Divergent seems like a natural choice for those looking for something to fill the void in their lives left by finishing the Hunger Games trilogy. In fact, Divergent has many parallels to HG – mainly, its strong-willed female protagonist, dystopian society, and the ability for teenagers to basically turn the government on its ear. So you know, really basic stuff.
Don’t even get caught up in the hows and whys of what’s going on in this society. The setup has more holes than my kids’ sock drawer. Basically, society is divided into factions, based on dominant personality traits. There are five, and when a person reaches age 16, they are able to choose their faction – either staying with the one in which they were raised, or choosing a new one, based on an aptitude test they are given.
Of course, it’s hard to just fit into one little prototype, but most do. Except for Beatrice, our heroine, who learns that she is “Divergent.” It’s a dirty word in the story, because it’s dangerous to be such a thing. It means that you actually have TWO dominant traits. And you can also bend spoons with your MIND. OK, not really.
When Beatrice must choose, she betrays her family from the Abnegation faction and goes with the Dauntless, which is a group of tattooed and pierced rabble-rousers who are the risk-takers and look danger right in the eye and spit on it. Pa-tooey! The new group of initiates is overseen by mysterious hottie Four, with whom Tris (oh yeah – she shortens her name up because the name Beatrice is like, so not cool in this faction) has some immediate chemistry. Turns out – Four and Tris might have a major thing in common (hint: the title of this book).
This is a plot-driven story, with character development a distant second. You have your good guys and bad guys and they’re pretty clear cut, but there aren’t any complexities to speak of, other than one of Tris’ friends cries himself to sleep at night and you can see what’s going to happen to him coming from the moment he steps onto the page. (Hint: he won’t be returning for the sequels.)
And yet, for as much as I could pick apart the strangely-constructed society, the lack of depth of characters, and fact that this book ended rather abruptly (oh yes, there’s two more books in this series), I enjoyed the heck out of it. It was a fun ride from start to finish. It moved quickly, and the chapters were short enough that I could read for a few minutes at a time, put it down for a while, and come back and not really have to think too hard to remember what was happening.
The movie based on this book was released this past summer, and I didn’t hear much about it, so I assume it didn’t do as well as one might have hoped. It definitely didn’t have the same buzz as “Hunger Games,” but as that trilogy still hasn’t completed its big screen run, I’m thinking anything else will just get compared to it and will seem inferior. Perhaps this franchise is trying too hard to capitalize on the success of HG. In any regard, it’s fun in its own right, and I am going to be reading book two as soon as I can get my hands on it.