The world is not as simple as Beatrice Pryor once thought. She’s lived all her life in Abnegation — one of the five factions that society has divided into to keep the world peaceful and safe. She always expected that she would grow up, take her aptitude test, and choose to stay in Abnegation with her family. After all, the majority of emerging adults choose to stay in the faction they grew up in.
But her aptitude test results make things more complicated. She doesn’t come out as Abnegation, Amity, Erudite, Candor, or even Dauntless. Her result is Divergent–aptitude for multiple factions, which is unacceptable in her society.
She manages to keep her results a secret, and when the day comes, makes a wild choice to join the fierce Dauntless instead of the kind and giving Abnegation. She takes the name Tris and begins her training. But nothing could have prepared her for what lies ahead.
Can Tris’s spirit and determination carry her through the battles, corruption, and harsh realities of a changing world?
I read Divergent after seeing the movie and very much enjoyed it. At first the first person present tense was difficult for me to get used to, and I felt the excessive description was slowing it down at first, but both stylistic choices quickly grew on me, and the pace picked up, making it hard to put the book down, even though I already knew what was going to happen. Even though the reading level is young adult, it remained intriguing and well-written. Roth has a real talent for bringing things to life and driving the emotion into the reader.
The violence is definitely PG-13-level. Fights and battles and betrayal ensue at every turn, the Dauntless often put themselves in extremely dangerous or frightening situations just for fun, and fear simulations get incredibly scary. Multiple characters, die, bloody action is described, and one character gets brutally stabbed in the eye. It’s a harsh world, and the story does not shy away from that in the least. In addition, the characters get tattoos and piercings, and childhood abuse plays a vague part in the plot.
There is fairly prevalent but subtle ongoing sexual tension between two main characters, with Tris very aware of the electricity between herself and a young man whenever he is near. This culminates in a number of fairly sensual kisses, though Tris states she doesn’t want to go further. In one fear simulation, a guy attempts to rape someone, though it doesn’t go far. When piercings are discussed, one girl is teasingly asked if she’ll get a rather private part of her anatomy pierced.
It may sound like a very harsh and bleak world, and in many ways it is. But threads of hope and courage and loyalty run through the entire thing, and there are a few very interesting references to God and religion. One character protests the idea behind the factions, saying he want to be brave, and kind, and honest, and smart, and peaceful — not just one. And the reality of human nature is exposed as the events prove that greed and evil will always rise to the surface, no matter how virtuous and peaceful a system may appear to be.
Published on 24 July, 2014. Last updated on