Beatrice Prior lives in a world split into five factions, each one dedicated to upholding and cultivating a particular virtue. The honest Candor, selfless Abnegation, brave Dauntless, peaceful Amity, and intelligent Erudite have been living together in virtual harmony for as long as anyone can remember. Beatrice, who has grown up in Abnegation is thrown for a loop when her test results show that she is Divergent, a term that is so secret that not even she is supposed to know what this means. Despite her fierce love for her family, when the time comes for her to choose which faction she belongs in, Beatrice chooses the brave Dauntless. But not all is at it seems, and Tris (formerly Beatrice) must learn that true bravery requires the use of all the factions, especially if she is going to survive.
My co-workers have been buzzing about this book for quite a while. The books are sold by the truckload. I wasn't resisting reading it, but despite the buzz, no one was actually buzzing about what the book was about, just that Hunger Games fans would love it. This is both a plus and a minus for me. One the one hand, I enjoyed the first book of Hunger Games and really do love dystopian sci-fi. Check out my fan-girl rants about The Maze Runner if you have any question about that. On the other hand, Hunger Games has become the 'it' thing, and every writer is trying to do it with varying levels of success. Because of this I both excited and wary of books that are touted as a you-will-love-this-book-because-you-loved-that-book.
I liked Divergent. Didn't love, but I liked it. The pacing and plot were quick and interesting. Tris is an understandably conflicted character who I expect is going to have some real psychological damage in the sequel. The love story wasn't too heavy handed although I always find it curious when characters fall for each other without knowing a thing about the other person. I wonder what will hold their relationship together once they get past the difficult times and just have to live? It is possible that I consider these things more now that I am married, but it is no secret that I am highly suspicious of the romance elements in any book.
My favorite part about this book is that it kept me guessing. I didn't know what was going to happen or how the story would unfold. For someone who reads as much as I do, this is rather important because I get bored when I can guess exactly what will happen in a story. (Currently trying to finish The Dark Unwinding and I think it is terrible because I know exactly how things are going to turn out.) It was nice to have characters who were truly tough and unlike Hunger Games had chosen to be part of a group in which they were expected to be. The conflict with the characters was in the competition, but the competition, even when life in death, made the Tris and her friends seem more human. It also made their tormentors more human as well.