Veronica Roth’s Divergent: Choose Your Destiny in a Dystopian World
In Divergent, Veronica Roth explores a life where people become the virtues they choose. Set in a futuristic Chicago, there is a new order: All citizens are to select a predetermined virtue, called factions, and dedicate their lives to fully realizing its responsibilities. The factions are Abnegation (selflessness), Candor (honesty), Dauntless (bravery), Amity (peace), and Erudite (knowledge). Each faction lives completely separated from the other, and interaction between them is extremely limited.
Beatrice Prior, known as Tris, is sixteen years old and, along with her peers, must choose her faction. While all candidates undergo a grueling test to discover their true faction, the choice is ultimately their own. Especially for Tris, who has spent her whole life in Abnegation, the ability to choose something for herself is difficult and foreign. Will she be able to decide what is right for her own future? Further complicating her decision are her errant test results: She is labeled a Divergent, a dangerous assessment that she is advised to keep to herself. She is not given any information about the Divergents -- not even a definition. With this particular lack of knowledge, the right decision seems impossible.
Tris surprises everyone, mainly herself, and chooses to be a part of Dauntless. As she braves the initiation process (which includes jumping off of buildings, catching moving trains, and intense fear simulations), she realizes the factions are not as pure as they may seem. She discovers certain Dauntless members can be mercilessly cruel, some Erudite members incredibly condescending, and even members of Abnegation massively selfish. More so, she faces the difficulties of growing up and leaving her family behind as she develops new friendships and unintentional enemies. One of the more mysterious and intriguing people she meets is a Dauntless named Four. As he and Tris develop their friendship, it becomes clear that their reliance on each other will be crucial to their survival.
It's easy to get caught up in the fast-paced action of this novel, but it's equally easy to fall in love with Roth's complex and endearing characters. Terrible things happen to many of the people Tris loves, but her unwavering focus is inspirational. Finally, here is a young female protagonist who isn't so much concerned with a love triangle as she is with making tough, moral choices. As Four explains to her, "Fear doesn't shut you down; it wakes you up." Combined with philosophical questioning of government and individual rights, Divergent makes a compelling read that will have you on the edge of your seat.