Divergent is set in Chicago in the future, where the people there have divided into five factions, each dedicated to a particular virtue:
- Abnegation (selflessness)
- Amity (peace)
- Candor (honesty)
- Dauntless (courage)
- Erudite (knowledge)
Each year, all 16-year-olds get to choose whether to spend their lives in the factions they grew up in or switch to a different faction. The book’s main character, Beatrice Prior, has to decide whether to be selfless and remain with her family in Abnegation or to make the more selfish choice to go elsewhere.
I liked Divergent, but the premise is a bit unrealistic. To prevent evil in the world, their ancestors thought it would be best to segregate themselves and each embrace only one admirable quality. So unlike The Handmaid’s Tale, which was scary in its plausibility, I think Divergent was going more for entertainment value.
I also felt that the romance subplot cheapened it. What could have been a strong, female lead character was replaced by a semi-strong and occasionally oblivious girl who gets saved a lot by her romantic authority figure. Then again, Tris is a 16-year-old girl and this is a young adult book. *Shrugs*
That said, Divergent was an action-packed, quick, fun, and easy read. It’s almost 500 pages long, but I blew through it in just a few days. If you like the Hunger Games series, I’d recommend giving Divergent a read (though I liked Hunger Games better). I’m curious about what life is like outside of Chicago, so I’m hoping one or both of the other two books in the trilogy expand on that.
After seeing the trailer, there are two main things that bug me. First, Tris has an awful lot of makeup on for being Abnegation. She’s only allowed a brief look in the mirror every three months and I’m pretty sure the Abnegation would see makeup as self-indulgent. Second, Four looks way too old and a lot more tough and physically attractive than I imagined. In the books, Four was modest and vulnerable once you got past the “strict leader” front. I’m really having a hard time seeing the guy in the trailer as Four, but maybe the movie will change my mind. I’ll just have to wait and see.