Sunday, 24 April 2011

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

My edition: Paperback, published in 2011 by HarperCollins, 487 pages

Description: One choice decides your friends, defines your beliefs and determines your loyalties... forever.

One choice can transform you.

In Veronica Roth's debut novel, Divergent, a perfect society unfolds into a dystopian world of electrifying decisions, stunning consequences, heartbreaking bertrayals and unexpected romance.

Review:

The city previously known as Chicago, and assumingly the entire world though we have yet to glimpse behind the gates surrounding the city, is divided in five factions. These factions represent the virtues that the people within these parts hold most important. Abnegations treasure selflessness, the people in Candor pride themselves in being honest, those in Amity value peace, the Erudite seek knowledge and the people in Dauntless are daredevils that put bravery above all else. Those that do not belong to any of these are the factionless and they wander the streets in between the factions; homeless and begging for a scrap of food.

At the age of 16 the children of this world undergo testing which will define which one of the five factions would be most suitable for them to spend the rest of their lives in. Though the results are a a mere advise as it's up to the children themselves to decide if they will stay in the faction they grew up in or change to one of the four others. Choosing factions means having to go through an initiation process (which upon failure can, depending on which faction you want to join, lead to death or becoming factionless) and when changing factions you have to leave your former friends and family members behind. "Faction above blood", is the motto after all.

And this is where we meet our main character Beatrice, an Abnegation struggling with the decision as to which faction to pick. She hopes that the test results will make the choice easier but unfortunately the exact opposite is the case when she's classified as the rare sixth option: Divergent. For reasons yet to be clarified at this stage this result is extremely dangerous for her so the test is deleted from the computer system and instead put in manually by her instructor - leaving Beatrice to make the choice all on her own and with an extra, possibly lethal, secret to keep.

I do not mind the fact that the dystopian genre seems to have exploded in the past few years and everyone and their gold fish is trying to cash in on the hype by writing their own little versions when as a result of such every now and again a wonderful novel like Divergent comes around. I wouldn't go as far as to say that the book is perfect or OMG THE BEST BOOK EVER!!1! but the world it's set in is endlessly fascinating and had me hooked from the start. Even though I do not understand the reasoning from main character Tris for the faction she eventually decides on - quite possibly because it would be the one I am least attracted to myself - that is not a problem as each of the different factions have something special and intriguing about them that can lure the reader in. The history of how the factions came to be, their differences and the inevitable doom hanging over everyone's head (because the seemingly perfect worlds within this genre are always nothing but a mirage for the trouble brewing underneath) makes for an amazingly complex and interesting story, one I can not wait to uncover a little bit more in the next book.

10/10

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