Harper Collins Children's, 2012 (2011)
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are--and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating 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 a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.
Before picking up Divergent, I didn't know much about it, apart from the fact that I might be one of the only people left around here who hasn't read it yet. Luckily for me, the other members of the CatchUpClub were in the same boat, and for October we chose Divergent as our next book.
HOLY CRAP, GUYS.
I haven't read much great dystopian fiction in a while. (I have, sadly, read some less-great dystopian fiction lately.) So I was a little bit apprehensive about picking up Divergent. I started reading on my commute to work, at which point I realised that I was going to miss my stop if I didn't put it down. Roth has created a pretty bleak world, where humans live in one of five factions (Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless or Erudite) according to their dominant traits and the choice they make when they are 16. In a world that is factioned up to the hilt, if you don't survive initiation, you become factionless, which in layman's terms pretty much sucks balls.
Tris (formerly Beatrice) has always felt a little bit out of place in selfless Abnegation, so when her chance comes she ends up picking Dauntless, where bravery and courage are the name of the game. (The moment when her brother makes his choice was unexpected and a little bit wrenching, I have to say.) The rest of the book focuses on Tris' attempts to survive initiation (which is pretty brutal, by all accounts, and what happened to Edward stood out as particularly gruesome), make friends with her fellow initiates, deal with her guilt over her family, and have a minor brainmelt every time Four walks past.
(I don't know if 'brainmelt' is the technical term, but it's a word my friends and I developed when we were at uni, and it's kind of stuck.)
To be fair, Four might be the hottest boy in YA this year (or whatever year I should have been reading Divergent). Part of the 'holy crap' at the beginning of this review was totally for him. He and Tris dance around each other for most of the book, but Roth did a great job of developing their relationship and, particularly, Tris' confused, brainmelty feelings.
The building action at the end (and Roth is apparently not afraid of killing of characters at the drop of a hat) hints at what is to come in the rest of the series, and Insurgent is definitely on my reading list for the not-too-distant future...
Overall rating: 8/10
Book source: Borrowed from the library.