December 9, 2013

Book Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Title: Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth
Series: Divergent #1
Publication Date: February 28th 2012
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
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     http://www.amazon.com/Insurgent-Divergent-Veronica-Roth-ebook/dp/B00655U3WE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1393223179&sr=8-1&keywords=insurgent


In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, 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 alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are--and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating 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 unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, Tris also learns that her secret might help her save the ones she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

MEET THE CHARACTERS: 

Beatrice “Tris” Prior – I am not Abnegation, I am not Dauntless. I am Divergent. And I can’t be controlled. Her family is from the Abnegation faction and had always found it weird that she isn’t selfless as other members of her faction. She isn’t a believer of selflessness and sometimes find it difficult to adhere to the rules and manners of her group. She felt caged and as the Aptitude Test approaches, she’s curious on how the results will be. Unbeknownst to her family, her decisions during her Aptitude test revealed that she can be an Abnegation, a Dauntless, or an Erudite, which means, she’s a Divergent. The tester advised her to hide her result if she wanted to be safe. 

Tobias “Four” – He’s one of the members of Dauntless who will accompany the new initiates as they undergo several initiation stages to test their physical, emotional, and mental capacity. He was popularly known as Four because during his initiation in The Fear Landscape, it only revealed that he has only four fears. 

Caleb – Beatrice’s older brother who chose to be an Erudite. 

Peter – is the counterpart of Draco Malfoy’s character in HP. He’s a Candor who transferred to Dauntless. 

Eric – He’s the youngest leader in Dauntless who is a transfer from Erudite. It didn’t take long for Tris to figure out that he’s still an Erudite at heart who has a hidden motive when he transferred to Dauntless. 

Al – I guess he wasn’t brave enough to really belong in Dauntless. He’s just too soft and violence is not in his nature. What he did in the end was just so disappointing. 

Christina – well, I like her. I just hope she’s still alive. 

Will – Oh Will, I wish you were a Divergent too. It just pains me to read your demise. You’re such a good person. You deserve live.

It’s Divergent’s time to shine this year following the movie Catching Fire’s release. In lieu of the upcoming release of its movie version I decided to read the story ahead of time. 

First impression, it was like a déjà vu. I can’t help but compare it to Hunger Games. Well, there certainly are some parts that are similar to the said series, but it definitely ends there. I shouldn’t have doubted the ratings in Goodreads. It’s a manifesto of how crazy the readers are with this series. 

I love Veronica Roth’s unique attack on her Dystopian novel. I’m still bewildered on how she came up with this novel. I love the factions. I love the initiations. I love the characters. I love the tests. I love everything about this book. How Roth came up with these ideas is beyond my imagination. She’s such a gifted and talented writer to be able to create this novel, with all the manifestos of each faction, the creative depiction of the manners, traditions and even the symbols of the factions, the magnificent description of characters, the conflicts, and the twists. Oh man! It rendered me speechless. The flow of the story is good and it gives the readers an excitement for each of the page turned. 

If I’m not mistaken, Roth’s writing was influenced by J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. Touche but yes. U can see the little Harry Potter in Beatrice Prior. The Choosing Ceremony and the stimulation tests are like the Sorting done in HP. Just like in HP, there are also groups in Divergent but they’re called factions. There were both mean villains and kind friends. They saw the heroine as a weakling but turned out to be the dark horse who will excel in the end. Then there’s also the train. Yeah, I can’t help but smile with the memory of HP riding one. And also there’s the simulation test which was almost the same with the challenges HP had in Book 5. I am not in any way comparing the two series. In fact, I’m quite fascinated by how Roth came with her weird ideas that honestly came out as a best seller. 

The book is not only action-packed; it was also filled with lessons. The last chapters were heartbreaking and I might have shed a tear or two. This book will not only let you appreciate the value of a family and of your friends, it will also teach you that, at some point, when you are about to make a decision, you should think of how this will affect other people. It hurts, but sometimes, you have to think of the benefit of the majority not just of a few people. It might break your heart; however, you do not have a choice but to do it.

FACTS ABOUT THE DYSTOPIAN WORLD OF CHICAGO 



In their unique dystopian world, the city is ruled by a council of 50 people, composed entirely of representatives from Abnegation, because their faction is regarded as incorruptible, due to their commitment and selflessness. Their leaders are selected by their peers for their impeccable character, moral fortitude, and leadership skills. Reps from each of the other factions can speak in the meetings on behalf of a particular issue, but ultimately, the decision is the council’s. 

The city is made up of five factions: Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless, Erudite.

Those who blamed aggression formed Amity. 
Those who blamed ignorance became Erudite. 
Those who blamed duplicity created Candor. 
Those who blamed selfishness made Abnegation. 
Those who blamed cowardice were the Dauntless.

