This is my second time around reading Divergent and both times it has swept me up in a whirlwind of questions. The first question I always ask whenever I am reading a post-apocalyptic novel is could this world actually exist? I’ve only finished the first novel out of the three and so far my answer is maybe. Roth plucks from her imagination a world that is terrifyingly unreal and combines it with a reality of human nature that is extremely on point.
Divergent takes place in post-apocalyptic Chicago. Beatrice is born and raised Abnegation, one of five factions of society. Each faction, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, Erudite and Candor separate individuals by personality traits that serve society in their own way. Beatrice is raised Abnegation but on Choosing Day she joins the Dauntless. Civilization has been in harmony since the factions were implemented but when Beatrice joins the Dauntless family she sees that there are cracks in the glass, something is not right and war is approaching.
What’s interesting about this novel is that Roth sees the downfall of the world not just in bombs, disease and war but in how we react to all of these things. By dividing the world into factions that represent selflessness, bravery, kindness, intelligence and honesty, she tells a story of a society that forgot to be all of these and instead choses to be selfish, cowardly, evil, foolish and manipulative.
The novel is well written and interspersed with beautiful moments and thought provoking questions. I found myself wondering what faction I would fit into, which quality I think is most important in our world and am I emulating the qualities that I cherish most in others in myself?
Don’t be wary of this book because it seems like your regular teeny bopper story. I can promise you that it is not. Beatrice is no Bella (Twilight), she is strong even when she is afraid, she is brave when she could so easily rely on others and she is smart. Roth brings all of her characters to life with the honesty in which she approaches their flaws. The characters, the story, the life lessons, they will stay with you long after you have turned the last page.
“We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another.”
“Somewhere inside me is a merciful, forgiving person. Somewhere there is a girl who tries to understand what people are going through, who accepts that people do evil things and that desperation leads them to darker places than they ever imagined. I swear she exists, and she hurts for the repentant boy I see in front of me.
But if I saw her, I wouldn’t recognize her.”
“People tend to overestimate my character,” I say quietly. “They think that because I’m small, or a girl, or a Stiff, I can’t possibly be cruel. But they’re wrong.”