Monday, May 12, 2014

Divergent by Veronica Roth

In a future world nearly destroyed by war, the solution was to divide people into Factions - each Faction bringing together people into like minded groups to complete the necessary tasks of a functioning society.  The Erudite are the thinkers who provide higher thinking and technology, they are balanced by the selfless acts of service provided by the Abnegation, they are all protected by the Dauntless - and so on.  The only people outside the system are the Factionless who live in squalor and depend on charity.  In this society you choose your Faction once you are sixteen and have completed your test - a life changing decision for any teenager to make, and one that will have consequences for years to come.

It is during the testing that Beatrice discovers a new word - Divergent.  Beatrice is Divergent, she has no clear preference for any of the Factions during her test, and that means she has to make the final decision herself - she can choose to stay in Abnegation, or she can choose another Faction completely   This is the chance to join the ranks of the Dauntless, but choosing Dauntless and being accepted by them is two completely different things.  While Beatrice can choose to shake off her past and choose a new identity, being "Tris" doesn't stop the taunting and sneers from the other initiates or the Dauntless.  As she struggles to prove herself, Tris discovers that not everything is as it seems, that there is something lurking beneath the surface.  Even if Tris can prove herself worthy of being Dauntless, there is still the niggling little worry that she might be discovered by those who want to make sure no one who is Divergent lives to see another day.

I picked up Divergent because it is such a huge hit at the moment and I wanted to see if the book lived up to the hype - or if like Twilight it left me feeling cheated.  Overall, I have to say that I enjoyed Divergent and the world Veronica Roth has created - although that comes with the caveat of wishing that the book had not been quite so slow, especially in the beginning.  Tris and her world is well thought out and there is plenty here to like - the characters and world built around Tris are believable and compelling, it is easy to envision a future like this.  Divergent does suffer somewhat from being slower paced than what I would normally like, there is a lot of world building and foundation laying for the rest of the trilogy and while this makes the book a richer reading experience it does make me want to say "hurry up" sometimes as it seems like the really obvious is being stated.

Divergent has been receiving a lot of comparisons to the Hunger games - but this mainly appears to be because they are both dystopian novels.  The Hunger games is somewhat bleaker in a lot of ways, especially because of the world view of Katniss.  Tris is somewhat more optimistic than Katniss (at least to begin with) and you can't help but feel that things are kind of okay for Tris and her world - until the shiny rubs off and you realise that something is wrong, that there is a dark secret hiding in plain sight.  There is bound to be a lot of similarities between series when they are of a certain type, and while Divergent will appeal to most Hunger games fans, Roth has her own voice and her own vision of the future.  I look forward to reading the next book in the series to see what happens next now that some of the secrets have been stripped away and at least one of the "bad guys" has revealed themselves.

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

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