Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Beatrice (AKA Tris) Prior lives in a world ruled by 5 factions: Abnegation, Erudite, Dauntless, Amity, and Candor. Each faction upholds a certain set of virtues in order to keep the peace. Beatrice was born into Abnegation, but has always felt uncomfortable. Slow to act completely selflessly and constantly scolded, she longs for freedom. She has the opportunity to choose a different faction after the aptitude test, which yields inconclusive result and labels her Divergent. Of course she has no idea what this means and, after being urged to keep it hidden, she keeps it secret from everyone. At the Choosing ceremony, she changes factions to Dauntless, who value bravery. The Initiation process is grueling and torturous, but beyond the Dauntless headquarters, conflict and unrest are growing in the rest of the world. Can Tris make a difference in the face of faction turning against faction?
Divergent is one of the most hyped books I have ever heard, so I was reluctant to read it. I have been burned before by books like Hush, Hush, Fallen, and the Nightshade series. Fortunately, Divergent lives up to all the hype and proves itself to be a unique dystopia with likable characters and constant action. Tris is an amazing heroine. She evolves through the story and makes some mistakes. At first, she is timid and typically Abnegation, but doesn't feel like she really fits in. Then she is thrown into this very different Dauntless world, which is the exact opposite of what she has been raised to believe. She has to figure out for herself what about each of her factions she wants to internalize and what she wants to reject. Many people can relate to this because if you choose a different life for yourself than how you were raised, you have to do that same thing. She makes mistakes sometimes and has to temper the attitudes of the two factions in herself. Her romance with Four is cute and doesn't take precedence over the main conflicts. Plus I actually like Four. He has Tris's best interests at heart and is actually quite vulnerable and sweet under all that darkness and mystery.
I love the world Tris lives in because it's believable that our world would try to solve its problems that way. Right now, things like race, sexual orientation, religion, political leanings, gender, and class separate us from each other. Conflicts arise and our society is split because of these issues. In the Divergent world, none of that matters. Factions were created to eradicate qualities that lead people towards evil, like selfishness, cowardice, and ignorance. The concept could have worked, but, as with anything, people take things too far. Factions are considered more important to people than their own families. Instead of focusing on making peace and upholding what their faction was made for, people hate other factions and work to amass more power. Their values are twisted and distorted until they are unrecognizable. For instance, Dauntless is all about bravery, but the leaders cultivated sadism and cruelty in their members that now that undermines that value. The factionless are also a big problem. They are people who either abandoned their factions or didn't make it past initiation. These people are outcasts that do menial jobs that no one else wants to do and are condemned to live outside the cities in poverty. This system is incredibly flawed and many refuse to see it, even when it blows up in their faces.
Divergent is a wonderful dystopia, much different than the majority out there. The characters felt authentic to me and they actually learned and evolved throughout the course of the novel. I am already reading Insurgent because I can't tear myself away from this fantastic story. Highly recommended to dystopian fans.
My rating: 5/5 fishmuffins
Read as part of Dystopian August at Presenting Lenore.