Review of “Divergent” by Veronica Roth

This young adult dystopia comes as close as any to the nail-biting survival tests of The Hunger Games, with a little bit of the flavor of Ender’s Game thrown in as a bonus. I won’t say this book is as good as either of those, but it makes a good approximation.

Beatrice Prior lives in Chicago of the future, where most of the skyscrapers are now empty husks, and where the populace is divided into five “factions” depending upon how they believe society should be run: Candor (those who value honesty above all else); Abnegation (the selfless); Dauntless (the brave); Amity (the peaceful); and Erudite (who believe in pursuit of knowledge as a panacea for the world’s evils). When children reach the age of 16, they undergo a “Choosing Ceremony” to select which faction they prefer, which need not be the same faction as that of their family, although it is thought of as somewhat of a disgrace if a child rejects his or her family’s faction. But the main important consideration is that they be committed to one faction or another, and not be “divergent.” The selectees leave their families that very night to become initiated into, and trained by, whichever faction they choose.

Beatrice and her brother Caleb (also 16 although they were born almost a year apart) were brought up in Abnegation, and they will attend the same Choosing Ceremony to determine their futures. In exploring the post-ceremonial lives of Beatrice and Caleb, the reader climbs with them onto a rip-roaring ride through terror, helplessness, and a considerable amount of violence. Beatrice in particular finds herself over and over again in a classic zugzwang situation, which is the essence of her particular dilemma as a “divergent.” But life, now scary and unpredictable, is also rewarding and exhilarating for both siblings, as they discover the true meanings of fairness, sacrifice, courage, peace, and the power of the intellect to effect both good and evil.

Evaluation: Summit (the studio behind “Twilight”) picked up the rights to the film before the book was even released, which should alert you that this is one dystopia that actually lives up to its hype. The author, aged 22, wrote the book during her senior year in college. I don’t know how her other grades came out, but I’m hoping she got an A if she took creative writing.

Rating: 4/5

Note: This is only book one of an intended trilogy. [But I didn’t need to say that, right? Because it’s sort of become a sine qua non of “YA Dystopia”]

Published by Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2011

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15 Responses to Review of “Divergent” by Veronica Roth

  1. sandynawrot says:

    I have heard SO MUCH about this book, but didn’t realize the author was so young. I’m impressed. The premise sounds good too (if not a little like so many other dystopias, yet they are not created equal). \

    Of course it is a trilogy. I’d love to see an author write a two or four book series, just to shake things up.

  2. Alyce says:

    I loved this one too! I can’t wait to read the rest of the series, although I’ll probably pass on the movie whenever it finally gets made. 🙂

  3. I’ve been wanting to read this book, but I’ll probably wait until the rest of the books have been released. That way the waiting won’t kill me. 😉

  4. zibilee says:

    I keep meaning to grab this book, and every time I see a glowing review, my resolve gets stronger and stronger. I have to say that although it does share hallmarks with a lot of other YA dystopians out there, I get a little bit of a different feeling with this book. I hope that I can grab this one soon. It sounds really diverting and interesting. Great review, by the way!

  5. I always hesitate to read dystopia and end up liking it when I do. I need to get over it and check this one out.

  6. Jenny says:

    Lol I would have been shocked if this wasn’t the first in a trilogy! I definitely hope to read this since it sounds good and something being made into a movie always makes me want to get in on it lol! Wow she wrote this during her last year in college! Crazy!

  7. Staci says:

    Wow! 22…I can’t even remember what I was doing at that age but it wasn’t writing. How awesome and this one sounds spectacular! I may even try it!!

  8. Margot says:

    I just yesterday’s review and this one. If I was going to try another dystopian it would probably be yesterday’s silly one. I like books that make me laugh while reading. This one I’ll recommend to the granddaughter who loved the Twilight books and movies.

  9. Jenners says:

    Good grief … another dystopia! This one sounds good though so MAYBE!

  10. Biblibio says:

    If young adult dystopias hadn’t become so ubiquitous, I probably would have immediately run out to read Divergent but hype and marketing has done the opposite of what they’re supposed to – they’ve made me suspicious. In the end, I’m probably going to follow the same rule that allowed me to vaguely enjoy The Hunger Games – if the original premise still sounds interesting (without the surrounding hype), it’s worth giving it a shot. If it sounded lame from the start… forget it.

  11. Julie P. says:

    Sounds terrific but I hate to start yet another series… Although this one might be worth it.

  12. sagustocox says:

    This sounds like another series I should be reading if I had more time. Maybe, like Anna, I will wait for all the books to be out first.

  13. Meg says:

    I go through dystopian novels in fits and starts, and I’d say I’m in a “start” right now! I just finished a space-travel YA dystopian, so maybe I’ll settle back into Earth and grab Divergent. Sounds like a good one!

  14. Darlene says:

    I just had to pop in and see what you thought of this book. I picked it up a while back so I’m really glad it’s so good. I didn’t realize the author was so young. Good for her!

  15. stacybuckeye says:

    Why must they always be a trilogy or series?! It gets old.

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