In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, 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 alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating 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 unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.
I was looking forward to this book last year, but took a long time to get around to reading it.
This book was great! I have mentioned a number of times how much I like reading dystopian fiction, and the idea of society being split into factions centered on different virtues was very interesting, and very different from other stories I’ve read.
Beatrice lives in Abnegation with her older brother and her parents. She loves her family, but struggles to be selfless. She and the other 16 year olds in her school undergo an aptitude test/simulation that is supposed to indicate which faction s/he is most suited for. Her test results reveal that she is something known as ‘divergent’, and seemingly suited to several factions. For reasons she doesn’t understand, the person administering the test advises her to keep this a secret, because her divergence is dangerous.
When Beatrice selects her faction at the Choosing Ceremony, things get really interesting. She has to undergo an initiation of sorts, which is dangerous but exciting for her at the same time. It turns out she may be tougher and braver than everyone thought.
There is a subplot involving political intrigue (not sure that that’s the best way to word it, but I don’t want to reveal too much) which was very interesting. I’m looking forward to reading more about that in the next book (I believe this is the first in a trilogy).
I really enjoyed this book. I liked Beatrice/Tris – she was tough, funny, and like most 16 year-olds, trying to figure out who she is and what she wants. I also liked reading about the other initiates in her faction – trying to figure out who can be trusted, who is a friend and who isn’t, etc. Some characters don’t survive the events of this book, which genuinely surprised and moved me (and which reminded me of the books in the Escape from Furnace series I’ve been reading recently).
I recommend this book, particularly if you’re a fan of the Hunger Games series – they share strong female protagonists, an action-oriented plot, and government/political plot lines. I’m really looking forward to reading the next installment!