by Veronica Roth
AR Level 4.8, 16 points
I wasn’t going to read this book. I read the Hunger Games trilogy, and figured I put in my time with futuristic society literature. However, my mom read it and enjoyed it, a student practically put in in my bag for me, and my niece read the books. So… I thought if I am forcing my students to read books I choose, I’d better pick up a book someone else recommends for me. So Derek, I only read this for you. P.S. Thank you, Derek! I read the entire book in 3 days, and it’s a pretty long book (but easy reading).
Like Hunger Games, the central character is a strong, independent, but seemingly weak teenage girl growing up in the future, where society is quite different than what we know today. Society is divided into 5 factions, and at age 16, members take an aptitude test that tells them which faction they would best fit in with, although they are allowed to choose which one they want to be in. Beatrice (Tris) has an unusual (and dangerous) result to her aptitude test. She finds that she is divergent, meaning there is not one faction she best fits into. This is considered threatening to the governments of each faction, so she cannot share this information with anyone, including her family. Tris makes her choice and goes through initiation to prove herself and learn to be a member of that faction, despite others who make her life very difficult. She discovers a plot that would destroy the factions and has to do something about it. The first of 4 novels, we are left hanging. I can assume that if this series is anything like the Hunger Games series, there will be highs and lows, joy and sadness, and I’ll end up wanting to throw a book or two at some point.
What I liked about this book is it had everything one would want in a novel: well-developed characters (both likable and hated), fear, sadness, anger, and of course, love. The love story is what is making me want to watch the movie right now as I type this. I had to ask my fourth grade niece part way in if two of the characters end up together, and I was delighted to hear (and later read) that they do. I am not a huge fan of these adventure/action/futuristic novels, but for some reason, if there’s a good love story (like the Katniss-Gale-Peeta trio), I am a sucker for it. (Let me be clear, I was Team Gale all the way, and we know how that ended up…)
What I didn’t like about this book is the manner in which several characters died. I am waiting to find out in the next novels that one of the deaths was not actually a suicide, but a murder. I do not like to think of that kind of betrayal and death by a character I enjoyed. I also don’t like the way Veronica Roth is making me go buy the next book instead of waiting for my niece to bring me the next one. I have a few days left of my vacation, and I do not intend to spend them in front of the tv.
While I would love to recommend this book to everyone, I have to say that there are several parts that are for more mature readers. It makes me uncomfortable to think that my sixth grade student or fourth grade niece read some of the situations that were potentially inappropriate, violent, sexual, etc. So readers, beware when recommending this book (although excellent) to younger readers.
Book 35 of 52