Divergent faced an uphill battle to capture my interest because I’m not usually big on dystopias. The setting of the book didn’t quite grab me, but I liked the main character Beatrice, and decided to see where the story led. In this decayed future, a city of people have divided up into the factions that they see as being most virtuous. This leads to people being factionless too, and already this perfect world is straining with political problems because only one faction governs. Obviously, not everyone is going to be happy with that setup.
When the children from each faction turn sixteen, they are given a “simulation serum” that is supposed to assess which faction they belong with. Beatrice’s results are inconclusive, and she is told she is divergent, and that this is something she must keep secret. She is also told she must decide which faction she will go to, because her test results are inconclusive.
Beatrice chooses to leave her family and join the Dauntless faction, who prize bravery, but Beatrice also remains selfless as she was raised to be in the Abnegation faction. The book mainly follows her initiation into her faction, and Tris has to deal with bullies, and at one point with the betrayal of a friend. As her training progresses, she also begins to learn more about the connections between the Dauntless and Erudite factions, and she finds out why being divergent is so dangerous to the scheming faction leaders.
Beatrice’s story was so intense that I swept through the last 300 pages in one day. I like that she’s gifted but not totally unique. There are others like her, and while she is gifted, she isn’t super special either. I liked the cast around Beatrice, including her romantic interest Tobias, AKA: Four. Dauntless initiation is shown as a grim and terrifying ordeal, with failures becoming factionless. With failure not being an option, every test and rite of passage is tense, and the book hums along at wild pace.
The ending is a bit of a shock, and for once a dystopia doesn’t have my eye twitching over unlikely rescues, because lots of people didn’t get rescued. It’s kind of an ugly ending, but one that fits in with the rest of the story. It does set up well for the next book, and I’ll be looking to pick up Insurgent soon.
I give Divergent 4 stars, and recommend it to fans of dystopia YA. It’s not often that I drop everything to spend a full day and night reading, and while this wasn’t “the best book ever” it certainly kept me guessing to the end. The pages flew by fast, and I kept going, “Okay, just one more chapter.” Definitely qualified as a page-turner, and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.