Divergent by Veronica Roth
Synopsis: In a future Chicago, the city is split into five factions with each focused upon the one attribute that they believe will keep the city peaceful. Beatrice ‘Tris’ Prior, a 16 year old girl from the Abnegation faction (the faction which values selflessness and forgetting oneself for the sake of others), has decision to make, one that will change her life. Once a year, children of a certain age face a stark choice; they must choose which faction they want to become part of, to become their new family. For most, the choice is simple, their aptitude test points them towards which of the factions they belong. However for Tris things are not so simple, she is a divergent and she has no idea where she belongs. Believing herself to be too selfish to stay with Abnegation, she chooses to abandon her family and joins the Dauntless (the faction which values bravery), determined to find out who she really is. Her new life as a Dauntless initiate presents her with challenges she never thought herself capable of facing, as well as having to deal with her feelings for Four, her mysterious instructor.
Opinion: Divergent is a good book and one of the aspects I enjoyed most was the universe that Roth creates, a city where seemingly peace is in abundance, a peace created by the 5 factions who are defined by one characteristic but with an underlying sense that this peace is fragile. The plot is well paced and the action spread out well, though i feel the final sequence could have been extended slightly. The city itself is intriguing with hints as to an explanation as to what lies beyond the cities fence and what happened to the city given sparingly, most likely the backstory will be explored in greater detail in the upcoming sequel. Tris is an interesting character, who i found myself both strongly liking and disliking at different points, though the author is under no obligation to make the character completely likeable i often got the impression we were still meant to think Tris is right.
The book has a well written cast of characters, who each have their own appeal. However i feel Roth’s treatment of these characters is, at points, poor. Christina, Tris’ closest friend in training, is left by the wayside as the romance between Tris and Four is developed and Christina and Tris’ freindship is more or less abandoned. My disappointment with this may be more of a personal preference; i find it irritating when romantic love is prioritised over friendship constantly, something that Tris does without second thought towards the end of the book. The relationship between Tris and Four smacks a little of twilight in places; Tris, the plain not particularly attractive 16 year old and Four, the mysterious, muscular 18 year old. Though admittedly both characters are better developed and more likeable, by far, than Bella and Edward. These faults however do not distract from the fact this is a thoroughly enjoyable piece of fiction and i look forward to picking up the sequel Insurgent next month.
★ ★ ★ ★