Thursday, January 26, 2012

Review: Divergent (Divergent #1) by Veronica Roth

Divergent

Author: Veronica Roth
Series: Divergent, #1
Synopsis (goodreads): ONE CHOICE DECIDES YOUR FRIENDS. ONE CHOICE DEFINES YOUR BELIEFS. ONE CHOICE DETERMINES YOUR LOYALTIES--FOREVER. ONE CHOICE CAN TRANSFORM YOU.

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself. 

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves… or it might destroy her.

Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.


Review

When Divergent first arrived in my mailbox, I was as giddy as a school girl with a crush on the hottest boy in school who finds out he likes her too. Yes, I was that excited. I have been wanting to read this book for so long. I've heard so many great things about it, and while I tried to keep my expectations low so I wouldn't be disappointed, I just couldn't do it. I was way too excited to finally be reading it. I had to remind myself before opening the book to not compare it to the Hunger Games. It was the first dystopian I read and it was completely amazing, so it set the bar pretty high for me. When I first started reading Divergent, I noticed that the writing style was similar to that of the Hunger Games, but I didn't let that bother me. Then I noticed that in both books, they have a building similarly named: in Divergent, it's the Hub; in the Hunger Games, it's the Hob. This bothered me a little, until I realized that the buildings serve a different purpose. The Hob is for illegal trading and activities, while the Hub is a central building in which activities, such as the Choosing Ceremony, take place. The first 50 pages were just a little bit slow for me, but I think that's only because there wasn't much action in it, but after that.. the book sped up to a very fast pace and I could not put it down. It was captivating.

Divergent follows the story of a girl named Beatrice Prior. In her world, she lives in a dystopian Chicago. It is unclear how Chicago came to be the way it is in the book, but it's very clear that the citizens of the city were trying to stop war. Out of that came 5 factions. Each of these factions was created to divide the citizens into groups according who their beliefs of why they believe their world was so corrupt and what trait would stop such behaviors. Those who favored selflessness were called Abnegation. Those favoring intelligence were called Erudite. Those who favored peace were called Amity. Those who favored being brave were called Dauntless. And those who favored honestly were Candor. Their government appointed citizens from Abnegation to be the counselors who oversaw the needs of their people because it was believed that they would be selfless in their acts and would not seek power for their own pleasure. It is in the Abnegation faction that Beatrice Prior lives. In Abnegation, things are as plain as can possibly be. They are not vain; they are not curious. Anything impractical is not accessible or acceptable, such as art or colors or mirrors. They put others needs above their own. And it is with all of this that Beatrice struggles. Selflessness does not come as easy for her as it does for the rest of her family: her mother, father and brother, Caleb. It comes naturally to them, but for Beatrice, she must put forth effort to do the right thing. When it comes to the Choosing Ceremony, Beatrice is conflicted: which faction will she choose? Will she choose Abnegation and follow in her parents footsteps? Or will she choose Dauntless and become one of the brave - one of the people jumping off of moving trains that she watches every day at school? It isn't until she is standing in front of the crowd and must choose at that very moment that she makes her decision. And her decision surprises everyone, including herself.

She chooses Dauntless. And from there she is running with the other initiates, jumping onto the train, jumping off onto a rooftop, choosing a new name (Tris). Training, sometimes brutally, for if she doesn't rank in the top 10, she will be factionless. And for her, being factionless is worse than death. The world of the Dauntless is completely different from that of Abnegation. In Abnegation, Tris was taught to be quiet and proper and to not indulge herself, for it was considered selfish. But at the Dauntless headquarters, everything they did was for themselves. They laughed; they played; they were thrill-seekers and did dangerous things just for fun. They had tattoos and had piercings. Even their clothing was different from what Tris was used to. She's used to modesty, and with the Dauntless, they don't care about such things. They wear mostly black and show quite a bit of skin. Something Tris isn't used to. She discovers more about herself within the small amount of time she's with the Dauntless than she ever did at home. How selfish she is, how brave. Just how Abnegation she is, and how Dauntless. And just how much she differs from the majority of the people. She learns about their leaders; some strive to be good, brave, and be like the Dauntless as they were meant to be. Others strive for brutality and cruelty and to weed out the weak. To weed out those that are considered rebels.

Somehow, Tris finds romance with Four, one of the Dauntless already initiated. He seems familiar to her, yet she can't place where he's from or why. They strike up a friendship at first, but keep their personal business from the others, because if it were to get out that she was close with one of the trainers, her high ranks in training would be taken as favoritism among the other initiates and they would turn on her. She does find enemies among them, those who were already cruel and full of malice and hatred, who would do anything to be at the top: torture, maybe even murder. Even so, she finds friends amongst them as well. Friends who stick by her at her weakest, and those who stick by her at her strongest.

And behind all of this and the seemingly perfect government, lies the face of a heartless, cold and calculating leader, desperate for power, who will do anything to get it. And when I say anything, I mean anything. I didn't see it coming until the moment it happened. And it was scary. At one point, I didn't know if I was shaking because I was simply cold, or if it was from what was happening in the book. I was worried for Tris and I was worried for Four. And all those who had no control over what they were about to do. It was heartbreaking.

There are secrets, lies, betrayal, romance, friendship, heartbreak, fear, bravery, cruelty... And it doesn't end there. This book is full of emotions. Sometimes, you'll wonder if it hadn't been you going through the simulations and tests of strength rather than Tris, feeding on your fears, messing with your mind. You want to help her in every way you can. There are times that you worry about her sanity when she's on the brink of falling apart or exploding, and then there are times that you think that there is no one braver or more perfect of a heroine. I cannot possibly rave any more about this book. It's simply amazing, and I'm dying for Insurgent!! I need it in my hands!


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-Kelly