Abnegation has fulfilled our need for selfless leaders in government. They believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another. They say that if they have little, and went for little, and they are all equal, they envy no one. They only allow members to stand in front mirrors on the 2nd day of every third month, the day they cut their hair. They do not celebrate birthdays because that’s considered as self-indulgence. They also hide their beauty. They wore gray clothes, have plain hairstyles, and they also possess an unassuming demeanor. 

Candor has provided us with trustworthy and sound leaders in law. Candor men wear black suit with white tie. They value honesty and see the truth as black and white, so that is what they wear. 

Erudite has supplied us with intelligent teachers and researchers; 

Amity has given us understanding counselors and caretakers. They wore yellow and red. They seek peace above all else, and will always deceive to keep the water calm. 

Dauntless provides us with protection from threats both within and without. They are the hellions of the group. They prove their bravery by jumping from a moving train. They are pierced, tattooed, and black-clothed. They guard the fence that surrounds the city. 

There are also individuals who are factionless. These are the people who were exiled, or those who did not succeed in their initiation. They work as janitors, construction workers, garbage collectors, fabric makers, train operators, and bus drivers. They are likened to untouchables. To live factionless is not just to live in poverty and discomfort; it is to live divorced from society, separated from the most important thing in life: community. 

Sixteen year olds of every faction are not members yet. Their decision will make them initiates, and they will become members if they complete the initiations. Their factions will be determined by their performance in the Aptitude Test and by their choice. 

A member from another faction will be the tester. A simulation serum will be injected to the takers and this serum will be responsible to create scenarios based on what the taker does in her brain. Simulation serum will manipulate your brain that a normal person believes that whatever he/she is witnessing is really real. Only a Divergent is not affected by this serum. The taker can’t prepare for the test in any way. 

The taker will then be given a time to decide which faction he/she will dedicate his/her life. 

During the Choosing Ceremony, the 16 year olds will gather in one place and do the ritual. This will let them decide which faction they will live throughout their lives. 

Each faction is represented by several elements: 
  • Gray Stones for Abnegation 
  • Water for Erudite 
  • Earth for Amity 
  • Lit Coals for Dauntless 
  • Glass for Candor
The names of the 16 year olds will be called in front one-by-one. As they are called in front, they’ll cut into their hand and sprinkle their blood into the bowl of the faction they choose. 

If you chose a faction, this means that there are more important than your blood. They believe in the saying, “Faction before blood.” 

Then they’ll be directed to the factions they chose to begin with their initiations. Since Beatrice chose Dauntless, I’m only familiar with their idea of initiation. 

Because Dauntless are known for their reckless jumping from and to a moving train, that’s what the new initiates do. Then they jump from a building. Initiates are categorized into two: the transfer and the initiates from Dauntless. The transfer initiates are housed in a room and so with the other group. They undergo through 3 stages of initiation. Each initiation is intended to prepare you in a different way. The first stage is the combat stage training which will test their physical capacity. Each member will be paired to a member from their group and fight in a ring. The second stage is the simulation stage where they are again injected with a serum and will try to go back to the reality. They will undergo several simulations. This will test their emotional capacity. When their heart rate decreases, then they successfully finished their challenge. The third stage is the Final Examination which is popularly known as Fear Landscape. This will test their mental capacity. They are once again injected with a serum which will let them face their fears. Divergents have an advantage in the 2nd and 3rd stage because they can’t be affected by simulation serum so they’re able to manipulate whatever they were lead to believe in. He/She displays equal aptitude for Abnegation, Dauntless, and Erudite. They are ranked at every stage. It is important to gain a higher rank because it may affect your overall ranking. The overall ranking will include even the Dauntless initiates whose a member of a Dauntless family. The ranking serves two purposes. The first is that is determines the order in which you will select a job after initiation. The second purpose is that only the top ten initiates are made members.

THE FACTION MANIFESTOS 

ABNEGATION: THE SELFLESS 


I will be my undoing 
If I become my obsession. 

I will forget the ones I love 
If I do not serve them. 

I will war with others 
If I refuse to see them. 

Therefore I choose to turn away 
From my reflection, 
To rely not on myself 
But on my brothers and sisters 
To project always outward 
Until I disappear. 

(*Some members add a final line: “And only God remains.” That is at the discretion of each member, and is not compulsory.)

AMITY: THE PEACEFUL 


Conversations of Peace 

TRUST 

A Son says to his Mother: “Mother, today I fought with my friend.” 
     His Mother says: “Why did you fight with your friend?” 
     “Because he demanded something of me, and I would not give it to him.” 
     “Why did you not give it to him?” 
     “Because it was mine.” 
   “My son, you now have your possessions, but you do not have your friend. Which would you rather have?” 
     “My friend.” 
     “Then give freely, trusting that you will also be given what you need.” 

