I dislike the all-popular, movie-turned, teenage-crazed books. I thought this one was one of them (just like those damned Mortal Instruments *shudders*). I am happy I was wrong.
This book is action-packed, dystopian, young-adult novel which transcends the boundaries of those genres. Despite being young-adult, this book has a harsher edge. The action was fast paced and hard, the violence was described in detail, all the relationships came filled with problems and the romance was slowly built and well placed.
One Choice, decided your friends.
One Choice, defines your beliefs.
One Choice, determines your loyalties - Forever.
ONCE CHOICE CAN TRANSFORM YOU”
In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, 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). Each year all who turn sixteen must take the test to see which faction suits them most. Most go into the factions they were born in but there are few who cross over.
Now, the idea that the world is divided only in those virtues and that people go along with it just because it exists is kinda silly when you hear it like this. Yes, you must have strong faith, good imagination and willingness to overcome this farfetched setting of the book. But once you settle in and simply accept it as an unquestionable premise you will be sucked in and you will enjoy it.
For me, it reminded me of couple of different young adult series. The idea, the action, the setting and the general outline. Firstly, the second I started reading about dystopian Chicago and a test all must take at sixteen, I considered Delirium by Lauren Oliver. Not to mention that the main heroine in Divergent resembles the one in Delirium at the beginning of this book. Secondly, the idea of dividing teenagers into different factions reminded me of Harry Potter and the Sorting Hat. Lastly, the violence used in training and the survival reminded me of the Hunger Games. I won't say it's the same but these elements strongly resemble the series I've mentioned.
When I mention violence and training, I mean the one Tris (Beatrice) had to go through once she chose Dauntless despite coming from Abnegation. It wasn't her first or her only choice. Tris is different. She scored high in both of those factions which is extremely rare. That's why her overseer told her not to mention it to anyone. And she didn't even though she was very confused and lost. She chose Dauntless for herself even though she knew how much she hurt her parents with this choice.
“Becoming fearless isn't the point. That's impossible. It's learning how to control your fear, and how to be free from it.”
Tris was the smallest and the skinniest of the group so she had to work extra hard. Learning how to handle a weapon and how to fight became a daily routine for her. Soon, she learned and grasped the situation. She started going up through ranks and soon she came at the top of the list. Along the way, she fell in love with her mysterious instructor called Four and it seemed like he isn't indifferent towards her either.
As she passed initiation, struggled with the relationship with Four, had her ups and downs with her friends and a few broken bones, bruises and near death experiences with her enemies, something happened that will change her world. All the Dauntless are being controlled by someone and they are armed. Tris and Four as the only Divergents are the only ones who are able to resist and the only ones who are now targeted.
This book was really fun. I laughed and I eagerly awaited every new trial which was like a short story of its own. All the friendship problems were well placed considering the time and place. Amongst the Dauntless and as rivals/competitors all sleeping in one room, going through the same training and the same tests, knowing some of them will be cut off at each test. I'm amazed they even managed to form friendships, frail as they were (something similar as in the Hunger Games). It doesn't matter how much you might think your friendship bond is tight, when you repeatedly have to punch someone in the face or you rank above them on the board the animosity will wiggle its way in.
The heroine is one of those whom you love in one minute only to hate her in the next. She might be small but she is agile and intelligent which mixed with her Divergent nature gives her an advantage. But emotionally and psychically she is more immature and uncertain. She doesn't know whether to still love her family after she changed factions or should she forget about them, she thinks she suddenly must be egoistic and ruthless in harmless of situations only to prove to herself that she crossed from Abegnation to Dauntless (like listening to Al cry in his bed and not comforting him).
Heroine IS NOT PRETTY, GOT THAT? Not because I said so but because she repeatedly said the exact same thing as well as her friends and Four. They all somehow agreed that she isn't pretty but she is kinda special. The kind of thing you say to your child when he gives you an indecipherable drawing and you tell him he's going to be the new Da Vinci. That was the most annoying thing in this book and mainly the reason I gave it four stars.
“Who cares about pretty? I'm going for noticeable.” (-.-)
Considering romance. It was mostly sweet. Stolen glances at first, hidden smiles, obvious care and affection in their actions... but it gradually became more. With all the hot kissing and yearning, touching of the skin I caught myself panting a little. I know it's silly but they somehow worked together. And it made me all tingle inside. I wouldn't mind if they've gone further but since this is young adult I was surprised even with this development.
“I might be in love with you." He smiles a little. "I'm waiting until I'm sure to tell you, though.”
I'm looking forward to the next book :)