By: Cynthia Ayala
A review of Veronica Roth’s novel “Divergent” exploring the uniqueness of the novel, writing and the theme of identity versus social structure. Now, does this novel live up the hype that has turned it into a bestseller, or is it, at best, a mediocre take on the dystopian genre?
Published: April 22, 2011
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia
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. 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.
Divergent, the first novel in the Divergent series by Katherine Tegen Books on April 22, 2011, brought to life Veronica Roth fearful vision of the future. Roth explores a future in her novel where society is separate by factions that each pertain to the five main attributes that govern society: Dauntless, Abnegation, Erudite, Amity and Candor. Factions live strictly by their code, which enforces conformity. Nevertheless, there are those that do not fit into any specifications that have attributes to more than one attribution. This brings about the social structure; the need for searching for one’s identity that explores that governmental power should not have the power to strip away identity in order to keep order because it doesn’t matter, as the saying goes: those who have power seek the chance to use it.
Now, while this novel shares many themes with Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, it can’t be helped but be compared to it’s sister genre novel. For young adult readers, they have a chance to re-explore themes such as science fiction and dystopia as they follow Beatrice, the protagonist in the novel, as she seeks to understand who she is and face off when her life has been put into jeopardy by her inability to conform to society. See the similarities?
However, the similarities between the novels do not diminish the charm within this novel. For Beatrice, she is on a path of self-discovery as she tries to figure out just what being Divergent means, other than being different. Within her world, this new world, the Beatrice has to face challenges that push her to her brink, and forces her to face her inner demons contained. On her path of self-discovery, she is not alone and through her eyes, readers are able to understand the need to conform, allowing readers to look at society as it is now: subconsciously fit into factions. In reality you have the missionaries, the businessmen and women, the academics and the jocks. That is how society is fixed, but this novel tells readers that it’s okay to be more than one, and in that respect, it is an enlightening novel. While Beatrice is not as well written and structured as Katniss, Roth puts in a bit more vulnerability and naivety into her character, her strong will to see what is right versus wrong allows her character to really grab the reader. Readers are eager to find out why her being Divergent is so scary, although it’s not fully explain, through Jeanine and those like her, readers see why being a Divergent is so fearful for the societal structure within the novel.
A slow pace novel that pays strong attention to characterization and social structure that really is enlightening. ★★★☆☆ (B-)