Divergent by Veronica Roth is another novel about a dystopian society. It was released last year as the first book of a trilogy. Be warned: there are some spoilers in this. If you want to just know my rating of the novel, scroll down to the very bottom of this post and you will see it.
The dystopian society is set in Chicago and is told from the perspective of Beatrice “Tris” Prior, a teenage girl. At sixteen, she must choose which faction she wants to belong to. The factions are:
- Abnegation: The Selfless
- Amity: The Peaceful
- Candor: The Honest
- Dauntless: The Brave
- Erudite: The Intelligent
She grew up in Abnegation, however, selflessness has never come naturally to her. Now she must choose which faction she wants to be in for the rest of her life. This decision is not supposed to include your family as a factor. As is stated throughout the beginning: “Faction before family.” This means that you aren’t supposed to add family into the equation of choosing a faction. It also means that you should have little contact with them after you choose your faction, unless you happen to choose the faction your family is in.
Part of her decision must come from an aptitude test. She finds out that she is Divergent between three factions: Abnegation, Dauntless, and Erudite. No one is supposed to be Divergent, because it upsets the delicate balance that their government has put into place. The test giver warns her not to say anything and manually registers that she received Abnegation. During the Choosing Ceremony, Beatrice starts thinking of her family and witnesses her brother, Caleb, choose Erudite. Realizing this she has a few minutes to mentally freak out. Then, it is her turn. She decides to go with the group she has been admiring for years, Dauntless. When the new Dauntless members get to their new home, they are asked what their names are, which is their opportunity to change their names. Beatrice changes her name to Tris.
They all start training. One of their instructors is Four, someone she slowly falls in love with. Eric is the other instructor, whom Tris hates. She makes friends with three other new Dauntless members: Christina, Al and Will. Christina is a loquacious Candor girl with a penchant for brutal honesty. Will is a studious Erudite boy. Al is an emotionally volatile Candor boy. Tris makes one enemy, Peter, whom was originally from Candor. Peter is a violent, menacing, and viciously Candor boy. Tris also makes enemies with Peter’s two sidekicks: Molly and Drew.
A large part of Dauntless training involves fighting (known as stage one). Towards the end of the training for fighting, Tris becomes stronger and begins winning more and more fights. Even though, for some reason, she is ranked towards the bottom of her group, she does not become factionless.
Stage two begins, which centers largely on emotional challenges. Every day the initiates are put under a monitored simulation, in which they literally face their fears. It doesn’t take Tris long to learn that even psychologically her Divergence comes through, so she must learn to hide it. She ranks on the high-end of their group. During this stage of training, Tris and Four develop their relationship. At one point they both go through Four’s fears. As they go through his fears, Tris learns Four was originally named Tobias and came from Abnegation. He transferred to Dauntless to get away from his abusive father. They grow closer, but Four starts avoiding her to prevent questioning and favoritism.
A newer form of the serum is given to the initiates in stage three. At the end of stage three, the initiates will be ranked by how many fears they have to conquer (the less, the better) and how fast they conquer those fears. She ranks the highest in her group (she has seven fears) and will have the first picking of which career within Dauntless. During the night of the Initiation ceremony, all of the Dauntless members are given a serum by an evil Erudite woman, who holds a grudge against Abnegation, to make them all her brain-dead (and sleepwalking, in a sense) soldiers to slaughter everyone in Abnegation. Tris and Four are unaffected by this serum, which isn’t realized until just before the slaughter begins.
A new serum is injected into Four to make him become a half-brain-dead soldier for the Erudite woman. Tris is almost drowned, which happens to be one of her fears. Her mother rescues her and starts fighting with Tris (her mother had been born into Dauntless). During the battle, her mother is killed. Tris rescues Four with the help of her father and brother. Then they try to seek refuge in Amity, where it ends so the readers have to read Insurgent.
I loved the novel. It’s vastly different from most other dystopian novels. The characters are intriguing. Something that disappoints me is that we only really learn about three of the factions: Abnegation, Erudite, and Dauntless. As for the romance in a subplot, there is no love triangle. This is a great relief from the love triangles of most other young adult novels. This is a must-read for every person who loves dystopian societies, especially fans of The Hunger Games.
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Stars (out of 5): *****