Divergent by Veronica Roth
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
“We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another.”
― Veronica Roth, Divergent
Divergent is a dystopian novel, set in what was formerly Chicago. Society is divided into five factions, each based on a particular virtue. On an appointed day each year, every 16 year old must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. Sixteen year old Beatrice Prior, or Tris, must choose to stay with her family or switch factions to be true to herself. The story follows her as she becomes an initiate into her new faction, and tests and trials of that process.
This novel, the first of a series of three, is based on an oppressed society set in the future, so there are the obvious comparisons to the Hunger Games trilogy. As I read, I, too, made the comparisions. I have read and enjoyed the Hunger Games books. While Suzanne Collins is an excellent writer, and the plot and world-building were wonderful, but I was left disappointed with the characters.
What I think Hunger Games lacks, Divergent has.
I want my lead characters to be strong individuals, to make choices, to take control of their own destiny. They don’t have to be fearless, but they should have courage when it’s time to stand up for what is right. I want them to take action, not just react to what is happening around them. I think this is especially important with female lead characters.
While I loved the Hunger Games trilogy, I felt Katniss never made her own choice. She let people choose for her and she reacted to what was happening. Even at the very end of the trilogy, she settled for her ending, rather than making a choice and fighting for it.
Tris, on the other hand, really is the hero of her story. She knew what she wanted out of life, and even if it made other people unhappy or uncomfortable, she went for it. She was strong, determined, and valued honesty and justice. She didn’t have all the answers, nor did she make all the right choices, but that gives her room for growth in the next two books. As the mother of two daughters, I want my girls to read books about girls that make decisions, work towards them and stand up for themselves.
Divergent is written in first-person, present-tense. This is personal preference, but I would have preferred third-person better. I was too aware of the writing to get fully submerged in the story. I know first-person is popular for YA, so this isn’t a complaint, but an observation that lingered throughout the whole book for me.
I have heard wonderful things about Insurgent, the next book in this trilogy, and I’m looking forward to reading that next!
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