Wednesday, April 4

Divergent by Veronica Roth

What was once Chicago is now divided into five factions: Amity - the peaceful, Dauntless - the brave, Candor - the truthful, Erudite - the intelligent and Abnegation - the selfless.

Every individual of the age of sixteen must take an aptitude test, which will show to which faction they most belong...but the choice lies with them. Beatrice has to choose whether she will stay with her family or leave them forever.

Before Beatrice can officially join her chosen faction, she and her peers must earn their place. Some will stay. Others will be outcast to become what most dread above death - factionless. Can Beatrice prove herself worthy?

Above all the tests and choices is something Beatrice must hide: a truth that isn't appointed or chosen. The very utterance of the word could have her killed. She is, above all else, Divergent.

With all the hype around the upcoming release of the sequel, ‘Insurgent,’ I felt compelled to read 'Divergent', especially since I owned a copy of the book. It’s quite a solid hard-back book and I’m known for my reluctance to commit to obese novels. Slow reader that I may be, I was third of the way through the book on my first day reading it.

I was fascinated by the idea of the factions. Each of them embraces certain qualities and priorities and once you choose one, those things define who you are. You are enveloped by them and live by their laws. All five are very interesting but each seems to constricting to have to live in.

There is Abnegation, whose selflessness can be viewed as admirable to the point of being masochistic. Candor’s honesty is commendable but crude. Amity seems fun and creative but also a little too mellow. Dauntless breeds heroes and bullies. Erudite values reading and knowledge but is chained down by an air of constant study and a smug cloud of self-righteousness.

When I was reading about the process of choosing a faction, I contemplated which I would be best suited to. Would I be Divergent…or factionless?

There was actually an aptitude test you can take on facebook, just like in the book. However, just like the book, it is ultimately up to you which faction you choose. My test’s result was Candor…but I didn’t think it suited me at all. I chose Amity.

Remember when I said I made it a third of the way through the book on the first day? That was because in my copy of the book, pages 187-218 were bound upside-down. I would have to turn the book upside-down, search for page 187, read until I was back at page 186, turn the book the right-side up and then flip forward to page 219. So, I stopped reading part-way through a chapter (which I prefer not to do) and left it for the day.

Despite that aggravating unfortunate snag, I picked up the book the next day, turned it upside down, read, turned it right side up, read and kept on reading. I was addicted. My hands were shaking by the end.

Beatrice or "Tris" is a spectacular protagonist. She is strong in herself because of the way she handles the situations around her and faces her weaknesses. She is also a very flawed character and does not always take the high ground, although she is self-aware.

I was wary about the prospect of her romantic love interest with Four, a mysterious older member who runs the initiation of her faction. I was more than pleasantly surprised. While Tris has her weaknesses, Four also has plenty of vulnerabilities. He isn't a typical wounded hero in a hard shell.

Tris was the true hero of the novel. Not because she never needed help but because of the way she overcame obstacles. There are other characters in the book who have their own bands of heroism, however. I particularly loved Tris' mother and how she was strong in ways that might not seem so obvious to others.

'Divergent' is not the world of clean-cut factions it would appear to be. Morals waver and characters take action and make choices that in a perfect world they wouldn't. Of course, who wants to read about a perfect world? That would be boring. Instead, the book is riddled with tension and adrenaline. It's not something for the faint of heart or those who need happily ever after endings. It is a book I would recommend to anyone looking for a good dystopian thriller with romantic elements.

I look forward to reading the sequel, ‘Insurgent,’ although I might make sure I flip through the book to see that all the pages are the right way up. In fact, I might be doing that with all books in future.

In accordance with the FTC, Quill Café would like to disclose that the reviewer purchased this book. The opinions expressed are hers alone and no monetary compensation was offered to her by the author or publisher. Cover art is copyright of Katherine Tegen Books and is used solely as an aide to the review.


Meika Usher said...

I just bought a copy of this book a couple weeks ago. I've heard such good things about it!

Also, that's really weird about the upside down pages. I haven't had that happen to me!

Debbie said...

An A* for this book.

I read it a while back and am looking forward to reading the next book.