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.
Beatrice Prior is about to face one of the most important decisions of her life. Once a year, all 16 years old teenagers undergo a Choosing Ceremony where they choose on which faction of their society they’re going to live from then on. There are five options: the Candor, for those who are candid and value the truth beyond anything; the Abnegation, for those who put other people’s priorities before their own; the Dauntless, for those who are brave and fearless and are going to protect the society; the Amity, for those who are self-sufficient, kind and trusty; and the Erudite, for those who are intelligent and will keep the knowledge. On her society, community is the most important thing. Your faction is your family, doesn’t matter if you were born there or not. The society is divided in factions so they live in peace.
On the day before the Choosing Ceremony, they’re all submited to an Aptitude Test, where their natural characteristics will be shown and hopefully that would help them out when making their choice. Even if the results show they naturally belong to one of the factions, they still can go to a different one after the Choosing Ceremony. However, if the results show they are not cut out for any faction, they become factionless, a shame for anyone. The factionless are homeless and don’t have enough food, they don’t have enough credits to buy clothes and they’re the society’s scum.
Beatrice’s parents belong to Abnegation—her father is one of their political leaders—, and she’s sure her older brother Caleb belongs to the same faction, based on their talks and his attitudes. As part of a faction, they all dress the same way and eat the same kind of food, on the Abnegation they all have the same haircut and Tris is only allowed to see herself in a mirror on the second day of every third month, when her mother cuts her hair. But she’s not sure she belongs to this faction, and when things don’t happen as expected on her Aptitude Test, she’s even more confused. The woman who evaluates her tells Beatrice she’s Divergent, but at the time she has no idea what that means. She’s told to keep her head down and don’t talk about it to anyone, so when Beatrice waits for her turn on the Choosing Ceremony, she’s nervous. Her family is in shock when she chooses the Dauntless as her faction, but there’s no coming back.
Once inside the Dauntless headquarters, she calls herself just Tris and becomes friends with some of the other teenagers who also have chosen to go to a different faction than the one they were born in. She also meets another Dauntless people and they start the initiation, a process that’s going to tell which of them are going to become, in fact, Dauntless. Those who don’t make the cut will become factionless. But Tris is about to find out some people would rather become factionless than go through the tough process that she’s about to face…
I started reading the book before going to bed, as I usually do, and my plans were to read for a little bit and finish reading on the other day. Well, it didn’t work. I couldn’t put the book down, for the following 5 hours I was hooked on this story. It’s been over 2 weeks since I finished reading it and I just couldn’t write about it. Whenever I tried, nothing would come out of my keyboard LOL
Tris reminded me of Rose from the Vampire Academy series. Four, the Dauntless who’s in charge of her initiation, didn’t remind me Dimitri though—and I figured out who he was right away—, but that didn’t really matter. I’ve seen lots of people comparing Divergent with The Hunger Games series, but I haven’t read Suzanne Collins’ books yet, so I can’t really give an opinion about it.
So now you must be wondering why I didn’t rate it “5 books”… As much as I loved the it, I have to agree with Vivien, one of our readers: the villain was very lacking. Different from the dystopian books I’ve read lately—e.g. Matched, The Water Wars, Delirium—, there wasn’t a really big threat on Divergent until the very ending, close to the 450th page. This is the first book of what’s planned to be a trilogy, so we’re still learning everything about Tris’ world, there were a few clues through the way, sure, but I believe it could have been much better put on the story. The last 50 pages of the book were a roller coaster, you’ve got to fasten your seatbelts and keep your eyes wide open or you’ll lose something. I actually did lose one of the deaths—not because I wasn’t paying attention to it, but because, call me heartless, but I couldn’t really care about the character.
You can read the first 100 pages of Divergent here. The adaptation rights of this book were sold to Summit Entertainment. Evan Daugherty has been announced as the screenwriter, but there’s still no releasing date set for the movie.
