‘Divergent’ Explores Dystopian World Founded on Virtues

Set in a world similar to the one in The Hunger Games, Veronica Roth’s first book “Divergent”, follows the life of a young protagonist named Beatrice Prior who lives in a futuristic dystopian society in Chicago. There are five different factions dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue: Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful) and Erudite (the intelligent). The Abnegation are the leaders of the government—something that will largely come into play toward the end of the book. At the age of 16, all boys and girls must go through a test on a specific day that will help them choose a faction to live in for the rest of their lives.

Right from the start of the book, Roth gives readers an insight to what life of a Abnegation (the faction Beatrice is born into) is like. Abnegation people are characterized by their gray clothes which symbolizes the simplicity of the principles they live with. The test that determines one’s faction consists of a series of simulations. Depending on the person’s reactions and actions in each simulation, the test simulator will determine their faction. However, Beatrice’s test does not go as expected. Instead, she is left with three choices: Abnegation, Dauntless and Erudite. She is told that it is very rare for someone to have an equal aptitude for more than one faction and that it could be very dangerous if anyone ever found about her. People like her are known as Divergent. Torn between staying with her family and starting a new life, Beatrice eventually chooses to become a Dauntless and leave her old life. This is the first sign of her courage and freedom. However, Beatrice fears that her family will now reject her because of her betrayal and hopes that they will still accept her. It’s easy to tell that Beatrice is unique in her Abnegation society and throughout the book, readers see her transform.

Upon arriving at her new home with the Dauntless, Beatrice changes her name to Tris and begins a new life. Because of the lack of space in the facility, the Dauntless initiates have to fight each other through a series of different trials for ranks to eliminate the weak. This is where the main chunk of the book takes place. If one is not ranked high enough, they will be removed from Dauntless and become factionless—which basically means death. Every initiate is there for themselves and will do what it takes to win. Only the top ten initiates will become members of the Dauntless society.
Since the majority of the story takes place in the Dauntless society, readers find out all about the Dauntless as well as see the various relationships and interaction between people who came from different factions. The Dauntless are constantly doing reckless activities that endanger their lives. Because Tris came from Abnegation, other initiates from different factions insult her by calling the nickname, Stiff. There are certain initiates who strongly dislike Tris and thus try to get rid of her by killing her. Although Tris is nothing like Dauntless at first, she slowly learns how to adapt and survive with the help of one of her trainers, Tobias (nicknamed Four).

At first, Tris thinks Tobias is like all the other trainers. But through a series of interactions, Tris notices that Tobias is different from the rest because Tobias occasionally shows a softer side of him. Tris realizes that there’s more to Tobias than meets the eye and starts to develop feelings for him. Despite the harsh conditions of the Dauntless society, Roth allows their relationship to grow bit by bit. The training and the trials are what allow Tris and Tobias to learn more about each other. With each trial, Tris learns from her mistakes and grows stronger and stronger.

Roth describes every trial and encounter with vivid details that suck readers in. They feel what Tris feels and Roth keeps the readers on edge wondering what thing will happen next. While Tris is constantly in danger, there are a few quiet moments in the book that Roth uses to develop Tris’s and Tobias’s love story. In the midst of chaos, love prevails in the book.

Towards the end of the book, when all seems to be going well, Roth throws a slight curveball at the reader. This incident deals with government corruption and shows the final transformation of Tris. She is what a Dauntless should be. Although it was nicely integrated into the storyline, Roth should have just ended the book a little earlier before the new incident. However, despite the short last part, Roth ended the book at a place that leaves readers wanting to find out what happens next.

“Insurgent”, the sequel to “Divergent”, comes out May 1.