“We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another.”
Beatrice Prior lives in a dystopian Chicago where everyone in society is divided into five factions. Each faction is dedicated to the cultivation of a specific virtue. They are: Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). Every year, at the age of sixteen, children must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. Beatrice’s family is in Abnegation, but when shes tested she finds out that she can be one of many virtues and she must pick for herself. She has to choose between her family and being true to who she thinks she is.
Not to give too much away, Beatrice obviously leaves her family’s virtue to pursue another (or else really, what would we be reading about?) which puts her on a path of independence and self exploration. Luckily for us, she picks a virtue that encourages a lot of crazy adventures and adrenaline filled moments. In the virtue she picks, they must prove themselves through a series of tests and feats. These moments are exhilarating to experience with Beatrice as she pushes herself to her limits. In the larger story, there is dissent and corruption in the factions which will challenge Beatrice to help break or save the world she lives in.
Divergent was definitely a page turner and great fun to read. To be honest, this isn’t a book I’ll treasure on my bookshelves or read again someday, but it is well written and engrossing to the end. If you aren’t a diehard YA fan, I’d suggest picking it up at the library rather than buying a copy. I know we have more coming in this series and I’m interested to see where she takes her characters in the next couple books.
The characters are interesting, multifaceted beings with the same strengths and flaws as most humans despite their attempts to fulfill only one virtue. The world they grew up in is intriguing in all its stringent rules and one-sided ideals. It is even more interesting as it decomposes when the virtues are corrupted. Roth’s book well describes the struggle it can be to be a good person in comparison to just making ‘good’ choices. What is the difference between being brave in ignorance and knowing fear? What is the difference between being kind because we mean it and being kind out of obligation?
Have you ever had someone ask you to describe yourself in one word and you weren’t sure what to say? Maybe on an awkward date or one of those really annoying job interviews with 200 questions? This book reminded me of that question. It strives to show us why we are so much more than that one word we are sometimes asked to squeeze into.
Divergent emphasizes that despite our best attempts to fill an ideal, we are more than that. We are human. We are cruel, we are loving, we are brave, we are cowards, we are kind, we are stupid, we are intelligent and above all.. we are fallible. It is one of the few truths we have.