My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Welcome to Post-Apocalyptic Chicago, where the trains never stop (even to take on or drop off passengers) , the streetlights go dark by midnight and Lake Michigan is now the Marsh. The surviving remnants of humanity think they’ve found the cure for war in the five factions: Amity (the peacemakers), Candor (the honest), Erudite (the scientific), Dauntless (the brave) and Abnegation (the self-less). Choose your path (for life) when you turn sixteen or live destitute among the faction-less, a fate worse than death for anyone raised in a faction.
We meet Beatrice as she approaches her sixteenth birthday, the day of her aptitude test, designed to help her decide what faction she will join. Raised in a prominent Abnegation family, she feels like a constant failure because she isn’t self-less enough. Beatrice struggles to be the first to serve others or lending a helping hand, not always thinking of others first as she’s been taught. Her aptitude test confirms her confusion, when the results are inconclusive and she’s labeled secretly by her helpful Dauntless tester as Divergent and advised never to tell anyone that she is.
At the Choosing Ceremony, Beatrice watches her brother, whom she considers a perfect living example of Abnegation, choose Erudite. Through this shock, she strives to select between Abnegation (and her family) or Dauntless (and never seeing her family again). She chooses Dauntless and soon Tris flies free, proving to herself and all her doubters that she believes in ‘ordinary acts of bravery, and in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another.’
The Dauntless initiation process taught Tris fighting skills, forging friends and enemies, and facing her fears. But her Divergence, her uniqueness, gave her the tools to fight for the helpless. For all her inner struggles with her perceived selfishness, Tris excels at self-sacrifice.
Many reviewers compared Divergent to The Hunger Games and I will grant some small similarity. But I liked Divergent much more for its intelligent plot, nice character development, affirmation of core values, re-iteration of corrupting influence of power (or the pursuit of controlling power) and I even enjoyed the innocent romance.
A very quick read (and hard to put down once you start) which I highly recommend Divergent to teens (and adults).