Book Review | Divergent by Veronica Roth

9780062024039My wife and I both read Divergent this past week. It took me a few days to read, but my wife basically read it in one sitting. It’s a quick read.

I read it because I recently saw the trailer for the film based on the book. It looked a lot like The Hunger Games, which I enjoyed, so I gave it a shot.

Here’s the plot synopsis from the publisher’s page:

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, 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 to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating 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 a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

Since I read it due to its similarities to The Hunger Games, I will compare it primarily to that. Though they share some similarities in setting (dystopian future divided into factions) and main character (strong-willed teen girl trying to survive a oppresive regime), that’s where the similarities end.

Whereas Katniss Everdeen is primarily a selfish protagonist trapped in a love triangle, Beatrice Prior is aware of the feelings of those around her. This makes her character more instantly likeable, but at the same time, more prone to romantic tomfoolery. Perhaps because I have never been a teenage girl, I had trouble relating to her mixed up feelings when it came to the boys in the book.

One of the things that stood out to me as I read was how applicable the book was in dealing with the elements of faith. Though the book would not be found on any traditional Christian bookseller’s shelves, the content of this book would open a dialogue with readers to interact with Christianity’s versions of selflessness, bravery, honesty, peace, and intelligence.

But parents who might read that last sentence and run out to buy the book for their kids should also know that there are a lot of instances of violence between these pages, as well as murder, alcohol, and a brief episode of inappropriate touching. None of these things are glorified by any means, but you might not want your twelve-year-old daughter reading it all the same.

Divergent was a good book and a fine start to a series. I’m looking forward to reading book two, Insurgent, as soon as I can get a copy. That is, if my wife doesn’t beat me to it first.

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