Divergent – by Veronica Roth
In Beatrice’s world, after years of bitter fighting, the five factions were developed to prevent further wars. Each faction values certain traits, believing that cultivating a chosen way of thinking will mean there is no more conflict.
In Abnegation, they look not to themselves but to others, and value selflessness above all. The Erudite seek knowledge, hoping that with understanding they may gain wisdom enough to avoid fighting. The Amity are concerned with kindness to others, believing that a kind heart cannot engage with violence. Candour means honesty, even brutal honesty. If you admit everything about yourself, the good and the bad, you are not hiding, and have no reason to fear. But fearlessness is the true domain of the Dauntless, where bravery, or the ability to continue on in spite of fear, is valued most. Bravery also means standing up for those who can’t.
Born into Abnegation, Beatrice has always struggled to find the selflessness that seems to come so naturally to her family. On her Choosing Day, she makes a decision that will affect the rest of her life. If only she knew how much.
Now, the newly named Tris is an initiate of Dauntless. Surviving their brutal initiation will require more than physical and mental training – she will have to contend with other initiates who equate bravery with bullying, and figure out what she’s beginning to feel for one of her instructors, Four. Most importantly, Tris must discover what that word she’s only heard in whispers has to do with her. What is Divergent? Why is it special? Why is is dangerous?
Warning: spoilers after the cut!
Like most dystopias, Tris’ world revolves around control: those who have it, and those who desire more of it. This theme is seen on both a micro and macro level, within the politics of the Dauntless’ initiation process, and the political system that governs the Factions as a whole. Traditionally, government officials are from Abnegation, as their selfless natures mean they’ll be concerned with society as a whole, not their own or their faction’s interests. Lately, other factions have been vocal in how much they’re beginning to resent this system. It seems that change is coming, whether sanctioned or not. When factions collide, where will Tris stand?
This was a great example of dystopian fiction. I’m always interested in the back story that led to this societal restriction – what atrocities must have occurred to lead the powers that be to exercise this much control over their citizens? Hopefully we find more meta answers to this in later books (as well as whether the fence around the city is to keep things out, or to keep people in…)
Tris was really interesting as a main character. I think Roth did a good job fitting her somewhere between kick-ass, strong woman and unsure, in-over-her-head young girl. I didn’t find her annoying at all, which is a nice change these days! The violence that was nurtured by Dauntless was an interesting shade to her character, too. Roth handled Tris’ internal struggle to find peace between her Abnegation upbringing and her Dauntless future authentically. Four was a great secondary character, who I liked because he was so legitimately different from Tris, and they really struggled to see eye to eye sometimes.
I can understand why people have such mad love for this series – it’s an engaging story, and I’ll definitely be checking out Insurgent!