Teen Book Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

A New Dystopian Trilogy for Hunger Games Fans

Divergent by Veronica Roth - book cover
Divergent by Veronica Roth. HarperCollins

Divergent comes in the wake of such popular novels as The Hunger Games and other young adult books about future societies where teens take on oppressive governments. Divergent, the first book in the trilogy by debut author Veronica Roth, takes readers into a futuristic Chicago where a society divided into factions based on virtues is beginning to fall apart. This an excellent series for teen fans of dystopian novels.

(What's dystopian?) I recommend Divergent for teens14 and older.

The Story: Divergent

Beatrice Prior’s society is divided into five factions based on virtues: Erudite (knowledge), Dauntless (bravery), Abnegation (selflessness), Amity (peace), and Candor (honesty). Now that Beatrice is turning sixteen she must declare a faction. Will she choose Abnegation, where she’s been raised to be selfless and defer to others, or will she choose another faction? Torn between staying with her family and being true to her yearning to be more daring, Beatrice must make a choice and she must keep a secret she does not understand. Her secret? She is Divergent.

Once Beatrice chooses her faction there is no going back, so with a new sense of bravery she changes her name to Tris and begins a painful initiation that will test her physically, mentally, and emotionally. Along the way she meets a boy who has secrets of his own, and together they discover a plot that will destroy the delicate balance between factions and turn their society into chaos.

The Author: Veronica Roth

Veronica Roth is 22 years old and studied creative writing at Northwestern University. Roth confesses that she spent more time writing her book than doing her homework. She currently resides in Chicago and Divergent is her first novel.  (Source: Veronica Roth).

Summit Entertainment, the studio that made Twilight, recently acquired the rights to produce a film version of Divergent.

The movie is in the early stages of production and will not be made for a few years, but you can read more about Veronica Roth and her thoughts on a film adaptation of Divergent in this two part interview.

My Recommendation

Brace yourselves for another great dystopian series!  I loved Beatrice/Tris as a central character who recognizes her own weaknesses. She has self doubts and imperfections that make her a real and likable character. She’s very human and wonders at her ability to want more from life than to be satisfied with Abnegation. She thinks hard. She fights hard. And along the way she meets a boy who challenges her physically and emotionally. The characters in this story are multi-dimensional which demonstrates that they are capable of emotions and actions beyond the virtue they were born to personify.

Although young, Veronica Roth is very talented and has written a book that is already a sensation among teens. She is becoming the new author to talk about and being young, she knows what teens like to read. Like The Hunger Games, this new trilogy appeals to teens who love reading about other teens who battle oppressive governments and who make a difference.

This book in one of my new favorites and I’m constantly recommending it to teens.

It‘s full of adventure, romance, and it makes you think. What are virtues? Can’t we have more than one virtue? The moral dilemmas the characters face are believable. You won’t be able to put this book down.

Roth ends the first book so readers are satisfied, but there is a battle brewing and a revolution waiting to happen. The other books in the trilogy are Insurgent and Allegiant. in addition, Roth wrote a companion collection of stories Four: A Divergent Collection told from the point of view of the character Tobias. The publisher and I recommend Divergent for ages 14-up. (Katherine Tegen Books, 2011. ISBN: 9780062024022; 2014, Paperback ISBN: 9780062387240)

Edited February 25 by Elizabeth Kennedy, About.com Children's Books Expert