Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Divergent (Veronica Roth)

(Disclaimer: no big spoilers in this review)

Quick back-story: A couple months ago, I was returning from the wedding of a college friend. The Megabus was busy, so I sat down next to a girl who seemed friendly. We began chatting as she was returning from the wedding of a college friend as well. At the time, I was reading a manuscript for the Denver Publishing Institute, so we started talking about publishing. One of her friends she saw at the wedding had just been published, and the book was titled Divergent. It sounded really interesting, so I put it in the back of my mind to read later.

The book kept cropping up until I finally got a chance to borrow it. SO GOOD! I admitted in my first post that I rarely buy books, but I needed my own copy of this one.

Divergent is set in a futuristic, dystopian Chicago that is divided into five different factions. At age 16, teenagers must choose the one faction with which they’ll spend the rest of their lives. Beatrice (Tris) Prior can’t decide which faction she belongs in, the one she grew up in or the one she feels drawn to. At first, this choice seemed a little superficial to me. Doesn’t she have to choose the one that will start the story? But Roth still managed to surprise me, and it wasn’t the last time.

I think part of the reason dystopias are so popular right now is because in them, kids get to DO stuff. It’s the same as in fantasies. Kids get a chance to prove themselves. What I love about these books (which I first discovered with the brilliant A Wrinkle In Time) is that the main character is always the person who is different. But the things that make them different are what make them stronger. And while the situation is fantastical, what they learn is relevant. In Divergent, Tris learns to face her fears and become a tougher person. Dystopias and fantasies aren’t superficial about life either. Choices the characters make have direct consequences. Bad stuff happens, and characters deal with it. Tris learns that being “divergent” instead of perfectly fitting into a faction is what makes her special. What a great message for young adults, and everyone actually…

Another thing that made this book so great was the boy. I’m a total sucker for a good romance, and Roth was brilliant in the growing relationship between Tris and Four. Tris is just the right amount of clueless, while Four (thank goodness!!) isn’t just another protective hero. In fact, he’s so great because he knows Tris well enough to know that she doesn’t need protecting. This doesn’t stop him from showing up in all the right moments though. While I thoroughly enjoyed the romance, I had to wonder if it’s something that would turn male readers off. Let me know if you’re a guy who enjoyed this book.

Now I’m really excited for the sequel (yay trilogies- I’m not done with Four yet) and the movie! In case you couldn’t tell by my enthusiasm, this is probably the most enjoyable book I’ve read all year.

Tell me your thoughts on Divergent, your love for Four, and the appeal of dystopias. 

1 comment:

  1. I take back what I said about boys, because even Lord Voldemort loves this book: