Divergent ~ Veronica Roth
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Beatrice Prior is about to make a very important decision. While most teenagers in known history, are trying to decide between boys, clothing options and possibly early college choices, Beatrice’s choice is a bit heavier. In her Chicago, society has “perfected” itself by dividing into five sections. The theory behind the division lies in holding up five specific ideals that the city believes necessary to maintain peace. Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent) are her options as she heads into her evaluation and choosing ceremony. As the day draws near, it becomes clear that she’ll have to make a choice between what is expected and what is in her heart.
The names and factions are fairly blunt in their goals, but they have also become predictably off track when we meet them. Society is hardly peaceful or even benign as conflict inevitably brews and bubbles under the surface. I would love to have a sit down with Veronica Roth to see if my ideas about the symbolism are on track. I was definitely that kid, in English class, who kept asking questions long after the bell rang, analyzing literature down to the last drop to make sure I squeezed every last little bit of meaning from it. Of course, while growing up, I mostly read authors who were no longer around. Dealing with dystopian writers, now, like Collins of The Hunger Games and Roth of Divergent, I feel like I can actually get somewhere. I won’t speculate, here, as I am sure I’m not the last to pick up this book and I don’t want to put ideas in the heads of other innocent readers.
Altogether, this is such an interesting concept. I think it stands out above other recent dystopian offerings in that it really does at least scratch the surface of some of the deeper issues at play in society. Parallels to what I saw as religion, intellectual institutions, the military, media and other forces at play were what nailed me to my seat for this one. The story itself is probably fairly formulaic, at this point, as far as teen dystopian romances go. Many will try to draw the blood and competition to The Hunger Games but I think, over all, that they are very different for so many reasons.
This is a must read for recovering political science majors and will be a fun adventure read even for those who aren’t as geekishly obsessed with such things. My only regret in reading this, now, is that I have to wait so long for the rest of the story to come out!