Monday, March 10, 2014

Divergent-by Veronica Roth

On one of my rare visits to a movie theater last year I saw a trailer for the movie Divergent. It looked like a movie right up my cup of tea with a strong female lead in a dystopian society. And, it turns out, it was based on a book. I always like to read a book before I see a movie based on it, so I read this one in anticipation of the movie's opening later this month.

The setting for this work is some unspecified future time: Chicago, Illinois. Each member of society takes a test at age 16 to determine which faction of society they belong in. There are five factions: Abnegation (the selfless); Amity (the peaceful); Candor (the honest); Dauntless (the brave); and Erudite (the intellectual). Once a person chooses their faction it is theirs for life. There is no crossing over. Those who do not easily fall into one of the factions are called "Divergent" and are considered a danger to the society. The story follows Divergent Beatrice (later called simply "Tris") as she tries to hide from the powers that be.

Overall the story was pretty good and I read it quickly, but I must say I was put off by the fact that the Erudite were the villans in this story, and the only mention of a library was as the headquarters of the Erudite. It all seemed like just more anti-intellectual rhetoric to me. And while not every book I've read about libraries necessarily exalts them, reading about a library as the temple of evil distracted me from enjoying the rest of the book.

I do see the appeal of this work. A novel for young adults, I imagine that most who read it will want to identify with the "divergents", those who do not easily fit into one category - those who can be selfless, and peaceful, and honest, and brave, and smart. I don't think I will rush out to the theater to see the movie though. Perhaps I will watch it when it comes out on Netflix. I am on the fence about reading the rest of the trilogy.

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