Dystopian Fans, Watch Out! Divergent Breathes New Life Into This Popular Genre

Ah, Divergent. This book, written by newbie author Veronica Roth, had a reputation that preceded it, and I have to say the hype was big. Lots of amazing promotion by the publisher, and that combined with word of mouth really helped this book explode. Of course, I had to read it, and I was extremely curious to see if the book carried its weight.

The answer is a resounding “Yes!”

Divergent is a dystopian novel with a fresh feel, great writing, and a suspenseful plot that kept the pages turning. In a future Chicago, the world is divided into five different factions, groups who each focus on cultivating a specific virtue. There is Candor, which values honesty above all else, Abnegation, which values selflessness, Dauntless (bravery), Amity (peacefulness), and Erudite (intelligence).  Whatever faction you’re in, that’s your life. You eat, breathe, and live the virtue that your faction holds dear. And when you’re born into a faction, you have no choice but to life that rule; that is, until you turn sixteen, when you can choose to stay in the faction you were raised in, or select a new one, which will be your group until you die. Sounds great, right, giving teens that option? Only problem is, if you choose to leave the faction your family is in, you’ll never see them again.

Out protagonist, Beatrice, was raised with her brother in Abnegation. She is torn on the day of choosing, between her family and those she loves, and her heart and who she truly feels she is. She honestly doesn’t know what she’ll do until the very last second, and she even surprises herself with her choice.

Once the decision is made, she has to enter a competition of sorts to actually get a spot in the faction she chose. There are tests galore, and many aren’t in a classroom: she has to use her wit to determine who is a friend, who doesn’t like her, and who is truly out to get her. Because Beatrice has a secret, one that terrifies those who know it, one that has the potential of ruining her life and even the society she has grown to understand as something familiar.

This book was awesome! I’m sitting here, trying to think of other descriptive words, and honestly, that is the best summary I have. Divergent was well-written, the pacing was great, and there was wonderful character development. My favorite part was the fresh feel to the book. Beatrice’s personal journey felt real and new, not a watered- down version I have read before. And the concepts were just unique enough that I didn’t feel like I was reading “just another dystopian book like The Hunger Games,” which, trust me, is a breath of fresh air.

What also was nice was the romance aspect. Recently I’ve been reading a lot of books where romance takes center stage and the entire plot is structured around stolen glances and tingling skin. Yes, the romance in this book has a strong enough presence that it is a big part of Beatrice’s internal struggle, but it fits in nicely with the rest of the story, adding to it instead of detracting from it.

Fans of The Hunger Games and Matched should snatch this book up. I expect great things from Ms. Roth, and knowing now that she can hold her own against the hype and that her book actually is quality YA dystopian fiction makes me sure we’ll be seeing a lot more of her name in the future.

Divergent hit the shelves on May 3rd, 2011, and the sequel, Insurgent, is set to be released next year.


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