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Synopsis of Divergent

Divergent is set in a dystopian world, society is divided into five factions. Each faction values one particular trait – Candor (honesty), Abnegation (selflessness), Dauntless (bravery), Amnity (peace), and Erudite (intelligence). On a specific day, every year all the sixteen-year-olds choose which faction they will be a part of for the rest of their lives. Beatrice Prior has a choice between staying with her family or being her true self. Her choice surprises everyone, including herself. Next comes the competitive initiation where newly names Tris discovers who her real friends are and figure out a budding romance with an infuriating boy. But Tris has a secret. A secret that might kill her if others find out. When conflict arises between the factions Tris learns her secret could help her save her loved ones or it could end her.

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First Impressions

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Divergent is a science fiction dystopian novel with a dash of romance and a whole lot of action. I originally read this book during the boom of dystopian novels. This take on the “perfect” society is different and refreshing with different flaws unique to this society. I liked how the very thing that put Tris in danger is what ultimately saved her life. Plus, it allows her to help those around her. This book does have quite a bit of violence but it was refreshing that Veronica Roth focused more on the psychological damage happening through the violent scenes instead of the gore.

Divergent Parent Guide

Overall: PG-13 for violence and brief nudity (from a prank)
Violence: PG-13 for graphic war scenes and fights
Language: G
Adult Content: PG some kissing
Reading Level: Grades 7-12

Touchy Topics in Divergent

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  • Abuse – One of the main characters has a residual fear of an abuser from their past and confronts that fear.
  • Bullying – Multiple instances of severe bullying happen during the initiation process.
  • Cultural Retraining – Each faction focuses on a specific value above all others and enforce that in everything to the point of mass groups things and handling situations the same way.
  • Brainwashing – Brainwashing and mind control are weapons deployed during the war that happens at the end of the book.
  • Fears – Fear and how an individual reacts in the face of fear is a large theme in the book. 
  • Self-Doubt – Double and triple questioning whether you fit in or made the right choice happens frequent
  • Self Discovery – Tris comes to terms that she is not like anyone else and how she what makes her different is one of her biggest strengths.
  • Death – Many people die in the book from various causes and the characters learn how to react and continue living with it.

Quotes

“We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another.”

― Veronica Roth, Divergent

“Becoming fearless isn’t the point. That’s impossible. It’s learning how to control your fear, and how to be free from it.”

― Veronica Roth, Divergent

“I might be in love with you.” He smiles a little. “I’m waiting until I’m sure to tell you, though.”

― Veronica Roth, Divergent

My Thoughts about Divergent

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This book was at the top of the New York Times best-seller list and won multiple awards for a reason. Divergent is both similar and different from other dystopian novels. You have the broken system and it is partly about that but the book is more about Tris and her self-discovery process within the system. Tris has the choice to follow in her parents’ footsteps or to create her own path. Tris also has to confront and accept all parts of herself. I really enjoyed the book and loved being transported to this new fresh world.

On another note, here is a bit more of a peek inside the book’s violence and other things to be aware of. There is one scene with brief nudity in Divergent. Nothing is described and it is a hazing ritual instead of anything remotely romantic. Violence wise there is quite a bit. During some of the training, they are pitted against each other until someone passes out. Later, multiple people are murdered right in front of Tris. These scenes are graphic but the main focus is the psychological pain and suffering she is going through.

Over all I fully recommend this book to anyone 16 and up. For teens between 13 and 16, this book would be great on a case by case basis.

What to Read Next?

If you are a fan of this book, read the second book, Insurgent. Veronica Roth has written a few other books that you might like too. Check out her website here for more of her books. After that great books to read include Matched, Hunger Games, and Maze Runner. Here is a list of other action-filled books and another list of books with strong female characters.

Happy Reading!

Emily