Thursday, September 1, 2011

Divergent


Divergent

YA Dystopian
Rating: PG
Coffee Beans: 5/5
Spoiler Alert: None


This book was in one word: amazing.

And I know I'm going to have to have to give you a lot more than that in order to fully convince you that I'm right. I just hope that I can be coherent about it in this BR.

When I first made the post that this is one the best books I've ever read, I knew it was a powerful statement. I don't throw that title around willy-nilly. Very few books have made it onto my list, to date. I like to think of myself in being an eclectic and well-rounded reader. I don't stick to any one genre, but read across the board. Mystery, literary, YA, sci-fi/fantasy, humor, literary, MG, paranormal, romance (although, not very much), any every combination in between. I don't limit myself and read whatever I can get my hands on and whatever might sound remotely interesting. And I've read a fair amount of books in my short amount of time on this earth (26 years) – nearly a book a week or so since I was probably 12, so about 700 books.

Now, I'm not saying that that in any way makes me a guru or that my words are the gospel truth, but it does lend power to my statement that this is one hell of a great book.

I'll give you the official summary that's on the back jacket flap of the book, because I don't want to give anything away that might spoil it for you, as a reader.

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Roth is such a talented and amazing author. Most YA books are, for the most part, fairly superficial and follow pretty much the same formula (Sacrificing plot for character development, or 2D characters for a great story ARC, etc). But Divergent is much more than the typical YA book. There's a very literary quality to it without being off-putting for young readers.

All of her characters are real and deep –not one is merely a surface character created simply to take space or fill a clich├ęd role. Each one has their own story, their own ARC, and their own motives driving their part of the story. As a whole, the different parts come together masterfully and seamlessly to make one complete, deep and realistic setting and story.

I think what I like most, is Roth's focus on the story telling. She makes that the most important element, and as a natural result, everything else falls into place. The relationship between Tris and Four, Al, and Christina, are so dynamic and real, I found myself nodding and saying, "Yup, I've had a few of those in my life."
The descriptions were also very well done. There's one in particular that made me smile, on page 97 (for those of you with the book) when she describes Eric. It's only a couple of sentences long, but after I read that, I knew EXACTLY what kind of person (not character, because Roth turns them into people) Eric was. I didn't need anything else. And that's something else she does: she makes her words count. Word economy, people. It's a skill I wish I had on her level. There are many more examples I could give (her descriptions of heights that left me sweating), but I'll let you discover them for yourself.

I was hooked from the beginning. When Tris was looking out her school room window, watching the Dauntless rolling in on the train, jumping off as it was still moving, I was sucked into her world. I wanted to be there. I could picture it, I was there. And I said to myself, when they make this into a movie, it's going to rock.

She grips you with vivid emotions that rock your world. At the end of chapter 23 (again, no specific details because I want you to read this book for yourselves), I sat on my front porch, in stunned silence, saying out loud over and over, "Wow. Oh, wow."

I can't say enough good things about the book, except this: Go an pick it up. Or better yet, I have an extra copy. If you want it, let me know and I'll send it to you. If, by some weird freak act of nature more than one person tells me they want a copy, I'll choose the winner with Random.org and ship it out on Monday the 12th.

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