Author: Veronica Roth
Publisher: Harper Collins
Date: May, 3 2011
Pages: 496 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Futuristic, Combat
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.
Cover and Title Critique: I like this cover. It reminds me a bit of THAT other dystopian book everyone is talking about, but I appreciate it. I like the simplicity of the city at the bottom and the emblem at the top. It is both subtle but engaging. It draws you in ( and I am tired of the covers with a model on the front pouting–honestly they make no sense in this genre–STOP IT PLEASE).
Alice says: Like it!
So the good stuff first. I like the premise of this book and the underlying themes that Roth is working with. Unlike other dystopias that do not particularly question what went wrong with their original society, Roth’s entire premise is the question of what ruins society–or better yet–what ruins a person. Though the setup of how the world came to be is a bit too vague, I think I allowed myself the suspension of belief that their new government and system of “living by the virtues” just happened to work because I could fill in the dots in most places. I also liked where her underlying questions about society were headed, allowing me some room play in this world. So, in regards to a dystopian world and the set up–I loved it. I loved all the questions it posed and was left wanting to talk about it for days (though most of what we talked about we had to infer or just create new scenarios because the background info is so sparse). Though the rules of how each faction lives its life (Dauntless must live dangerously ALL THE TIME, Amity are ALWAYS forced to be friendly and amicable, ect. ect.) seemed to lack actual logic, I could see how characters were struggling within their factions, making my questions about the system’s sustainability valid questions.
Beatrice, or Tris, is an interesting lead character. I could not make up my mind about her. This might be one of the first leads that I leave feeling “meh” about, leaning towards dislike. This is not a critique of the books. My husband HATES Katniss with a passion but loves the Hunger Games. Maybe that is what Beatrice will look like for me. She just never seems to stay in character and makes decisions that I could not support. Tris and me–we would not have worked out as friends. I can’t get spoilery, but here is the thing. This girl is obviously a brave girl, but she starts making decisions that I think each faction would look down on. Violence is praised heavily in this book, and there seems to be little to no discussion of whether or not it is an appropriate reaction to fear, humiliation, or pain. I would like to have that discussion.
There is also violence for violence sake which bothers me quite a bit. I am not talking about violence against a group in the name of war or injustice. I’m talking about a whole bunch of senseless violence that seems glorified by the characters we are supposed to gravitate towards (I am looking at you TRIS). I would have like a lead character who, from the beginning said, “This is BULLSHIT.” The characters that do stand up against the senseless violence either die (from senseless violence) or disappear from the narrative. Roth just never develops from the character she starts off with (Beatrice) into the one that we end up with (Tris). The leap there is just too big for me. I did not find it believable. Did you?
Also, friendship seems to be stepped on everywhere in the book. A boy you can like and LURVE (and yes…there is a boy named Four), but friends (and family) you can not trust.You have to be wary of them. Your life and safety have to be in the hands of your love interest ONLY. I found that take on friendship and family pretty sad.
Overall, the premise is great (though lacking some structure), but it did seem like one huge setup for the next book–which I will read. My curiosity is peaked. As for Tris, well, we will see. We have some making up to do.
Rabbit says: Ages 14 and up.
I agree with HarperCollin’s assessment that this book is for ages 14 and up. The concepts alone are pretty complicated, and the violence is extreme and glorified. I would not hand this to someone who was not in highschool. Half of the greatness of this book is the world itself, and I think you need some maturity to fully grasp it.
Caterpillar says: Free or Free Will??
THEMATIC SPOILER ALERT
So Divergent is dealing with so many different questions it is hard to know where to start….
1. A world separated into our virtues would inevitably be separated into our faults–would this have been taken into consideration? Can you see or imagine how faulty this is? I would like to know how long this system has been in place because I would give it a week in real-life.
2. What faction would you choose? I think I would choose abnegation–not because I am not brave, but because they take care of the factionless and so far seem to have their heads on straight. Maybe I’ll change my mind later.
2. Does violence equal bravery? With the Dauntless initiation–do we get a sense that they are trying to make their initiates braver or just hazing them. What does it mean to have a book that glorifies hazing (it you think the initiations are hazing).
3. Has anyone else noticed the trend where authors feel the need to assure us that the lead character is PLAIN and UGLY but that her love interest is not (Twilight–as far back as Jane Eyre). Could they both not be plain, or regular, or spectacular looking? This set up, I think, is pandering to insecurities in adolescents, and it is popping up everywhere. If Four is as HANDSOME, and AWESOME, BRAVE and WONDERFUL as he is described, why would he fall for the girl who is described as ugly, plain, not strong, and a “stiff”. It doesn’t line up. Roth didn’t give us any good qualities to go off of other than her new-found love of violence. They have to be there– Roth obviously loves her main character and wants us to. So we have to leads that value hazing, violence? We have leads who both look down on knowledge and selflessness? It almost feels like Four likes a plain, forgettable girl because she can beat the shit out of people for fun? I dunno….. Their “ship” has very little build up. This bothered me too. Though you see them both grow in the final parts of the book and their character flesh out, I think my inital impression was just too stark. It is hard to accept them in the final character development we see towards the end…..
4. Do you think the 16 year olds have free will? When they go through their initiation process, they take a test that shows them where they should be–but family ties hold them close to their faction regardless. Does the test hinder free will? Do the family expectations? Can anyone just BE themselves?
Any thoughts? Paint the ROSES!