REVIEW by @GinnyLurcock: Divergent By Veronica Roth (@VeronicaRoth)

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, 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 alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating 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 unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

So I have 450+ books on my to-read list, and picking a new book has become something of a chore for me.  When I last found myself faced with this daunting task (no future pun intended) and was looking for something in the young adult market, I went with Divergent, mainly because it was the Favorite book of 2011 on the goodreads choice awards.
I found it hard to get into Divergent, and it took me awhile to figure out why.  I was listening to the audio book at work, and kept stopping it to tell my friend “I don’t know, there’s just something about it that irks me” like she was going to have all the answers.  I honestly think that if I’d been physically reading it, I would’ve figured it out sooner.  The book is in first person present, which I always find jarring at first.  Once you get used to it, it can be great, but man does it take me awhile.
The book is a dystopian novel where everyone has to pick one ideology at 16 and live with that decision.  Just picture that for a moment, deciding your fate at 16, and then living with it.  I know that some people couldn’t get around that, or the fact that their society expects you to have one and only one virtue, that it’s an utterly foreign concept on how a society should act, but that’s sort of the meaning of a Dystopia.
Beatrice can’t decide if she’s selfless or brave, but in the end, she chooses to be brave and joins Dauntless.  (Hence my apology for my unintended previous pun).  During her initiation, she constantly wonders if she made the right decision.  Dauntless initiation reminds me of military boot camp and hazing.  But like the bad kind that they outlawed.  They suffer pain for the sake of pain to toughen them up.  Really, it’s to control their bodies fearful reaction to pain, though I’m sure it doesn’t feel that way when you’re living it.  If you already know what it feels like to be punched, perhaps you won’t flinch from one.  They force you to face your fears through computer simulations, making you find a way to overcome them.  As a warning, while the violence in the book is mild by today’s standards, I’m sure many would find the physical and mental er… “conditioning” that is part of their initiation to be unpleasant.  Keep that in mind before choosing to read Divergent.
As she progresses through her training, Tris also discovers that the world isn’t quite what she imagined it was.  Without giving anything away, I think it’s summed up pretty well by my favorite line of the book:  “Human beings as a whole cannot be good for long before the bad creeps back in and poisons us again.”
I really enjoyed this book.   Tris isn’t perfect, but that’s what makes her a believable character.  She’s determined, and brave, and selfless, and… ok… sometimes a little dense, especially when it comes to boys… which actually did make me want to slap her more often than not… Wait, where was I going with this?  Aside from the obvious obtuseness in regards to her main love interest, I found myself wanting more at the end, and eagerly awaiting the sequel.
4.5 stars!

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