Mandy Reviews: Veronica Roth's - "Divergent"
One of the best parts of being an avid reader is finding that book. You know, the one you’ve never heard of; you don’t know the author; you haven’t read the internet buzz so you’re not hanging out for release day – but it’s that book that completely and utterly blows you away.
This year, for me that book is Divergent by Veronica Roth.
Roth’s world is dystopian Chicago. Long after society has self-destructed, it has been rebuilt and divided into five ‘factions’, each dedicated to a particular virtue. There’s Candor, dedicated to honesty, who provide trustworthy and sound leaders in law; Eurdite, dedicated to intelligence who supply society with brilliant teachers and researchers; Amity, the peaceful, provide understanding counsellors and caretakers; Abnegation, the selfless, fulfil the need for selfless leaders in government and finally – Dauntless, the brave who provide safety from threats, both within and without.
Protagonist Beatrice Prior was born into an Abnegation family, but like all 16 year olds, must choose whether she’ll stay with them and lead a life dedicated to serving others; or follow her heart into another faction. At the choosing ceremony, she surprises everyone – herself included – when she decides to leave her parents and all she knows and trusts for a dangerous new beginning.
Fans of The Hunger Games will be right at home within the pages of Divergent, however, unlike THG, the monsters in this world aren’t man-made mutants, but the humans themselves. Roth has created a society which functions well on the surface, but deep under the ideal infrastructure lies greed, hate and plenty of violence. War between the factions is brewing, and it can only end one way. This isn’t a story for those who like their future pretty and peaceful. It’s tough and distressing and Roth hasn’t shied away from using gory scenes to get her point across.
The growth in Beatrice (who becomes known as Tris) is believable and heartbreaking, and at the same time makes you want to cheer out loud for such a gutsy character. Inch by inch throughout the story, she learns to trust in herself, her own values, and most of all her own heart – and that’s where things get really interesting. On the first day at her new faction, she meets the enigmatic Four, her instructor while she’s in training. The chemistry between Tris and Four is so subtle, it’s perfect. At first Four seems to be ruthless, an explosive character to be wary of. But there’s so much more to him than that. Tris manages to scrape away the layers bit by bit, and finds a kindred soul not much different to herself. Theirs is a love story with zero gross-factor, there’s no room for soppiness in a world where only the toughest survive.
Divergent is the first of a planned trilogy, with the second book, Insurgent due in May 2012. If you’re a fan of gritty dystopian fantasy, I can’t recommend getting your hands on it fast enough. This is an incredibly fast paced story that will horrify and surprise you – and leave you begging for just one more chapter after the last page is turned.
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Published by Harper Collins.
ISBN – 978-0-00-742041-4
Paperback, 487 pages.