If you are looking for an exciting summer read to get lost in, Divergent, the debut novel by Veronica Roth, is the book for you!
Set in a dystopian Chicago, Beatrice (Tris) Prior is faced with an impossible decision...stay with her family or be true to herself. The people of the city are divided into five factions, each based around a particular virtue they wish to live by; Candor (honesty), Abnegation (selflessness), Dauntless (bravery), Amity (peacefulness), and Erudite (intelligence). At sixteen years old, they must choose their faction for life. Beatrice's family are Abnegation, but she's not sure if that is what she wants to be for the rest of her life. But if she doesn't choose Abnegation, she may never see her family again.
Without giving too much away, Tris surprises herself and everyone else by her choice, but the hard part isn't over yet. Next comes a grueling initiation process, the failure of which could mean ending up factionless, and the struggle of harboring a dangerous secret about herself from those who might kill her if they knew.
This book is a fascinating mix of action, danger with just a touch of romance. Roth creates a world that is detailed and interesting. I love that she uses different buildings and places from the real Chicago to serve as anchors, making it that much more real. That she chose to align the factions with different moral virtues was interesting, but these people are far from being saints. Aristotle believed that a good moral exists somewhere between two extremes. In other words, too much of a good thing can go bad. That is certainly what the world of Divergent illustrates. There are no completely good or completely evil characters, only beautifully flawed human beings.
Speaking of flawed human beings, I have to comment on Tris's romance for a moment. While not the central plot in this book, the romance is well constructed and believable. Four is her instructor, but also a huge mystery. At times he can be cruel, but you soon learn there are reasons for everything he does. He is an interesting and deeply conflicted character in his own right, but he's not the brooding emo boy that so many YA's have these days. Underneath is hard shell, there is a kindness that not everyone can see. I can't wait to see how he develops in the coming books.
Overall, I give Divergent...
Plot - 5 bookmarks
Character Development - 5 bookmarks
World Building - 4 1/2 bookmarks (Still have many questions about how Chicago became like this, but that might be explained in future installments.)
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Jodelle Ferland (Tris), Shane Harper (Caleb), Rooney Mara (Christina), Emile Hirsch (Peter), Kellan Kutz (Eric), Avan Jogia (Four)