Wednesday, August 3, 2011


By Veronica Roth
Katherine Tegen Books, 2011. 487 pgs. Teen fiction

Chicago is divided into five factions: Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave), and Erudite (the intelligent). Each faction exemplifies the behaviors and attitudes that they think will most benefit the world and combat the problems of human nature. As teens reach a certain age, they are given an aptitude test that tells them which attributes they have, followed by a ceremony where they choose which group to remain with for the rest of their lives. Most people have one dominant attribute, but Beatrice Prior, who has been raised by her Abnegation parents and community, isn't sure she's selfless enough to stay with that faction. When her aptitude tests reveals that she has multiple dominant attributes, meaning she is divergent, she must choose which faction to join--as well as hide the fact that she's divergent, as she's been warned that her life depends on no one finding out her secret. Tris makes her choice, changing her name along with her alliances, and as she trains for her new faction, she struggles to know who to trust and starts to fall in love but also realizes that everything could be ripped away but a group that is ready to overthrow their way of life.

Some books just hook you, and some don't. For me, this one definitely did. I think this has the potential to be the new Hunger Games--the trilogy that everyone has to read and can't stop thinking about. With an intriguing dystopian world, engaging characters, action, adventure, romance, and more, there's not much that this book doesn't have. I will say that I thought the end of the book, where we see the conflict really unfolding, as the rebel group begins rolling out their plans, went by to quickly for me and was actually too easily resolved. Obviously, there's going to be a lot more going on in the next books, but I would have liked to see a little more in this one, as it all plays out in a matter of a few hours. On the other hand, Tris's training and personal growth and conflicts were explored in much more detail and over time, so the juxtaposition just made the larger, societal conflict seem glossed over. Still, I'm hooked, and I can't wait to see what happens next! A great choice for anyone who liked The Hunger Games, dystopia, romance, action, or kick-butt characters.

4.5 stars. As far as language goes, I think this one's pretty clean. There's a lot of violence, though. Sexuality is minimal; there's some kissing, a little sexual tension, and a discussion of how two characters might possibly at some point in the future if they're ready, sleep together.

P.S. (3/26/12) I listened to the audio version of this book last week. I was a little apprehensive at first, since I know a bad narrator can ruin a good book, but , I was quite satisfied with the narrator. Very well done.

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