In Divergent, Veronica Roth builds an intricate world of absolutes, evoking the fine line between virtue and vice with finesse. The factions are a fascinating concept to consider, and it is staggering to imagine living such a black and white life. Their eerie, cult-like feel immediately alerts the reader that all is not well in the city of Chicago. Yet, strangely the stakes aren't as clear as I would expect in a dystopian novel. The urgency of the situation doesn't completely resonate, though it is still an intense, action-packed story.
In Beatrice (rechristened Tris), Roth creates a show-stopping heroine, the likes of which I have not seen since Katniss (The Hunger Games) and Katsa (Graceling). Tris is a compelling blend of strength and smarts as she navigates the hidden dangers of her rigid society. Though her fierceness and determination are awe-inspiring, she is still an utterly human heroine, struggling with her fears, her family and her first forays into friendship and romance. Her motivations are complex and sometimes conflicting, unclear even to herself. The novel invites readers to delve into the depths of her character, and search for the fountainhead of her seemingly endless fortitude. Above all, this is a tale of discovery as Tris learns the truth about herself -- what matters most and what kind of person she truly is. Her journey is riveting, a thrill ride of nonstop action that will keep readers' hearts pounding. There isn't a dull moment, and all 487 pages of this large tome fly by in the blink of an eye.
Then there's Four. Four is a fascinating hero, rivaling Tris's complexity. He is perfect in his imperfections, swinging from fierce and intimidating to tender and vulnerable -- but unlike many heroes, he is never cheesy or controlling. Four puts up a tough front to hide his deep-rooted scars from a nightmarish past, but over the course of the novel Tris breaks down his walls to reveal a sweet and soulful side that is utterly bewitching. Their attraction adds richness to an already vivid world. The dynamic of their relationship is balanced; each sees the other as invincible, and their feelings are based on both affection and mutual admiration. Their story moves at a tantalizingly slow pace, building the tension and making the romance all the more believable and delectable when it finally blossoms.
The entire spectrum of human emotion is at work to make this novel an electric experience: fear, awe, desolation, determination, love and pure unadulterated hatred. Roth shows both the best and the worst sides of human nature, brought out by the absolutist society she creates. Divergent explores the heart of human experience, the everyday choices that make us who we are. Readers will be thinking about their own values and secret fears long after this story ends.
Disclosure: I received an advance copy of this novel from the publisher. This did not affect my review in any way.
This novel hits shelves May 3, 2011! Click here to preorder Divergent by Veronica Roth.
Part of the 2011 Debut Author Challenge.
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