Book Review

Book Review of Veronica Roth’s Divergent

Veronica Roth is one among the new generation of authors who are daring to break-away from the shackles of conservative readership. As part of an English college majors group called “Englies”, Roth writes about futuristic Chicago exposing her readers to a dystopian setting where the society is divided. The title “Divergent” is deliberate in that Roth seeks to express the true nature of humanity; that social division is inherent in human beings. With an established fanbase, Roth was awarded the title of the New York Times’ bestselling author. The Divergent trilogy appeals to both teenage and adult readers. 

The review will focus on the following elements which are critical in projecting the book’s overall message: 

  • Plot 
  • Setting 
  • Character Development 
  • Gender Roles 

Plot

As is evident in Roth’s book, dystopian Chicago is divided into five factions with each being dedicated to the promotion of a designated virtue. The factions are Candor (honesty), Dauntless (brevity), Erudite (intelligence), Amity (peaceful) and Abnegation (selflessness). Each year, all 16-year-olds are requested to select the faction they would like to devote the rest of their lives to. The main character, Beatrice Prior (who is later known as Tris) is conflicted between following what she really wants and staying with her family. She cannot have both options. 

In a series of twists and turns, Roth takes her readers on a bumpy ride characterized by heartbreaking betrayals, startling romance, crowned by electrifying decisions. While Tris does not fit in any of the societies, she becomes an “outlaw” to the authorities and is forced to venture out alone. During her expeditions, she comes across a young man, who ultimately becomes her soulmate and together, they lead a group of “divergents” who try to establish control over a society of their own.

Setting

The focus on Chicago can be perceived as the outcome of Roth’s resident-status. In the story, half-baked loonies are thrown into a social experiment where they are forced to make life-changing decisions. For Roth, Chicago’s status as one of the largest cities in the country, alongside its rather bold architecture serves as a post-apocalyptic center for her story. While she envisions the emergence of authoritarian rule in the near future, “Divergent” uses Chicago as symbol showing where such kind of change might begin. 

Based on the story, Roth does not appear as one who intended to focus on real life. On that account, she immerses herself in a world characterized by imbalance and anarchy. As the authorities, led by Jeanine Mathews, try to establish control over their subjects, they are met with overbearing opposition. Post-apocalyptic Chicago presents readers with a society that is a picture-perfect representation of how the majority undermines the minority. It can be assumed to be Roth’s deliberate attempt to detail the discrepancies inherent in modern society.

Character Development  

At the onset, Tris is presented as an innocent 16-year-old going through the social experiment as it is customary in the dystopian society. While the book is centered on varied aspects, Roth tries to establish a balance between promoting humanity and documenting the possibility of anarchy taking over. Based on the results of the test, Tris does not appear to fit in any of the societies thereby according her the title “divergent”. Roth weaves that particular element of being different and an outcast to relay personality development among characters. 

In Tris, Roth is able to expose readers to a step-by-step experience of how she breaks-away from her society and joins a group of outcasts and rebels called “divergents”. Their inclusion in the book typifies modern-day settings whereby social activists, for instance, challenge stringent and prohibitive government policies. Through the lens of adversity, Roth is able to project characters noting how they evolve from teenage immaturity to being full-blown functioning individuals even without a drastic change in age. 

Gender Roles 

As readers get submerged into Roth’s riveting story, they are exposed to a different kind of set-up where the female character assumes the leading role. While Tris is not a perfect fit for the clear-cut professions already defined by the respective factions, she is forced into exile. Her journey toward self-discovery is, however, not short of dramatic twists and turns that have major influence on her being. 

On one hand, Roth does fall victim to the common insta-romance and the expectation for love and its effect on the characters. For young readers, that particular element might spark some thrill; however, adult readers that are more sophisticated are likely to demand more than just a story of deviance and how love is used as a foundation to support rebellion. To redeem herself from such a common and less than creative approach, Roth matches such annoyances with character choice. For instance, Tris is selfish, vindictive, and manipulative. She is not as dependent on the male hero which establishes a new kind of perspective with regard to gender roles. 

Conclusion 

Roth’s “Divergent” presents readers with a number of positives such as the anticipation of the emergence of authoritarianism. She envisions a post-apocalyptic Chicago marred with social domination over the subjects. The five factions are simply descriptive of controls that are likely to be realized. 

However, Roth partially falls victim to the usual tale of love that rules over the interaction of the main characters. Nevertheless, she redeems herself through placing Tris at the center of the action, giving her a dominating role. 

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