Divergent by Veronica Roth
Harper Collins Publishers: New York, 2011.
Pages 487. Grades 7 & 8.
Divergent is super crazy book. It is paired as a read alike to Hunger Games—Divergent hedges on being a more psychological thriller dystopian novel than the Hunger Games! Divergent thinking is defined as: thinking in an unusual and unstereotyped way, e.g. to generate several possible solutions to a problem. The Word Divergent as: tending to be different or develop in different directions. Thank you dictionary.com. So what does that mean to siblings Caleb and Beatrice? It is during their 16th year when they have to choose what they want to devote their life to—not in like a job or a career but what virtues do they hold to be true. Sixteen is the age where you have to choose your faction. Your virtue can determine where you choose to live. Currently, Caleb and Beatrice live in Abnegation—the selfless faction. They put everyone above themselves—this faction runs the government, everything is gray, quiet and calm. Candor faction—always are truthful and honest—which can really be brutal at times. Erudites are the intelligent faction, Amity faction holds peace above all else and Dauntless the courageous and bravest faction of all. All determined by an aptitude test.
Beatrice, I walk into school today with a real sense of dread. It is today that all 16 year olds take the “aptitude test”—it is unlike any test I have ever had. I sit down in the cold steel chair where I get strapped in. Then my head is hooked up with wires and then I am asked to drink the serum. While I am “dreaming or sleeping” the nightmare begins. First, I am faced with two baskets one with a knife and one with cheese. I am told to choose. I take neither! I now turn and I have to face a vicious dog coming at me—what should I do. (I guess the cheese or knife would have been handy here!) Ahh, I remember from chemistry class that dogs can smell fear, I slow my breathing, I tell myself I am not afraid, but the dog still comes toward me—oh yeah I remember hearing you should never look the dog straight in the eye—that is a sign of aggression. So I need to think quick—I lie down, be submissive I tell myself, I can feel the dog’s breath on my neck and then…….I feel a wet sloppy lick. The dog is very docile, it wants to play until a little girl in a white dress runs over……the dog turns on her and is once again vicious. I jump on the dog and the whole scene disappears. I am out of breath and then another scenario pops up. When I awaken I am totally spent and totally nervous about the results. Over the last 16 years I have not really been good at the whole selfless thing—it does come naturally to Caleb—I am sure he will choose Abnegation. But just where do I fit in? The tester comes back in and says my results are inconclusive—I push her. I don’t want to be factionless and live on the streets—that’s a death sentence. She then whispers to me that I am Divergent and I should tell no one. She says she cannot explain and that I can choose any faction I want. I go home to mull it over; I must not speak to anyone until I declare my faction at the ceremony the next day. My brother does not speak to me—he looks drained and devoid of all color. Can I leave my family? I know that Abnegation is not who I am? Can I be brave enough to jump off and on moving trains, always taking a dare from someone, can I be Dauntless. I can always be honest? That is not my strong suit. Peaceful too much like Abnegation. Intelligent, I doubt it. Caleb blows me away when he chooses Erudites. My dad looks angry. I choose, then blurt out Dauntless, my dad is heartbroken but mom looks really weird as I walk away she has the hint of a smile on her face. My faction is chosen and now I must train to be brave and courageous at all times what does that mean? Who will be joining me? Come along and watch my brutal initiate training, see if they can break me after all I tested Divergent or if I have what it takes to be Dauntless?
This novel is violent like Hunger Games was—killing and blood. But the core of this book lies in the psyche—can you control your mind. That is where you will find the answers to your true self, your virtues.