Summary from BN.com: In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.
It was quite hard for me to NOT compare this book with The Hunger Games or Tris with Katniss while I was reading this book. I'm not trying to do the whole "every YA book goes back to Twilight" sort of deal but in this case it was hard not to think of THG the whole time. Both stories take place in a dystopian world and both have female leads who are put in excruciating circumstances and must rise out of them. That's pretty much all the similarities that both books share but I feel like THG has set the standard for dystopian YA.
It actually took me a while to get into the story. I found Tris to be quite unlikable for the first half. She seemed rude, whiny and selfish in the first half of the book. I felt a bit lost in the beginning trying to figure out who everyone was and what all the factions stood for. It wasn't until the second half of the story when I really got sucked in, started to really like Tris and then got hooked into their world. I don't think that I could have done what Tris or any of the teens her age had to go through as they potentially gave up their lives to find themselves in a new faction.
I will admit that I thought that the romantic subplot that Tris is involved in would include another guy than the one she ended up with. I am glad that I guessed wrongly but I will admit that I was rather surprised that it didn't go that way. That being said, I really enjoyed the romance that is in the story because it's subtle yet filled with tension. I was very excited for the couple. There are some religious overtones in the book. The Abnegation faction seems to represent a form of Christianity or other organized religion. If you are looking for it, you will find it. However, it's blended carefully into the story and therefore can be easily overlooked. I found this book to be quite violent especially since it involves teens. Those who are in Dauntless are taught to fight and without mercy. There are many who would do anything to get to the top and that means hurting each other to do so. I nearly gagged at one character being stabbed in the eye and others are constantly being punched, kicked and beat up throughout their training.
Overall, I found myself enjoying the book. What I really like about these dystopian novels is that there's so much more to the story than what appears on the surface. One can dig deep to find all the hidden meanings that the author is trying to say. I really like the fact that female leads are getting a lot of attention. Tris started off unlikable but now I find that I want to root for her in her future quest. And speaking of future quests, I can't wait to read the next book in the series. I want to know what happens next!
Divergent by Veronica Roth is published by Katherine Tegen Books (2011)
This ARC was provided by the publisher