Beatrice Prior lives in Abnegation, one of five factions in a dystopian Chicago, and it is all she’s ever known. Everyone wears gray and are only allowed to look in a mirror on the second day of every third month. Their goal is to live in a complete state of selflessness. She has just turned sixteen and is old enough to participate in the Choosing Ceremony where she and other young adults decide which faction they want to live in. Abnegation is where everyone puts others before themselves, the Erudite are studious, the Candor are honest, the Amity are peaceful and the Dauntless are fearless.
An aptitude test before the ceremony tells Beatrice she is Divergent, which means she has character traits to thrive in more than one faction. She doesn’t understand what this means, but is warned that she must never mention her test results to anyone and live as if she is simply just selfless, studious, honest or fearless. She must choose one faction and forget what she truly is.
Most young adults choose the faction they are from so when Beatrice chooses Dauntless and her brother, Caleb, chooses Erudite, her father is devastated. Not meaning to hurt her family, Beatrice just fears she isn’t selfless enough to be Abnegation her entire life.
Thrown into a world of jumping out of trains and off of buildings, Beatrice learns quickly that the swift are the ones who survive and fearless is defined differently by different people. She makes friends and enemies as a Dauntless and before long must decide who is truly her family – blood relatives or faction?
Divergent is full of twists and turns with a fascinating story and a world that can be hard to understand at times. The powers that be believe that by separating people into factions, they can bring out the best in everyone, depleting the world of corruption. But as Beatrice’s mother puts it, “Human beings as a whole cannot be good for long before the bad creeps back in and poisons us again.”
With a fast pace and unusual plot line, Divergent is an exciting read. My only complaint is that I didn’t connect with Beatrice’s character until over halfway through the book. I liked her, but I couldn’t grasp what motivated her exactly. She was comfortable and happy in Abnegation and loved her family, so I didn’t completely understand her choice of Dauntless. By the end of the book, she was a character I could understand and was intrigued by the constant struggle of her true nature which ends up a combination of a strong, fierce soldier who would do anything to protect those she loves, and a truly selfless young woman wanting only peace for her family and her world.
Rated PG13: Violence and adult themes. I would let my fourteen year old read this, but would dialogue with her about it. The book has a fairly violent ending and the teens involved in the story talk about whether they want to have sex or not.
Book provided by the reviewer. Thank you!