I’m always in favor of any book that introduces “25 cent” words, and the title alone does that! It takes a while, however, to realize exactly what Divergent means. Readers will need a bit of patience in the opening pages where we meet Beatrice and get to know about the factions–the cultural groups–that exist in her world, an Earth set somewhere in the future where faction members are trying in their own ways to rebuild a planet destroyed by violence. A member of, “Abegnation,” Beatrice and her family are committed to helping others. They are selfless: the group comes first, the individual, second. They are quiet, calm leaders.
Children of all factions go to school together until they are 16 when they are given a test, and later during the Choosing Ceremony, must select which group to join for life. Strangely, Beatrice’s test results are confusing. The woman giving the test breaks the rules and informs Beatrice that she may be “Divergent,” someone who shows traits of different factions. This is a dangerous situation, and the girls’s results are altered. Beatrice is forbidden to tell anyone, even her parents about her test results.
During the ceremony, Beatrice unexpectedly chooses Dauntless, a faction committed to bravery. When she arrives among Dauntless and is asked her name, she hesitates. “Tris,” she says and discovers another, much wilder, side of herself.
Frighteningly, Tris learns that the Dauntless faction puts their newcomers to a series of tests, and that she, a tiny Abegnation girl who the others dismiss as a “stiff,” may not make it. Those who don’t suffer a fate worse than death in Tris’ mind: they become “factionless” and forced to live in the wild.
Once the story gets going, Divergent is a page turner that’s hard to put down. Dauntless, a wild, tattooed, thrill-seeking group, allows Tris’ bravery–and her other, divergent quaities–to shine as readers learn about the hidden conflicts between factions. Her handsome instructor, named Four, is demanding, and we learn early that this man may play a very important role in Tris’ life.
There are more characters to keep track of than The Hunger Games, but for fans of action and the “What if?” of Dystopian novels, you should enjoy Divergent. It is part of a trilogy, and I know I’ll have a hard time waiting for the paperback versions of the next two books! A movie version is planned for release in March 2014.
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