I spend nearly all of my free time doing one of two things: gaming or reading. Although I’ve been doing more gaming than reading lately, I decided it was time to get back to reading a bit more than I currently do. Last month, I went to see A Madea Christmas with my girlfriend (great movie, by the way) and we saw a trailer for the new movie that will be coming out soon, Divergent. We both thought the movie looked interesting, and we decided we’ll go see it when it comes out. I’m one of the people who has to read the book before the movie to see how the two compare, so I checked out Divergent from the library. I had high hopes and expectations for this book, and although it didn’t quite reach those expectations, I did enjoy the book, and I have already requested the next book in the trilogy from the library.
Divergent starts out a bit confusing, and it didn’t grab my attention initially; I had a few questions that were never really answered throughout the narrative, rather they were simply forgotten. In this setting, America is no more; the main character, Beatrice, lives in The Hub, formerly known as Chicago. The Hub is split into 5 different factions: Abnegation, who value selflessness, Amity, who value peace, Dauntless, who value bravery, Candor, who value trustworthiness, and Erudite, who value knowledge. Although each child is raised by their parents in the ways of their birth faction, they have the choice of officially choosing their faction in a public ceremony when they turn 16. Most children stay with their birth faction, but a few switch to others based on their calling, which is shown to them in a sort of aptitude test.
Basically, this aptitude test puts the subject in an alternate reality simulation where they face a few different situations, and their responses to the situations determines their suggested faction. For example, the first scenario pits the subject against a vicious looking dog. If the subject tries to grab a nearby knife and stab the dog, then they’re most likely cut out for the brave Dauntless, and the next scenarios will try to rule out other possible factions.
When Beatrice goes through the aptitude test, her results are inconclusive; although the vast majority of students lean toward a specific faction, her results and reactions to each scenario were all over the board. She is labeled Divergent, and she must never tell anyone about the results; it is extremely dangerous to do so. She is told that a couple factions were ruled out, however, so she would be best off choosing between Abnegation (the faction she was raised in), and Dauntless. After a lot of pondering, she chooses Dauntless.
From there, she goes through initiation; of all the new 16 year old candidates, only the best will be allowed to officially enter the Dauntless faction. The others who fail initiation are kicked out and are factionless; basically, they become dirty, homeless hobos who have nearly no way to make a living. Most of the story follows Beatrice’s journey through initiation, and the remainder of the book tells what happens after. I can’t tell you whether she passes or becomes factionless; that would ruin most of the book! Just let it suffice to say that I wasn’t expecting the ending, based on the way the rest of the story was structured.
Overall, I genuinely enjoyed Divergent. The characters were well fleshed out, the storyline was driven, and it was entertaining to read. Of course, there was the love story that seemingly every modern Young Adult fiction book has, but luckily, it wasn’t a love triangle this time! The only thing I disliked was that the introduction didn’t explain much. For example, we know nothing about the state of the world they live in. It sounds as though the residents of The Hub are the only people left alive; there is no higher government outside of The Hub, no communications with the outside world, no travelers, etc. This is simply my assumption based on the information given, but the book never really tells whether or not there are others out there. Why are there 5 factions to begin with? Was there an apocalypse or a government fallout? There are a few other questions that I won’t try to explain here since they won’t make sense unless you read the book, but in all, I was slightly confused.
In the end, Divergent was a good book. I will be glad to see the movie when it releases, and I will be glad to read book two in the series, Insurgent. I recommend this book as it isn’t inappropriate as long as you’re alright with a healthy dose of violence (Dauntless initiation is combat oriented). There’s no cursing, and there are only a couple instances of mildly suggestive content outside of kissing; truthfully, it’s a squeaky clean book for the most part.
Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this review! Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time!