In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, 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 to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating 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 a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves… or it might destroy her.
Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.
I was able to suspend my disbelief.
That's basically what I saw from all the positive reviews on this. I enjoyed this, because I was able to suspend my disbelief. Is the society at all realistic? Hell no. Is there any explanation as to how it became the way it is today? Nope.
But I was able to put that out of my mind for 487 pages and just enjoy a fast-moving, well-paced plot, spare but powerful writing, and great characters. This book was readable, and I'd place that over world-building any day.
I really liked the plot. I've seen a lot of people complain about this being 400 pages of initiation and less than 100 pages of plot, but that didn't really irk me, because a) The initiation was a big PART of the plot, and b) I felt like there was enough content that did not just have to do with initiation and furthered the overall plot that it didn't matter. I did think the ending was slightly sudden, but not terribly.
Roth's writing was very good, especially for a debut author. It wasn't beautiful, nothing that really stands out, but that's okay. This book didn't need beautiful writing, it needed writing that would further the plot and characterization along. And while it wasn't beautiful, there were some very powerful quotes. Sometimes things pack more of a punch when stated simply.
There were also a lot of really cool scenes. While I do get the feeling that some of them were just included because Roth really, really wanted to write them, it didn't bother me, because I really, really enjoyed reading them. The action makes this practically unputdownable. It's 487 pages, but that's a very short 487 pages.
Though the plot was the driving force of Divergent, what really did it for me was the characters. I loved Roth's characters. I loved Tris's friends, flawed and funny and supportive as they were. I loved her family, confused and secretive and selfless. I loved the villains, who shall remain nameless, for being awesome villains, though I do wish we were shown a bit more humanity in them.
I loved Four, for being a real person. For not being perfect, but doing his best. For being adorable and tough. For not treating Tris like a damsel in distress, but like an equal.
And I loved Tris, for being a badass. There are other reasons I loved her: because she can be both selfless and selfish, because she can be both cruel and kind, brave and cowardly, strong and weak, stubborn and understanding. But mainly, I just loved that she was a badass. YA needs more girls like her.
I do have to deduct a star for the world-building, because while it did not taint my enjoyment, world-building is a critical part of any dystopia, and this world was completely implausible. However, despite that, this was an excellent read. I'm glad to see it was worth the hype. Can't wait for Insurgent.