Dystopian novels, I love them. I’m not sure if it’s my rabid love of science fiction or the allure of underdogs rising up against a corrupt system, but something inside my brain shouts with glee when I’m reading something futuristic and very non-Utopian.
My latest read in this genre was Divergent, by Veronica Roth. Set in Chicago, in an unnamed time in the future, teenager Beatrice Prior has to choose between her family and the life she has always wanted. In this new society citizens are divided into factions. Each faction lives and instills a quality they believe is the most important for living peacefully. Beatrice belongs to the Abnegation. This faction values selflessness above all else. Other factions include Dauntless (bravery), Candor (honesty), Erudite (knowledge) and Amity (friendliness/peacemaking). When a child turns 16, they undergo a test to see which faction is their best fit. Despite the test results, the teens can choose any faction they want, knowing that if they choose a faction away from their family, it means rarely or never seeing their family again. Heavy stuff, but interesting.
Beatrice knows she doesn’t truly belong in her faction, but she doesn’t know where she wants to go. She’s drawn to the Dauntless because of their freedom, but she doesn’t know what to choose. Worst of all, in her initial testing she is Divergent, meaning she possesses traits from each faction. Divergents are deemed dangerous my members of every faction because they can disrupt the order of the factions. Told to keep her true nature a secret, she chooses Dauntless and begins to undergo their initiation process.
I don’t want to spoil the story, so I won’t include any other details. Suffice it to say, it was brilliant. I loved the character of Beatrice or Tris as she is known to her fellow Dauntless. She is an everywoman in a world of one-dimensional thinkers. She is dangerous. She is brave. She is selfless. She is smart. She is divergent and different. Roth did a remarkable job with creating characters and weaving an intelligent and interesting plot. As a debut novel, Roth hit her stride early and I’m looking forward to reading the next in the Divergent series, Insurgent.