The best novels don’t just present you with new wondrous worlds; they make you want to be in there experiencing them. Half the fun of reading a dystopian novel, or science fiction and fantasy novel for that matter, is working out where you would fit into their story. In the Wizarding world I would be Slytherin, a personal decision and also the result of a more recent sorting hat test on Pottermore (I should clarify, I am not evil….. I promise?). In Westeros I would either be House Stark or House Martell; I would definitely not be a Lannister. In LotR I would be Human, I’m just not elegant enough to be an Elf; hairy enough to be a Dwarf or Hobbit, perhaps. And in The Hunger Games I’d be the poor sucker that dies first, I am no Katniss Evergreen.
Divergent’s world offers five factions, formed to ensure there is no more war and unrest. These are Abnegation, Dauntless, Erudite, Amity and Condor; the selfless, brave, intelligent, peaceful and honest. Born into a faction at 16 you are tested to see in which faction you belong in however, whatever the results you can chose to stay or leave your birth faction. Some stay, some leave however, if you leave you cut off everything from your old life and begin a new one; ‘Faction over Blood’. This is the predicament we find our protagonist Tris in, only it is harder for her, she is a Divergent, and that is incredible dangerous.
In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions [...] 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 [but] 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 alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together, they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. [...] 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 unrest and growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly-perfect society, she also learns that her secret might be what helps her save those she loves . . . or it might be what destroys her.1
I didn’t find anything I disliked in Divergent. Beatrice, or Tris, is a fantastically strong character, never feeling too flat or too perfect. She is strong-willed and determined and fights her way through this story marvellously. If the genre puts you off reading, then read Divergent for Tris.
There is a little romance too, for those of you who enjoy that sort of thing. I’m not one for a soppy romance story and for the most part I found this doesn’t overwhelm the novel. I would have preferred a different romantic conclusion but the one in place works well nonetheless.
Surprisingly violent, Divergent kept me hooked throughout. The factions are ingenious; I only wish we could have discovered more of the inner workings and politics of all of them. Whether you like dystopian fiction, romance, or a bit of a thriller, there is something here for everyone.