Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Divergent by Veronica Roth

I admittedly avoiding reading this series. I couldn't be bothered with another YA dystopian adventure where teenagers save a broken world. The entire context of the plot is too far fetched for me. I work with teens everyday - trust me when I say, if this world (which is our own kind of dystopia) comes to an end, we are screwed. Even our smartest kids are lost without absolute direction.

But, I must confess I enjoyed the book. It's an action packed adventure that has new conflict on every page. Roth weaves an interesting metaphorical tale about human tendencies and carefully constructs an idea that we are all a bit divergent. None of us can truly be all-knowing (Erudite), honest (Candor), selfless (Abnegation), peaceful (Amity), or brave (Dauntless). Yet, we all possesses some of these qualities some of the time. The context of the novel indicates that each of these specialties should be separated, but in truth, they work together seeking a universal truth among a struggled idea. Nice paradox there Ms. Roth (23 years old and rocking a book series and movie contract!).

Beatrice, the protagonist, must choose her faction. She comes from a family of Abnegation and it is expected that most children will remain in their faction with their family; she and her brother Caleb are no exception to this. All sixteen-year-olds undergo a series of tests to justify their faction choice, but for Beatrice, the results are inconclusive - she's divergent. She equally possesses qualities of multiple factions. This is a problem for the "powers that be" because it makes her dangerous, uncontrollable. Basically, she can't be brainwashed by one idea because she entertains many.

Showing great bravery, she chooses to leave her faction and family behind to join Dauntless - a thrill-seeking, brave, adrenaline junkie faction that serves as the protector of their nation. (Isn't that selfless in a way....ay, there's the rub). She meets ruthless other teens that have become a part of Dauntless, and through a series of challenges, reigns supreme amongst the recruits while keep her divergence a secret. Oh, and she falls in love with a boy. Of course she finds a boy - Four. Another intricately written and complex character. Each faction lives their own lives in their own way; borders are not crossed.

However, as we all know, peace can't last forever. An uprising in the Erudite faction over the way the Abnegation faction handles the central government leads to a simulated civil war in which the new Dauntless are controlled through government power. But not Beatrice, she can't be controlled, she's Divergent.

Divergent is the first book in a trilogy by Roth. I'm currently reading Insurgent, book two in the series and I feel comfortable saying I'm going to enjoy it. All I ask Roth is please don't turn Beatrice into a love-sick traditional woman in the end without a believable transformation. Not that I have any objection to this idea (I'm quite traditional myself), but I hate perpetuating the myth of reliance on a man even within traditions. Don't let Beatrice become Katniss Everdeen - that's really all I'm asking.

For more about Veronica Roth, visit her blog at:  http://veronicarothbooks.blogspot.com/p/books.html

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