I expected when I picked up this book, that it would take me at least a month to finish. However it only took me around a week and a half. It would not have taken me that long if not for Easter and the other holy days that week. Every time I picked up Divergent, I was drawn into the story and did not stop for air for 30 or 40 pages. Veronica Roth wrote this at a fast pace, although it is not all just action. The family conflicts, faction conflicts, romance, and daring situations are all equally captivating.
Tris or Beatrice as she starts the story is trying to decide which of the five factions to join. She has always been part of Abnegation, which values selflessness. Beatrice is not selfless, at least not completely. When she and the other sixteen year olds, including her brother, take their aptitude tests, Beatrice's is inconclusive. She is really a Divergent, someone who has values from other groups and cannot be controlled by the simulations. Her instructor hides this fact, warns Beatrice to tell noone her results, and her instructor, Tori, labels her Abnegation. Beatrice must decide if Abnegation, Erudite, or Dauntless is her future at her choosing ceremony. Erudite is the enemy of Abnegation, because they want luxuries, while Abnegation does not believe in self indulgence. Abnegation is in charge of the government, because of their selflessness, but other factions desire power. Erudite believe they should rule, because they value knowledge. Dauntless is fearless and values bravery. Amity values kindness, and Candor values honesty. These values came about after the destruction of the world and in its rebuilding, each faction picked the antithesis of the vice they believed destroyed the world. For Beatrice her choice is difficult, she loves her family, but is not selfless enough for Abnegation. When her perfect brother makes a shocking choice, Beatrice must decide if she is courageous enough to do the same thing. I won't give away her choice, but it does have major consequences in the story, because a war is coming.
The faction angle was very interesting and you can't help trying to decide as you read, which faction you would choose. The factions stress faction over blood, but Roth shows that is not always possible. Beatrice changes her name to Tris, after the choosing ceremony. As Tris she makes friends who have transfered from other factions, and meets Four, with whom she falls in love. The story is at times really heart-breaking and I can't wait for the sequel to see how some of Tris's choices play out.
Favorite Characters: This is a hard one. For me it was hard to like any of the characters, but I think that is because they are all so flawed. I think that is part of the point of the story, that people are flawed. I admired some of the characters, like Tris's parents and their selflessness. Tris, I both liked and did not like. She is extremely strong, but to the point that she is so independent, she does not bond well with others. This is mainly because of upbringing in Abnegation, but at times she seems heartless. At other times she seems willing to die for others. She is starting to change at the end of the first book, so I feel like by the end of the second, she will be more likeable. I do like that she really does not need anyone, because often female heroines are very dependent upon their male love interests. Four is probably the most likeable character. He is a selfless kind of brave and while flawed, his flaws make him more likeable.
Favorite Quote: "I believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another."
I really, really enjoyed this book. One thing that is often missing from dystopia novels is religion and while it is barely mentioned in this book, Tris thinks back to the religion of her youth and at the end hopes she is a good person. I think this adds to the depth of the novel. There are so many different issues you could focus on and discuss. This would be perfect as a book discussion. Also it would be a good recommendation for those who liked Hunger Games.
As far as a rating goes, this is easily a 5 bars of chocolate book! This may even be my favorite book this year. It will definitely be in the top ten list.