By Jenny Jiao, ’13
A new society, a corrupt government, an impending rebellion, a courageous heroine— Veronica Roth’s Divergent has all the pieces for a typical dystopian novel. This book won #1 Teens Top Ten Vote and received 4.4 stars on GoodReads, capturing its young adult audience with the thrill of a new world, but also the challenges of the typical teen.
Set in dystopian Chicago, society is split within 5 factions, each dedicated to preserving one virtue— Abnegation (selflessness), Candor (honesty), Amity (peace), Erudite (intelligence), and Dauntless (bravery). The main character, Beatrice Prior, chooses to abandon her family and friends in Abnegation to pursue her identity in Dauntless. She undergoes a brutal initiation process, suffering physical and mental abuse, while discovering friendship, love, and sacrifice. As Beatrice endures fights, mind-manipulating serums, and a harsh leader, she uncovers secrets to herself, her family, and her society, forcing important decisions and inciting danger.
Roth avidly develops Divergent, weaving intricate side stories into the central plotline, with each character and action carefully placed to build onto the reader’s understanding and intrigue. The suspense and thrill of this novel maintain attention, but it’s the evocative imagery that places readers right in the middle of the action. Beatrice participates in an initiation event, where she rides a zipline down an 100 story building. Roth describes the scene, “I can imagine, up here, how the marsh looked when it was full of water, like liquid steel as it reflected the color of the sky. My heart beats so hard it hurts, and I can’t scream and I can’t breathe, but I also feel everything, every vein and every fiber, every bone and every nerve, all awake and buzzing in my body as if charged with electricity. I am pure adrenaline.” Her clear imagery of the surroundings matched with the description of Beatrice’s feeling serves to capture the reader in that very moment.
Despite its similarity to The Hunger Games, Divergent is able to incorporate some different themes into its plotline. While it touches upon the abuse of power and technology like Hunger Games, Divergent showcases the dangers of valuing one trait over another. The faction society Roth creates leads the reader to realize focusing on only one virtue can be detrimental to society. The characters encounter situations where honesty becomes cruel, bravery becomes malicious and intelligence becomes abused. Divergent seeks to teach its young adult audience the importance of balancing all the virtues in a cleverly concocted dystopian novel.
Divergent’s movie rights were purchased by Red Wagon Entertainment, and is currently in post-production. The movie is set to release March 21, 2014, with Shailene Woodley playing Beatrice Prior. As Divergent grows more popular among teenagers, the movie is sure to attract a full theater audience.
Image Courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers