Monday, October 1, 2012
Imagine a society completely torn apart by war. In the aftermath, trying to rebuild, the survivors are determined that such a thing never happen again. They decide to form a society that is divided into five factions, each faction based on a virtue that will benefit the group as a whole. These factions are Candor, Amity, Abnegation, Dauntless and Erudite. Children are born into these families and are are taught to embrace their faction's unique qualities, but when they turn sixteen, they can choose which faction they wish to belong to. Such a choice isn't a light matter: if they choose a different faction from their family, from that day on they belong to a new family, and while they can see their family members occasionally, they no longer live together.
The book opens just as Tris is about to take the test, the one that says which faction she is the most suited to - although in the end, she is the one to choose where she will belong. She and her family belong to Abnegation, a faction that is dedicated to putting the needs of others before the needs of oneself. This is the faction that runs the government, for it is the least corruptible.
Tris isn't sure which faction she is going to choose. She feels ill-suited to Abnegation. She finds that she is impatient and selfish, and that the selfless behavior of her parents and brother appears to come so much more naturally to them than it does to her. She is nervous going into her test, but what she discovers there is that she has characteristics that would make her suited to several different factions, unlike most of the population. This fact, she is told, must be kept secret - and soon she discovers that if it becomes known that her test revealed her as "divergent," she would be at great risk. She has an important choice to make, and when she finally decides, she can't begin to imagine the consequences that result.
This was a very gripping read. The world-building wasn't as detailed and believable as I would have liked, but my reservations fell by the wayside as I became caught up in Tris's action-packed tale. She is a thoroughly likable character that readers will be sure to root for, and the story's twists and turns made it difficult for me to set the book down. While as a rule I don't care much for novels written in the present tense (it makes them feel contrived and somehow less believable to me), it didn't take me too long to forget about that and concentrate on the story. I enjoyed this book very much, but I did have a few problems with points in the plot that seemed to sacrifice believable motivation to make the story go in a certain direction. One of these moments had to do with Tris behaving in an unbelievably heartless way when there seemed to be an alternative that she could have taken, and the other involved the villain, who could have easily done away with the opposition instead of having the diabolical plan that gave the victims convenient escape opportunities. Still, I found the premise to be compelling, and I am very much looking forward to the sequel.
Books in the Insurgent trilogy:
Divergent (#1 in the Insurgent trilogy) by Veronica Roth (Katherine Tegen Books, 2011)
Also reviewed at:
Beyond Books: "I was completely immersed in the story and I just couldn't stop because every page was a new discovery!"
Bloody Bookaholic: "I loved it for most of the book, and then I hated it. But then I sort of looked back towards the first pages and loved it again, and I think that it still has hope for the future."
Presenting Lenore: "It’s a high-stakes, clever, compelling novel and I can’t wait to continue Tris’ journey in book two."