Divergent by Veronica Roth
Imagine a world in which your brain determines everything you do for the rest of your life…wait a minute…isn’t that what is supposed to happen? Let me rephrase the phrase. Imagine a world in which people can look into your brain and determine dominant portions of your personality then place you in the world according to those dominant aspects. There that’s more like it.
Tris finds herself in such a world. Tris’s world is divided into five aspects of personality. You’re abnegation, dauntless, amity, erudite, or candor…or, you’re factionless. Being factionless pretty much means you’re cut off from life. Not too many people question the way things are though, so life is pretty good, or so it seems.
Tris is sixteen and it’s that beautiful age in which she gets to choose her faction. In order to do so, she must take a test. It’s a computerized assessment in which her brain is hijacked. Her response to the assessment determines her dominant personality aspects. She can choose any faction, but the test will let her know which faction she is most suited to. Most people are suited to a faction, most often the faction they are born into. When Tris takes the test, it’s psychologically draining, but a very nice dauntless woman tells her some very disturbing news. Tris does not lean any particular way. She is what Tori calls Divergent, Tori being the name of the woman who administered her test. Tori tells Tris to choose a faction, it’s her choice, but be careful. She should never mention the word divergent to anyone. Tris is a little confused about all of this, but goes along with it.
On choosing day, Tris’ brother picks the Erudite faction. The Erudites are the brainy faction. They do lots of research and come up with lots of inventions. This choice shocks Tris, but it’s her turn to choose. She picks Dauntless. People are shocked that both children from one family have deserted their original faction. People will talk about it for some time.
Tris soon learns that being in Dauntless is no walk in the park. She has to make the cut, or she’ll end up factionless. Her days are filled with learning how to shoot a gun, fight and jump off of moving trains. She also gets the odd tattoo here and there. Tris comes out of the first round of ranking pretty good, but soon finds out there is a second stage of ranking, this time it involves simulations. One of the trainers, Four, appears to have taken a liking to Tris. He protects her to an extent. He’s the one administering her simulation when things go bad. Tris can get out of a simulation in about three minutes. This is three times faster than anyone else. It’s a key indicator that she’s divergent. Four knows about divergent. He tells her to keep it under wraps.
Tris goes along with her training, all the while developing romantic feelings for Four, but soon things turn weird. The Erudites implant all the Dauntless with a tracking chip, it’s in case they get lost. There are rumors, especially from her older brother Caleb, that things are going bad. The Erudite are planning an attack on the Abnegations who rule the government. Nobody knows the information fast enough though. The attack comes and it’s done in such a manner to make innocent people murderers and mind control those who are dauntless alone. Tris is not caught up in this because she’s not dauntless alone, she’s Divergent. She must use all her powers of being not one or the other to stop what is happening.
What I liked
What an interesting concept. I’ve read stories like this before, The Giver, being one story that comes to mind. It seems ever since people have been imagining dystopian societies, they’ve been imagining dystopian societies in which people are broken down into incremental parts of themselves. They become just one function, much like the people in Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. You go from being this complex human being to this one thing. You’re only one thing. You’re never another thing, you’re just one thing, period. You don’t get a chance to change your mind or change your destiny. You don’t get a chance to live the American Dream. Scoff at my quaint usages of the phrase “American Dream,” but we all know what it symbolizes and we all know that it takes conscious choice to get there. If you don’t have conscious choice, how are you supposed to get there?
It’s a story about trying to box people in. You’re this one thing and that’s all you’ll ever be. Sometimes there are people who will be happy with that. It works out well enough for them for a while. They have their needs met because they lean a certain way. People are happy, or rather, they don’t know they’re not happy. Remember A Wrinkle in Time? Remember, how the people of the one planet did everything exactly alike at exactly the same moment? Their choice was taken away. Their uniqueness was taken away. They were squirreled away into these little boxes of humanity even though they had no real shackles. They were happy, at least, they didn’t know they weren’t happy, so that’s just as good as being happy, or so their captors would tell them.
This is a cautionary tale, you cannot define people by one aspect of their being. You can’t; you’ve never been able to; you never will be able to.
What I didn’t like
Does this relationship between Tris and Four not reek of the relationship between Bella and Edward in the Twilight series?
- Bella: I want to be one of you guys. I feel left out. I’m a weirdo at home.
- Edward: I’m all dark and broody; I stick to myself, but I totally can’t resist the hots I have for you.
….you’re my own personal brand of heroin, now, stay here while I go put lots of gel in my hair.
Now just substitute the names…
- Tris: I want to be one of you guys. I feel left out. I’m a weirdo at home.
- Four: I’m all dark and broody; I stick to myself, but I totally can’t resist the hots I have for you.
Yeah, that’s pretty much the same thing. The romantic relationship in this book is very predictable. I guess that’s ok though, because relationships between two teenagers are often predictable.
It would suck to have your fate in life decided because of a personality trait. If that were the case my husband would have to permanently play Scrooge in every production of A Christmas Carol because he’s a humbug. I don’t know what I would be, because I would totally be divergent. They would actually just kick me out. They would be like, “Go and live FAR, FAR AWAY!” Think about it though, your personality can change throughout your life, but it doesn’t change a whole lot. When you were a toddler, you probably displayed many of the aspects you display today. If you were stubborn then, you’re stubborn now. Imagine someone looking at you when you’re a teenage brat and saying, “You go live over there. You’ve got a choice, but not really. If you don’t make the right choice, you’re screwed.” I mean, I guess, teenagers do occasionally make choices like that(getting knocked up on prom night), but overall, teenage choices don’t screw up your entire life. You have a chance to straighten yourself out in real life, in Tris’ world, you don’t, one choice and you live with the consequences forever.
I don’t know whether reading this book will entice me enough to get me to the movie theater to see the upcoming movie, but it’s still quite an interesting book, even if it doesn’t spark enough interest on my part to make me spend money on movie tickets.
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Coming of age, Family dynamics, Fiction, Finding Your Self, Mystery, Post United States, Romantic Fiction, Roth-Veronica, Science Fiction, Social Commentary, what if, Young Adult