- Release Date: February 28th, 2012
- Title: Divergent (Book 1)
- Author: Veronica Roth
- Pages: 487
- Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
“A brave man acknowledges the strength of others.”
November 25th, 2011 was the day I got my first tattoo. Excitement certainly played a role on the big day but in all honesty, I had been making this decision for so long, it felt like I had already gotten the deed done. My mother had already condemned me, my father had already told me “It’s your life”, and my church mum had already laughed at the thought. So all fun and misery-laden thoughts aside, I made the appointment and girded myself for the soon-to-come “pleasurable pain”.
I chose to get the West African Adinkra symbol called “Dwennimmen” used for the aphorism “humility together with strength”. How did I come across this symbol or new world of concepts, you may ask? YouTube of course! And if you don’t already know, I am an avid watcher of said network. I’d been watching a natural hair tutorial and the guru was wearing a pair of unique earrings. Luckily she linked the jewelry shop in her description box and voila–Rachel Stewart Jewelry appeared on my screen. Once I laid my eyes on the Dwennimmen earrings, I knew I’d have to have them.
However, I still wondered about the jewelry. Where was Rachel getting these awesome names and ideas from? So I took the chance, Googled “Dwennimmen” and up popped the Adinkra site of various symbols cherised in West African cloth and culture. The earrings were more like the icing on the cake after I found out the meaning behind this and other symbols in the West African culture. To this day I still cherish my very first tattoo. It needs a little re-touch but It’ll forever be a reminder that as a strong person, I must always stay humble in every aspect of life.
DIVERGENT, the first installment of Veronica Roth’s dystopian series has also instilled this in me. I must say, her novel was quite a read. So lets get into it, shall we!
Set in a futuristic dystopian Chicago, society is split into five factions based upon the personality and heart of an individual. These factions include the Dauntless (protectors of civilization), Erudite (the intelligence of society), Amity (the peaceful and agricultural factor of society), Candor (the honest mouths of society), and the Abnegation (the selfless do-gooders of society). These factions were made and instilled to put an end to war and disagreements among various civilizations. Once a youth of each faction turns the age of 16, they take an aptitude simulation test in school and based on their results, they have the option of choosing a faction they’d rather be with. That can consist of either staying with the faction they were born into, or choosing a faction they tested positive for.
The results of this test helps youth decide their possible future. However, as revealed in the novel, there have been inconclusive tests where a youth tests for more than two possible factions. And this is where our main character, Beatrice Prior comes into play. Those with inconclusive tests are labeled as “Divergents” because their personal chemistry does not settle with one particular faction and as a result they eventually aren’t able to be placed or–in the eyes of faction leaders–controlled. Divergents thus cause trouble for society and must be destroyed.
Other than the trouble Divergents cause, society also has a “rejection pile” of youth they ban from society if the youth can not successfully initiate to a faction of their choosing, potentially becoming factionless, homeless, and unworthy of residing within the gates of this dystopian society. When Beatrice realizes she is Divergent, she is told to keep it a secret so she takes the advice and decides to choose a faction she tested positive for as if nothing went wrong during her simulation. However, during her initiation, she experiences adverse side affects that could reveal her secret to her new faction and others. And it does not help that throughout her training, she learns that arrogance is a rampant side affect of dividing society into “noble” factions.
Though the Dauntless are protectors, they are also rough and ruthless to their peers. Though the Candor are honest, they are also rude and boastful. Though the Amity are peaceful, they force goodness which contradicts their purpose of nurture. Though the Erudite are intelligent, they are also known to power trip and spread rumors about other factions. And though Abnegation are known to be selfless, they are, in return, emotionless and cold to their own kind.
This novel delves into the exploits of these “noble” factions and how Divergents are in actual fact a bit more healthy and realistic to society. It reveals how a civilization can still fall when too much control burdens the potential of a single individual.
