by Veronica Roth
Beatrice must choose. At age sixteen, every person selects the faction that will be their home for the rest of their life… if they’re lucky. They could always be factionless, of course, but that is a life poverty, homelessness, and despair.
She does not believe she is good enough for her birth faction, the selfless Abnegation. But what other faction suits her? The happy Amity? The knowledge-seeking Erudite? The honest Candor? The courageous Dauntless?
But when her tests reveal that she fits into more than one of the factions, she is branded Divergent… the greatest threat to that world. She has the key to destroy all of society. She must tell no one her test results, or she will be killed.
So what will Beatrice choose? Will she betray her family and follow her heart, or will she deny herself to remain at their side?
Whatever she chooses, the future will forever be changed.
OK, first off, I love this book. Brandon and I have been talking, and it seems he wasn’t as thrilled with it as I was, but I loved it. I found a character I really identified with in Beatrice, as opposed to Katniss over in Hunger Games. I enjoyed her inner monologue. While, like Hunger Games, Roth wrote this novel in first-person present, unlike Hunger Games, there were very few infodump style flashbacks that threw me out of the narrative. Instead, action keeps moving.
In fact, if there’s one thing that I didn’t love, it’s that the status quo didn’t quo a whole lot. I would have enjoyed a bit more stability. I’m honestly shocked at the last hundred pages of the book; I would have made that a whole separate novel. Then again, it made for a thrilling ending!
I enjoyed that Roth resisted the urge to turn any of the factions into Ravenclaws or Hufflepuffs. You know, in Harry Potter, how pretty much every major character was Gryffindor or Slytherin? Sure, Rowling tried fixing that later on in the series, but really, by then it was too late.
Roth doesn’t fall into that pattern here. While two factions do receive the bulk of the attention, I didn’t feel the others were turned into parodies. She also resists the urge to make one faction “all good guys” and another “all bad guys,” which I appreciated so much.
OK, so that’s me going on about the setting. What about the characters?
I enjoyed Tris. My edition has some bonus features in the back, and there Roth notes that she wanted her main character to be a true protagonist – someone who acted, who drove the plot of the novel. I think, other than a few notable exceptions, she succeeded. I like Beatrice so much more than many other protagonists because of that choice. She didn’t come across as whiny or sulky, which made her shine in my eyes.
The other characters struck me as realistic sixteen year olds. They have friends, but they’re still selfish at times. They have conflicts, but get over it in different ways. Some people are just mean, others are neutral. There’s a good mix of personalities in play.
The plot balanced things well, for the most part. I already noted that the last hundred pages could be expanded into their own novel, but I still enjoyed them immensely. Things never stand still for long. Roth seemed to enjoy pulling twist after twist in a logical, flowing fashion. I never got bored, which is high praise indeed!
And, as this is indeed a Christian blog, I want to note the light touches of Christianity at play here. Brandon will be blogging about Divergent over at Bread for Beggars in a couple of weeks, and I suggest you check that out. I loved the little things.
For instance, on page 438 in my edition, as the main character is drowning, she remembers, “I breathe in. The water will wash my wounds clean. I breathe out. My mother submerged me in water when I was a baby, to give me to God. It has been a long time since I thought about God, but I think about him now. It is only natural.”
Hm, I say!
This isn’t a “Christian book.” It doesn’t preach Jesus at all. There are no mentions of him dying for sins, for instance. (Though the acknowledgements begin, “Thank you, God, for your Son and for blessing me beyond comprehension.”) Yet, the author is clearly Christian and doesn’t mind putting those little touches into her fictional world. Bravo. Not every book needs to preach – a book isn’t a sermon, after all. A book shouldn’t be a sermon.
Yet, it was nice seeing those little touches as ways to start a conversation, much as just a few lines in The Avengers can do much the same.
So, yeah, I loved the book. I’m looking forward to the movie – I hope it adapts as well as Hunger Games did.
And I think I need to get that second book.