“Divergent” by the talented and young (I say this because to me that is important and I’ll tell you why later) Veronica Roth is the story of Tris, a girl who lives in a future where Chicago has changed and the fate of the rest of the world is unknown. In this Chicago, five factions exist. The Erudite, who value knowledge; the Candor, who value honesty; the Amity, who value compassion; the Dauntless, who value bravery; and the Abnegation, who value selflessness. When they reach the age of 16, teenagers have to chose where they feel they belong according to an aptitude test which is supposed to tell them in which faction they are meant to spend the rest of their lives. When Tris takes the test, however, it cannot pin down one faction, but three. It is called Divergence, and the Society hunts them down. Now Tris has to decide not only who she is, but how to hide what she is.
I have been wanting to read this book for a long time, but always postponed it. I only started reading it so I could catch the movie (which is something I do lately, for some reason), but I was not disappointed. Roth has managed to create a world which seems quite superfluous and ambiguous on the surface, but when it gets down to the core, is believable and well-constructed.
Her narrative flows seamlessly throughout the different adventures of her young heroine and manages the story’s pacing tremendously.
Yet the best attribute of this book is its lead. Tris Prior is a young girl who has been taught to never think of herself and her needs and has to learn to be a warrior. Tris makes for a fantastic feminist heroine, something which we’ve only just started to see in modern literature and perhaps Tris is one to hold high on that list, next to Katniss and Hermione. Roth tells her story and her journey to adulthood and maturity without falling into too many cliches or bringing her out as an emotionless rock. She is a fighter in the making and that means that more than once, she comes face to face with her worst fears. She rarely relies on anyone for help, not that she doesn’t appreciate it, but she has an inner strength that no one else can see in her. She is truly a gem of a character and one every reader is bound to relate to.
Her romantic counterpart is as much of a gem as her. Four, a tough and often impenetrable young man, becomes as much trouble for Tris, as much as an ally and a hand of support. Behind his strong facade hides a man who is not afraid to admit to his fears and let a woman take the lead. He strikes a magical note among the array of fit and macho male leads of young adult fiction, who are not defeated by anything and all they can do is profess their endless, but tough as nails, love for their love interest. Four is definitely a realer man than any of them, so kudos to Miss Roth for his beautiful existence.
Talking of Roth, do you know how old she is? 25. Do you know how old she was when she published Divergent, her debut novel? 21! I say this because for most of us young authors, the majority of our colleagues that we look up to (in terms of success) are over 40, which when you’re newly of age and eager to start your life, is not very promising. It tells you that you need to go through a lot of bad and unwanted jobs, have a family, have kids and only then will you manage to make your dream come true and that’s still a big if. So having someone who is at the prime of their youth like Roth, or from the indie world, Samantha Young, is inspiring and hopeful for us budding authors. To have a few of them who are not only young, but also terrifically talented makes it uplifting.
Overall, Divergent is an amazing debut novel and a great opening to the trilogy. It is highly recommended!
That’s it from me. Stay tuned for my review of the film adaptation.