“Divergent” by Veronica Roth

I shouldn’t read dystopian fantasy novels. They fill my head with ugly images. And often, if I start, I can’t STOP reading! Some of them are very compelling.

Divergent was recommended by a friend, and I admit I couldn’t put it down. But I don’t plan to read the series (it’s book one of a trilogy).

The social setting for this book is an America in which war and disorder have been stopped by setting up a system of “factions”, each of which capitalizes on a particular human trait – dauntless, abnegation, amity, candor and erudite. (Grammatical awkwardness sic – I’d prefer consistent parts of speech.) Each faction has particular responsibilities. Then there are the “factionless”, an underground of social outcasts who subsist on the margins, hungry and feral.

Our heroine (Beatrice, age 16) faces the ritual of choosing to either stay where she was born (in abnegation) or switch to another faction. Either way, there will follow a rigorous training and initiation period. If an initiate fails, her fate is to be factionless.

A test given before the choosing ritual reveals to Beatrice that she is “divergent”, having an equal aptitude for three of the five factions. The divergent are very few.

Beatrice, not selfless enough for abnegation, opts for dauntless. The training is brutal and involves risk. Dauntless is clearly the faction of adrenaline addicts. Beatrice makes the grade.

Beatrice learns that the factions are on the brink of war. By the end of the book, she is (involuntarily) part of an underground cabal facing a very uncertain future.

This reminded me of The Hunger Games, which provides another reason for not reading the rest of the series. I would not expect redemption or resolution, just more brutality, risk and unpleasantness.

Sometimes I DO want to read this type of fast action book, when I want distraction. The best for me was Game of Thrones, and I wish George RR Martin would get cracking. I’m ready for Book 6.


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