Book: Divergent by Veronica Roth
Description: In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, 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 alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating 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 unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her. (from Amazon.com)
My Thoughts: I read Divergent because it was very highly recommended by a friend, whose recommendations I tend to either love or hate. I was also skeptical because this book is classified as Young Adult lit., and lately I've been growing away from the drama and love triangles and whatnot that I tend to think of when I think of YA books. That said--this book blew me away. It was amazing, and I literally stayed up all night reading it.
I found Divergent to be fast-paced without being only about action. The action helped keep me interested, but what truly caught my attention and kept it was the characters. Tris (the main character) was very cool but also very believable--she was just a normal girl. Her struggles, especially her emotional ones, felt very real (rather than drawn-out and needlessly dramatic). At the same time, Tris was very aware of the fact that her emotions should not be the deciding factor of any of the decisions she made. Instead, she tried to make decisions because they were the right decisions. This is a rare distinction to find in current YA lit.
Four was also super cool. He treated Tris like she was a capable human being, which was nice. I did think their relationship was a bit odd in that they go from being complete strangers to being very, very close in the span of something like two weeks.
I really enjoyed reading this book, but there were some deeper undertones as well. This is a society that's striving for good, even if not everyone in the society is. And yet the virtues that each Faction sees as the best become very all-consuming and the virtues and factions are ultimately bent into something very negative in a lot of ways.
One complaint? People can't become good fighters in two weeks!