Divergent clearly has thrills, but it also movingly explores a more common adolescent anxietythe painful realization that coming into one's own sometimes means leaving family behind, both ideologically and physically.
The New York Times
In this edgy debut (definitely not for the fainthearted), first in a trilogy, promising author Roth tells the riveting and complex story of a teenage girl forced to choose, at age 16, between her routinized, selfless family and the adventurous, unrestrained future she longs for. Beatrice "Tris" Prior lives in crumbling dystopian Chicago, where citizens are divided into five factions—Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, and Erudite—depending on their beliefs, passions, and loyalties. When Tris forsakes her Abnegation family to become one of the wild, fearless Dauntless, she must confront her deepest fears, learn to trust her fellow initiates, and guard the ominous secret that she is actually a Divergent, with the strengths of multiple factions, and is therefore a target of dangerously controlling leaders. Roth's descriptions of Tris's initiation process are as spellbinding as they are violent, while the tremulous romance between Tris and her protective and demanding instructor, Four, unfurls with heart-stopping tenderness. For those who loved The Hunger Games and are willing to brave the sometimes sadistic tests of strength and courage Tris must endure, the reward is a memorable, unpredictable journey from which it is nearly impossible to turn away. Ages 14–up. (May)
Beatrice Prior must make a decisionone that will change the course of her life forever. On Choosing Day each year, 16-year-olds across dystopian Chicago must devote themselves to one of five factions, each committed to the cultivation of a particular virtue. On one hand, Beatrice can remain in Abnegation and live a quiet life with her family; on the other, she can be true to herself and join a rival faction. Regardless of her choice, Beatrice must be careful not to divulge a secret she has been warned to keepa secret that can unravel society as she knows it. Amidst budding friendships and oft-confusing romance, Beatrice struggles to come to terms with the decisions she has made and their unimaginable consequences. Despite its similarity to other dystopian novels, Divergent's depiction of adolescence rings true. Growing up isn't easy, and growing up with a terrible secret is just plain hard. Reviewer: Alex Ivey
In a dystopian future, war-ravaged Chicago is divided into factions, each believing that there is a singular quality that will lead to a perfect society. At sixteen, teens must choose which faction they will join, and they are given a test to see what will be the best fit for them. Beatrice Prior received the results to her aptitude test only to discover that there is no one belief that guides her: she is wise, selfless, and brave. She is a divergent. Beatrice decides to leave her selfless abnegation family and undergo the rigorous and dangerous initiation required to become a dauntless warrior. When the erudite faction manipulates the dauntless into waging a war, only Beatrice and the other divergents will be able to stop them. Divergent is similar to Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games (Scholastic, 2008/VOYA October 2008): a dystopian future society divided into factions, with a young female protagonist who must fight in a war. While Divergent will attract fans of Hunger Games, Roth's nonstop action, excellent voice, and simple yet accessible writing style will draw in many new readers to the genre. The themes are particularly poignant for young adults trying to identify their place in the worldhaving the choice to follow in your parents' footsteps or do something new. The budding relationship between Beatrice and her trainer will entice those with a taste for romance as well as action. This is a fast-paced and fun read. Reviewer: Devin Burritt
Beatrice lives in a little community in Chicago. There are many unique decisions to make in her community. At age sixteen individuals have to make their biggest decision, one that determines their future. They must choose to join one of five different factions: Candor-honest, Abnegation-selfless, Dauntless-brave, Amity-peaceful, and Erudite-intelligent. The characters are believable people. The book is very thought out, and once you pick it up you want to know more. Reviewer: Leah Kihn, Teen Reviewer
Gr 9 Up—In a future Chicago, the population is divided into five factions—Abnegation, Candor, Dauntless, Erudite, and Amity—each of which believes its opposite is the root of human evil. Sixteen-year-olds are tested for aptitude and must choose whether to remain in their birth faction or select another. They are aided in this selection by a simulation in which their decisions indicate which faction best suits them. Occasionally, though, the simulation indicates multiple choices. These individuals, known as Divergents, are perceived as threats by leaders who want members to behave and think in specific ways. Beatrice Prior is a Divergent, born into the selfless Abnegation faction but fascinated by the outrageous Dauntless. She chooses to become an initiate there and leaves her family behind, little knowing the challenges she will face. Despite her slight build and her meek upbringing, she must demonstrate her courage in physical combat and in simulations designed to present her with her deepest fears. Only 10 initiates will be accepted, and there are those willing to let cruelty take the place of courage. Beatrice comes to realize that another faction plots against Abnegation and that it may take a Divergent to save them. Roth paints her canvas with the same brush as Suzanne Collins. The plot, scenes, and characters are different but the colors are the same and just as rich. Fans of Collins, dystopias, and strong female characters will love this novel.—Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Library, Wisconsin Rapids, WI
Cliques writ large take over in the first of a projected dystopian trilogy.
The remnant population of post-apocalyptic Chicago intended to cure civilization's failures by structuring society into five "factions," each dedicated to inculcating a specific virtue.When Tris, secretly a forbidden "Divergent," has to choose her official faction in her 16th year, she rejects her selfless Abnegation upbringing for the Dauntless, admiring their reckless bravery. But the vicious initiation process reveals that her new tribe has fallen from its original ideals, and that same rot seems to be spreading... Aside from the preposterous premise, this gritty, paranoid world is built with careful details and intriguing scope. The plot clips along at an addictive pace, with steady jolts of brutal violence and swoony romance. Despite the constant assurance that Tris is courageous, clever and kind, her own first-person narration displays a blank personality. No matter; all the "good" characters adore her and the "bad" are spiteful and jealous. Fans snared by the ratcheting suspense will be unable to resist speculating on their own factional allegiance; a few may go on to ponder the questions of loyalty and identity beneath the façade of thrilling adventure.
Guaranteed to fly off the shelves. (Science fiction. 14 & up)