Thursday, June 9, 2011
YA FICTION: Divergent by Veronica Roth
I am continuing on with my dystopian fiction, am on a roll, and loving it! Divergent is more violent and along the lines of The Hunger Games rather than Delirium. Not as good as Suzanne Collin's novel, but it's pretty damn good. Divergent is set in a future Chicago where humans are separated into factions, five of them. You're either honest, brave, intelligent, peaceful or selfless.(There's also the factionless, those who live on the edge of society's acceptance: ie. the janitors, garbage collectors, the homeless.)
Beatrice, who will eventually change her name to Tris, was raised selfless, except she doesn't feel like that, so when it comes time to choose a faction that she wants to belong to she goes for the brave one, Dauntless, which ultimately is the violent one. But what she finds out when she is tested as to what faction would best suit her is that she is something called Divergent, and those are people who can blend into more than one faction. They have more options, and are considered dangerous by some, hence why Tris is told to keep it a secret or she could die.
She leaves the Abnegation faction, her father horrified by her betrayal (and it's a double whammy for the family when her brother, Caleb, chooses to leave to become an Erudite, the smart ones), and it's not until she fully immerses herself in the Dauntless initiation that she discovers what's really going on, and it's not pretty.
Tris is deeply flawed, and at times unlikable, which makes me like her more in a way. She reminds me a bit of Katniss in The Hunger Games (although Katniss is a stronger character). There is some romance as well, but it doesn't distract too much from the main action, it blends well together. And the passage depicting the blooms of first love are well written and the butterflies of young love springs from the page. I like that Tris doesn't know what she's feeling. It makes her realistic. A flawed character is the best kind of character to relate to, especially since most of us are covered in flaws.
The book, as most of these dystopian books are, is Part One of a trilogy. I am looking forward to where Roth is taking us with this series. Is it the most original YA story out there? No. Does it feel, at times, like it wants to be like The Hunger Games? Yes. But ideas and book publishers have different timelines, and I believe that no idea is really truly ever original. It's all about the implementation of the idea that counts. And this novel is well written, and feels honest.
If you like YA fiction about dystopian futures that have violence, and romance, and war then this book is for you.