We’ve gone through several phases in YA lit. Here are just a few: years ago there was the fairy tale to novel (Beauty/McKinley, Zel/Napoli, etc.), then there was the mythology to novel (Percy Jackson, Nobody’s Princess/Friesner, Sirena/Napoli), next came the divine and the demonic (Demon’s Lexicon/Brennan, Hush, Hush/Fitzpatrick, Beautiful Creatures/Garcia, etc.) and most recently, the vampiric (do I really need to list these?). Now, all the rage is the dystopian, post-apocalyptic fiction that has it’s grip on YAs. The most recent entry is Divergent by Veronica Roth. It has all the earmarks of a good dystopian novel…the world as we know it has been destroyed; society has had to reorganize itself to survive but that organization is now in peril. You also have a boy and a girl hero, though the focus is on the girl. This one, however, is just a little different and a lot disturbing!
In a Chicago of the distant future, Beatrice lives with her family and the rest of her faction in peace and harmony. Society has split into 5 distinct factions, all based on a particular personality trait. Those who live in Candor tell the truth, always and know when someone else is lying. Those who are Abnegation are the selfless helpers. They put others’ needs before their own. The Dauntless are the brave fighters. Nothing frightens them because they have conquered their fear. The Amity are the peace keepers, striving to create accord between the factions. The Erudite are the thinkers. They value scholarship above all else. When you turn 16, you go through an aptitude test which will help you choose to which of these factions you will spend the rest of your life. Beatrice is unsure of what her test results will tell her. She’s never felt selfless enough to stay with Abnegation and has always admired the audacity of Dauntless. Her test results, it turns out, don’t help. She is told that her results were inconclusive but, in reality, her tester explains that she is Divergent that that is very, very dangerous. Like, it could get you killed kind of dangerous! Now Beatrice must make her choice…and that is just the beginning of her troubles! Things are changing. There is an undercurrent that she doesn’t understand and when she finally figures out what’s going on, it’s nearly too late. Now she will have to fight friends and enemies alike to save herself and both of her factions!
Roth is an excellent storyteller and her dystopian world is an interesting, unique one. The characters are flawed but likeable and you will find yourself rooting for the underdogs and shocked at the actions of one of them. It’s a riveting tale with a mostly satisfying ending ( okay, I’d like to know more about what happens next). Don’t miss this one!!!