Thursday, February 9, 2012

Divergent, by Veronica Roth

I am going back to YA Book Club for Adults--okay, "Adult Young Adult Book Club of Portland," which sounds very unwieldy to me. But yeah. I don't know if you can just go here to join the Facebook group or what. But anyway, I was going with Shelley for a while, then fell off & haven't gone since last summer. But I want to start going again! I like it. So this month they're reading Divergent, by Veronica Roth, and Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver. Lauren Oliver wrote Delirium, which I talked about here, and I'm still reading Before I Fall and liking it a lot more than expected. But I read Divergent first, because it's due back at the library first, and I liked it a lot except then I was annoyed to realize that it's the first in a series--and it's the only one that's been written so far! I don't like waiting.

But it was fun. Dystopic, set in what used to be Chicago, the story of a society in which, at sixteen, everyone chooses to belong to one of five factions of the city, "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)" (quoting from the inside cover copy). Just about everyone stays with the section they grew up in, both because it's the culture they've been raised in, and because the sections are separate enough that if you leave, you won't have contact with your family or childhood friends anymore. In fact, a big motto is "Faction Before Family."

This is the story of Beatrice going through initiation into the Dauntless faction, when she grew up in Abnegation. I think Roth does a nice job of showing us the ways in which Beatrice and the other transfer initiates see the world differently because of how they grew up. We are reminded that they transferred because they didn't belong where they grew up. At one point Beatrice--Tris, once she transfers--says, as the narrator of her own story:
I feel more like myself. That is all I need: to remember who I am. And I am someone who does not let inconsequential things like boys and near-death experiences stop her.
It is, of course, a coming of age story. It's a nice one. I'm excited to read more books set in this world, even if I'm annoyed that I have to wait.

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