Plot Summary (From Amazon)– In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, 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 alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating 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 unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.
Soundtrack: “Headstrong”- Trapt
Ok, I know the song is from, like, 2003. I make no claims about being “hip” and “current”. I once saw a martial arts demonstration performed to this song, and the calculated, controlled power that they exhibited kept coming to mind while I was reading about the Dauntless.
The best books, in my opinion, are the books that take up residence in your head so vividly that you can’t help but think about them when you put them down. They’ve got insane world-building, characters and conflicts that hook you, and all you can do is think about when you’ll have time to read next and advance further into the story. They’re the books that make you release a breath you didn’t even realize you were holding. “Divergent” is one of those books.
Beatrice has lived in Abnegation all her life, but has never quite felt like she fit in. She’s not selfless enough to spend the rest of her life putting others’ needs before her own, but she’s terrified that the consequences of choosing a new faction might mean losing her own family forever.
Once she makes the choice to join the Dauntless (and becomes Tris), she’s immediately swept up in their reckless, adrenaline junkie lifestyle. She’s faced with both terror and exhilaration on a daily basis, and realizes that she feels more alive than she ever has. Nobody promised that the initiation process would be easy, but she didn’t expect the danger that she faces from all sides- from her fellow initiates, from the young and volatile Dauntless leader Eric, and for being who she is- Divergent.
It’s the exploration of the concept of Divergence that gives this story its real kick. How can a person be neatly pigeonholed into one faction based on a certain aspect of their personality? Each person has it within himself to be Intelligent, Honest, Brave, Peaceful AND Selfless. Those who don’t fall neatly within black and white cannot be as easily controlled, and thus represent a threat to the enforced order of society.
Tris and Four have taken a high spot in my recent esteem of literary couples. It could be that they seem so NORMAL after reading about Ana and Christian in the Fifty Shades Trilogy. Tris takes brave to the extreme, both in being forced to face her fears and always being willing to step up to protect those she cares about. She’s half Lisbeth Salander and half Katniss Everdeen, but with a certain light-heartedness that’s all her own.
The first person perspective of the novel is extremely effective, especially through Tris’ training experience as you’re in her head and “feeling” what she is. Veronica Roth’s vision of a dystopian Chicago is fascinating, and it’s fun to add another layer to where other authors have chosen to place their societies. (Notably Suzanne Collins’ Districs of Panem and Lauren Oliver’s New England-based “Delirium” trilogy) The writing is sparse but effective, and the pacing is pitch perfect.
The only good thing about my delay in reading this book for the first time is that “Insurgent” has already been released, so I’m able to run right out and continue the story.
Five out of Five Raven Tattoos