Divergent (review)
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Reviewed by
Roth, Veronica. Divergent. Tegen/HarperCollins, 2011. [496p]. ISBN 978-0-06-202402-2 $17.99 Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 8–10.

In this dystopian adventure set in a future Chicago, citizens derive identity from belonging to one of five factions, and to be factionless makes you essentially invisible. Beatrice has grown up in Abnegation, but the test administered to all sixteen-year-olds reveals that she is actually a divergent, an extremely rare individual who doesn’t respond to the simulations as expected. She is told she could be Erudite, Dauntless, or Abnegation, but it takes Beatrice little time to decide that she belongs with the reckless, apparently fearless defenders of the community—the Dauntless. Once allied with her faction, Beatrice must grapple with her outsider status, some new romantic feelings, the risk to her life from both the initiation rites and those who fear her peculiar status, and her own uncertainty about the five-faction system as a realistic and productive way to shape the world. It’s a lot for one teen to soak in, especially as she’s finally found her niche when pursuing purely physical exertions and she’s tentatively bonding with friends she has clearly longed for her whole life. Beatrice has plenty of folks around her, however, who are aware that change comes through sacrifice, focus, and daring, and Roth wisely allows her protagonist to learn through their examples rather than making her the perfect heroine from the start. Beatrice is all the more likable for her faults, and the rather one-note side characters are acceptable as foils and guides to keep the reader focused on the girl who hopes to change the world. While dystopias are popping up all over right now, the depth and richness of Beatrice herself make this an accessible option for both sci-fi buffs and realistic fiction fans, lending this title a bit more flexibility than most in terms of audience.