I graduated from college with a degree in Creative Writing. When I initially enrolled in the program, I stood out from the other would-be writers around me. They had dreams of writing the next great American novel, a la Hemingway or Faulkner. I, on the other hand, wanted to see my name on the cover of a red smutty Harlequin novel. Nothing fancy for me—I wanted to write pure fun!
Fast forward a few years from college, and I’m doing anything but writing for Harlequin. Sure I still have the passion, but little things like paying for student loans, maintaining a house, and keeping food on the table have required me to be more realistic about my career. While I’m very happy with where my life is at now, I still sometimes feel a little twinge when I read phrases like “recently graduated from blah blah with a degree in creative writing” on a debut author’s book jacket. Yes, jealousy green is not the best color on me, but I can’t help feeling that way.
Jealousy is replaced by awe, though, when I read a book by an author who is able to completely captivate me from beginning to end, and never let me fully catch my breath. Veronica Roth and her debut Divergent are one such author and book pair. Her take on a dystopian future with a YA twist is a thrill ride, and I loved every minute!
Beatrice Prior has reached a very important milestone: she’s at her choosing day, where she must decide if she wants to stay in her faction or move to another one. Beatrice was born into Abnegation, a faction which believes in selflessness above anything else. Her other options are, Amity believes in kindness, Erudite believes in intelligence, Candor believes in honesty, and Dauntless believes in bravery. If she doesn’t choose a faction, or gets kicked out of the one she does choose, Beatrice will end up factionless, living a poor life doing menial labor.
At her test day, Beatrice discovers she’s a “Divergent.” She’s told never to tell anyone that result as it could be dangerous, but she isn’t told why. During the Choosing Ceremony, Beatrice surprises even herself by abandoning her Abnegation family and going to the Dauntless faction. There, she changes her name and becomes Tris. Even though she tries to be brave, including being the first one to attempt an initiation ritual, she sometimes finds herself having trouble adjusting to the new life style.
Four, one of the recruit trainers, plays hot and cold with Tris. Some days he’s really there for her, helping her learn her way in a strange place. Other days he pulls away from her, acting as if he can’t stand her. The other recruits aren’t all friendly with Tris either, some disliking her because her scores keep her near the top of the leader board and others jealous of the attention she gets from Four.
As if learning how to be in a new faction wasn’t enough pressure, Tris soon learns things aren’t exactly what they seem in their world. She attempts to figure out exactly what’s going on, and is eventually able to recruit Four to her side. Their relationship grows, and she finds herself caring for her teacher.
There’s so many more twist and turns in this book, but to talk about them would give away key plot points that are exciting to learn along the way. All I’ll say is this is the start of a trilogy, and you’ll definitely be left ready to see how the story continues.
My favorite character in the book was Four—he was complex, fully developed, and likeable, even when being unlikeable. There were scenes were I felt very attracted to him, and understood the draw Tris felt toward him. There were also scenes were I felt so much pain for him it was almost unbearable, but seeing him come through it was exciting.
I really enjoyed Divergent and I’m definitely looking forward to the rest of the trilogy. I have an idea of how I’d like to see Tris’ story progress, but I have a feeling the path Veronica Roth plans on taking is even better than what I’m envisioning!
To learn more about Veronica Roth, check out the author interview I did with her at http://brodartvibe.wordpress.com/2011/04/27/author-interview-3/