Veronica Roth’s “Divergent”

I finished this book on Sunday morning. I liked it well enough but, based upon its wild popularity, I admit I was hoping for more.

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Divergent is a novel centered in a Chicago of the future. Civilization – as it is known to us in the present day – has broken down (the reasons are not fully explained in this book) and a new civilization has replaced it. In this new civilization, the populace is divided into five groups or “factions,” and when children come of age they must choose which faction they want to identify with. Most choose to remain in the faction they were born into, but some choose to transfer during a kind of “sorting-hat ceremony” (no, there’s not really a Harry Potter-esque sorting hat, but that’s what I was reminded of) called the Choosing Ceremony, carried out after “aptitude tests” are administered.

Two siblings, Caleb and Beatrice (or “Tris” as she chooses to be called later), abandon their parents and their faction (“Abnegation”) and choose new factions. Caleb chooses “Erudite” while Tris, the main character in this book, chooses “Dauntless.” The other two factions are “Amity” and “Candor.” The factions got their names based upon the values each thought would have prevented the original civilization’s breakdown. Candor values honesty; Abnegation values selflessness; Amity, friendliness; Dauntless, bravery, and Erudite,knowledge. This novel, the first in a trilogy (“Insurgent” is already published and third installment is scheduled for October 2013) follows the adventures of Tris as she goes through her training as a Dauntless initiate and begins to discover all is not well in this five-factioned society.

I enjoyed the camaraderie and the rivalry amongst Tris and the other initiates, and also enjoyed seeing Tris grow into a more independent and confident young woman. I didn’t so much enjoy the typical YA romantic plot lines. I also have to say that I had a lot of trouble accepting or believing this post-apocalyptic? (not even sure it is) world. Too much is left out, as if this future world was hastily or incompletely constructed by the author. We don’t know the fate of the rest of the world, but we do hear that it is the job of the “Dauntless” to guard the fence around the city (from what?). Also noteworthy is that the trains still run, even though the infrastructure, for the most part, appears to have fallen apart. And somehow there is still power and moving parts enough in the John Hancock building for the Dauntless to use the elevators in order to participate in a harrowing zip-line ritual from time to time.

I loved the cover art of the book, and I have to admit it was a page turner which I completed in just a few days. I liked the Dauntless faction’s style, which included wearing black and multiple piercings and tattoos. I didn’t like that (*very minor spoiler alert*) the Erudite faction are the “bad guys.” Knowledge is evil! Haven’t we had enough of that these days? Will I read on in this series? Probably. A movie version is in development and may have started filming already. So, it might be “worth it” to keep up with this one. It’s no Hunger Games, which it somewhat reminded me of, but it should make an excellent and very popular film.

What about you? Have you read Divergent or both it and its follow-up, Insurgent? What did YOU think?

(below: author Veronica Roth – from Chicago herself, oddly enough 🙂 )

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