The Divergent series
In Divergent, by Veronica Roth, Beatrice “Tris” Prior is growing up in a post-apocalyptic Chicago where her world is divided up into factions, Abnegation are selfless, Amity are good-natured, Candor are honest, Erudite are always seeking knowledge, and the Dauntless are brave. Each faction serves a purpose in society, which essentially keeps the peace but each group tends to butt heads with each other.
Tris and her brother have grown up in Abnegation, where they are taught to be selfless and serve others. Tris has always struggled with her identity, she feels guilty for selfish urges every teen has.
At the age of 16, the youth of the city have to decide where they belong in society, and on Choosing Day they are injected with a serum which puts them through a simulation. This forces them to make a series of decisions that will indicate where they best fit in society, but it is still up to the individual to decide where they will go. However, Tris’ test suggests she belongs in three factions (Abnegation, Dauntless and Erudite) making her divergent. Her test administer tells Tris that Divergent is dangerous and she should protect her identity at all costs.
Tris chooses Dauntless (her brother picks Eurdite). She is quickly doing daredevil stunts, jumping on and off moving trains, climbing defunct Ferris wheels, and jumping off buildings using zip-lines. She likes that it makes her feel strong when she’s always felt small and insignificant.
Tris continues to question her choice and where she belongs in society, and ultimately is tested when the tensions between factions turn in to war.
I enjoyed reading Tris’ struggle with her identity, but felt kind of robbed that the mystery revolved around being “Divergent” was never as big as I wanted it to be. I thought the general plot was engaging, and while there is a brewing romance between Tris and her Dauntless trainer (Four), I felt like they mopey-dopey love Twilight-like angst took a back burner which I prefer.
A slight pet-peeve I had was characters tend to pop in and out, and you can’t remember who they were because they don’t really do anything significant. This becomes a bigger issue as the series progresses.
When I picked up Insurgent, I was hoping we’d delve more into what it meant to be “Divergent” and that would be some sort of big reveal in the end. I was sorely disappointed.
The story picks up where the last left off. War has broken out in the city, and Tris and a few of her friends have managed to escape the violence to the farms of the Amity (imagine a sort of hippy commune where everyone dresses in red and yellow, farms all day, plays music and is generally happy). The Erudite aggressors in the city are looking for Tris and her group, and the Amity don’t want to have anything to do with war. Well, Tris isn’t too happy where she is anyway, learning part of the reason everyone is so happy is because the bread they eat is doped with a “peace serum”.
Back to the city the gang goes pursued by the Erudite. Tris seeks shelter with the factionless. The factionless are a homeless conglomeration of people rejected from or kicked out of other factions for various reasons. While all the factions in the city have been minding their own business, the factionless have become organized. Their leader is Four’s (Tris’ boyfriend) supposedly dead mom, Evelyn, who wants to eliminate the faction system in the city.
The story of the rag tag group attacking the Erudite headquarters to establish “peace” is convoluted by Tris and Four’s melodramatic romance, which is complicated by Four’s issues with his parents (His father, an Abnegation leader, is a violent man, and his adulterous mother, is caught up in taking revenge on her ex).
I felt like the series took a turn for the worse, I’d really hoped that Roth would, like Suzanne Collins in The Hunger Games, leave the romance as a side and not follow Stephanie Meyer’s angsty Twilight formula.
I pressed on with Allegiant, because I hoped Roth could turn the teen drama around. What should someone expect from a writer that wrote the story while she was still in college? Probably not the maturity a teen in the post-apocalypse needs.
In this novel, Roth decides to leave off with Tris being the sole narrator, and so we get the perspective of Four every other chapter. I found this confusing, since Roth doesn’t change her style of narration nor the way Tris and Four react to everything (which is melodramatic at best).
The story finds the gang once again fleeing the city. The Erudite leaders have been overthrown, and power crazy Evelyn is struggling to stamp out any signs of the factions that once ruled. Tris is a prisoner for her crime of broadcasting a message that the city, that it was a social experiment. Once the “peaceful” city produced a significant amount of divergent, those folks were to go out in to the wider world and spread the secret to peace.
However, her gang breaks her out and half of them set out to find out what the wide world needs. Meanwhile, the other half of the gang will stay in the city under the name “Allegiant” and fight the tyranny of Evelyn’s factionless.
What Tris discovers is that the city is a genetic experiment. She meets a group of people living at the Bureau of Genetic Welfare (aka Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport) led by David. He tells her war had raged for years, and the government decided to eliminate a gene that caused people to be violent. However, once removed, the genetically modified were just as violent as the genetically pure. So a purity war was fought against the “genetically damaged”. The genetically pure decided to put some of the “damaged” folks into a city where they would live peacefully and could heal (being Divergent means your genes have healed). Once they were healed, they could rejoin the rest of society.
Now that things are so violent in city, David plans on dosing the whole city with memory serum to reset the experiment. Tris and the gang don’t want their friends and family back home to forget them, nor do they want the fighting to continue. The only way to stop all the fighting might mean the end of Tris.
Divergent, Insurgent, and Allegiant are available for checkout at the VC/UHV Library. You’ll find all three books in our Leisure Reading area on the 1st floor.
Review written by Rebecca H.