“Becoming fearless isn’t the point. That’s impossible. It’s learning how to control your fear, and how to be free from it.”
I have to say, I had an absolute blast reading this wild ride of an adventure, and I enjoyed every minute of it. EVERY.SINGLE.MINUTE! I haven’t had this sort of rush since Katniss entered the Hunger Games and turned my world right side out! The characters, setting, plot, pace and narrative where perfectly blended to produce a highly action packed novel that I’m sure will captivate dystopia fans. I bought all four books at a sale downtown and read them all in close to 72h. I could not stop.
The story takes place in an undermined future where the world is divided into factions, including Candor (honest), Abnegation (selflessness), Dauntless (daring), Erudite (knowledgeable), and Amity (peaceful).
“We’ve all started to put down the virtues of the other factions in the process of bolstering our own. I don’t want to do that. I want to be brave, and selfless, and smart, and kind, and honest.” He clears his throat. “I continually struggle with kindness.”
The premise: Chicago of the future is a closed city-state. The citizenry really doesn’t have any idea what is beyond their borders. They just know it’s dangerous. Inside the city, humanity is divided into five factions based on moral imperatives. Candor, for instance, values truth above all else. They serve as lawyers and public speakers. Erudite values knowledge. They serve as teachers. Abnegation values self-denial and community service. They are the community’s leaders, since they alone can be trusted not to be power-hungry.
“Human reason can excuse any evil; that is why it’s so important that we don’t rely on it.”
Our heroine Tris is born into Abnegation, but during her choosing ceremony at age sixteen, she decides to join the Dauntless, who value fearlessness and serve as the society’s soldiers and guards.
“I have realized that part of being Dauntless is being willing to make things more difficult for yourself in order to be self-sufficient. There’s nothing especially brave about wandering dark streets with no flashlight, but we are not supposed to need help, even from light. We are supposed to be capable of anything. I like that. Because there might come a day when there is no flashlight, there is no gun, there is no guiding hand. And I want to be ready.”
The novel follows her through her initiation training, during which Tris discovers that their society is not as harmonious as she once believed. Making things even worse, Tris must keep her true aptitude secret. She is in a small minority of people who are divergent — whose skills could suit them for more than one faction. What this means is not at first clear, but it will make Tris’s life very dangerous.
The Dauntless instructor known as Four, becomes Tris’ primary love interest. He is known as Four because during his own Dauntless initiation, it was revealed that he only has four years. Four was also born Abnegation, but he chose to Dauntless to escape the abuse of his father. At first, Four has an elusive, mysterious personality and he’s quite mean to Tris, but he eventually allows himself to become close to Tris.
“Who is he when he isn’t Dauntless, isn’t an instructor, isn’t Four, isn’t anything in particular?
Whoever he is, I like him. It’s easier to admit that to myself now, in the dark, after all that just happened. He is not sweet or gentle or particularly kind. But he is smart and brave, and even though he saved me, he treated me like I was strong. That is all I need to know.”
I read an interview somewhere in which Veronica Roth said she wanted to write a standalone. I get that–the YA market is saturated with series, but by dropping us into this world and then concentrating on Tris’ trials, I felt like I was missing that undercurrent of rebellion. I’m sure this book will be compared to Hunger Games more times than anyone can count, but hey! that’s a lot more flattering than comparing every vampire book to Twilight. Anyway, in Hunger Games, you could feel the rebellion growing. I was constantly wondering what was going on in other districts–and Suzanne Collins made us worry about it all. In Divergent, this element was lacking. I loved most of the book, but the climax and wrap-up (if you can call it that) are only in the last 50 pages! This is an instance where I wish the author had built up the tension a little more, maybe given us a few other characters in different factions, and saved the ending scenes for a second (or third!) book. I just laughed a little bit thinking about how this book could’ve used a little dose of Matched to slow it down…
“I feel like someone breathed new air into my lungs. I am not Abnegation. I am not Dauntless.
I am Divergent.”
I loved to see how Tris evolved in the story. In the beginning, we get hints of her courage and intuition, and as she goes through her initiations her badassness explodes! There’s nothing I love more than female characters that can kick some serious ass! She was awesome.
“Somewhere inside me is a merciful, forgiving person. Somewhere there is a girl who tries to understand what people are going through, who accepts that people do evil things and that desperation leads them to darker places than they ever imagined. I swear she exists, and she hurts for the repentant boy I see in front of me.
But if I saw her, I wouldn’t recognize her.”
Now I have to say, number Four took a while to grow on me, but eventually it happened. I like his tactile nature… one moment while I wipe the steam off of my glasses… 😛 I will have to say the reveal surrounding his name was a little underwhelming (view spoiler) but there was so much to this character that just took off after the second half and I found myself anticipating his scenes. Loved Four!
“I have something I need to tell you,” he says. I run my fingers along the tendons in his hands and look back at him. “I might be in love with you.” He smiles a little. “I’m waiting until I’m sure to tell you, though.”
“That’s sensible of you,” I say, smiling too. “We should find some paper so you can make a list or a chart or something.”
I feel his laughter against my side, his nose sliding along my jaw, his lips pressing my ear.
“Maybe I’m already sure,” he says, “and I just don’t want to frighten you.”
I laugh a little. “Then you should know better.”
“Fine,” he says. “Then I love you.”
The final quarter of the book goes into high gear and the adrenaline rush is loaded with high octane power. This book did it right and I just can’t wait for the next release. This is one series that will find itself on my top shelf. LOVED.IT!