Honestly, I was not planning to read the Divergent series (crazy, I know). One of my friends told me how the third book ended, not knowing that I had been thinking about reading them, and then it just seemed sort of pointless to pick the first book up. One of my students was finishing the series though, and kept telling me I just HAD to read it. When I took my students to the library one week, there was a copy there so I picked it up. I like to read while my students do, modeling what good readers should be doing in the library. Needless to say, I could not put the book down, and I am incredibly happy that I did decide to read the series after all. You can find Divergent here and here.
In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue--Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is--she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are--and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, Tris also learns that her secret might help her save the ones she loves . . . or it might destroy her.
Short and Sweet? I believe that when I looked at this book in the bookstore, the cover said something like "for those who are fans of The Hunger Games." While obviously this is true, saying you would like another dystopian novel, I must say that the Divergent series is SO much better than The Hunger Games. If you liked THG, you will LOVE Divergent. The world that Veronica Roth has created in her series is amazing, and you slowly find out more and more about the world that Beatrice Prior lives in as you move through the three novels. The factions were obviously developed with much thought in mind, deciding on which human qualities needed to be developed and "fixed." The characterization is wonderful, and it is obvious that a lot of thought is given to even the smallest of characters throughout the novel. They all play their role, and they do so very well. Roth gives a wonderful revelation of a young girl trying to figure out where she truly belongs and who she is, all while trying to help save what is left of her world in the process.
Beatrice "Tris" Prior: When it comes to futuristic, dystopian novels, I believe that Roth has given us a wonderful female protagonist in Tris. It is wonderful to see this era of books coming forward that show the girls being the ones capable of saving the world (and without actually NEEDING the boy). While her relationship with Tobias in the book is amazing, it is obvious that she is strong on her own as well. I feel like this is something to admire in a female lead. Tris is flawed, there is no doubt there, but that just makes her character even more believable. We are allowed to see her inner struggles with figuring out where she belongs, deciding if she made the right decision on her faction, and ultimately doing what she has to in order to save those that she loves. Her lack of self-confidence is frustrating, but it also keeps you cheering for her character as the novel plays out.
Tobias "Four" Eaton: If I had to pick a favorite male character from a YA novel, Tobias would be at the top of that list. We first meet him as Four when Tris enters the Divergent cave, and he captures our attention right away. He has his eye on Tris from the very beginning, and it is wonderful to find it is due to her strength and bravery, and not just her looks. Tobias is complex, mysterious, and trouble. Unlike the "perfect" love interests we often seen in young adult novels, he has real issues and demons he has to deal with, and we get to see him struggle through them. In the novel, he reveals that everyone has fears, no matter how tough they may seem to be, and maybe that is not something to be ashamed of. Overall, I think that he is a great male character than anyone would want to read about.
As most of you probably know, there is a movie coming out for Divergent as well. It is due out in theaters on March 21st, and I cannot wait to see this one, either. They released the final official trailer last week, and it looks like they are going to do a wonderful job incorporating all of the big moments from the novel.