Dystopian future, first person narrative and a kick ass heroine

Divergent by Veronica Roth

First of all, I just need to get it out of the way that I’m crazy jealous that this woman finished a degree in creative writing and then just went out and wrote a book. But it’s a really good book so I’m going to overlook that.

Divergent is the story of a sixteen year old girl named Beatrice. In this future everyone belongs to a faction – which is essentially a Hogwarts house but for the entire society. Each faction values a trait they feel could prevent the destruction of the world. When you turn sixteen in this world you choose or are confirmed into a faction, partly based on the results of a high tech personality test and partly by choice. Beatrice is born in Abnegation, the faction that values selflessness above everything else, even self preservation, but she’s never felt she was quite – well selfless enough to fit in with her family so when it’s her turn to choose an awesome narrative is started.

Like all really excellent literature for children and teens (this one’s firmly in the teens category) there are some pretty big, serious questions in this book. Questions about what motivates people to be good and bad, even whether virtues, or at least character traits traditionally defined as virtues, are always positive, or if they’re like most things – helpful in the hands of one person and destructive in the hands of another. Questions like how can we understand human cruelty? Suicide? Child abuse? Our own fears? What drives us to love and be selfless? How much choice do we really have and how much of ourselves do we inherit from our families? What does it mean to belong? You know, those kinds of questions.

Of course, they’re asked very subtly because it’s an awesome book and books that are clearly didactic rarely are awesome. They’re bundled up in a story that’s also very personal. The first person present narrative can be heart wrenching and it certainly helps when sympathizing with the main character as well as adding a sense of urgency that runs through the whole story. Beatrice is definitely easy to relate to since she struggles with her own identity and feelings versus her upbringing, the expectations of her factions and fear – things that teenagers, and I suspect all adults, if we’re being totally honest, struggle with. The supporting characters are carefully developed to have maximum impact when they’re all killed (that’s only half true but there is a high death rate in this book) and Beatrice’s experiences are pretty emotional.

Well worth the read.

Divergent is being compared to the Hunger Games, mostly I think because of the similarities listed in the title of this post. There are also some pretty similar plot points (not to be discussed because of the enormous spoiler potential). This is a fair comparison and people who enjoyed the Hunger Games will probably also enjoy Divergent. But I refuse to make a definitive claim about which on is better until I’ve read the entire Divergent series which won’t be for a while since I don’t think the last one has been published yet and even then I doubt I’ll do it.

So, to sum up. Divergent awesome. Everyone should read it.

Last movie I watched: The first one in the Children of Dune made for TV movie series. Don’t judge. I think it’s awesome. And not just ’cause James Mcavoy is in it. For loads of other reasons too. Mostly to do with the sheer epic-ness of the world Frank Herbert created when he made Dune. And it’s way better than the TV movies of the original book. Just sayin’

Last episode of TV I watched: Saving Hope. Why did I watch Saving Hope? Because it has an awesome cast and is Canadian. I like to watch Canadian things. One day, if enough people adapt this attitude we might even start producing really good Canadian TV. Anyway, the story of Saving Hope isn’t that lame either. I enjoyed it.

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2 thoughts on “Dystopian future, first person narrative and a kick ass heroine

  1. SC says:

    On the fabulousness that is Divergent…

    You’ve nailed it. The way she has to struggle through the training reminds me of Tamora Pierce. I like the way Tris commits to her choice and pushes to rise to the challenges presented to her. No matter how many times you pull her down, girl gets back up. Kickass female!

    You need to read book 2 so I can expand on other aspects of this series that make it shine. Roth has some complex friendship, alliance, politics and character development going on book 2. One can only hope book 3 will be even better, and given she somehow topped book one with two I am feeling optimistic on the subject!

    Recently watched: City of Ember (part of Dune, no?)

    • devonkw says:

      I’m waiting for book 2 but the library hold list is quite long so it could be a bit.
      She is a really strong character for sure and I admire her independence and sheer nerve a lot. And unlike Tamora Pierce, so far she’s managed to make the women strong without making the men weak, which is something I find is important for really good books.

      I haven’t seen City of Ember. I wonder if my library has it.

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