11 January 2014

Book Review: Divergent

I am learning just how bad I am at blog upkeep, but between school, directing an independent film (www.thescarletlettermovie.blogspot.com), keeping in contact with friends and family, volunteering, and getting involved in Church and Bible studies, I don't think about blogging in my spare time, rather I think about reading (the books I really should blog about) or writing (which I consider a very worthwhile expenditure of time). Anyways, just being honest here. Without further ado: 



Title: 
Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth

Synopsis: Beatrice (Tris) is a sixteen year old girl in futuristic, dystopian Chicago which is now a city filled with five factions which each value one specific character trait: Courage (Dauntless), selflessness (Abnegation), peace (Amity), intelligence (Erudite), and honesty (Candor). At the age of sixteen, every individual must take a simulation test which will tell them in which faction they belong. They must choose which faction they wish to become a part of, and they must hold to the saying "faction before blood," leaving their families behind for a new life and a new family within their chosen faction. However, Tris is divergent, meaning that she can warp simulations so that the test does not work on her, and she is not told in which faction she belongs. She chooses Dauntless, a military-like faction and must face her worst fears as part of the initiation process, all the while being told that she must tell no one that she is Divergent because her life is in danger.

Positives: Tris struggles throughout the book with selfishness over selflessness, but when it really matters, she is selfless, even laying down her life in multiple instances. Moreover, Tris shows true courage and compassion in her care for others. Tris' family thanks God for the meal before eating dinner.

Negatives: There are a few instances of language. When someone commits suicide in the Dauntless compound, one of the leaders extolls it as taking great courage, however, Tris is disgusted by his eulogy and mourns the loss of a friend. Tris is brutal at times, taking her anger out on others in hand to hand fighting or later, shooting an enemy in the hand to make him talk. Additionally, Tris shoots a friend who is being mind-controlled by the enemy. There is also a love relationship between Tris and a leader in Dauntless. She touches him, kisses him, spends an afternoon in the same bed as him, and they discuss sleeping together in the near future. Additionally, a Dauntless leader, Four, has a history of abuse from his father including getting whipped with a belt and locked in a closet. Finally, in the end there is a lot of death as war breaks out, and Tris is engaged in the battle, killing and watching friends be killed.

Messages: 
-Selflessness v. selfishness
-Faction v. family 
-True bravery 


Conclusion: This book would make for an excellent discussion. There were a lot of thoughts concerning true bravery, selfishness, and strength. It also didn't sugarcoat real life which I appreciated. However, I would warn readers that there is negative contact (as discussed above), and the book is geared toward a more mature audience. It doesn't end happily ever after, but it's worth the journey. I also enjoyed the bits of psychology that Veronica Roth wove into her story.  I would recommend it for boys or girls 15+.

Rating: 4 (Liked it!)

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