Book Review + Giveaway: Divergent

Author: Veronica Roth
Published: Katherine Tegen Books (May 3, 2011)
Audience: Young Adult
Source: For Review, Also purchased a copy
Young Adult * Dystopian

Description from Goodreads:

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.

Firstly, I want to mention that it's not my habit to compare all YA dystopians to The Hunger Games series (just like I don't try to compare all YA paranormal romances to Twilight). That being said, if you're looking for a YA dystopian that matches the intensity and high stakes of Suzanne Collins' series, then Divergent is the series for you. This is the exciting first installment in what looks to be a very exciting new trilogy. I loved Divergent right from the start. One of the really outstanding features that makes this series better than some others that I've read is Veronica Roth's spectacular world-building. The government and societal structure is so well explained and elaborate. I loved how everyone is divided into one of five factions -- Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, and Erudite -- and your faction is more important than your family. Sometimes I find that stories really develop characters, while the world the characters live in is under-developed; but this world is well thought out and complex. Instead of just one corrupt government, there are five different factions, therefore five different groups with five different stories. You never know who to trust, which makes it very exciting.

Divergent isn't all about a cool concept, though. The characters are really fabulous, people you can really empathize with and root for. Tris, the protagonist, is very tough and headstrong, making her a very strong female lead. She, along with her friends Christina, Will, and Al, faces a dangerous initiation into her new faction and learns that something isn't right with all the factions... and that something might not be so right with her either. All of the characters are multi-dimensional and well-developed. I can feel the insecurity masked by bravado when Tris does something stupid and I can sympathize with her friends when they say harsh things to her out of jealousy. They all had interesting back stories and secrets. I especially loved Tris' mother and brother, who were so richly characterized. The characters felt like such real people in Divergent that sometimes I even got a little annoyed with their actions, but I really appreciated the realness of them.

My favorite character, though, was Four, Tris' instructor, who helps her through her initiation. I loved every scene Four and Tris shared; there is always so much tension between the two of them -- good and bad. Four was my favorite because he wasn't a brooding romantic lead, but an intelligent, talented male character with several secrets, like how he got the nickname Four, and who he was before he became 'Four.'

Divergent does a nice job of including some romance in an otherwise adventurous, heart-pounding thriller without overwhelming the story with sappy moments. For that reason, I definitely think that Divergent will be enjoyed by both boys and girls. The stakes are high and the author isn't afraid to take risks. Several important and interesting characters die and the novel ends on a high note, making the wait for its sequel, Insurgent, nearly unbearable. I highly recommend this novel... it has been one of my favorite reads of 2011 so far.

 Veronica Roth is only 22, so her bio will be short. She’s from a Chicago suburb. She studied creative writing at Northwestern University, and wrote Divergent, her YA dystopian thriller (Katherine Tegen Books, May 2011!), while she was supposed to be doing homework. This was a decidedly good choice that will unfortunately make it difficult for her to someday lecture her future children on how important it is to get your homework done. You can follow her on twitter: @VeronicaRoth or on her blog:

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1. Please do not enter any personal information in the comments section (it will be deleted if you do), you must complete the Entry Form to officially enter the contest.
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