Monday, June 6, 2011

Divergent Book Review

Author: Veronica Roth. Release date: 2011. Publisher:  Katherine Tegen Books. ISBN: 9780062024022.

Annotation:  In Beatrice’s post-apocalyptic Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each devoted to a certain personality trait. When a person turns 16-years-old, they participate in a ceremony where they choose the faction they will belong to for the rest of their lives. Beatrice was born into Abnegation, the faction dedicated to selflessness, but has always felt a strong pull towards Dauntless, the faction devoted to bravery. Can she choose between being who she is and abandoning the family she loves forever?

Personal thoughts: Roth’s first novel in the Divergent trilogy has left me with a ravenous hunger for the next installment! An intriguing, entertaining and fun read full of adventure and romance. I enjoyed this far more than Westerfeld’s dystopian Uglies series, and loved it almost as much as Hunger Games (though not quite!) I have a strong feeling that this series is poised to be the next “big thing” in teen literature and highly recommend getting on board as early as possible!

Plot summary: In Beatrice’s post-apocalyptic Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each devoted to a different personality trait: Amity to peace, Abnegation to selflessness, Dauntless to bravery, Erudite to intelligence, and Candor to honesty. The factions intermingle, but members live starkly different lives depending on the one they belong to. Beatrice was born in Abnegation, but has always felt that she is not selfless enough to remain in the faction. When she and her brother, Caleb, turn 16-years-old, they get to participate in the choosing ceremony where they will decide which faction they will belong to for the rest of their lives. Before the ceremony, all 16-year-olds partake in an aptitude test that determines which faction they would be best suited for. When Beatrice takes the test, her tester, a woman from Dauntless, informs her that her results show her to be “divergent:” showing aptitude for more than one faction. This trait is very dangerous, and the tester warns Beatrice to keep quiet about it. When it comes time to choose, how will Beatrice decide between being herself and the family she loves?

Review:  This first installment in Roth’s Divergent trilogy is certain to delight any reader who enjoys post-apocalyptic or dystopian novels, as well as anyone who simply likes a good story full of adventure, excitement and romance! Roth does an excellent job of creating likable, interesting characters with enough depth to last through the trilogy. Beatrice is a formidable leading lady and gives Katniss Everdeen of the Hunger Games trilogy a definite run for her money as toughest damsel in distress. Indeed, fans of the Hunger Games will definitely find a new novel to love in Divergent, as Roth’s story comes just short of surpassing Collins’ successful first installment. What is slightly more satisfying in Roth’s novel is the romance between Beatrice and her initiation trainer in her new faction, a young man known simply as “Four.” Beatrice and Four clearly have a bond from the start, but the formation of their inevitable romance is one of the most satisfying parts of the story. Thrown into the mix is a good amount of adventure, violence, and conflict that makes for an incredibly entertaining novel. Overall, I highly recommend Divergent to teen or adult readers who are interested in beginning and very thrilling and promising new trilogy.

Genre: Fiction/Adventure/Post-apocalytpic

Reading level: Grade 7+
Similar titles: Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld.

Themes:  Belonging, being oneself, human nature, family/friend relationships, overcoming fear.  

Awards/Reviews:  Positive reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Bookpage.   

Series Information: First installment in Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth.

Discussion Questions:

- What does the word "dystopian" means? Would you describe this novel as dystopian?

- What faction would you want to join? Why?

- Do you agree with Beatrice's decision? Why or why not?

- What do you think it means to be "divergent"?

- How does this novel compare with "The Hunger Games" trilogy by Suzanne Collins?

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