30 April 2012

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Veronica Roth
Katherine Tegen Books
Usually, I try to review books within two weeks of reading them.  Though I finished this book back in March, it's so awesome, I'm going to review it anyway.

I know I'm not the first person to make this comparison, but whatever:  Divergent is the next Hunger Games.  Only, in Suzannian (my little made up world), it's just a little bit cooler because 1) it takes place in Chicago and that's my second home and 2) there's a character named Tobias and I heart German names.

Tris (formerly Beatrice) lives in a futuristic world where there are five factions.  Each of the factions lives life based on one single virtue: bravery, peace, selflessness, intelligence or honesty.  At age sixteen, each child takes a test that reveals which faction, or virtue, fits them the best.  Only Tris's test results come back inconclusive, or divergent.  So she must choose which faction she wants to spend the rest of her life with.  She grew up Abnegation (selfless),  but has chosen to switch factions and join Dauntless (bravery).  But life in the world of the brave isn't all it's cut out to be.

I loved this book because Roth has, much like Collins, taken a life theme (virtues) and given it a twist that causes us to see it in a completely different light.  With Hunger Games we looked at reality TV and what it could become.  In Divergent we look at values/virtues and see what they could become.  What would the world really look like if we shaped our lives entirely around one virtue?  And which would be worth shaping our lives around? Honesty? Knowledge? Peace?
Roth also looks at these values/virtues in terms of society and jobs.  The members of the Dauntless faction (bravery) are the ones who guard the city, suggesting that the most important trait/virtue for a soldier/police officer is bravery.  But is that the most important trait? What about intelligence, or selflessness?
In any case, Divergent is a book that will stay with you long after you finish it.  I would highly recommend this book to middle and high school students, their parents, their grandparents, and anyone who loved Katniss, Peeta* and Gale.

*Side note: when the Hunger Games movie came out, people combined the two main characters names to create Peenis (not appropriate, but kind of funny).  If you combined the two characters from Divergent, you'd get Fourtris (fortress).  Freakin' awesome.

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