SELF-SUFFICIENCY 

A Daughter says to her Father: “Father, today I fought with my friend.” 
     Her Father says: “Why did you fight with your friend?” 
     “Because she insulted me, and I was angry.” 
     “Why were you angry?” 
     “Because she lied about me.” (In some versions: “Because I was hurt by her words.”) 
     “My Daughter, did your friend’s words change who you are?” 
     “No.” 
     “Then do not be angry. The opinions of others cannot damage you.” 

FORGIVENESS 

A Husband says to hi s Wife: “Wife, today I fought with my enemy.” 
     His Wife says: “Why did you fight with your enemy?” 
     “Because I hate him.” 
     “My Husband, why do you hate him?” 
     “Because he wronged me.” 
     “The wrong is past. You must let it rest where it lies.” 

KINDNESS 

A Wife says to her Husband: “Husband, today I fought with my enemy.” 
     Her Husband says: “Why did you fought with your enemy?”
     “Because I spoke cruel words to her.” 
     “My Wife, why did you speak cruel words to her.” 
     “Because I believed them to be true.” 
     “Then you must no longer think cruel thoughts. Cruel thoughts lead to cruel words, and hurt you as much as they hurt target.” 

(The following section was part of the original manifesto, but was later removed.) 

INVOLVEMENT 

One Friend says to Another: “Friend, today I fought with my enemy.” 
     The Other Friend says: “Why did you fight with your enemy?” 
     “Because they were about to hurt you.” 
     “Friend, why did you defend me?” 
     “Because I love you.” “Then I am grateful.”

CANDOR: THE HONEST 


DISHONESTY IS RAMPANT. DISHONESTY IS TEMPORARY. DISHONESTY MAKES EVIL POSSIBLE. 

As it stands now, lies pervade society, families, and even the internal life of the individual. One group lies to another group, parents lie to children, children lie to parents, friends lie to friends, individuals lie to themselves. Dishonesty has become so integral to the way we relate to one another that we rarely find ourselves in authentic relationships with others. Our dark secrets remain our own. Yet it is our dark secrets that cause conflict. When we are dishonest with the people around us, we begin to hate ourselves for lying; when we are dishonest with ourselves, we can never even attempt to correct the flaws we find within us, the flaws we are so desperate to hide from our loved ones, that flaws that make us lie. 

What has become clear is that lies are just a temporary solution to a permanent problem. Lying to spare a person’s feelings, even when the truth would help them to improve, damages them in the long run. Lying to protect yourself lasts for so long before the truth emerges. Like a wild animal, the truth is too powerful to remain caged. These are examples we can clearly see in our own lives, yet we fail to understand that they do not just apply to the dynamic between ourselves and our neighbors, or ourselves and our friends. 

What is society but a web of individual-to-individual relationships? And what is conflict except one person’s dark secret crashing into another person’s dark secret? Dishonesty is a veil that shields one person from one another. Dishonesty allows evil to persist, hidden from the eyes of those who would fight it. 

DISHONESTY LEADS TO SUSPICION. SUSPICION LEADS TO CONFLICT. HONESTY LEADS TO PEACE. 

We have a vision of an honest world. In this world, parents do not lie to their children, and children do not lie to their parents; friends do not lie to one another; spouses do not lie to each other. When we are asked our opinions we are free to give them without thinking to consider any other responses. When we engage in conversation with others, we do not have to evaluate their intentions, because they are transparent. We have no suspicion, and no one suspects us. 

And most of all – yes, above all else – we are free to expose our dark secrets because we know the dark secrets of our neighbors, our friends, our spouses, our children, our parents, and our enemies. We know that while we are flawed in a unique way, we are not unique because we are flawed. Therefore we can be authentic. We have no suspicions. And we are at peace with those around us. 

TRUTH MAKES US TRANSPARENT. TRUTH MAKES US STRONG. TRUTH MAKES US INEXTRICABLE. 

We will raise our children to tell the truth. We will do this by encouraging them to speak their minds at every moment. For the child, withholding words is the same as lying. 

We will be honest with our children even at the expense of hurting their feelings. The only reason people cannot bear honesty is because they were not raised hearing the truth about themselves, and they can’t stand to. If children are raised to hear both honest praise and honest criticism, they will not be so fragile as to crumble beneath the scrutiny of their peers. A life of truth makes us strong. 

Adulthood will be defined as a time at which each member of the society is capable of bearing every other member’s dark secrets, just as every member will bar theirs. Therefore each member will be subjected to The Full Unveiling, in which every hidden part of their life is laid bare before their fellow members. They, too, will see the hidden parts of their fellow members’ lives. In this way we bear one another’s secrets. In this way we become inextricable. 

TRUTH MAKES US INEXTRICABLE.

