I reconnected with two friends from high school, Courtney and Monique, over dinner a few weeks ago. We all lead such different lives now – Courtney is a married mama with an adorable two-year-old who had me in stitches at the restaurant, Monique has a husband and a great job downtown, and I’m our resident single girl with a part-time writing gig and a bunch of courses to upgrade before everything really kicks off in the fall. Needless to say, none of us have much downtime, so a book club seemed like the perfect solution to ensure we still get together on a regular basis.
Because we all bonded over our love of reading as teenagers, we figured that our first few picks should be teen-themed. Courtney went first and chose Divergent by Veronica Roth, which I had never heard of before. Luckily, my neighbour Elizabeth, who is in grade 12, is a voracious reader (my old boss once described me as a voracious reader, and I thought that was one of the loveliest compliments I’ve ever received) and had a copy at home.
Divergent tells the story of 16-year-old Tris, who like all 16-year-olds in her society, has to choose which of the five factions (Candor, Dauntless, Erudite, Abnegation and Amity) she will belong to for the rest of her life. To help them make their decision, everyone – including Tris and her brother, Caleb – have to undergo an aptitude test. Unusually, Tris’s test is inconclusive shows that she has aptitudes for multiple factions. This means that she is a Divergent – a secret that she must guard for fear of her life.
It’s a bit Hunger Games-y in that it has a plucky teenage heroine with plenty of emotional depth, acts of bravery, family loyalty and a lot of adrenaline-pumping action. I’d argue that some of the themes are slightly more adult in Divergent, though. It also reminded me of Lois Lowry’s fabulous book The Giver, especially the Choosing Day scene, which I thought was not unlike the Ceremony of Twelve. The factions are also a little bit like the way Panem is divided into 12 districts in The Hunger Games.
I’m glad Divergent is part of a trilogy (although the third book isn’t out yet), because I definitely want more. It’s pacey and action-packed and I’m really fascinated by the society Roth created for her characters. Fortunately, Elizabeth also has a copy of Insurgent kicking around – another spring read for when my finals are over.
Also: Did you know that Veronica Roth was 22 when Divergent was published? TWENTY TWO. What have I been doing with my life?