Divergent – Veronica Roth
HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2011
The city where Beatrice Prior grew up is its own small and broken world, occupied by five radically different factions working together in a fragile harmony. When Beatrice turns sixteen, it is time for her to choose her place in that world. To stay with her family and the familiar frustrations of their life in Abnegation, or leave it all behind to join another faction where the rules are utterly unknown and she is nothing more than an expendable, unproven initiate. Whatever choice she makes will allow her to redefine her own identity, but Beatrice is already something different: she is Divergent. Now all she has to do is find out what the hell that means.
Dystopian America is a popular setting for YA fiction at present, with big titles like Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy gaining international attention. The setting for Divergent initially seemed to me to be too simplistic, but over the course of the book Roth builds an impressive complexity in both her world and her characters. Beatrice, later Tris, is a strong protagonist and her voice propels the story forward at an excellent pace, but it’s secondary characters like Christina, Will and Al who make Roth’s world so convincing. Divergent is a fierce, punchy read, unafraid of going to dark places, but there’s humour and heart here as well. Many thanks to the woman who recommended this book to me at Logan Hyperdome Library earlier this year, you have good taste! The series continues with Insurgent.