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.
Beatrice Prior’s family values selflessness; they are from the faction of Abnegation (note: I was totally mispronouncing it in my head until I just had to type it). In this dystopian world, society is divided into five factions, each representing a particular virtue. The children are given a test that determines their aptitudes and upon their sixteenth birthday, everyone must choose which faction they will forever be attached to and stay where they are comfortable and loved or renounce their former factions, family and life by choosing a faction they are unfamiliar with except for some stereotypes attributed to that faction. (Whew) If the new initiates do not succeed during training (which varies by each faction), they will become factionless, on the fringes of society; basically homeless and at the mercy of the government. Beatrice has never felt as altruistic as the rest of her family, who make self-sacrifice look effortless, and she is fascinated by the dauntless, who jump from trains for fun. She knows she will choose a different faction than her family and feels guilt for it.
During her aptitude test, she is given inconclusive results, meaning that she had characteristics associated with more than one faction. The tester seems troubled by her results and informs her she is what is called “Divergent” and implores her to keep her results secret, but records her results as Abnegation. On Choosing Day, Beatrice opts for the Dauntless faction and is thrust into their world, where initiation begins immediately. She is taunted for being a “stiff” and wary of her fellow initiates, but really pushes herself to become Dauntless and remain in her new faction despite the cruelly punishing initiation rites because there a only a limited number of spots for new initiates to become members, where their place is secure.
I was kind of wary of this book. Oh, great, another dystopian YA book in which love conquers all and the MC saves the day, even though she is a, GASP, girl! I’d been putting off reading it because it seemed like more of THE SAME OLD STUFF. Oho, was I wrong.
Tris is intense and tenacious and, despite the harrowing circumstances she has to endure and an uncertain future, she kicks serious bahonkey (like my mom used to say). She is scared and is continually told she won’t make it because she’s small, she’s female and she’s from Abnegation. Regardless, Tris makes friends (and enemies) and climbs her way up to become one of the top initiates. She develops a strange relationship with one of her instructors, who annoys and attracts her. All the while, Tris is keeping this huge secret about her Divergent results and her mother asks her to seek out her brother, who also changed factions from Abnegation to Erudite. Because of rising tension between the Erudite and the Abnegation, her mother herself isn’t allowed to contact him. She does what she is asked and thus begins the adventure.
There is a lot more to the story that we (and Tris) aren’t being told. The gates are locked from the outside, and they really only talk about this one piece of land, which seems to be only the size of a major city (um, it is, it’s Chicago). What about the rest of the country, or world for that matter. There is no mention of anyone other than these 5 factions and some of the farmers in the outlying areas, but Tris doesn’t seem to care too much about it other than to be scared of what would happen if she were to become factionless. I hope we explore more of this in the next novel, which really could take us anywhere.
This was a hard book to review because I don’t want to give away too much, but I want to express all the right components that make it awesome. Less than one chapter in, I was completely enthralled. This five hundred page book was finished in a day. The only other book that I can honestly think of that took that amount of time to read was Twilight (it was that engaging).