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.
I do believe that I haven't read a book this fast since...The Hunger Games? I finished it about twenty minutes ago, and I am still reeling from speechlessness - and let me be the first to tell you that I am often not speechless. I am containing my inner fangirl right now, but I want to screech with happiness and excitement and THIS BOOK WAS SO FANTASTIC! Oh my gosh. I say a lot of books are addictive, but this is a whole new level. Yesterday, I read about 300 pages. Because I couldn't put it down. Literally. I was waiting to go into Geography, and I was reading it; I was walking around my school and reading it (and bumping into several people, but that's besides the point); I ignored my friend's at lunch because this book was practically glued to my fingers. Now that probably sounds like I'm being overdramatic, and the book technically wasn't glued to my fingers, but it might as well have been. I don't think I can find words to properly explain how great this was, but I'll give it a go:
First off, the overall plot: in the future, a city is split into five different factions who each have different morals: Amity believe in kindness, Abnegation believe in selflessness, Dauntless believe in bravery, Candor believe in truth, and Erudite believe in knowledge. At the age of sixteen, on a specific day, everyone has to be put through an aptitude test, and then the next day and forced to choose which faction they want to belong to for the rest of their lives. The catch? The city motto is faction before blood, meaning that if you choose a different faction from your family, you are not allowed to see them again. Now many people say that this book is a lot like The Hunger Games, but I disagree. This version of the future is so much harder, and I love the idea of it because, in a way, it is plausible; one way to end war is to split up humans into groups where they can get along with one another. But when they are put together, the war rises again. I think the moral behind this story is that you can't contain human beings and control them to try and maintain peace, because everyone is individual and has a range of different qualities - you cannot expect people to be able to completely fit into just one category. And that is what happens with Tris, the main character. She is a Divergent, as the title suggests, which means the aptitude test didn't eliminate four out of the five factions out, meaning that she could fit in with two or more. The story is about her fight to fit in with one faction: but how is that possible, when really, you belong to several?
Even though I don't want to sound like a mushy sop, my favourite part about the book was the relationship between Four and Tris. From the start, you don't really know where it's going to go - does he like her in an intimate way, or does he view her as an annoying little girl? He's dangerous but so gentle at the same time, that at moments you are worried he will hurt someone, and the next moment you are worried someone will hurt him. I loved the suspense their relationship had, because most of the time you're not sure what is going to happen: it could go any which way, which keeps you on your toes as you read.
I did like the characterization in general, to be honest. In a lot of books, it is kind of set out already about which characters the audience will like and dislike - and admittedly, you hate Jeanine, Eric, Peter, Molly, Drew...but with the other characters, Roth allows you to form your own opinion about them - Christina, Will, Al, Marcus, Tobias, Tori, Caleb, Uriah, Marlene, Zeke - I bet if I went around asking people, they would all feel attached to different characters than myself. Personally, I adored Tobias, Tori, Caleb, Uriah and Will.
Overall, I adored this book, and I am in love with the series. If you loved The Hunger Games, Matched, Bumped, Noughts & Crosses and any other dystopian-future book, you will adore this just as much, if not more. I'm going to try and get my hands on Insurgent, the next in the series, very soon: so watch this space.