This review was originally posted at Vampire Book Club.
Prior to its release there was lots of online buzz about Divergent. Five-star reviews everywhere. Could this debut YA novel really live up to the hype? Unequivocally, yes.
I couldn’t sleep one night, and decided I’d crack open my ARC of Divergent. My plan was just to read a few chapters and go back to bed. I stayed up for hours just to get more time with the book. Delving into this dystopian world was worth foregoing sleep.
Divergent wraps an inventive premise in raw emotion, and the result makes time stand still. In two words: beautifully done.
Author Veronica Roth’s version of Chicago is divided into five factions, each exemplifying a virtue believed to be the way to an ideal society. The groups work together, but there’s still much tension. On a specified day every teen is given a mental simulation test to help determine which faction they should be a part of — Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the honest) and Erudite (the intelligent).
Beatrice’s results are inconclusive, which is never the case. She’s told two things: she’s a divergent and she should never tell anyone. So, without any guide she must decide if she wants to leave her family and join another faction. She’s lived in Abnegation her whole life, but it’s always been hard for her to constantly put others before herself. She’s never been as good as her family members. When the day comes, she makes the choice to be her true self. (She even switches to the nickname Tris.)
In the days that follow she must learn to behave differently, pass grueling physical tests and prove herself to be worthy of her new faction. Her divergent nature makes her too talented from time to time, and she quickly must learn how to protect herself and decide which friends are trustworthy. If her friends discover her secret, would they hurt her?
In addition to Tris’ personal trials, there’s tension among the factions. The Erudite are attacking the Abnegation leaders, including Tris’ father, in the press. Something big is coming. And if Tris can’t play her new role just right, she may not have the chance to see it.
The tale is told plainly, gathering flourish and strength as the novel progresses. It’s subtle, but Roth adds texture and depth to the tone of her novel as its main character learns more about herself and comes into her own.
Divergent isn’t about boy-meets-girl. It’s about a girl meeting herself, finally, accepting herself. And, as a subplot to that, there might be some awesome kissing. With a hot guy. The romance angle of the story helps to drive our understanding of Tris — both her past and who she wants to be.
Divergent gives us shining moments of strong character and will and showcases the link between bravery and selflessness. It will shock you with betrayals no one could see coming, and it will balance it with raw vulnerability and love.
Sexual content: Kissing