As the long-anticipated sequel to Divergent came out last month (and sits unread on my window sill, thanks to Game of Thrones), it seems only right to write up a review that probably should have been posted oh, I don't know, last year.
Divergent tells the story of a girl named Beatrice who lives in a dystopian version of Chicago. This new world has divided itself into five factions: Abnegation characterized by their selflessness, Candor known for their penchant for telling the truth in all situations, Erudite who value knowledge above all, Amity who promote kindness and Dauntless who think only the strong need survive. Each child has a brief test before their sixteenth birthday where they find out which faction they are most suited for and, in a brief ceremony, decide upon their new home.
Now, Beatrice (who will go by Tris for most of the novel so I'll switch to that) has a very different experience. When she undergoes the test, she is told by the now very distressed tester that she is Divergent, meaning that she has the traits of more than one faction. She is warned that she must never tell anyone this fact and has a very tough choice to make at her faction choosing.
I'm not going to say any more than that about the plot. I've really only told you the first two chapters or so. The reason I'm keeping my mouth shut is that I knew next to nothing about the book when I started it and I think that's a good way to go into it. The world that Roth has created is so new and imaginative, not knowing the basic plot made me keep guessing all the way up until the end. It's nice diving headfirst into something with no prior knowledge. It keeps you on your toes.
Suffice it to say, this is another one of those dystopian YA novels with a strong female heroine. They seem to be all the rage these days. However, I kind of like this trend. Not only is each dystopian world completely unique and inventive, I will never deny anyone the chance to portray girls as strong characters that are heroes in their own right, not relying on a man or love interest to save the day. Tris does not need anyone to watch her back. She is strong, even to the point of being cruel sometimes. She is definitely no little girl that needs saving. I wouldn't go so far as to say that she is a good role model for the young girls that are reading these novels as there are aspects of her that annoy me. However, the fact that she can be a flawed character does add to her charm. Not to mention the lessons she is teaching girls. Go out and save the world yourself; you don't have to wait for your sparkly supernatural boyfriend to help you.
Divergent has lots of twists and turns that will keep you reading until you reach the last sixty or so pages where you will find it hard to put down. The end is completely different from the rest of the book and so intense that you won't be quite sure what you're reading until it's over. The ending is one hell of a cliffhanger which is why I'm glad Insurgent is waiting on my bookshelf for me to pick it up. Can't wait to find out what happens next.
P.S. My friend Katrina recently reviewed Divergent (and has a yummy recipe to go with it!) Check it out here!