My favorite quotes on this book are bellow. Those that I consider with spoilers you’ll have to select the text to read—so if you don’t want to read spoilers, just ignore them
We walk together to the kitchen. On these mornings, when my brother makes breakfast, and my father’s hand skims my hair as he reads the newspaper, and my mother hums as she clears the table—it is on these mornings that I feel guiltiest for wanting to leave them.
My father calls the Dauntless “hellions.” They are pierced, tattooed, and black-clothed. Their primary purpose is to guard the fence that surrounds our city. From what, I don’t know.
“Just do what you’re supposed to,” he always says. It is that easy for him. It should be that easy for me.
How can you fail a test you aren’t allowed to prepare for?
“Wait,” I interrupt her. “So you have no ideia what my aptitude is?”
“Yes and no. My conclusion,” she explains, “is that you display equal aptitude for Abnegation, Dauntless and Erudite. People who get this kind of results are…” She looks over her shoulder like she expects someone to appear behind her. “…are called… Divergent.” She says the last word so quietly that I almost don’t hear it, and her tense, worried look returns.
When I look at the Abnegation lifestyle as an outsider, I think it’s beautiful. When I watch my family move in harmony; when we go to dinner parties and everyone cleans together afterward without having to be asked; when I see Caleb help strangers carry their groceries, I fall in love with this life all over again. It’s only when I try to live it myself that I have trouble. It never feels genuine.
It has been this way since the beginning of the great peace, when the factions were formed. I think the system persists because we’re afraid of what might happen if it didn’t: war.
What do I believe? I do not know; I do not know; I do not know.
I think the motto I read in my Faction History textbook: Faction before blood. More than family, our factions are where we belong. Can that possibly be right?
“You chose us,” he says. “Now we have to choose you.”
My problem might be that even if I did go home, I wouldn’t belong there, among people who give without thinking and care without trying.
“We try to be pretty honest about our feelings in Candor. Plenty of people have told me that they don’t like me. And plenty of people haven’t. Who cares?”
“We just… weren’t supposed to hurt people,” I say.
“I like to think I’m helping them by hating them,” she says. “I’m reminding them that they aren’t God’s gift to humankind.”
Four leaving makes me nervous. Leaving us with Eric is like hiring a babysitter who spends his time sharpening knives.
My parents would have no problem answering that question.
But I am not my parents.
Out of my peripheral vision, I see Four shove the door open and walk out. Apparently this fight isn’t interesting enough for him. Or maybe he’s going to find out why everything’s spinning like a top, and I don’t blame him; I want to know the answer too.
“What did you do, memorize a map of the city for fun?” says Christina.
“Yes,” says Will, looking puzzled. “Didn’t you?”
Robert gives me a sad look. “They don’t seem like nice people.”
“Some of them aren’t.”
Then I realize what it is. It’s him. Something about him makes me feel like I am about to fall. Or turn liquid. Or burst into flames.
“I ignore my fears,” he says. “When I make decisions, I pretend it doesn’t exist.”
“He’s in a bad mood today,” mumbles Christina.
“Is he ever in a good mood?” I murmur back.
“I am not sadistic.” He doesn’t yell. I wish he would yell. It would scare me less. He leans his face close to mine, which reminds me of lying inches away from the attack dog’s fans in the aptitude test, and says, “If I wanted to hurt you, don’t you think I would have already?”
Once I’m dressed and the urge to cry is gone, I feel something hot and violent writhing in my stomach. I want to hurt them.
I stare at my eyes in the mirror. I want to, so I will.
My mother and father would not approve of my kicking someone when she’s down.
I don’t care.
I wish I could say I felt guilty for what I did.
Do they know what kind of person their son is?
Then again… what kind of person am I?
“Your daughter is doing well here. I’ve been overseeing her training.”
Since when does “overseeing” include throwing knives at me and scolding me at every opportunity?
Awkwardness aside, it is nice to be liked.
If I want to fight my way to the top ten, I will have to beat them first.
I just hope I don’t have to betray them in the process.
Part of me wonders if this is a suicide mission disguised as a game.
