Divergent – Veronica Roth

I’ve been hearing about this book for a while. I’d heard it was the next Hunger Games—in the words of my friend Nicole, it has a “female protagonist who kicks ass, dystopian society [that] is split up into different specialties, war”—so definitely very similar. But I’d venture to say it was even better than The Hunger Games.

Beatrice Prior is the story’s protagonist, a sixteen-year-old member of the Abnegation (selfless) faction. The other factions are Candor (the honest), Amity (the peaceful), Erudite (the intelligent), and Dauntless (the brave). As the novel  opens, she and the other sixteen-year-olds of this future, dystopian Chicago are on the brink of adulthood, which means they will soon take their aptitude tests—the test that determines to which faction they truly belong. After the tests, some will choose to stay with the faction they were born in. Others will transfer. But the mantra of the society remains the same: “Faction before family.”

Beatrice has always known that she doesn’t quite belong in Abnegation. Being selfless and desiring nothing but to help others are traits that do not come as naturally to her as they seem to come to her mother and her brother, Caleb. But she never imagined that her aptitude test would place her in three different factions; she is Divergent. Her test proctor immediately deletes those results from the system, manually entering Abnegation, and begs Beatrice to never tell anyone that she is Divergent—but refuses to give an explanation. And at the Choosing Ceremony the next day, both she and Caleb make choices that shock each other, their parents, and the entire community.

When Beatrice begins initiation, she renames herself Tris and struggles to find out who her true friends are as she goes through the incredibly strenuous initiation tests. She eventually discovers that her seemingly perfect society is on the verge of unraveling, and the secret she is harboring—as well of the secret of an enigmatic boy called Four—could be what saves her, and the lives of those she loves. But it could also destroy them.

This book was fantastic. It does make me feel a little bad about myself simply because Veronica Roth, the author, is only a year older than I am, but she more than deserves any success she gets from this. The writing was miles better than The Hunger Games: there weren’t nearly as many annoying fragmenty sentences. And even though I’m not a huge fan of present tense narration, it fit really well here and probably wouldn’t have been as thrilling had it been written in the past tense.

I’m also SO glad the obligatory romance here wasn’t as annoying as the love triangle in The Hunger Games. There was really only one romantic interest, which was refreshing. And it was also nice that I actually liked the guy—not that I didn’t like Peeta and Gale, but I found them both WAY too sycophantic. In Divergent, it wasn’t sappy, and it wasn’t for show, either—they both genuinely felt for each other, and at the same time, no less! It took almost 350 pages for that romance to unfold and it was fantastic.

If you liked The Hunger Games, you should read this. If you didn’t like The Hunger Games, you should still read it, because I think this is better. Can’t wait for Insurgent to come out on May first—I just preordered it last night!

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