The novel Divergent by Veronica Roth raises some interesting food for thought….has our society allowed people too much freedom? It’s a question worth asking in a world where people divorce after just months, where students take six years to graduate and incur massive student loans because they can’t decide on a major, and where celebrities are required to constantly reinvent themselves. In a world where there are hundreds of kinds of jam, college majors, careers, etc. do we simply have too much choice? Would our lives be better if we lived in a simpler world with fewer choices to complicate our lives?
Enter a world that is ordered into factions, completely different than the society we live in. Veronica Roth creates a world where society decided the price of so much freedom and choice was more than they wanted to pay and more than what was good for society. Divergent is a novel that works on many levels for different age groups. Mature readers will ponder the deep questions, while young readers may view the novel from the viewpoint of teenage rebellion against parental or society’s control. Either way, the book is a riveting read as the protagonist of the story, Beatrice, finds herself at sixteen in a situation in which she must literally decide her own future from the few choices available to the people of her society.
Having grown up in the faction Abnegation, known for their pious and unselfish ways, deep down inside she is not sure their values and way of life represent who she really is. However, to choose another group means saying goodbye not only to her friends and community, but perhaps her own family, as usually people who chose a different faction are sometimes not forgiven by their own family from ‘diverging.’ Her choices are to retain the lifestyle and practices of the faction she grew up in or join the Dauntless, adrenalin junkies who live on the edge and work in dangerous jobs, the intellectuals, Erudite, Amity, empathetic feelers, and Candor, a clan which supposedly always tell the truth.
Beatrice makes her choice during the annual ritual and the book follows the far reaching consequences related to her choice. Everyone must go through an initiation period with their chosen clan and Beatrice discovers a different side of herself while also trying to hide a secret which will put her very life and future in danger if discovered. To complicate her new life, she encounters the enigmatic Four, who may have some secrets of his own. How Beatrice navigates a new culture, new friends and a possible romance already makes for an engrossing read, but the elements of danger, discovery and the unknown made this a page turner. This is one of those books you will read into the wee hours of the morning because you can’t help yourself. The true value of the book is how it will make you examine the deeper questions about your own choices, your place in the world and the nature of our own society.