ABOUT THE BOOK
In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.
Books with a lot of action and adventure are rather easy to consume in large amounts because of the high they come attached with. This is particularly why I immediately think a book is fantastic and then after a few days, objectivity kicks in and I start thinking about the things that were wrong with it. (However, I had to reread before I could come to that conclusion). Yet while there is no doubt that Divergent is entertaining, much like the genre it’s from, it isn’t as perfect as it seems to be on the surface.
To be considered dystopian, books need to follow a certain pattern of extreme social control and political repression. Divergent follows this pattern to an unrealistically absurd level where people are divided into factions in order to put and end to their inclinations toward evil. For instance, Dauntless are the only ones who know how to fight since they’re fearless (a synonym for brave, obviously), have all the ammo and like all the other factions, believe themselves to be the best faction of all. Not only that, non-Dauntless Initiates are known to kill others to advance in their ranks to become Dauntless. As much as that results in loads of action, I can’t help but wonder if everyone in this book is dense as fuck about evil inclinations.
Considerably, I would have accepted that society in the future is so far gone to deem segregation to be feasible, if it wasn’t for the presumption that humans in the world of Divergent are so wired to their factions that they’re only able to display traits of their respective factions. Obviously, they actually aren’t. Yet is there some sort of a genetic mutation that makes some exclusive to a faction and others not? Sketchy faction-exclusive serum in the water supply? It just feels to much of a cop out for me to not be bothered by it. Even more so when the reader is expected to read the sequel to get a better understanding of the world since there’s a severe lack of world-building in Divergent (which doesn’t really work in the favor of it having a standing of its own).
As for Tris, she goes from pretending to be selfless all her life to training to be a Dauntless. It is not a smooth ride and there are many inconsistencies in her character. As she is the main character who’d be leading the inevitable rebellion, she needs to be able to think about the good of mankind, be able to count the number of fears she has, and be intelligent because no dumb person can overthrow an over-controlling government.
In retrospect, so many instances point towards her being Divergent for the sake of driving the plot forward because guess what, she belongs equally to Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave) and Erudite (the intelligent). Yet Tris is pretty selfish, judgmental and even painfully clueless sometimes. Likewise, it almost seems like the Dauntless faction purely exists to give Divergent the oomph factor and Tris, an excuse to become a badass because hey, the plot has made it mandatory. It’s unfortunate that Tris is too much like the usual female stock characters in young adult. What’s more, her love interest is a typical tough-but-tormented Four who, I’m sure, only likes loves her because she’s Divergent (code for above the others aka special snowflake).
In all, Divergent pretty much expects the reader to go along with the most unrealistic dystopian plot ever. It’s such a contradiction because dystopia is a work of fiction grounded in reality about where we’re going as a society in the worst of cases and Divergent is just…not that. It’s much more concerned with Tris and to whatever concerns her than the world at large, at least for a majority of the story. If you can overlook the unreality of it all, you might like it more than I did, considering the archetypal characters don’t ruin it for you instead.
‘Who cares about pretty? I’m going for noticeable.’