*This is a review I wrote for Chicklish, which can also be seen here.
Divergent (Divergent #1) by Veronica Roth
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
Released (in UK): 28th April 2011
My Rating: 5 stars out of 5
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. (from Goodreads)
Divergent was one of the best books I have read this year. I finished it at three in the morning, and instead of wanting to go to bed, I just wanted to sit there and read it all over again. I loved everything about it. The main character, Beatrice (later “Tris”) was such a brave and strong character. She knew that one decision could affect her entire life, could cause people to turn away from her, cause outrage and uproar. But she stayed true to herself, and she did what was right for her. And this is something I admired about her throughout the whole book. Even though she believed she could never be like her family in Abnegation (the faction of selflessness), later on, I realised that despite some of her actions, when it came down to it, Tris could be selfless. She could be brave. She wasn’t one or the other, but a mixture of both. She was “tough as nails” – but she had to work for it. She trained hard to become as strong as she was; she suffered trials to make her understand things she couldn’t before. But she wasn’t perfect – far from it. And I liked that. I liked all of her flaws and imperfections. I liked the fact that she knew she wasn’t pretty, but didn’t really care. I almost felt in awe of her at times; I know that if I were in her position, I would have chosen the easy way out, into a faction like Amity (peace).
Another character I loved was Four. Though I guessed what he was hiding from the beginning, I didn’t feel this ruined the story at all. He was a tough character to work out though; you could never really know what was going on inside his head. But I really liked him; his little jokes, the way he interacted with Tris, his strength, his fears – he was unlike any other male character I’ve ever read about. And, according to Tris’s mother, he was “handsome”. In italics. He had a very unique presence, and I loved watching the relationship between Four and Tris build. Even in the unlikeliest of places in the strangest of worlds, their relationship felt very real. Both sides had things they were scared of, and I think this just made it seem more believable to me. There was one particular scene towards the end that I found absolutely hilarious (as did many characters in the book) – and I liked how even at serious times, there was always room for laughter.
Tris’s mother surprised me. But in a good way. I’m glad we got to find out a little about her, and I thought she was a very interesting minor character. Tris’s brother, Caleb, was also very intriguing, though we didn’t get to know much about him. If I’m honest, I liked all the characters. Will, Christina...even the evil characters, I liked, because they each added so much to the story. And this brings me to the one and only problem I have with Divergent. Realising how the story was going to pan out, I knew the ending was not going to be fine and dandy. But certain things that happened really did upset me, and I can’t help thinking that the guilt of what she had to do is really going to affect Tris so much in the future. I didn’t dislike the ending, not at all, it was necessary for the story, and was well-done. But I can’t lie; somethings were a bit distressing. There was no shortage of death or violence in this book. There was no cliffhanger, however, so while you will be anxious for the sequel, the wait won’t be as torturous as it could have been had Roth decided to end the book earlier on.
In conclusion, Divergent was, quite simply, fantastic. I couldn’t stop reading it; the story was just so engaging and I wanted to know more about everything - all the different factions especially. Divergent was full of unexpected twists that only an Erudite could predict. I recommend to any fan of dystopian novels, and I eagerly await the sequel.