DIVERGENT is a dystopian novel set in futuristic Chicago where there exist five factions: Abnegation (selflessness), Candor(honesty),Erudite (Intellect), Dauntless (bravery), and Amity (peace). When members of each faction reach sixteen years of age, they must participate in simulation tests that identify which faction each one belongs.
Beatrice Prior always knew that she didn't belong in Abnegation with her family; she's too selfish. But, she never imagined that her tests results would show that she didn't belong in any particular faction. Instead, Beatrice is divergent. And, being divergent in a society that relies on a strict code of conduct, means being a threat to power-hungry leaders; it means elimination. When everyone gathers for the choosing ceremony, Beatrice chooses Dauntless, and seeks to hide her true identity from those who want her dead. Once in the Dauntless compound, she renames herself Tris, and discovers that the line between friend and foe can be very thin.
***This Review Contains Spoilers*****
First, let me say that DIVERGENT is an entertaining read that goes very quickly. Roth does a really good job of character development, and the straightforward plot throws in a few surprises that are executed quite well. Having said that, this novel also falls into the trap of pretending to create a strong female character all the while grooming her to fall for a boy and start obsessing about him. Once the author introduces the love interest (which is extremely predictable), the story diminished in value because it gets distracted from the original plot.
My second frustration while reading was that only four factions were adequately introduced and integrated throughout the novel. The fifth (Amity) was ignored until the very end of the novel, and when it was mentioned, I had to go back to the beginning of the novel to remind myself what it was supposed to represent. I realize that book 2 will go into more detail about that faction since that's the one offering them asylum; however, it's poor writing technique to ignore a literary element for 400 pages. Again, most readers won't notice, but I felt like the story either needed to integrate Amity more effectively or leave it out completely. When it was reintroduced, it seemed awkward and inappropriate.
Another frustration was that too many events in this novel were predictable (i.e., Al's suicide, Tris's relationship with Four, Will and Christina's relationship, Tris's mother being Dauntless, both parents dying at the end). I read a lot of dystopian literature; therefore, I know that a certain formula is followed when creating within this genre. However, I shouldn't be able to predict events 200 pages before they happen to the point where I set the book down and don't care whether or not I finish it, especially during its climax.
I really enjoyed how evil Peter was. I feel like he really added to the conflict in the novel, and the butter knife incident makes me rethink ticking people off. I just wish that his evilness didn't disappear once Tris hooked up with Four; I feel like that really hurt the flow and suspense of the novel. Also, the book read like it was written for the sole purpose of making it into a series. I realize that writers don't want to divulge all of their plot twists within the first book, but it also shouldn't seem formulaic.
And, the romance completely overpowered the plot once it was introduced. I don't mind a little love interest because everyone wants to see the quiet, invisible girl get the unattainable guy, but making out as soon as both parents die and an entire faction is almost wiped out is too much for me.
Overall, it was an entertaining read. I wouldn't have a problem handing it to a student, or friend, who wants a fun read, but I'm not going to bother with the other books in the series.