“We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another.” -Dauntless Manifesto”
Synopsis From Author Site:
In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). 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—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. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes-fascinating, sometimes-exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. 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.
I am really starting to love YA dystopian novels now. I’m loving the different possibilities of the future creatively build by this genre. In this book the world tries to put people into categories called factions. Each faction represents a different philosophy or virtue: Dauntless – the brave, Abnegation – the selfless, Candor – the honest, Erudite – the intelligent, and Amity – the peaceful. At the age of 16, teenagers get to choose which faction they belong to and once they choose their factions they are expected to behave accordingly for the rest of their lives. At first, the idea of dividing a society into factions based solely on one virtue above all others is too idealistic and unrealistic. But Veronica managed to create a distinct world with this one. When she put those factions into gray lights by showing the flaws of each groups I appreciate more the world she is trying to build.
The characters are so wonderfully fleshed out, they are not perfect in any way which makes them more real to me. Tris as a protagonist is a strong character. I don’t instantly like her but she certainly win me throughout the story. When she choose to be a dauntless I question her ability and guts but she proves me wrong. She definitely can kick ass. I enjoy her progress from being a timid daughter of abnegation to a strong and brave dauntless. She’s small, and she gets beat up, but she learns fast and manage to stand again. She isn’t pretty and never transformed to be one, in other words you’ll love her for who she is and not for any superficial reason. When she choose to change her name from Beatrice to Tris the moment she enters the world of dauntless she give me an impression that she is already trying to define herself. She is making choices on her own fully aware of the consequences and ready to face those consequences. Her motivations are complex and sometimes conflicting, unclear even to herself but her self discovery is worth a journey to explore.
Then there’s Four. I find him fascinating. His identity as a divergent is not hard to guess but despite that I still find him mysterious, as if there is hidden message in every word he said. I like the depth in his character. There is always something bigger in each movement he makes. His own depth gives more depth to other characters like Tris and Eric. He reveals the complexity in Tris one by one which will make you respect Tris more than what you already do. Four is a kind of character who give the spotlight to other but never really loose his own shine.
As I’ve said before with my other reviews, I’m not a fan of love triangles because love triangles just diverts reader’s attention from the real story. Thankfully there is no love triangle in here, not star crossed lovers too and definitely not love at first sight. The relationship between Tris and Four is developed slowly and unexpectedly. And though Four as Tris instructor had the upper hand in a lot of ways, there was a wonderful sense of equality between them. They respect the strength of each other and help overcome each other fears rather than trying to control or protect one.
As for the world building, Divergent doesn’t offer much background on how this futuristic world evolve. It is never clear how their society becomes like what they are today. There are still loop holes and strange gaps that needs to be polish. The existence of factionless is also vague for me. I still got lot of question about them which I hope will be explore by the next books to come as well as the other factions. Also, I think the ending was a bit rushed but nevertheless I still enjoy the book as whole. More than anything, this book is a nice view about social integration. How a society classify each other in different categories and put boundaries to each others. It is also about identity, choices and beliefs. How the choices you make determine you and how you have to live and adapt to the consequences of those decisions.
This book is surely a fast-paced and enthralling read, almost 500 pages and I still want more. I love how dystopian novel like this makes me question about our own society, its flaws and status. I don’t have any idea where the next book of this series will go but definitely it will be on my reading list.