“See if you can figure out why they call me Four."
Divergent, book one
ebook, 487 pages
Published May 3rd 2011 by Katherine Tegen Books
(first published April 25th 2011)
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.
It's that time again. Time for another attempt at finding and reading a Young Adult book... and actually enjoy it.
Divergent - the book.
Beatrice was born in a world where cultures are strictly defined and abided by. Her family, including her mother, father, and older brother, Caleb, belong to the Abnegation faction. They are to be selfless. Absolutely no vanity of any kind is welcome among those in Abnegation.
Divergent opens up on the day of Beatrice's aptitude test, where she drinks a vial of clear liquid and suddenly finds herself in a different place, challenged by riddles. First, pick a basket: cheese or knife. Frightened, curious, and confused, despite the yelling at her to choose, she does not. Suddenly a dog appears. Growling. She can't bribe it. She can't fight it. There's nowhere to run. She chooses, based upon her knowledge of the beast, to show submission. A girl emerges, the dog attacks, and Beatrice saves her. From there, she is on a bus with a man who asks if she knows someone. A murderer. She does, or feels like she does. She tells the man no and in so, cannot save him.
In the end, only two factions have been ruled out: Amity (the peaceful) and Candor (the honest). Beatrice is equally able to belong to Abnegation, Dauntless, and Erudite (the intelligent). She is Divergent.
I chose to read this book for it's upcoming theatrical release and I've never read a book-to-film before. From its trailer I knew there was a love interest, though I had avoided learning whom. I first assumed it was a young man Beatrice, now Tris, met upon her arrival in the Dauntless faction. A man with no name. He was the one person she considered in a positive light. It was Four, however, who came to captivate Tris, and myself for that matter. And thankfully so. The alternatives were certainly not an option.
- I could not be attracted to Al. I could not be attracted at anyone that fragile.
Praise be for that!
So yes, Tris chose Dauntless while Caleb, her "selfless" brother, chose Erudite. Throughout the first week of initiation, Tris must learn to fight, to shoot, and to overcome the ever present bullying she receives from a boy named Peter and his friends. She manages to find friendship with Christina, Al, and Will while Four is ever attentive throughout the process.
WARNING: Spoilers ahead!
“Fine.” He leans his face closer to mine, his eyes focusing on my chin, and my lips, and my nose. “I watched you because I like you.” He says it plainly, boldly, and his eyes flick up to mine. “And don’t call me ‘Four,’ okay? It’s nice to hear my name again.”
Just like that, he has finally declared himself, and I don’t know how to respond. My cheeks warm, and all I can think to say is, “But you’re older than I am…Tobias.”
He smiles at me. “Yes, that whopping two-year gap really is insurmountable, isn’t it?”
“I’m not trying to be self-deprecating,” I say, “I just don’t get it. I’m younger. I’m not pretty. I—”
He laughs, a deep laugh that sounds like it came from deep inside him, and touches his lips to my temple.
“Don’t pretend,” I say breathily. “You know I’m not. I’m not ugly, but I am certainly not pretty.”
“Fine. You’re not pretty. So?” He kisses my cheek. “I like how you look. You’re deadly smart. You’re brave. And even though you found out about Marcus…” His voice softens. “You aren’t giving me that look. Like I’m a kicked puppy or something.”
“Well,” I say. “You’re not.”
For a second his dark eyes are on mine, and he’s quiet. Then he touches my face and leans in close, brushing my lips with his. The river roars and I feel its spray on my ankles. He grins and presses his mouth to mine. I tense up at first, unsure of myself, so when he pulls away, I’m sure I did something wrong, or badly. But he takes my face in his hands, his fingers strong against my skin, and kisses me again, firmer this time, more certain. I wrap an arm around him, sliding my hand up his neck and into his short hair. For a few minutes we kiss, deep in the chasm, with the roar of water all around us. And when we rise, hand in hand, I realize that if we had both chosen differently, we might have ended up doing the same thing, in a safer place, in gray clothes instead of black ones.
After reading this book, I re-watched the trailer and was pleasantly surprised at the many scenes that I reacted to in reading that actually made it into the preview. His hand on her belly for one. Though, in the book, he brushed skin. A note: About 80% of the trailer is 30% of the book.
I'm very curious what they'll change. What they'll add. What they'll manipulate.
I never would have guessed Four was only eighteen. Could blame the trailer for that (the actor is about my age) but seriously, he should have been in his twenties.
The book ends at a slightly quickened pace, and disaster is, for now, averted. But it doesn't come without its casualties. Tris loses her parents and most of her friends. She's the reason for their deaths. She's even the cause for some. Four becomes her enemy although finds redemption before the final page turn and we leave them with their world on the brink of war.
Love is requited. Sex is put off. (And for a YA, I'm so very grateful for that.)
He turns toward me. I want to touch him, but I’m afraid of his bareness; afraid that he will make me bare too. “Is this scaring you, Tris?”
“No,” I croak. I clear my throat. “Not really. I’m only…afraid of what I want.”
“What do you want?” Then his face tightens. “Me?”
Slowly I nod. He nods too, and takes my hands in his gently. He guides my palms to his stomach. His eyes lowered, he pushes my hands up, over his abdomen and over his chest, and holds them against his neck. My palms tingle with the feel of his skin, smooth, warm. My face is hot, but I shiver anyway. He looks at me.
“Someday,” he says, “if you still want me, we can…” He pauses, clears his throat. “We can…”
I smile a little and wrap my arms around him before he finishes, pressing the side of my face to his chest. I feel his heartbeat against my cheek, as fast as my own.
“Are you afraid of me, too, Tobias?”
“Terrified,” he replies with a smile.
It took a good while for me to really get into this book. Well past half way. It was the world itself that had me intrigued for the first half. The characters won me in over in the second. My advice in reading this book? Pay Attention.
In many stories there are moments not all that pertinent to the plot but necessary nonetheless. Moments that serve merely to allow the reader a further glimpse into the character. Time, or events, that allow you to relate to the hero/heroine. To even bond. In Divergent, that's not the case. Every scene is vital. And it may seem jumpy at times. But every conversation will come round to a full circle. And in the revelation of this highly structured world's details, I can only hope, will a bond arise with Tris.
I still stand by my feelings toward YA characters. They're shallow. Too young. Too green. Their biggest problems have yet to brush the pains of life. But Divergent got me. It really did.
“I have something to tell you,” he says. I run my fingers along the tendons in his hand and look back at him. “I might be in love with you.” He smiles a little. “I’m waiting until I’m sure to tell you, though.”
“That’s sensible of you,” I say, smiling too. “We should find some paper so you can make a list or a chart or something.”
I feel his laughter against my side, his nose sliding along my jaw, his lips pressing behind my ear. “Maybe I’m already sure,” he says, “and I just don’t want to frighten you.”
I laugh a little. “Then you should know better.”
“Fine,” he says. “Then I love you.”
I may or may not continue to Insurgent in the future, but I will go on to the short stories of Divergent, told through Four's eyes. His story is the prequel. His story is the tale I want to hear told.
3.5 out of 5 stars.
Divergent - the film.