Divergent by Veronica Roth (May 3, 2011, Katherine Tegen Books)
Review by Kendra Zartmann
I never heard any pre-release news for Divergent by Veronica Roth. It was only because an awesome bookstore owner clued me in that I even picked up the book. She asked me to trust her, that Roth's writing style was spectacular and that she would be a big name by this time next year. I am so glad that she told me about this book and that I trusted her judgment*. I'm usually disappointed from books that are compared to big series, like The Hunger Games or Harry Potter, but Divergent definitely rose to the challenge. This book was utterly marvelous.
Divergent takes place in a world that is meant to be black and white and where shades of gray are not tolerated. There are five groups: Abnegation, Candor, Dauntless, Erudite, and Amity. Upon reaching adulthood, people are put through a test to see which group they belong to and are allowed to pick which one they'll spend the rest of their life in. Beatris was born an Abnegation, but quickly discovers she doesn't fit into any group fully and is told to hide the fact that she tested as a Divergent.
Upon choosing her house, Tris meets Four. Four and Tris immediately connect, but it isn’t until later that Tris figures out how they’re so similar. The answer leads her into the middle of a battle she never thought would happen.
The main character, Tris, is likable and realistic with her flaws and natural conflicting emotions. Roth focuses on the idea of being true to your own personality versus family loyalty in this novel, a problem that many teens have to go through. While Tris' mother is accepting of her change in house, Tris' father feels deep betrayal and refuses to talk to either of his children. Roth shows both possible outcomes of defying your parents' wishes in a realistic way, making the novel relate to teens who have experienced either situation.
Roth shows two characters who are divergents, rather than a whole group of them. While this does give readers the notion that no matter what they are going through, they aren't alone, it also has the issue of having to hide it among a large group that wouldn't understand. With a lack of more divergents in the book, it gives the punch of man versus society that some dystopian books are missing.
The plot develops with every chapter, never letting the reader put it down until every page has been read. I would sincerely recommend not picking up this book until you had a few hours to dedicate to reading the entire thing through because you would skip a class just to find out what would happen next. Roth's writing refuses to let you out of the grasp and makes you become Tris, a young girl who has to drag up courage out of no where and become a hero.
Divergent jumped from a book I had never heard about to one that would put into my top ten favorite books within a few hours. Just one read and you'll be craving to pick the book up again. But be warned, it's the first in the series, and the wait for the next one might just kill me, since it likely won’t be out until May 2012.
* Always listen to your librarians and booksellers. They know what books are awesome and give great recommendations.