Monday, 13 June 2011

Divergent: #1 Divergent

2011 is proving to be the year for the YA dystopia. And the next one in the line is Debutante author Veronica Roth's Divergent, the first book of the trilogy of the same name.

Here is the summary for the book: 

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, 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 to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating 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 a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her. Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

Beatrice, or Tris as she later calls herself, is sixteen years old and at this age all members of her community must decide who they are and where they fit in society as this choice defines them in many ways. There's factions: Abnegation, which is the faction she grew up in, Dauntless, Amity, Candor, and Erudite. Being raised in Abnegation was challenging as it's a selfless faction and Tris never really felt good enough and self-sacrificing enough to fully fit into this community; however, she doesn't necessarily want to leave her family behind. Because if and when you choose a new faction at sixteen, you rarely, if ever, get to see your parents again and this is a decision that Tris doesn't take lightly. One the most important days for Tris occurs when her community makes their faction recommendation. Tris makes a startling discovery. After the simulation, it is reported to her that she is a Divergent, meaning she falls in more than one faction, which is considered extremely dangerous.

Miss Roth's world is so unique and terrifying at the same time. It takes place in Chicago, although the book doesn't reveal that - the book trailer does. I wish she had given the readers more background on how the factions came about, but perhaps she will in the next book, which is a good thing since a lot of authors tend to dump fat load of information in the starting books of their series'. Nonetheless, Roth creates an unforgettable and eerie world that truly stayed with me. And lets think her world may actually come true in the distant future.

Right away as you open the book you know that Beatrice 'Tris' Prior is the kind of female heroine that defines a generation. She is a remarkable young woman who's attitude will rub off on you. Every fear, fight and scar that Tris is faced with throughout the book will resonate with readers. The choices that she makes in her life become her, and it this mentality that gives her the strength she needs to push on. Her life in dystopian Chicago operates based on the contributions of all five factions. Each faction must live out the behaviours that their roles define. 

The society that now exists is supposed to offer some protection but in many ways it breeds chaos. Roth has shown young readers a different way of life, and in doing so has forced them to think. Her ability to make the content accessible to the readership, while making the story entertaining, is a stunning accomplishment.

The world we know now is like a distant memory compared to the society that Tris lives in and it is not just because of the factions. Through her visionary imagination, Chicago's most incredible landmarks have become the sites where faction members live out their day to day lives. The Sears Tower has become the Hub, a place where sixteen year-olds make the decision to choose one faction over another. The now broken down ferris wheel at Navy Pier is where Tris finds the courage to rise above and prove herself. Finally we have The Bean, the beautiful piece of architecture which has been deteriorating slowly leaving a rust covered shell of what once was. All of these pieces that make up the vibrant city of Chicago have been re imagined to create something hauntingly beautiful.

A large part of this story is the romance that starts to unravel. Believe me, I wouldn't have liked this book that much without this complex, gut wrenching relationship. During her journey Beatrice meets several boys Will, Peter, Albert but no one like Four who is more man than boy really. Four is probably my favorite character. Handsome, strong, and tall, the character is under a constant shroud of mysteries giving us readers a whiplash. I fell in love with Four, he basically "stole the show" for me. From the time Four walks onto the page I was fascinated and wanted to learn more about him. About 2/3 of the way through this book I wished that I could read from his POV.

The action definitely stole the show in this book leaving me breathless more than once. It seemed like there was always something about to happen and that every moment you were living right there on the edge with Tris. Divergent is as much about fear as it is about power. Roth examines how our fears dictate our entire existence and how we can learn to live above them. Even a fear of love can be overcome when the right person comes along. This is a lesson that Tris knows well and is part of what makes this book what it is. Her affection for this heart breaker of a boy will give you butterflies. Their relationship is a prime example of how Roth revels in the idea that we make choices every single day and that we can choose to live fearlessly.

The writing was captivating and all the plots well laid out and well-balanced, I might add, as Roth was only twenty-one when she wrote this book. My only complaint regarding the writing was towards the end, it felt rushed. Without giving anything away, there's a horrific event that occurred and I feel like it was a bit brushed over by Tris. On the other hand, one thing is for sure: Roth knows how to keep her readers in suspense. This book is one of the most suspenseful books that I've read in a long time and I'm not talking edge of your seat....I'm talking gripping the book while my knuckles turn white, cringing at every page turn, anger boiling over, my heart pounding and racing a mile a get the drill.

Alas, Divergent is all about the choices you make(although it is also about fear and power as stated above....). Choices have the power to change your world. The way you your life will shape up. But besides the eminent choices it is also about consequences. Although the book caters to the dystopic genre but it also teaches us an important lesson that - both choices and their consequences are important if we want to progress in life(I know this is very philosophic but couldn't help myself).  

Genre :      Fiction, Young Adult, Dystopia

Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books

Rate:              5/5 (It was amazing, go for it)


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