It isn’t the first time I’ve wondered that since the Choosing Ceremony.
What happens between initiation and membership that transforms panic into delight? Or do people just get better at hiding their fear?
“Careful, brother, or I might not tighten your straps enough,” Zeke says. He smacks his knee. “And then, splat!”
“Yeah, yeah,” Uriah says. “And then our mother would boil you alive.”
“Only if she found out.”
My heart beats so hard it hurts, and I can’t scream and I can’t breathe, but I also feel everything, every vein and every fiber, every bone and every nerve, all awake and buzzing in my body as if charged with electricity. I am pure adrenaline.
“Do you ask me that because you think I’ll actually answer?”
“Why do you say vague things if you don’t want to be asked about them?”
But home is not an option anymore. My choices are here or the factionless slums.
“But becoming fearless isn’t the point. That’s impossible. It’s learning how to control your fear, and how to be free from it, that’s the point.”
She smiles. Her teeth are crooked. If I knocked them out, I might be doing her a favor.
At home I used to spend calm, pleasant nights with my family. My mother knit scarves for the neighborhood kids. My father helped Caleb with his homework. There was a fire in the fireplace and peace in my heart, as I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing, and everything was quiet.
I have never been carried around by a large boy, or laughed until my stomach hurt at the dinner table, or listened to the clamor of a hundred people all talking at once. Peace is restrained; this is free.
Have I lost the ability to see what people need? Have I lost part of myself?
I keep walking.
“He’s in bad shape?”
“He’ll live,” he replies. He adds bitterly, “In what condition, I can’t say.”
“You’re a little scary, Four.”
“Do me a favor,” he says, “and don’t call me that.”
“What should I call you, then?”
“Nothing.” He takes his hand from my face. “Yet.”
“I told you before that the third stage of initiation focuses on mental preparation,” he says. I remember when he said that. On the first day. Right before he put a gun to Peter’s head. I wish he had pulled the trigger.
“So now we all know,” says Four, quietly, “that you are afraid of a short, skinny girl from Abnegation.”
Somewhere inside me is a merciful, forgiving person. Somewhere there is a girl who tries to understand what people are going through, who accepts that people do evil things and that desperation leads them to darker places than they ever imagined. I swear she exists, and she hurts for the repentant boy I see in front of me.
But if I saw her, I wouldn’t recognize her.
“Stay away from me,” I say quietly. My body feels rigid and cold, and I am not angry. I am not hurt, I am nothing. I say, my voice low, “Never come near me again.”
Our eyes meet. His are dark and glassy. I am nothing.
“If you do, I swear to God I will kill you,” I say. “You coward.”
I feel the bounce of his footsteps. He is big and warm and clumsy. No, was. That is death—shifting from “is” to “was.”
“Because you’re from Abnegation,” he says, “and it’s when you’re acting selflessly that you are at your bravest.”
“My first instinct is to push you until you break, just to see how hard I have to press,” he says, his fingers squeezing at the word “break.” My body tenses at the edge in his voice, so I am coiled as tight as a spring, and I forget to breathe.
“Fear doesn’t shut you down; it wakes you up. I’ve seen it. It’s fascinating. Sometimes I just… want to see it again. Want to see you awake.”
“Maybe there’s more we all could have done,” he says,” but we just have to let the guilt remind us to do better next time.”
“Sometimes I forget that I can hurt you. That you are capable of being hurt.”
“But then the little things… how he put his arm around me at the funeral, how he opens doors for me like I’m a girl instead of someone who could beat the crap out of him.”
“There were some things I needed to learn.”
“How to be brave?”
“How to be selfless,” I say. “Often they’re the same thing.”
“You won’t shoot me.”
“People tend to overestimate my character,” I say quietly. “They think that because I’m small, or a girl, or a Stiff, I can’t possibly be cruel. But they’re wrong.”
I have no home, no path, and no certainty. I am no longer Tris, the selfless, or Tris, the brave.
I suppose that now, I must become more than either.