ERUDITE: THE INTELLIGENT


WE SUBMIT THE FOLLOWING STATEMENTS AS TRUTH:

1. “Ignorance” is defined not as stupidity but as lack of knowledge.
2. Lack of knowledge inevitable leads to lack of understanding.
3. Lack of understanding leads to a disconnect among people with differences.
4. Disconnection among people with differences leads to conflict.
5. Knowledge is the only logical solution to the problem of conflict.

Therefore, we propose that in order to eliminate conflict, we must eliminate the disconnect among those with differences by correcting the lack of understanding that arises from ignorance with knowledge. The areas in which people must educated are: 


SOCIOLOGY 

  • So that the individual understands how society at large functions. 

PSYCHOLOGY 

  • So that the individual understands how a person functions within a society. 

MATHEMATICS

  • So that the individual is prepared for further in science, engineering, medicine and technology. 

SCIENCE

  • So that the individual better understands how the world operates. 
  • So that the individual’s study in other areas is supplemented. 
  • So that as many individuals as possible are prepared to enter the fields devoted to innovation and progress. 

COMMUNICATION 

  • So that the individual knows how to speak and write clearly and effectively. 

HISTORY 

  • So that the individual understands the mistakes and successes that have led us to this point. 
  • So that the individual learns to emulate those successes and avoid those mistakes. 
Leaders must not be chosen based on charisma, popularity, or ease of communication, all of which are misleading and have little to do with the efficacy of a political leader. 

An objective standard must be used in order to determine who is best fit to lead. That standard will be an intelligence test, administered to all adults when the present leader reaches fifty-five or begins to decline in brain function in a demonstrable way. 

Those who, after rigorous studying, do not meet a minimum intelligence requirement will be exiled from the faction so they can be made useful. This is not an act of elitism, but rather one of practicality: Those who are not intelligent enough to engage in the roles assigned to us – roles that require a considerable mental capacity – are better suited to menial work than to faction work. Menial work is required for the survival of society, and is therefore just as important as faction work. 

Information must be always made available to all faction members at all times. The withholding of information is punishable by reprimand, imprisonment, and eventually exile. Every question that can be answered must be answered or at least engaged. Illogical thought processes must be challenged when they arise. Wrong answers must be corrected. Correct answers must be affirmed. If an answer to a question is unclear, it must be put to debate. All debates require evidence. Any controversial thought or idea must be supplemented by evidence in order to reduce the potential for conflict. 

Intelligence must be used for the benefit, and not to the detriment, of society. Those who use intelligence for their own personal gain or to the detriment of others have the properly borne the responsibility of their gift, and are not welcome in our faction. 

It bears repeating: Intelligence is a gift, not a right. It must be wielded not as a weapon but as a tool for the betterment of others.

DAUNTLESS: THE BRAVE 


WE BELIEVE 
the cowardice is to blame for the world’s injustices. 

WE BELIEVE 
that peace is hard-won, that sometimes it is necessary to fight for peace. But more than that: 

WE BELIEVE 
that justice is more important than peace. 

WE BELIEVE 
in freedom from fear, in denying fear the power to influence our decisions. 

WE BELIEVE 
in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another. 

WE BELIEVE 
in acknowledging fear and the extent to which it rules us. 

WE BELIEVE 
in facing that fear no matter what the cost to our comfort, our happiness, even our sanity. 

WE BELIEVE 
in shouting for those who can only whisper, in defending those who cannot defend themselves. 

WE BELIEVE 
not just in bold words but in bold deeds to match them. 

WE BELIEVE 
that pain and death are better than cowardice and inaction, because 

WE BELIEVE 
in action. 

WE DO NOT BELIEVE 
in living comfortable lives. 

WE DO NOT BELIEVE 
that silence is useful. 

WE DO NOT BELIEVE 
in good manners. 

WE DO NOT BELIEVE 
in limiting the fullness of life. 

WE DO NOT BELIEVE 
in empty heads, empty mouths, and empty hands. 

WE DO NOT BELIEVE 
that learning to master violence encourages unnecessary violence. 

WE DO NOT BELIEVE 
that we should be allowed to stand idly by. 

WE DO NOT BELIEVE 
that any other virtue is more important than bravery.



Veronica Roth
Veronica Roth is from a Chicago suburb. She studied creative writing at Northwestern University, and wrote DIVERGENT (Katherine Tegen Books, May 2011) and INSURGENT (May 2012). The third and final book in The Divergent Trilogy, ALLEGIANT, will come out on October 22, 2013. In the meantime she will spend endless hours browsing Wikipedia in her pajamas as she eats corn flakes. (Or some other kind of bland breakfast cereal.)

TO CHECK MY REVIEW OF THE OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES, CLICK THE PICTURES BELOW.

 Insurgent Book Review Allegiant Book Review

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