I am surprised that I haven’t heard of these books earlier, but having just finished an accelerated second degree program, I didn’t really have a lot of time for extracurricular reading. Since devouring The Hunger Games in probably 2 days, I was excited when this was recommended by a friend the other night when she described it as, “it’s like Hunger Games, starts a little slow but overall pretty good.” She had me at Hunger Games. Especially at my dismay over wanting to read another 800 page epic undertaking – I’m already behind!
Divergent is the story of Beatrice “Tris” Prior, who is born of the Abnegation or selfless faction. Set in a dystopian Chicago (my hometown), I was intrigued at the different factions and their outlook on life. The Amity (the peaceful), the Abnegation (the selfless), the Candor (the honest), the Dauntless (the brave), and the Erudite (the intelligent) each represent a portion of the population and their names, as indicated, suggest how that portion acts as a whole. So like any good young adult series, there is a day of reaping/choosing where you decide which faction you want to live your life in. There’s an aptitude test that can give you a direction, but the choice is up to you.
Tris’ aptitude test is screwy, and she blames herself. While she loves the Abnegation ways, it has never come naturally to her. However, switching factions would mean abandoning her family, and if you decide to leave the faction after having officially chosen you become factionless and are basically a bum living on Lower Wacker (which, by the way, is where I thought the Ninja Turtles lived).
The story resembles Hunger Games in many ways. Tris is a more likable Katniss, at least in my opinion, because you can identify with her uncertainty but hesitation to change. However, what I really like about this story is how it somewhat mirrors the choices you face as a young adult. Where the reaping in HG is not a choice, which faction you decide determines your lot in life. I felt a bit of the same pressure when choosing a major in college. Obviously it didn’t matter since I have a second one now and that’s the one I go with, but if I were Tris, I would be factionless. Homeless. Or at the least supremely unhappy and frustrated in my position and without the courage to make the choice to be factionless.
The kids don’t fight to the death, although there is fighting, and the war that erupts (it’s a trilogy and it’s called Divergent, obvi there’s going to be a war) is different than Katniss’ attack/defense on/from the Capitol, but I love that there are these books featuring young, brave women who are not faultless and can lead others. Without being manly, or a bitch, or a slut, these young women appear to take over the world. And I like it.
Furthermore, as the book unfolds you begin to see that no one person can be just one of the attributes of the faction. By doing so they turn corrupt or manipulative, holding the value of their faction in complete disregard to decency or normal order. To be a truly good and well functioning person, I think we will see that each faction’s ideals must be embraced, even if they are not given an equal share in one’s thought process.
I would recommend if you’re into the young adult scene. I’ve already started the second book Insurgent, so that will be up soon too.