What I’m Reading: Divergent by Veronica Roth

I actually sat down and rented the movie Divergent, starting Shailene Woodley (the star of the TV show The Secret Life of the American Teenager). I was pleasantly surprised, and it made me dig the book (written by Veronica Roth) out of the vast repository that is my Kindle library, and re-read it.


Divergent is set in a dystopian society, where people are divided into factions based on certain principles they deem important. The factions are Amity (caring), Erudite (knowledge), Dauntless (courage and bravery), Abnegation (selflessness), and Candor (honesty). In theory, all of these factions ensure a world where everyone has a place, and thus no need to start wars. When a child turns sixteen, they can choose which faction they wish to belong to in a formal ceremony: this means they can stay in the faction into which they were born, or they can go to another. Going to another faction is usually seen as an act of betrayal by one’s birth faction, and the phrase “faction before blood” ensures that those birth ties are all but severed if one goes to another faction. The main premise of the story is a girl Beatrice (“Tris”), who is born into the Abnegation faction, but has issues with the selflessness of the society. Plus, she’s always had a secret admiration for the Dauntless. When she undergoes testing to determine which faction is best suited to her personality, it is discovered that Tris is DIvergent: she can fit in more than one faction, and it’s basically her choice. Divergents are hunted and killed because they are deemed dangerous to society: if one can’t be placed into a categorical box, then one can’t be controlled, and that’s dangerous. The book chronicles Beatrice’s transformation to Tris when she transfers to the Dauntless faction during her ceremony, and how she survives the faction initiation while hiding the fact that she is Divergent (the woman who administered her test, and Tris’s mother, both warn her that people will try to kill her if they know she is Divergent). She also comes to realize that Dauntless used to be structured in a more harmonious way, but recent interference by someone in another faction has transformed Dauntless into a warmongering bloodbath of a faction, a fact underscored by the reluctant but true leader of Dauntless, Four (who was once in Abnegation as well).

While this is a young adult book in the manner of Twilight (but minus all of the annoying teenage angst and vampires), it’s an interesting discourse on societal workings and how our society trains people to be one of the crowd–and how those who are different are treated. It’s a nice read, and a nice respite from all the drama going on in the news. Check it out for yourself.


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