The narrator of the story is Beatrice, a sixteen year old young woman who prefers to be called Tris. She is a member of Abnegation, a group of humans who have rejected any concepts that might be considered selfish to serve the greater good of humanity.
After going through a testing to determine which of the five groups she belongs in, it is revealed that she is divergent – equally optimum for any of the five groups. This is a world where being equally qualified is not a good thing, and could lead to being cast out.
Tris chooses the faction where she feels safest, the one who she identifies most with. This leads to a fight-or-die initiation process that sends Tris down a path of self-discovery and greater understanding of the world around her.
Tris’ characterization is very strong and bold, but she melts around her instructor, an 18-year old named Four. Hormones rage as she time and time again sacrifices the safety of herself for a daring romantic relationship with this boldly sculpted man. Roth allows us deeper into her heroines mind than most dystopian authors tend to.
This dystopia is, like the vast majority of recent Young Adult dystopia, set in Chicago. I would really have liked more of a description of the weather, but seeing the buildings and trains integrated well provided a delightful visual.
Overall, Divergent is a large story told against the small background of a handful of characters, and it definitely works well. I am looking forward to reading the next two volumes in the series, as well as the various short stories set in the world.
Divergent by Veronica Roth (ISBN:978-0062024039) is published by Katherine Tegan Books.