make a terrible choice. Turning her back on her family, Tris ventures out, alone, determined to find out where she truly belongs.
Shocked by the brutality of her new life, Tris can trust no one. And yet she is drawn to a boy who seems to both threaten and protect her. The hardest choices may yet lie ahead….
OK, so the dystopian world of Divergent is divided into five factions each cultivating different virtues such as selflessness, bravery, intelligence, honesty, peacefulness. Our protagonist, Tris, is born into Abnegation and struggles to conform to their selfless ideal until she is sixteen when everyone her age is tested, told which faction they are most suited for, and must chose for themselves which one to join for the rest of their lives. Choosing outside the faction you’re born into means you will most likely lose your family as the factions to not mix. Choosing the wrong factions means a life of hiding who you really are, or worse, failing the initiation and winding up factionless. It’s a tough decision and for Tris it is made even harder when her test proves unusually and dangerously inconclusive. In a world with only five labels, it is dangerous to be as diverse – as divergent – as Tris turns out to be. She must keep it a secret or risk dying for it.
Oh wow. Just typing that makes me want to read it again!
First of all, Tris is an incredibly strong and complex character who changes so much during the course of the book but is always somehow recognizable as the girl in Abnegation gray at the beginning. Her thoughts are not always ‘good’ but they are realistic and necessary for her survival.
The uniform pounding of feet in my ears and the homogeneity of the people around me makes me believe that I could choose this. I could be subsumed into Abnegation’s hive mind, projecting always outward. But then my legs get sore, and I struggle to breathe, and I am again distracted by myself.
Then there is Four.
I hesitate to use the term ‘love interest’ here because it carries so many connotations within the YA genre that might lead you to roll your eyes but I PROMISE, the relationship between Tris and Four is beautifully done, does not run away with the plot and…and it’s Four. Transpose him into the most wish-fulfilling bodice ripper, the cheesiest Mills & Boon and I will still be too busy crushing to roll my eyes. Strong, stoic, loyal Four…
The supporting characters are perfect also: the bad ones, the better ones. I say “better” because no-one in this book is entirely good and most by design are convinced of the rightness of their own faction’s values and thinking. Divergent was a melting pot for a war of the factions from the very beginning and given Veronica Roth’s gleeful lack of sentimentality, I am fascinated and also hesitant to see how it ends. I’ll have to be more Dauntless to read on.
The writing was excellent but honestly the plot swept me along so fast I actually had to swipe back through my Kindle just now to remind myself of it. The story is told in the first person from Tris’s perspective so we feel all the action and immediacy. Danger to her is danger to us and her enemies were ours. On a very small scale I was able to relate to her as she left the Abnegation comfort zone and constantly pushed herself beyond faction-imposed boundaries. As her character evolves the less she hesitates, the more she acts and that’s when she shows who she really is and what it means to be Divergent.
I loved this book. Can you tell?
I’m giving Divergent 5/5.