Twenty weeks into my 52 books in 52 weeks project and I admit to a little reading fatigue. I learned last year that writing on a deadline is a different experience, and reading on a deadline certainly is too. That's why I was happy that the week 20 pick -- Veronica Roth's Divergent -- was something that I could read, that I wanted to read, quickly.
I don't mean this in a bad way: I've always believed that a quick read is a sign of a book that is well-paced, plot driven and engaging. And so Divergent proved to be.
For those of you who haven't heard of it, here's the official description of the book:
In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, 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 alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are -- and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating 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 unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves... or it might destroy her.
Tris' secret, which you learn about in the first couple of chapters, is that she doesn't really belong to any faction, she is a mixture of traits from several factions, which is called Divergent, and is seen in this dystopian society as something that needs to be repressed. So she hides her secret, but secrets like that are hard to hide.
As I mentioned above, this book is engaging and I read it in a couple of sittings. I've also now started reading its sequel, Insurgent. But I also couldn't help drawing comparisons between this and The Hunger Games trilogy. I'm sure I'm not the first one to say this, and perhaps it's because The Hunger Games is the only other dystopian YA that I've read, but I couldn't help feeling that this book was both inspired by and trying very hard not to be The Hunger Games.
Both books focus on a 16-year-old precocious teen girl that doesn't fit into her faction. In both books, children have to go through a cruel ritual once a year to remind the population of the reason why they are set up into the divisions that now exist -- a past, terrible war. In both books, the girl proves to be a prodigy, and, ultimately, the likely leader of a revolution/some kind of saviour (although religion doesn't really play an overt role in either book).
Don't get me wrong; I enjoyed this book and I understand its popularity. I guess I just wish it had been a bit more... divergent.
I'm feeling like a lighter read for the next week, so I've gone down the list a bit to actress Lauren Graham's debut, Someday, Someday, Maybe. I admit to being a big fan of Graham's, mostly for her humor and wit. If she brings these to traits to the book, I'm sure it will be an enjoyable read.