Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Book Review: DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth

Publisher:  Harper Collins
WARNING-SPOILER ALERT
Amazon’s Description
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.

In searching for something to read, I decided to look on my recommendations in Amazon.  Divergent had been released only a few weeks ago and it was about a dystopian society.  Hmmm, how similar would it be to “The Hunger Games”?  I mean, no one wants to read a poor copy of another book.  I read the description and thought, well I’ll try it.  This book had very few similarities to “The Hunger Games” and had a very different ‘feel’ to it.  I found myself sighing and gently setting my e-reader aside in the wee hours of the morning.  I would chastise myself that blowing off my one-hour reading rule is going to haunt me in the morning only to do it again the following night.
The extreme conformity to one’s faction, in this book, is bothersome but realistic.  In reality, various cliques form in society and it is apparent that people must conform or be left as an outcast or “factionless”.  Is it so far-fetched that a society might formally create this?  Values play a strong role in determining the faction where one may feel they belong but I do like that the choice is still theirs.  The consequence of that decision, though, may be more than Tris and the other initiates can handle. 

The characters were all very real and I felt like I was plunged back into high school because the scenarios which Tris found herself in were very relatable, but in a more extreme way due to her situation.  My favorite is that Tris can be very sarcastic.  Like when she has her first hamburger.  She doesn’t know what to make of it and some of the initiates from the other factions can’t believe she’s never had it.  

“Stiffs eat plain food,” Four says, nodding at Christina.
“Why?” she asks.
I shrug. “Extravagance is considered self-indulgent and unnecessary.”
She smirks.  “No wonder you left.”
“Yeah,” I say, rolling my eyes.  “It was just because of the food.”
The corner of Four’s mouth twitches.
Although Tris was a fantastic character to follow and experience the book through, I must say there is something fetching about Four.  He has a lot of secrets and sees things differently than most of the characters.   He is a great leader and trainer, when he’s given the chance.  I can see why Eric (being the bully that he is) seems intimidated by Four and does his worst to make Four appear inferior to him.  I am intrigued to see what Four has up his sleeves, how he can enlighten Tris, and what he’ll inspire the others to do as I really think he sees the whole picture.
What I will be taking away from this book is not only a great read but also a lesson in values.  One cannot base their lives on a singular value but a well-balanced set of values.  Any one value can be twisted to suit one’s purpose but the set of values should challenge a person to find the best path.

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