Set in a dystopian Chicago, this coming-of-age fantasy-thriller, follows Beatrice Prior a sixteen-year-old girl who has grown up in the Abnegation (the selfless) faction of society. Four other factions exist – Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave), Erudite (the intelligent) and Amity (the peaceful). On one day each year, every sixteen-year-old must decide which faction they will devote the rest of their life to. For Beatrice, this is a choice between her family and being who she really is – she cannot have both! And so on ‘Choosing Day’ she makes a choice that surprises everyone, even herself.
During initiation into her chosen faction, Beatrice changes her name to Tris, and battles to prove her worth in a competitive and often hostile environment. She discovers that the path to friendship is never smooth and that romance can be found in the most unlikely of places. However, Tris also has a secret, one she has kept from everyone because revealing it will result in almost certain death (or so she has been told!). But as Tris discovers a conflict that threatens to tear apart the society she calls home; she learns that her secret may help to save the people she loves …. or destroy them all!
Dystopian genres are, for me, the most menacing of narratives; primarily because they present a glimpse of what could happen to our society if we are careless! In a World where adherence to a specific sect with their strict rules and obligations is the norm; moral quandaries abound and questions of identity and freedom of choice are endless.
What is life worth? Is self-efficacy more important than family loyalty? How far would you go to stay alive? Is it ever acceptable to kill another human being? These are some of the pivotal questions which arise from the story, and there are a vast array of answers depending on which of the five factions you ask.
Divergent is existential reading, but at the same time wonderfully captivating and accessible. Tris is a prodigious and rebellious heroine, complicated by her upbringing in the selfless faction of society. A large number of secondary characters, from the mysterious Four, to the emotive Al, or the cruel Peter, add vibrancy to the story where it is needed. I’ve read the first two novels in what is to be a Trilogy (Divergent and Insurgent); with the third and final installment currently being written by the author. For that I can’t wait! If it is anything like the first two books in the series it will be utterly amazing! And so for a tale of conflict, survival and blossoming romance I implore you: read this!