Author: Veronica Roth
Genre: Dystopian Young Adult
Release Date: 05/03/11
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In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, 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 to determine who her friends really are -- and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating 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 a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves... or it might destroy her.
Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series -- dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.
Plot: 4 Stars
The idea of the five factions was a very interesting take on the dystopian genre of Young Adult. I admit that I haven't read that many dystopian novels, but the idea of classifying all people into one of the five virtues was very interesting. The interactions between the factions, and learning which ones got along and which ones did not, were very interesting and helped when describing the different factions. The technology used within this novel was one of my favorite parts. I enjoyed the simulations that were used both to help the teenagers choose a faction and for training. It also played a pivotal role in the conflict at the end of the novel that caught me completely by surprise. There were a few hints here and there throughout the novel, but I was still surprised by the turn that the novel took and really look forward to the next installment. My one tiny criticism is that I wanted more information about what happened in the past that shaped society into these five factions. I also wondered if the whole country followed these ideals, or just Chicago. Hopefully the next novel will include more history to help round out the series.
Pace: 4.5 Stars
For such a large novel, it blew by so quickly. I actually stayed up past one a.m. the night before we left for Memphis (and had to get up at five a.m.) because I had to finish it right then. This novel grabbed me right from the start and didn't let go. The author had a way of giving just enough detail or a small hint of something to come that left me unable to put the book down. I kept telling myself "one more chapter" instead of going to sleep or making dinner. It's been a while since I've had to force myself to put down a book in order to feed myself or sleep. And I chose not to read on my breaks at work so that I wouldn't lose track of time and forget to clock back in. There was never a dull moment as Tris and her fellow initiates dove headfirst into their future.
Characters: 4.5 Stars
One of the best parts of this novel was the great cast of characters. There was a large number of characters, and we get to know each and every one. There are transfer initiates, the non-transfer initiates, trainers, and family members. But each of these characters we meet along the way feel very real. Although we really get to know a large number of characters, there is never too much information given at one time. We get to know these characters as the story progresses. Tris was an awesome main character. She was strong and brave, but still vulnerable, and all around likeable. Christina was also a great character, although she did occasionally talk down to Tris due to her small stature. There was also a group of initiates that were enemies to Tris' group, and they were pretty evil for sixteen year olds. The trainers were complete opposites, so you never knew how their training was going to go. Four was my favorite character, even if he was a bit too mysterious at times. I liked that he was tough on the intiates without being a jerk. I wish we could've learned more about Tris' family, but there's always future novels.
Cover: 4.5 Stars
Normally, cover similiar to this one don't really do much for me, but the boldness of this particular cover continues to draw my eye in (which is obviously the point). The title is very large and very bold, and the font choice really fits the society we are introduced to within the novel. The symbol in flames on the cover immediately drew my eye, and I wanted to know what it stood for. I won't give it away, but I will say that we do learn the meaning for both the title and the symbol. The cityscape at the bottom of the cover, when mixed with the title and symbol, help convey that this is a dystopian novel. The sky blue of the cover is a great color, but the royal blue of the actual book once the jacket is removed was a nice surprise. I assumed it would be black. The symbol is also on the actual book, which is a nice touch. While it would've been nice to see Tris on the cover, including the model probably would've muddled the cover a bit.
Overall: 4.5 Stars
Disclosure: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher through Authors on the Web.