My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I’d read many good reviews about Divergent, and heard that it had been hailed as being on par with The Hunger Games. As a big fan of dystopian fiction, I decided to give it a go.
The novel is set in a future Chiago made up of five factions that each represent a virtue: Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity and Erudite. The story follows Beatrice “Tris” Prior, a sixteen year old girl brought up in the selfless faction Abnegation, but bored and restricted by their way of life and unable to truly fit in. The results of a test to determine which faction she is suited to prove inconclusive and she is told that she is Divergent and must tell no one about it as it is a dangerous thing to be. At the choosing ceremony, in which she must select the faction she will join for life, she surprises herself and her family by choosing Dauntless- the faction that represents courage.
The rest of her novel follows the tough initiation process that she must face to become a full member-which involves risking her life by jumping off buildings, beating up other initiates and trying not to get murdered by her rivals. I didn’t agree with Dauntless’ way of life at all-they seemed like a bunch of reckless, uncaring thugs to me, so I found it difficult to relate to Tris and understand why she would stay with them when they put her through such hell. I preferred Amity myself, although I doubt that would have made an exciting book.
The gradual romance building between her and Four was interesting to read. He seemed like a complicated character, always trying to hide his emotions and seem like a tough guy, but he is one of the few caring members of Dauntless, which made me wonder why he belonged there at all. This is partially explained by the fact that Dauntless used to stand for something different- for being valiant and standing up for what you believe in and not just being stupidly reckless, but it didn’t seem to make sense that Four had lived with something so against his principles for so long.
Tris goes through such a lot in the book, yet is offered little sympathy from anyone but Four, and it is a wonder that she is so excited about joining Dauntless for good. But although I couldn’t always understand the character’s motivations, I did really root for them and couldn’t put the book down as I wanted to find out what would happen next and how Tris would get out of such a bad situation. The whole book is full of conflict, hard choices, moral conundrums, violence, grief and drama. It has depth and is not just a wishy-washy romance tale.
The action-packed climax came as something of a surprise and was cleverly written-full of drama and suspense and a terribly tragic ending. I am curious as to what the next book holds- Tris will have a lot of demons to face and hopefully more fighting to do. It reminded me of The Hunger Games somewhat, which is a big compliment and I can’t wait to read the sequel, Insurgent.