Saturday, February 2, 2013

Book Review: "Divergent"

"Divergent" by Veronica Roth
First book in the "Divergent" trilogy
First published in 2011
487 pages
My rating: 4 out of 5
(image source)

Veronica Roth's "Divergent" takes readers to a dystopian Chicago, where citizens are divided into five factions and lead their lives according solely to the values of their chosen group.

The factions consist of Abnegation, which values selflessness; Dauntless, where courage and facing fears rein; Candor, where honesty is the only policy; Erudite, the faction of the logical, rational-thinking intellectuals; and Amity, the faction of kindness and peace.  Each faction is responsible for certain jobs within the city, and on the surface everything seems to run fairly smoothly.

Beatrice Prior comes from an Abnegation family, but she's always worried that selflessness wasn't as natural for her as it was for her parents, brother and fellow faction members. At 16, citizens are evaluated to see which faction they'd best fit with, and they then choose the faction they wish to dedicate the rest of their lives to -- eating, breathing, working and living with their faction for life. If they choose a group different from their family's, they may never see their parents or friends again. These thoughts weigh heavy on Beatrice's mind on the day of the Choosing Ceremony.

Little does she know, her decision will have effects stretching far beyond whether she'll see her family again. All is not as happy and peaceful as it seems in Chicago, and Beatrice -- who has led a life of invisibility in her Abnegation lifestyle -- has a major secret to guard and a major role to play as the "perfect" society begins to fail.

While "Divergent" wasn't as gripping as, say, "The Hunger Games," it was an excellent and intruging dystopian novel and I breezed through it in two days. The second book in the young adult trilogy, "Insurgent," is already out and I'm anxious to pick it up and continue Beatrice's tale. There's also a "Divergent" movie in the works, set to start filming in Chicago this year. Shailene Woodley of "The Descendants" is set to play Beatrice, and I think she'll be perfect for the part.

"Divergent" should appeal to a wide variety of audiences -- from fans of dystopias such as "1984" to young adult romances like "Twilight." It's a super-quick read, and its unique plot definitely makes it worth a look.

Happy reading!

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