Divergent- Book Review

I just finished reading Divergent by Veronica Roth and thought that since the movie will be released soon, I would give a quick book review.  Normally, I don’t read the books prior to movies coming out (because I have been sorely disappointed), but I was bored sitting on some plane rides and figured I’d give it a go.

The story takes place in Chicago the future.  After the big war, the city is divided into 5 factions:

  • Abnegation Those who are selfless.  This faction runs the Government mainly because those who are  selfless tend to not want to be in those types of positions and will, theoretically, make the right choices.
  • Amity– Those who are most peaceful.  This faction is pretty self-explanatory.
  • Candor– Those who are most truthful.  This faction cannot tell a lie and it is easy for them to see if others are lying to them.
  • Erudite– Those who are knowledgeable.  This faction produces constantly studies and produces new technology.
  • Dauntless– Those who are brave.  This faction is not afraid of anything and will do whatever it takes to show their bravery.

When a child turns 16, they are required to take an aptitude test.  This test will tell them which faction it believes they should be in.  Then, after the results are received, they go to the Joining Ceremony and in front of each faction, in front most of the city, they either choose their current faction and go home to what they know, or they betray their families and choose another faction.

The story takes place around a sixteen year old named Beatrice and her family.  She is part of the Abnegation faction.  She is supposed to be selfless, but she finds that she struggles in her faction.  Beatrice is curious and doing things for others does come natural to her.  Her brother, Caleb, on the other hand is exactly the opposite.  He is Abnegation through and through.  He too is 16 and it is time for both of them to take the aptitude test.

Here come the spoilers!!!

After Beatrice has completed the aptitude test, Tori, who overseas her test, looks concerned.  Tori tells Beatrice she is Divergent and this is very dangerous.  Tori tells her to say nothing, not a word about this to anyone and deletes the data from the test.  Beatrice is confused and scared.  Being Divergent is dangerous because they can take on many different ways of thinking and reacting.  The factions do not want this.  They want you to think the way their faction thinks and nothing else.  By thinking differently, almost as if having free will, you break the rules of the factions and that can cause chaos.  The factions were created to ensure another terrible war would not ensue.  Divergents, they think, could potentially be what could cause the downfall of the factions and the start of another war.

On Joining Day, Beatrice, much to her parent’s surprise (ok, well, maybe not so much her mother), she joins Dauntless.  Even more surprising, especially to Beatrice, Caleb chooses Erudite.  Beatrice, who now calls herself Tris immediately leaves the ceremony and joins her new faction.  She will have to go through rigorous tests and if she passes, she will be Dauntless.  Just because you choose a faction doesn’t mean you will remain.  If you cannot pass, you become factionless (without home,family,stability…  living on the streets… not a life anyone wants).  Step one, jump onto a moving train.  Step two, jump off the moving train and onto the rooftop.  One faction transfer does not jump onto the train.  Fail…  Another, does not make it to the rooftop and dies.  Tris’ first look at death.

The next step is to jump through a hole in a ceiling.  You cannot see how far down it goes or what to expect, if you even survive the fall.  They call Tris a stiff due to where she comes from.  She is determined to prove she belongs and jumps first.  At the bottom is a net that catches her.  She is immediately helped out of the net by Four, who turns out to be her instructor.  After everyone has made it down the hole, Four explains that in order to become a full-fledged Dauntless member, they must rank in the top 10.  This means both Dauntless born and the transfers must compete against each other.  It also means that if you are not in the top 10, you are factionless.

There are three stages the initiates must go through.  Stage 1, hand-to-hand combat and weapons training.  Although Tris is weaker than most, she is able to make it to 6th place.  A transfer named Edward makes it to first place, and Peter (a sadistic terror who taunts the weak) is second.  Peter is not happy with this outcome and while everyone is asleep in the dorm, he stabs Edward in the eye with a knife.  No one sees him do it, but they know the truth none the less.  No ones says anything as to how it happened.  And since Molly, one of Peter’s friends, ranked after Tris, they taunt her even more. One night in the dorm, Tris returns after a shower and they taunt her.  They take the towel away from her, exposing her body and they laugh.  Tris, obviously mortified, runs off and hopes that in their next challenge, she can fight Peter as he was the one who started the cruelty.    Tris doesn’t get her first choice, but she feels some happiness when she finds she must fight Molly.  Using what she was taught (and some things mentioned by Four), she is able to win.  But she doesn’t stop there.  Blow after blow, she beats Molly, almost killing her, but she doesn’t care.

