Monday, January 9, 2012

Divergent - Veronica Roth

Summary:  In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, 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 to determine who her friends really are -- and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating 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 a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves or it might destroy her.  (Summary from book - Image from
My Review:  Divergent was a rush -- a torrent of emotion, danger, and breath-taking adventure with some seriously delicious romance thrown in.  I tore through the entire 487-page book in an afternoon -- an afternoon when I was sick with a cold and supposed to be napping.  Instead, I was locked in my bedroom reading.  (Shhhh. Don't tell.)  I had so much fun!

Divergent is set in Chicago, or what once was Chicago, years before society broke down.  In an effort to save a crumbling government, the people separated themselves factions: Abnegation, Candor, Dauntless, Erudite, and Amity.  Each faction focused on a value they believe will save humanity (e.g. selflessness, honesty, bravery, knowledge, and peace) and vowed to live by that precept.  Despite the seeming tranquility, unrest simmers just below the surface of this peaceful society.  At the age of sixteen, children are forced to select which faction they will belong to for the rest of their lives, and now Beatrice (aka Tris) Prior must choose  -- does she stay with her family and live a life of selflessness, or does she follow her heart?  No matter what choice she makes, she won't be safe. 

I was easily and delightfully lost in Veronica Roth's dystopian Chicago, with its separate factions and their different mannerisms, fashions, and values.  Each chapter I raced through revealed more about the different factions, Tris' character, her struggles to pass initiation, and the hidden agendas of other characters.  The intrigue, action, and romance kept my heart racing and I was certainily never bored.

Aaand, speaking of romance.  Tris and a certain someone have some unbelievably electric chemistry. I mean... just... wow...and... *sigh*!   I held my breath nearly every time they were in a room together and loved every second of it.  Who needs oxygen, right?  Not me.

What I loved most about this book, aside from the sizzly romance, was its strong female heroine. Tris wasn't a perfect princess.  She wasn't stunningly beautiful, simpering, or irritatingly flawless.  In fact, she had moments of selfishness, insecurity, and down right stubbornness.  Honestly, it was refreshing to see a capable, tough as nails, heroine that did her own saving.

If, after all my gushing, you really need someone else's opinion, head on over to Goodreads, where Divergent was voted Favorite Book of 2011.  With a cinematic intensity worthy of the big screen, I wouldn't be surprised to see Divergent hit theatres. Oh wait. *HAPPY DANCE*   This could probably go without saying, but I will definitely be picking up the sequel, Insurgent, when it is released in May 2012. 

My Rating: 5 Stars.  Matched is no match for Divergent.

For the sensitive reader:  Some nearly sexual situations and several scenes of graphic combat-related violence.  It didn't bother me, but it has bothered others (see comments). I don't remember any profanity, but honestly, I was so sucked into the story that I don't think it would have even registered.

Sum it up:    If you like YA dystopian fiction with a little romance thrown in...WHY ARE YOU STILL SITTING THERE?!??!  Go get this book.


AD said...

I've been waiting for someone at RFS to review this book because I was curious to see if you would have the same reaction as I did. Obviously not. I found the characters interesting and the storyline was strong, but it was SO EXCRUCIATINGLY VIOLENT. I almost couldn't finish because of it. I am not opposed to violence that feels authentic. But this violence felt contrived. I just couldn't shake the feeling that Beatrice could have walked away when things got so far out of hand. Unlike Katniss who had no choice but to fight because she was the main food provider for her family and if she just gave up, her family would have suffered. I didn't buy into the premise for this one. And as a result it was like watching gratuitous violence on tv. Makes your stomach turn.

MindySue said...

Dear AD,
I think that in some ways I agree with you. It WAS definitely violent, but I didn't feel that it was more violent than The Hunger Games. In fact I felt that it was less so. Or at least, it registered less with me.

I don't agree that Tris could have walked away. She knew something was going on, a conspiracy of sorts, and needed to get to the bottom of it. Also, though her family might not have gone without food, they were in danger (trying not to spoil the whole storyline here) and her alternative was..what? Life without a faction? Extreme poverty and death? I think her choice wasn't as simple as walking away. B

ut hey, that's just me. I'll go ahead and beef up the "sensitive reader" section in case others feel the way you do. Thanks for your input!

Tribute Books said...

Glad you hopped aboard this unmanned L-train - you're right, it's quite a rush.

Anne Bennion said...

I loved this book! I couldn't stop reading it, and yet I wanted to stop reading because I didn't want it to end. The characters were great - real - and holy cow the relationship with Tris and a certain someone was as you said Mindy completely electric. The violence was there and yet it didn't bother me too much because let's be honest, these type of books remind us of how when the wrong people get the idea to control everyone, life turns violent. We see it every day on the news, or sadly in our cities, on our streets. We might not have sleepwalking crazies going around shooting people but we certainly are faced with all kinds of violence every day.

MindySue said...

Yay! I'm so glad you liked it, Anne. I'm very excited to read the next book!

Monica said...

Just finished reading this - I could not put it down! I thought it was fabulous. I loved the writing, loved the characters and found it a much more interesting storyline than Hunger Games. I, too, didn't mind the violence in this book. One part I didn't care for but I was ok with the rest of it. Since I hated Mocking Jay and it ruined the whole HG series for me - I've high hopes for this series and am looking forward to another rush with book 2. Thanks for the recommendation.

Amber Gregg said...

Thanks for the review! I agree that it was nice to see a strong female lead in a book (which seems to be becoming more and more popular). But it is also a lead that isn't perfect, because none of us are. It's very refreshing :)


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