So a couple of weeks ago I flipped on HBO and there was this movie on. I had been sort of intrigued by it when it originally came out in theaters, but not enough to spend 12 bucks (or more) on. So I stopped channel flipping and watched. And was really, really intrigued. Enough so that I went right to Amazon and bought the book it was based on, Divergent by Veronica Roth.
Dystopian fiction isn’t really something I read all that often. The blurb or first couple chapters has to really grab me. Well this one grabbed me. I found the idea of the factions based on personality traits as opposed to societal roles rather interesting. Granted each faction had pretty set jobs they could do, but that wasn’t really the main purpose of those factions. The serums were a pretty cool piece of tech as well.
There are four factions: Erudite (who prize intelligence), Candor (who prize honesty), Dauntless (who prize courage) and Abnegation (who prize selflessness). The idea is that when you come of age, you undergo a simulation that will test which faction you belong to. There is then a sorting ceremony (Sorry folks, no singing hat here) in which you make your final choice. Most people tend to stay with the faction they’re born into but some choose to transfer, like our protagonist Tris Prior.
Tris was born into Abnegation but is a rare, fairly self aware sixteen year old. She know that the life of Abnegation is not for her because she is far too selfish for it. The trouble is, her test comes back with three results: Abnegation, Dauntless and Erudite. Usually the test comes back with one result. Her test taker warns her to be careful, that there are those who would kill her for being different.
Even so, Tris transfers to Dauntless, where danger is rife simply because they’re Dauntless. They jump on and off trains, they jump of roofs, they zip line from the tallest building in the city. All in all, they’re a bit of a crazy faction since they are, in effect, the city’s peace keeping force.
Each faction has their own initiation rites. Dauntless initiation takes place over a number of weeks and includes fighting, knife throwing and fear simulations. If you can’t make the cut, then you become one of the dreaded factionless. Being factionless in this world is sort of a cross between being homeless and being a minimum wage worker. All of the crap jobs the factioned people don’t have time for or want to do go to the factionless. In exchange they get food and clothing, and usually not enough of either.
Tris battles her way through Dauntless training, dodging people who want to kill her for any number of reasons (some of them exceedingly stupid like being better at fear sims than they are). Tris makes it through the initiation with flying colors but her trials aren’t over yet.
I won’t sum up the end of the book (what would the point of that be!) but I will say that it was a very good read and I have moved on to books two and three of this trilogy. Don’t be turned off by the fact that it’s listed as a YA novel on Amazon. Its easily read by all ages because I think there is something in there we can all relate to in some way. Rating: A