Date Posted: November 2, 2011
Print Edition: October 26, 2011
Veronica Roth’s novel entitled Divergent sets up an intriguing Chicagoan dystopia in which we follow the life of one very unique girl name Beatrice. Society in the time period she and her family live is in broken into five units, otherwise known as “Factions.” Each faction hosts a virtue – Candor, for honesty; Abnegation, for selflessness; Dauntless, for bravery; Amity, for peacefulness; and Erudite, for intelligence. Once each citizen reaches the age of 16, a ceremony is held and they are to choose which faction they wish to be a part of for the rest of their lives. Beatrice knows this is a decision that must be made; yet it becomes a difficult one as the choice is between pleasing her parents and staying with them in Abnegation or following her heart to a faction she feels might be a better fit. Wrought with these conflicting thoughts, she takes a test in order to determine what her best-suited faction might be and is stunned to find she may not belong in just one. Beatrice is told this deems her as divergent and it would be best to never speak of the special quality she possesses for fear of her life.
When the time comes to choose, she proves her bravery in making the shocking decision to join Dauntless. Once initiation begins, she takes on the name “Tris,” feeling it will set her apart from her previous identity of selflessness. Making friends becomes a challenge and the only way to prove she’s worth anyone’s time is to become the bravest and most daring initiate her instructors and peers have ever seen.
Roth includes a romantic element in that Tris begins to pay much attention to her brooding instructor, named, simply, Four. Four holds a mysterious past that peaks Tris’ curiosity and pushes her to do all she can to get to know him.
Amidst the training and the new life she has begun, preparation for a surprise attack on Dauntless is underway in the other factions and it becomes Tris and Four’s job to help stop the inevitable from happening.
Divergent is Roth’s first novel and is also the first in what is to become a trilogy. Much like the series The Hunger Games, written by Suzanne Collins, it shows a division of society in a post-apocalyptic world. What is different from the Hunger Games series is that the division taking place in Roth’s novel is purely based on personality and in creating areas of likeness. Showing off attributes of the faction one belongs to is certainly encouraged; however in Divergent, possessing multiple character traits is something to be ashamed of.
Is Roth alluding to the fact that everyone feels the need to fit in? Possibly. But the underlying message is more directed at the idea that maybe everyone should do their best to stand out. Tris becomes the ultimate model of this statement and not only wins over the respect of her peers, but also the respect of the reader.
Also like Hunger Games, Divergent is written with a teen audience in mind, but don’t let that fool you. It becomes a story that appeals to all ages, whether it’s the action for the young or the insightfulness for the more mature audience.
So if The Hunger Games was a series you’ve just put down and enjoyed, then it’s time to pick up Divergent. You won’t be disappointed.