10 June, 2014

Book Review: Divergent

From Goodreads: 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, Tris also learns that her secret might help her save the ones she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Thoughts: It appears that dystopian fiction is the current YA trend. I find it fascinating to watch as a book for one genre takes off and then suddenly it's all you can find on the YA shelves. Invariably the pickings for quality become slim as the rush to ride the most recent wave takes over. Having loved Hunger Games, and then been disappointed with a few recent YA reads, I was reluctant to jump on this bandwagon. Then a friend said it was worth reading, reviews were generally good, so I put in on hold and waited to reach the top of a very long list.
I'm glad I read it, it was a good solid read and I will be reading the rest of the series.I'm glad YA is developing good, strong female characters who can look after themselves and don't go to pieces because someone sparkles at them. Sure, they like a bit of romance, who doesn't, but it's not the centre of their world. Instead, the centre of Tris' world is working out how to survive, how to be who she wants to be and how to protect those she holds dear. I loved her struggle between who she feels is her true self - dauntless - and the self everyone else sees her as - abnegation. I love that she gets knocked down and gets back up again and again and again. I love that she can think for herself. I love that it took her time to fall for the guy and it wasn't one single thundebolt moment that immediately sent her into a tailspin. 
If I have a criticism of the book it's the premise it is built on. As another review I read said, you can see how the world portrayed in the Hunger Games would come about, it's a bit harder to stretch to a Divergent world. However, if you can manage to look past that and just accept this is the way things are, you are in for a good YA read.