My 2016 Reading Challenge continues with “a book I’ve been meaning to read,” Divergent, by Veronica Roth. This book has been on my shelf for awhile now. I’d intended to read it before I saw the movie, which is typically the way I prefer things. However, that did not happen this time. Still, even knowing something of how the story would play out, I thoroughly enjoyed this read.
Divergent is a distopian, science-fiction thriller written from the perspective of Tris, a sixteen year old girl living in a future Chicago. The society of this city-state has been divided into factions, each centered around a specific personality type. At the age of sixteen, each citizen must decide for themselves which faction they will join, the one they were born into, or one of the others. There is also a large population of “factionless” people, those who either don’t make it in their chosen faction or for some reason have chosen to leave their faction.
Roth does a masterful job of keeping the suspense high. Written in the first person and present tense, the narrative puts the reader right into the action as it happens. This lends an immediacy to the story, making it all but impossible not to turn the next page. And the next. Roth draws the reader in, inviting them to feel everything Tris is experiencing, from the blush of her first romantic feelings to the intense fear and grief of the traumatic events of the story. Yes, even the inexplicable insecurities all teenagers face in some form.
There are plenty of other characters, of course. We get to know Tris’s parents, Four, her trainer turned love interest, her fellow initiates in the Dauntless faction, and many others. Some of these people we like, and others we don’t. As a first person narrative, we only get to experience these others through Tris’s viewpoint. We see them the way she sees them, through her flawed vision of who these people are.
I feel that Roth has set up an intriguing premise. She’s placed her story in an intense and gritty environment and has provided plenty of specific details to put me right into the story. While I didn’t always agree with the things Tris did, or the reasons for her actions, the story is presented in such a way as to make me believe this is how Tris would, and should behave in the world Roth has put her in. And the ending, well it’s just about perfect.
As a debut novel, I think Divergent is phenomenal. I loved it, and couldn’t wait for more, jumping right into the next book in the series, Insurgent. (My thoughts on the entire trilogy to follow in a later post.) I look forward to what else Veronica Roth has to offer in the future.