During the initiation, Tris hears that the Erudite are making false claims about Abnegation.  They spread vile things and even mentions how a high-ranking official, Marcus, beat his son, Tobias, who then in turn became a traitor to Abnegation and became Dauntless. Tris and her brother are also mentioned since they left Abnegation, trying to use them as proof that Abnegation cannot be trusted if they cannot even keep the children of Government officials in their own faction. Obviously a low blow to Tris’ mother and father.  Molly chimes in and mentions how Tris talks in her sleep and how she tells her father to stop because Abnegation spends too many resources on the factionless.  After another confrontation, she speaks to Dauntless-born imitates, including Uriah, and slowly befriends them.  A transfer named Al starts to show his feelings towards her (brief hints of it at least), but also shows how weak he is by his inability to cope with the initiation.  We also see the start of… something forming between Tris and Four.

In the second stage, the initiates must go through a simulation that uses their fears against them.  The simulation cannot really hurt you, but while in it, you feel as if it is truly happening.  It is used to help the Dauntless conquer their fears.  At first, Tris is terrified.  but then she finds away to realize it is a simulation and that she can even manipulate the simulation.  After this occurs, Four realizes she is Divergent and erases the data.  The scores are given and Tris is first; followed by Peter.  Al is at the bottom.  Angered by his failure, Peter somehow talks Al and Drew into “scaring” Tris.  They kidnap her and take her to the chasm where Peter means to throw her over.  Tris discovers who is attacking her and feels sick.  How could Al betray her that way?  Four comes to save the day and takes Tris to his room.  Now, now… get your mind out of the gutter.  The next day, Al begs for forgiveness and Tris refuses.  He commits suicide by  jumping into the chasm.

The fourth and final step is to go into the fear landscape.  Here, the initiates know they are in a simulation and must use the tools they have learned to get through their fears.  People have many fears and this can take time.  Four takes Tris to the fear landscape at night before the tests begin.  He says he wants her to see what she needs to be prepared for.  There, she finds that the reason they call him Four is because he only has four fears, which is unheard of.  One of them that is revealed is that he is actually Tobias, who was punished and abused repeatedly by his father, Marcus.  Four was from Abnegation.  She helps him get through his fears and learns what she needs to do to make it through the simulation.  Four then shares that he knows what the Erudites have planned with the Dauntless leaders.

The next day, Tris finishes her simulation and we find she has seven fears.  Drowning (one fear is in the ocean and the other in a tank), being kidnapped, crows eating her alive, Peter setting her on fire, being intimate with Four (she doesn’t understand how he can like her as she feels she isn’t special and fears he only wants her body), and finally, shooting her family or dying herself.  Eric, one of the leaders of Dauntless, comes in and advises that they are injecting everyone with a serum that will allow them to track them should anyone go missing.  Before the ceremony and finding where she ranks, Four invites Tris back to his apartment.  They become close and their feelings are revealed.  It is quite a sweet moment, so I won’t spoil that for you guys.  After a couple of hours, they go, separately, to the ceremony where Tris finds she is ranked number one.  Her celebration, however, is short-lived when she finally realizes the Erudite plans.  She tries to find Tobias (she no longer calls him Four) but is unable to do so.

