Divergent Review
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More and more these days, readers of all ages are turning to young adult authors for their literary entertainment—and the darker the better. From the moody teen vampires of Twilight to the deadly action of The Hunger Games, readers just can’t get enough. And if you’re looking for the Next Big Thing in young adult fiction, you’ll want to pick up a copy of Veronica Roth’s dystopian drama, Divergent.

The story takes place in the Chicago of tomorrow—a society that’s neatly divided into five different factions, each named for the chief personality trait of its members. Sixteen-year-old Beatrice Prior grew up in Abnegation, a faction whose focus is on selflessness. The members are so upright and admirable that they’re placed in charge of the government. Still, Beatrice has always wanted something more.

  
 
Each year, all sixteen-year-olds take a test to determine where they really belong. Then, the following day, they’re asked to choose their faction. For most teenagers, the process is straightforward—but not for Beatrice. Her test results are inconclusive, and she’s labeled Divergent—a brand that could put her life in danger if anyone discovers the truth.

Forced to choose between staying with her family and making a bold change, Beatrice chooses a path that takes her into new—and deadly—territory.

Really, it’s no big surprise that Divergent has built such a loyal fan base. With its rapid-fire pacing and its careful blend of action and romance, it offers the best of today’s most popular young adult fiction: the teen drama of Twilight carefully balanced by the suspense of The Hunger Games, all wrapped up in an engrossing package.

While more cynical readers will be quick to point out that the story fits quite neatly into the typical young adult formulas, most readers simply won’t care—because it’s such a thoughtful and thrilling read, with a heroine worth rooting for. Beatrice is an average yet extraordinary girl who spends the entire book learning to be brave—to stand up for herself and others and to fight for what she believes is right (even if it’s not exactly popular). She’s a strong character who will inspire and embolden young readers. Unfortunately, though, her story of growth and courage is often distracted by the romantic elements of the novel—which, while both sweet and realistically maddening, steal a little too much of the focus away from the action and suspense.

Even during the sweeter parts of the story, though, there’s an underlying sense of urgency. The setting is dark and ominous, and it’s clear from the beginning that something important is building in the background. And it’s that sense of foreboding that makes Divergent an up-all-night kind of novel, destined to keep you reading just a few more pages until your eyes finally give out.

What the story is missing, however, is context. Readers are told that the factions came about as a way to keep the peace in a war-torn society, but there’s no explanation of what came before. And while Beatrice once contemplates what’s outside the city’s fences—and why they need to be so heavily guarded—there’s no other mention of a world beyond the city.

Still, with two more books to go in the Divergent trilogy, the story is sure to grow and expand and explore more of this fascinating society. So if you’re still missing the page-turning action of The Hunger Games, you’ll want to join this daring young heroine on the latest thrilling young adult journey.


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