Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Divergent, by Veronica Roth

I had hesitated to begin this series.  It felt too much like it was going to be "just another" dystopian novel.  I'm a little weary of the genre  (with a few exceptions).  I may be one of the few who didn't really like The Giver.

This book was a wonderful surprise!  The plot line was not the expected for a dystopian work. Or at least that wasn't the plot line that grabbed my attention.  The main character, Beatrice, is really an adolescent trying to  find her way and her future in a complex world.  She has complicated relationships with almost everyone in her life.  This nuanced interplay of trust/mistrust, friendship/betrayal, and belonging/ostracism plays out very well in the story. 

To pull you in a bit--Beatrice lives in a post-something (apocalypse?) Chicago.  In this world you can be part of one of five factions or be factionless (not at all a good thing).  The factions were formed based on personality characteristics:  Erudite, Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, or Amity.  On your 16th birthday you have to choose a faction.  You can stay with your family's faction, or join another.  Beatrice was raised in an abnegation family.  They dress plainly (mostly grey) and try to minimize the concern for self and instead think of the greater good.  At 16 Beatrice surprises everyone by choosing Dauntless.  In doing so she has to learn to be physically strong and fearless in all ways.

Much of the book chronicles "Tris's" training in Dauntless.  She develops some very uncomfortable suspicions during her training. 

The ending of the book is thrilling and is likely to push you out the door to buy the next book in the series.  I expect that this is best for high school readers, but some junior high readers could tackle it.  The publisher suggests ages 14-17.

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