Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books
Release date: February 2nd 2012 (first published May 2011)
Paperback, 486 pages.
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Source: Received from publisher for review.
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.
If you’re regular reader of this blog, you might have noticed that I’m not the hugest fan of the dystopian craze that’s currently sweeping YA. It’s not that I can’t appreciate good dystopian fiction (Never Let Me Go is one of my favourite books), it’s just that when it’s come to some of the big YA dystopian releases, I haven’t loved them. Both Ally Condie’s Matched and Lauren Oliver’s Delirium were okay reads for me, but neither is an absolute favourite of mine. So, I was starting to wonder if I’d ever find a YA dystopia that I could truly say I had fallen in love with.* Would a YA dystopia ever get all the stars from me, or were they all destined to reside in 3 out of 5 ‘meh’ land forever?
So, you know what’s coming next, right. I read Veronica Roth’s Divergent, and now I get it. Now I get the YA dystopian craze. Now I’ve fallen in love.
It’s true I put off reading Divergent for a long, long time. I remember everyone going crazy for this book when it released last year, but I was wary of the hype. I’d seen that kind of hype before, and then I’d read those books, and they hadn’t exactly set my world on fire. This time it was different…
Divergent is an epic read. It’s one of those books that filled with fantastic world building, lots of action and romance, a badass protagonist, and, in Four, one of the best book boys that YA has ever seen. And one of the best things about Divergent is that unlike a lot of YA dystopian fiction which I’ve found too slow moving for my tastes, this one never let me catch my breath, not once. It’s intense and exciting and a total page turner from start to finish.
Divergent introduces us to Beatrice Prior who has grown up in a society divided into five factions – Abnegation (the selfless), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful) and Erudite (the intelligent). Beatrice and her family are Abnegation, but at the age of sixteen, Beatrice, along with all other teens, must choose which faction she will devote her life to. Beatrice doesn’t want to leave her family behind, but she also doesn’t feel like she can devote herself to a life of blending into the background along with the rest of Abnegation. She wants more. So she makes her choice, and that one choice changes her life forever, because Beatrice is no ordinary girl, and her life just took a turn for the very dangerous.
Firstly though, in order to make it in her new faction, Beatrice, now renamed Tris, has to undergo a brutal initiation process under the watchful eye of her instructor, the enigmatic Four. We watch Tris as she changes over time and grows in confidence and strength until she is truly a badass character. But she’s got a vulnerable side too. Tris doesn’t just learn to fight in her new faction, she learns to love too. Tris and Four are a great combination, and they’re equals, which is something that’s all too rare in YA coupledom. Tris is just as strong and fierce as Four, who is pretty badass himself. He’s also intoxicating combination of intelligence, strength and all round sexiness, a guy any girl would find hard to resist. So, I’m a big fan of Four, but equally, I’m a fan of Tris. That’s a little unusual for me. Mostly girls in YA books annoy me. Bella, Nora, Luce –I’ve had my issues with all of them, but not with Tris.
It soon becomes clear that when you scratch the surface of Tris’s seemingly perfect society, all is not well. There is unrest within the factions, corrupt leaders at work and dangerous schemes at play, and when the deadliest of all of these is put in motion, it’s up to Tris and Four to try and save the day before they lose everyone they love.
Let the fun begin!
Divergent is a truly epic read. Roth’s prose is taut and succinct, in keeping with the society portrayed in Divergent where everyone walks a tightrope and one false move might mean the end of everything. Furthermore, I am so totally invested in the characters of Tris and Four that I literally read Divergent in one sitting. I just had to see how it all ended, and all I can say is that it was intense with stunning plot twists, and some hard hitting brutality that I loved. Oh yeah! I’m glad I left it late to read this one, because I would have had a hard time waiting a whole year for Insurgent, the next book in the series. As it is I’ve already delved right back into the world of Tris and Four, and I can already tell it's going to be another epic read!
* I should point out that I still haven’t read The Hunger Games (I know, I know, I know!!)