Beatrice “Tris” Prior: The protagonist and problem of society. Born into Abnegation, Beatrice narrates this first installment and shares how her internal thoughts do not match that of her faction. She knows she is not selfless, is naturally curious, and wants to experience more to life than community service. After finding out she tests positive for three various factions instead of just one various, she chooses to leave her family behind to start a new life as a Dauntless. She keeps her secret of being a Divergent and adapts to life as a member of Dauntless by getting tattoos and a new attitude toward life. The practice of getting tattoos seem to be highly respected in the faction and Tris appreciates the freedom but slowly she realizes her true identity will soon be discovered if she can not blend well enough with her new found faction.
Tobias “Four” Eaton: Meets Tris after she chooses to be the first to dive first into a black hole during the initiation process with Dauntless. Not a common choice for a former Abnegation, or “Stiff” as the Dauntless like to call them. Four is 18 years old and ranks first in his training class but chooses to take a second rank to his rival, Eric. He turns out to be someone special in Tris’ eyes and though she can’t understand why, the two eventually get drawn to one another. Though Four is suppose to be Tris’ teacher, he eventually voices his interest in her and they discover that they are more alike than they originally thought. Four is also hiding secrets and they get revealed in this first installment. He is a perfect match for Dauntless but strives to achieve the characteristics of all five factions; not just his own.
Eric: Four’s rival and partner while training Tris and the new initiates of Dauntless. He has multiple piercings to match his sharp soul. He does not show mercy for anyone and clashes with the initiates for the sheer fun of it. Born an Erudite, Eric proves himself to be a force to reckon with in Dauntless but can not stand being second to Four. In turn, he gives everyone hell and has twisted the purpose of what Dauntless is really about. Originally it was about being courageous and fearless, but Eric’s idea of the two seem to get the faction in hot water with the other factions. Still because he is the leader, he is able to manipulate the system, a common trait of a born Erudite.
Jeanine Matthews: is the main antagonist of the novel. Born, raised, and later declared a true Erudite, she knows the potential damages Divergents cause toward their war-free society. Jeanine sees Divergents as a big problem to handle but also targets the Abnegation faction because she does not believe they achieve and exude what their faction’s purpose was originally formed for which was to help those without and to stand selfless in their own eyes. Matthews is the main threat to Tris and as the novel wears on, the two violently clash; both in search of a better way to accomplish a safer form of civilization. Though Jeanine’s way is more “final” whereas Tris’ way is more logical. Weird seeing as how Jeanine is the Erudite and Tris is not.
Of course, you can click here if you wan t a full list of the trilogy’s characters.
My purpose for the story about my tattoo up above was because like Tris, I too see life as a need to experience and learn from mistakes. Tattoos are not accepted in my family and for Abnegation, tattoos are a selfish act–an act of vanity. I’m sure a few members in my family have tattoos but on a whole, it is seen as a sin and a mar on the body God gave us. But it is Tris’ way–and mine too–of standing ground for what we believe where it concerns distinguishing ourselves from others. Our tattoos mean something significant to us. And will always remind us of what we believe is good and wholesome.
At first I didn’t know what to make of this novel. I am not particularly interested in these dystopian stories. I didn’t care for Hunger Games and I found books like it pretty depressing. But like I’ve stated in a previous post, I did not want to stick to my occasional “pay-yo-rent” books. I wanted to read substantial work that sparked debate and had the youth of our generation on their toes. After all, at the young, young age of 24, I still see myself as a youth (>_>). When I began reading Divergent, I had already made up my mind that I would like it. And I did. So much so that I purchased Insurgent (the trilogy’s second installment) right away.
The adventurous factor of this book crept up on me. It was not exciting from the beiginning and even it’s rising action was quite dull. But the information I learned was what kept me going. To have my imagination be dropped into such a world was interesting. It felt great to think outside of the box. The simplified grammar was also appreciated. Definitely a difference from John Green’s “The Fault in Our Stars”. I mean, which 16-year-old do you know in this day and age that uses such vernacular as that in Green’s novel. I’m not knocking him. I just appreciate when authors–especially YA authors–use a more realistic wording in their writing.
I can not wait to see what happens in Insurgent… though I just fucked up further surprise by reading a spoiler about Allegiant on Wikipedia. Anyway, I also can not wait to see the Divergent Movie in March.
Hope you all enjoyed my review of Veronica Roth’s Divergent.