That’s exactly what happens in the world of Roth’s Divergent, where, once a year, all students who had turned sixteen are tested to see which of the five factions they are best suited to spend the rest of their lives in: Amity, the kind; Dauntless, the brave; Abnegation, the selfless; Erudite, the intelligent; or Candor, the honest. You test into one of these or you live as a member of the Factionless, a homeless and empty existence.
This sounds easy enough, especially if your test results align with the Faction that you want to join, or, even better, the one that you were born into. But this choice isn’t so easy for those like Beatrice who, upon completion of her test, finds that her test results were inconclusive, a.k.a. she’s a Divergent, with characteristics of more than one Faction. Unfortunately for her she can only pick one Faction, none of which are particularly welcoming to those like her.
Choosing to go with her gut instinct Beatrice chooses Dauntless, and soon begins training for initiation, making friends, enemies, and new loves along the way. However, she quickly realizes that being different isn’t a good thing in a world where everyone should be the same.
The first thing to note about Divergent is its length: almost 500 pages. Yet the pace of the book is so smooth and consistent that it’s like riding the trains frequently mentioned throughout the book. Every scene, every moment, every conversation, has a place in the plot. Nothing felt like “fluff” added just to increase page count. The ending occurred rather quickly, though it had enough build-up to be anticipated, but not so much as to be boring or predictable.
Despite the number of characters, there was something that I liked, and hated, about every one of them, just as with people I meet in real life. Though they all belong to the same faction, all of Beatrice’s friends and enemies have distinct feelings and personalities. By the end of the book, I felt something for all of them. The relationships between characters, romantic and not, felt real and relatable, despite the obviously unreal societal situation.
This book is worth the excitement surrounding it, and will hopefully bring more than a few of its readers to take a look around and realize that maybe we aren’t all meant to be put into categories after all.
(Amazon - Goodreads)