Sometime in the distant future Chicago has been split up into five factions. Each is designed to cultivate a virtue and work toward the greater good of the city. Beatrice Prior was raised in Abnegation, but she has never felt like she fits into the selfless world of her parents. After an inconclusive aptitude test Beatrice makes shocking choice that leads her to tasking physical and mental challenges, new friends, some enemy's and a word that she has to keep secret - Divergent.
We seem to live in a world where everyone wants to create a dystopian society, especially in YA books. Veronica Roth isn't an exception. However the society she creates in Divergent is completely compelling. Instead of an oppressive government Roth gives her readers factions. The factions separate the general population based on virtues like bravery, selflessness, kindness, bravery and truthfulness. The beauty with the factions is that while they clearly aren't ideal, they aren't inherently good or evil. It's easy to fall into the black and white distinction between hero's and villains and it's so refreshing that that doesn't happen here. The shades of gray make Divergent, and it's subsequent books very real.
Besides an interesting world, Roth created dozens of interesting characters. Tris and Four could easily have felt like cardboard cut outs of characters from other series but they shine through the pages. They're interesting, and just flawed enough to make them relateable. More importantly, Divergent doesn't become about their relationship. True there is some romance, but there is so much more happening than a girl obsessing about whether or not a boy likes her. Tris is strong because she can be more than just brave or just selfless. She has complex relationships with her family, has to figure out how to be herself among her new friends and still compete through a series of increasingly rough initiation tests.
This review has been particularly hard for me. I really loved this book. I started it during the great snow storm two weeks ago and finished it in a day. I was so grateful to have my kindle and be able to download the second book immediately. The pacing was perfect. I loved the characters and the world they lived in. If you're looking for a YA series to get you through the cold winter months I would definitely recommend trying out Divergent. It's pretty much a perfect start to a series.
Note: There's a movie coming out in March. Based off the trailer I'm not completely sold on it, but it still looks like it could be a good time.