The first time I heard the name Veronica Roth was about 18 months ago. I was supply teaching in a grade 8 class and a couple of the girls had the book Divergent on their desks. As soon as the opportunity presented itself, these copies were opened and the girls were in another world until the bell rang for recess. Curious about any book that will get teens reading English, I noted down the author’s name and her book on my to-read list – especially as I was told that this story was better than the one written by Suzanne Collins (read my review of The Hunger Games).
My daughter is now a teenager and I recalled the name of this author when she mentioned one of her friends had read Divergent. When I got a copy from the library, my daughter grabbed it first and began reading it before me. For one and a half days, her nose was buried in the book (perfect summer reading!). She carried the book with her wherever we went – and I had to encourage her not to read while walking!
I did not have long to wait until I could read the book and, on turning the pages, I could understand why I have seen so many teen readers enamoured of this story. The story refers to a society that is divided into factions: Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), Erudite (the intelligent), and the factionless (those who were unable to succeed in gaining entry into a faction). Each faction is dedicated to living out the virtue that it embodies. When a child is sixteen, she/he chooses which faction to join after an aptitude test. In the story, the reader follows the choices and experiences of Beatrice, a sixteen year old born into the faction of Abnegation. The choices she makes are unexpected, and her experiences lead her to the realisation of what is happening in her society.
Divergent draws the reader in. Roth’s descriptions allow the reader to see into the mind of the protagonist, and to move through the character’s experiences as if next to her. The reader is eager to learn more, and to discover what choices will be made. By the time I reached the end of the story, I had joined my daughter in her desire to read the second book in the trilogy. The novel is a perfect teen read and will also be enjoyed by adults who enjoy reading subtle critiques on our society.
Do you enjoy reading dystopian novels?
© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013