Divergent by Veronica Roth
In this YA dystopia novel, a future society is organized into “factions,” groups that live together and have common values. Tris, the narrator, grew up in the Abnegation faction, which values selflessness, but chooses to join Dauntless, the fearless group of daredevils, after her aptitude test shows her to be Divergent, meaning that she has an aptitude for more than one faction. Most of the action of the novel is concerned with Tris’s training and initiation into the Dauntless faction. Tris and her friends discover corruption underneath the surface of the faction system’s government, a coup using the Dauntless as mind-controlled soldiers to take out the entire Abnegation faction. The faction system and the training “simulations” can really make a reader think about values, fears, and the meaning of bravery.
There’s also a compelling love story between Tris and her trainer, Four, AKA Tobias. He’s only 2 years older and makes a conscious effort not to abuse his position of power, though it does necessitate some sneaking around. Tris overreacts to some of the drama of establishing their relationship, in a way that can be expected in a YA novel, interpreting the slightest hint of anything negative as a cruel rejection. There’s the required “You can’t like me because I’m not even pretty” “Yes, you’re pretty, and it’s who you are inside that’s really important anyway” conversation. As tired and overdone as this is, I liked the couple because it was so clear that they fit so well together because their values were so well-aligned.
The novel’s climax is truly exciting, and Roth shows that she has the guts to break her characters’ hearts. The ending is pretty open, as Tris and her family and friends flee the city in chaos. I’m looking forward to the sequel, Insurgent.