My rating: 4 of 5 stars
There are inevitable comparisons to be made with The Hunger Games books (and films), but Divergent holds its’ own as a standalone universe, with a unique political situation and the social segregation of personality types.
In a world where you’re only allowed to be “one thing”, having diverse talents and interests becomes dangerous. Beatrice “Tris” Prior is born within the “Abnegation” faction in this society, one where you wholeheartedly practice the art of selflessness. You only ever think of other people, every chore is shared, and simple living is key. The other factions are “Erudite”, the studious readers and thinkers; “Candor”, the open and truthful; “Amity” the peaceful and meek; and “Dauntless” the brave, daredevil, military-style faction. In a child’s 16th year they go through a round of personality testing, and subsequently choose the faction in which they spend the rest of their lives. Do they stay with the faction they are born into, and therefore stay with their families? Or do they choose to join a different faction, and consequently never see their blood relatives again?
Beatrice upon her personality testing is identified as “Divergent”, i.e. that she doesn’t fit 100% into any faction, she could be 2 or 3 of them. In a wholly prescriptive society, having broader talents and interests is deemed to be wrong, and dangerous. Having to choose between her original faction of Abnegation, and Dauntless, Beatrice takes the opportunity to move into a new life. Her Divergent status is hidden by the woman who administered the personality tests, and Tris (as she decides to be known as) has to hide any of the traits that might reveal her true nature.
Dauntless training is obviously going to be extremely hard, competitive, and if you don’t make the cut, fatal, or risk becoming “factionless” – the homeless outcasts of society. Tris forms friendships with a few of the other faction-transfers, and becomes involved with an instructor.
A story of a young girl once again finding herself through mental and physical challenges, emotional barriers, and ultimately being outed and cast against the government and society that she would otherwise have believed in without question.
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