I'd been meaning to pick up Veronica Roth's Divergent for awhile now, after a few coworkers strongly recommended it to me. I figured it would be some light reading for when I needed a break. Instead what ended up happening is I devoured it in the brief periods of consciousness while I was sick with a sinus infection the other weekend. (And man did that sinus infection kick my ass!)
Divergent plays with the dystopian theme that's been going around teen literature lately and it does it in both an interesting and engaging way. It's kind of like Hunger Games meets Harry Potter (but no magic). Basically the world has divided itself into five "factions" based on character traits their members aspire to embody. Individuals are supposed to somewhat neatly fit into one of the five factions, but humans being humans that's not really the case. At the age of sixteen, everyone is subject to a test that helps them decide what faction they should belong in (which may or may not be the faction their parents are part of) and they then choose to join one of the five factions. In Roth's world faction loyalty comes above all else, even family loyalty.
The story centres around Beatrice, or Tris, raised in the faction Abnegation, and who tests as having equal leanings towards Abnegation, Erudite and Dauntless. By testing this way Beatrice is what is known as "Divergent". She must choose to either stay with her family in Abnegation, where she has never really felt she fully embodies the ideals, or to choose one of her other aptitudes - but she must never, for fear of her life,tell anyone that she is Divergent.
There are several beautifully interwoven storylines here, such as Beatrice's struggle between the choices she makes for herself and what her family wants and the very real danger of being Divergent. There's a touching romantic storyline woven into the plot that's less trite than many teen storylines. This is the first book in a planned trilogy, so of course the plot doesn't completely tie up at the end but everything is fast paced and Roth's writing is engaging.
What I find so interesting about these dystopian novels is how they dissect the human condition and really force the reader to think about what it is that makes us human, allowing equal weight to our good qualities and our bad.
Next up: Salman Rushdie's Joseph Anton, a Memoir. Twenty four pages in and I'm already captivated.