In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue-Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is - she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself. During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are - and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves... or it might destroy her. Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series - dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions
Welcome to Dystopia!
The release of the movie version of The Hunger Games has introduced more readers, both adults and younger to this broadening genre of dystopian fiction. It has been around for a while (“1984”), but has really exploded in recent years, especially for the young adult market. The Hunger Games is truly a standout work, but there are others worth reading. One of these is Divergent, by Veronica Roth. Its sequel, Insurgent, was recently released, and a third novel to complete the trilogy is expected in Fall 2013. In futuristic Chicago, all 16 year-olds must choose a ‘faction’, a segment of their society in which they will live permanently. The factions are Amity, Erudite, Abnegation, Candor, and Dauntless and were formed to combat their antitheses, qualities they believed were responsible for the world’s disarray. Amity(friendship)grows the food, Erudite(intellectuals) teach and store knowledge, Abnegation selflessly care for health and welfare, Candor(truthful) run the government, and Dauntless, (fearless) are the defenders/enforcers of the community. When our heroine, Tris, is given her aptitude test, she does not fit in any one category. It can be dangerous to be Divergent, so her official results are hidden, and although she’s been raised Abnegation, she finds her best fit in Dauntless. The first novel covers her initiation and training into her faction, and of course, hints at the beginning of a romance. In the sequel, Insurgent, we begin to see the further breakdown of this ‘perfect’ society. Roth keeps the action relentless, and does not shy away from violence. Be forewarned; it’s likely one of your favorite characters won’t make it to the end. The idea of factions makes the first novel intriguing, but this begins to wear thin in Insurgent, as loyalties are strained within factions and unlikely alliances are formed. I loved the inventiveness of the factioned society and the idea that labeling people and pigeon-holing them can have disastrous consequences. The teen characters are believable human beings, strong, yet displaying some of the gullibility of the young. I heartily recommend Divergent as a good read for anyone who enjoys dystopian fiction, and depending how badly you want to know what becomes of Tris and her friends, you can go on to read ‘Insurgent’. I will read the final book in the trilogy, hoping the author introduces something equally as innovative as the first book. Perhaps these residents of Chicago may come to find out they are not as isolated as they believe!
If you liked these books, here’s a few more which feature heroic teens living in dystopia!
Feed by M. T. Anderson (brain implanted computer chips link teens and feed advertising)
Legend by Marie Lu (Republic of US at war with its Colonies – most like Hunger Games)
-- by Michelle D.