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.
I just found out about Divergent two weeks ago, which isn't surprising considering how out-of-the-loop I am on new releases (this has been a problem since I quit working at Barnes and Noble). When I started researching it, I was under the impression that I'd be getting a Hunger Games clone. That's not necessarily a bad thing, since that book is amazing, but after only a few pages of Divergent, I knew I was greatly mistaken.
While Divergent is also a dystopian novel, it focuses on personality traits and thought rather than just political oppression. People are placed into one of five factions at the age of 16, and each faction values a different quality. Not only did Roth create this unique system, she also created a believable culture for each faction. There is a reason behind the food, clothing, and customs that ties back to the core value of each faction, and it all made sense. I was completely fascinated by it.
The characters themselves also had me enthralled. Tris is a very strong young woman in the same vein as Katniss Everdeen. She doesn't let love cloud her judgment for the entire book, as in Twilight and other books of its genre. She makes decisions for herself, and takes responsibility for her mistakes. She's a true role model for young girls everywhere.
Four was a young man with dimension, adding so much more than eye candy to the story (thank goodness). There were multiple layers to his psyche, and I learned shocking things about him right along with Tris. Even Tris's friends were fully-fleshed supporting characters, a component that's been missing from a lot of the latest young adult literature.
Overall, this book was a fast-paced thrill ride that kept me turning pages long after my lights should have been out. The society was intriguing, and the characters were a breath of fresh air in a genre that has introduced us to so many flat, unrealistic people. I can't wait to see what else Veronica Roth has to offer, and I'm looking forward to reading about Tris's trials in the next installment.