Title: Divergent (Book 1)
Author: Veronica Roth
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
Publication Date: May 3, 2011
Source: ARC from Publisher for Review
Official TUBL Rating: A+
Beatrice "Tris" Prior has reached the fateful age of sixteen, the stage at which teenagers in Veronica Roth's dystopian Chicago must select which of five factions to join for life. Each faction represents a virtue: Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, and Erudite. To the surprise of herself and her selfless Abnegation family, she chooses Dauntless, the path of courage. Her choice exposes her to the demanding, violent initiation rites of this group, but it also threatens to expose a personal secret that could place in mortal danger. Veronica Roth's young adult Divergent trilogy launches with a captivating adventure about love and loyalty playing out under most extreme circumstances.Unflinching and unwavering, Divergent is a gripping tale about strength and the will to live in a world where people are easily manipulated. Roth forms a bleak, jarring environment wherein people are separated into five different factions. The perceptible division and distaste for each other's factions is tangible to the reader and ultimately develops a daunting air of mistrust throughout the novel. Coupled with the prominent hierarchy and the convoluted web of cunning deceit and misconceptions, Roth establishes a strong sense of setting. The world-building in Divergent will astound readers continuously with its originality. Uniquely, each faction has a different characteristic and a different structure which gives the reader a sense of what a particular faction is truly like.
Tris' strong voice is noticeable from the onset of Divergent. Her growth in character reflects her growth as a narrator as she leaves her fearful self behind and becomes more courageous than she's ever been but her true essence never changes. The uncertainty and the doubt Tris feels erupts from her narrative at the start and naturally fades away as determination and perseverance takes its place. And her name change doesn't only symbolize her new identity, but also the beginning of acceptance that she's different.
Readers will see Four as an aloof, brooding tough guy at the beginning but it's apparent that he's different from the others in the Dauntless faction. The romance in Divergent doesn't dominate the story at all, but it's the element that propels the plot on a more emotional level. At one point, Four brings Tris' insecurities to the surface letting the reader empathize even more. Four and Tris' relationship is a little uncertain but their chemistry is striking and arresting.
Divergent is so much more than just a novel. It's a story about never backing down and rising above others when they try to pull you down. It's an unfiltered take on how people fight for their right to live.
The Bottom Line: It's a beautiful story about a broken world.