My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is the first book in the Divergent trilogy. In this post-apocalyptic version of Chicago, the surviving humans have divided into five factions, each with a particular role in society. Teens are given a test to determine which faction they are best suited for, but they are free to choose which they will enter. Anyone who is not in a faction is essentially sent outside of society to do the roughest, dirtiest jobs and try to survive. When Beatrice takes her test, she learns she is Divergent, meaning she can fit into multiple factions. She is also told to keep that a secret, since the Divergent are considered bad and she could be killed. When it comes time to choose, she chooses the Dauntless, the fearless protector faction rather than her family’s Abnegation, the selfless leader faction. She is tested severely in her Dauntless training, and it becomes more and more difficult to hide her Divergent status. She also learns some truths about the society as a whole and about a plot to overthrow the established societal structure.
This is one of the very popular coming-of-age sort of YA books that have come out in recent years. It’s also one of the better ones. The dystopia is believable if a little constrained by its confinement to the city of Chicago. I kind of wondered about the rest of the country, if not the world. Characters are nicely drawn, with appropriate teenage problems and feelings. Beatrice (or Tris as she renames herself) is conflicted by her choice to leave her family’s faction and join the Dauntless. The inner conflict is heightened by her Divergent status since she can relate to and react as members of several factions. One of the things I liked best is that not all the teens here are strong, capable, and fearless. There are weak, petty, angry, and more among the initiates Tris trains with. There were a few plot twists that kept the story interesting. The plot moved fairly quickly and there was a good amount of action to keep the momentum going.
The story ended as a first book in a trilogy usually does- with some things finished but much left to the next two books. If you like well thought out dystopian society YA novels with a scifi edge, this book should do nicely.
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