She goes back to the dorm room and suddenly she sees her friends getting up and dressed.  She calls out to them, but they do not answer.  They are no longer her friends, but instead, zombies.  Tris pretends she is one too and follows them to their destination.  The get onto a train and there she sees Tobias.  He does not look at her, but she soon realizes that he too is not under the serum’s spell.  Her thoughts are confirmed.  He is Divergent too.  They reach the main hub for Abnegation and try to escape.  As they run, they see their fellow Dauntless murdering the Abnegation members.  They continue to run… fight…  But then, Tris is shot.  Tobias stays by her side and they are captured.  Jeanine, the head of Erudite, informs Tris that she has plans for Tobias, but she will die.  Tobias revolts, but it is too late.  The Erudites have come up with a serum that will work on Divergents and he is immediately in what is like a simulation.  He attacks Tris and she tries to reason with him.  Jeanine confirms that he cannot hear her.  The attack stops and they take him to the control room as they have plans for him.  Tris is lead to a room where she is sentenced to die.  She is put in a tank and it is just like her fear.  Water rushes in, but she will not give up.  She is brave and she lets them know it.  She is ready to die.

Suddenly, the water rushes out of the tank and she sees her mother.  There she finds her mother is also Divergent.  They run, trying to get to where her father, brother, and others belonging to Abnegation are hiding.  But before they can reach it, they are being attacked.  Tris’ mother sacrifices herself to save her daughter.  Shortly after, Tris reaches the hideout and tells her brother and father that her mother died.  Then, she sees Marcus.  She does all she can from attacking him.  Again she feels the need to protect Tobias.  But she puts that aside for now.

Tris realizes what must be done.  They need to go to the Dauntless facility and take down the computer that is controlling everyone.  Her father, brother, and Marcus head to Dauntless and Tris must walk them through everything they need to do in order to get into the facility.  One in particular is Peter, but he is not under the influence.  They didn’t feel he needed it due to his “nature.”  She shoots him in the leg to get information.  He says he wants to go with them since they will kill him for giving information.  She reluctantly agrees.  Tris’ father sees what she has become.  He disapproves, but eventually tells her how proud he is of her.  Tris and her father head towards the control room and they find soldiers.  Her father heads the opposite way of the control room so that they will follow him.  Tris runs to the control room and hears gunfire.  She turns to see her father hit the floor.  He is gone.

Tris reaches the control room and Finds Tobias.  He is still under the influence and attacks.  After being punched and kicked multiple times, she gets her hands on his gun.  She points it at him but finds he cannot pull the trigger.  She says his name…  She is ready to sacrifice herself.  Tris gives him the gun and paces her hand on his chest.  Somehow, he is able to gain control and holds Tris in a deep embrace.  They shut down the computer and all of the controlled Dauntless come to their senses.  After realizing what has happened, what they have done, some fight, some kill others… they break down…

They head back to where the others are.  Tobias is embraced by his father and cannot move.  Tris pries Marcus away from Tobias and threatens him.  Obviously, Marcus does not understand what he did to his son.  Tris later apologizes for stepping in, but Tobias was grateful.  They escape to Amity to find the others of Abnegation and realize that they are no factionless.

End of spoilers!!!

So, my “spoiler” portion does not really do the book justice.  It is well written and keeps you interested the entire time.  You keep wondering, “What’s going to happen next?”  You obviously can tell right away where the story is going, but who is involved and what actually happens is not so easy to figure.  Veronica Roth keeps the writing simple, so all ages can enjoy.  For those of you who keep a dictionary handy when reading, it won’t be necessary.  It is fun, exciting, easy to read, and keeps you entertained, so why wouldn’t you want to read it.  There is a love story, but it doesn’t overwhelm the storyline, so I think even my male friends and readers will like this.

Disclaimer: This is a young adult book and the only thing I really wanted different was the age of the characters.  Since they really only mention Tris’ age in the beginning, you can just use your imagination…

So, I think I have covered everything and hopefully if you haven’t read the book, you paid close attention to my spoiler alert.  I gave away a lot of the book, but kept a few things quiet.  And even if you did NOT heed my warning and read EVERYTHING I said, well, as I said before, my words don’t do it justice, so read it anyway.

Next, Insurgent.  I hope it is just as interesting.  I found that when I read the Hunger Games Trilogy, I got quite bored when I got to the 3rd book and wanted to smack Katniss… Please don’t make me want to smack Tris!!!  My fingers are crossed!

Let me know what you think!

Cheers!

The Fatal Siren

PS: Thanks to Wikipedia for reminding me of some of the small parts I forgot! (some of the beginning eluded me… What can I say, some time has passed since I read the beginning.)

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