Hey There Bookworms,
I have been putting off reading Veronica Roth’s Divergent for quite a while now. I really enjoy a good YA dystopia, but the market has been rather saturated with them lately. After reading and not loving Ally Condie’s Matched series, I was skeptical to try again… It’s a darn good thing I did, because right now the Divergent series only ranks below The Hunger Games in my personal ranking of YA dystopias. I KNOW!
Alright. We begin in what I can only assume is a post apocalyptic Chicago. Lake Michigan has dried into marshland, and a mere sliver of the city is inhabited. The rest is in ruins. (I enjoyed this book all the more because I’m familiar with the major landmarks and buildings in the Windy City. I grew up in the Chicago burbs, and while I won’t call myself a native,I know Navy Pier from Millenium Park and the Sears Tower from the Hancock building. “Willis” Tower my foot.)
Anyway. The new civilization inhabiting Chicago is split into five major factions. The factions are sort of like fraternities and sororities on steroids. They each value a different virtue above all else. I imagine that Roth named her factions specifically to expand teenage vocabularies (for which I salute her!) Erudite values knowledge, Candor values truth, Abnegation values selflessness, Amity values kindness, and Dauntless values bravery.
Beatrice Prior has just turned 16. She was raised in Abnegation, the, uh Amish equivalent in this society. Not really Amish, I guess, but they’re very modest and focus on the needs of others before themselves. They’re big on feeding the poor and service. A very nice faction, on the whole, but they are discouraged from looking in mirrors and their lives are really regimented. Beatrice, like all the the 16 year olds in the community, is on the precipice of a huge decision. She is about to choose her faction. Being born in Abnegation doesn’t mean she has to stay there. Each student is given an aptitude test to determine where they are best suited, but they have the option to choose a different faction.
The students get to choose where they will go, but they’re not guaranteed acceptance. They have to go through a training and initiation phase, and not everyone makes it. Those who don’t are cast out to live among the “factionless.” The factionless work menial jobs and live in poverty, so it behooves the students to do their best to choose wisely. The problem Beatrice is facing is that her aptitude test was inconclusive. She has to embrace ONE faction, but her test results indicate that she’s got an aptitude for THREE. She’s considered “Divergent” as a result and that is a dangerous thing to be. DUN DUN DUN!
I don’t want to talk too much about this book, because it’s hard to discuss without getting super spoiler happy. I like this book too much to spoil it! Roth does some awesome world building in this novel. Her dystopian Chicago is well drawn and disturbingly lifelike. I love the implications of the faction system. I think it offers some good lessons on the gray areas of life and the importance of seeing things from other people’s perspectives.
After having read this book, I couldn’t help but imagine myself in a faction! Much in the way I dubbed myself a Ravenclaw after reading Harry Potter, I’ve done a lot of thinking about what faction I’d have landed in. I’m so confused! They’re all so flawed, but they’ve all got good qualities too. So far, the only two I’ve been able to rule out are Dauntless (because I’m a giant chicken) and Candor (because even though I suck at lying, I think living in an environment of CONSTANT brutal honesty would be REALLY bad for my overly sensitive self.) This leaves me with Erudite, but I don’t know if I could even go there because despite my inherent bookwormy nerdiness, they’re SUPER science-y folk, and that’s never been my academic forte. I think I’d flunk at Abnegation, because I rather like mirrors and though I’d like to be selfless, I know I’m not that perfect. I suppose I’d chill in Amity, because they grow stuff (I like to garden) and they’re all about being nice to each other… Then again… Maybe I’m Divergent between Erudite, Amity, and Abnegation. I’m all kinds of complicated.
What faction do you think YOU would land in, Bookworms? Where do you see yourself fitting in?