by Veronica Roth

Veronica Roth's Divergent

Young Adult

Children's book review by Tracey Fortkamp

Enter a society where being different can be lethal…

Divergent, adj.: “tending to be different or to develop in different directions.”

Most children today are brought up to accept differences and embrace diversity; however, all too often people who are deemed as different are still bullied, mocked or made to feel like outcasts.

Book review - Divergent

In a future Chicago, differences are dealt with in a very unique way. The city has been segregated into five Factions, dedicated to particular virtues--

  • Candor (honesty)
  • Abnegation (selflessness)
  • Dauntless (bravery)
  • Amity (peacefulness), and
  • Erudite (intelligence)

Each Faction has a different set of rules and the citizens must adhere to the lifestyle of that Faction (for example, those living in Candor must always tell the truth) and not stray from the norm. Supposedly, by dividing people into their dominant personality trait harmony is created and a “perfect society” is ensured.

Beatrice has just turned sixteen and must now choose which Faction she will commit to for the rest of her life. She grew up in Abnegation, but has always felt she didn’t quite fit in with the absolute selflessness that is required to be part of this Faction.

Her aptitude test should have shown which Faction’s trait she possesses, but her test was inconclusive - she is what’s called a Divergent. Instead of having one dominant trait, she possesses traits for three of the Factions. This makes her very dangerous to her society, and she must keep this secret hidden from everyone to ensure her safety.

Even with this disturbing news, Beatrice still has to make a decision: should she stay with her family and the Faction she has always known or follow her instincts to another life completely? Choosing another Faction would also mean cutting all ties with her family. Ultimately, she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself, and embarks on a lengthy and dangerous initiation process as a member of the Dauntless Faction.

Dauntless initiation tactics are brutally tough and beyond Beatrice’s darkest nightmares. In order to survive, she has to find the courage to reinvent herself and face her greatest fears.

One of the first things she does is change her name to Tris.

As the initiation progresses she begins bonding with others who have switched Factions and even develops feelings for one of her instructors. She also begins to uncover information that leads her to believe things are not as “perfect” as they seem – tensions are growing between certain Factions and her well-ordered society is about to implode.

Divergent is Roth’s first novel, though she wrote more like a seasoned pro. The concept of Factions based on personality traits is interesting; for example, the Dauntless Faction focuses on bravery, so the first task the new initiates have is to jump onto a moving train. It also makes a reader think which Faction he/she would have chosen.

Tris is a very likable character, and it is easy to root for her to make it through the intense initiation. The discoveries that she makes about herself and her society during this process are really the essence of the book - maybe being selfless is being brave, and people are really geared more toward divergence and have traded who they really are just too fit in.

Roth chose to set the story in first person, present tense, which helps enhance the intensity and energy of Divergent. The book ends as the conflict between Factions begins, leaving the reader to wonder what will happen to Tris and her society. Don’t worry though, there are three books in this series, the second being Insurgent.

Read more of Tracey's book reviews.

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